Indianz.Com > News > Ivan Star Comes Out: Our ancestors never surrendered as a sovereign nation
Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo: Diana Morales
Enduring government corruption, nepotism, and cronyism
Monday, October 19, 2020
Native Sun News Today Columnist

In this bare existence of ours, there are things we never think about, much less, discuss. It seems we just live for the day or the hour.

For instance, we never think about Mount Rushmore as a glaring declaration of racial discrimination. Also, the European-created image of a white God, now ingrained in the world’s subconscious mind, makes minorities more compliant with white supremacy.

As Lakota people, we struggle to experience even a fraction of what “white privilege” provides for the bigot in this country. We tend to ignore the realities of our unreal situation and try to find contentment within this government-created existence which was designed take down our ancestor’s way of life and keep us oppressed. But, we never talk about such things.

For example, our ancestors called themselves Ikce Wicasa (Human/Natural Man) but we now call ourselves “Indian” and “Sioux,” among other unflattering titles. They were tribal by nature meaning they gathered and lived in familiar tiospaye (extended family) groups but we never talk about the complexity of planning and logistics that goes into maintaining that way of living.

Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

I can only imagine our ancestor’s reaction when they learned a huge territory called the “Great Sioux Reservation” was theirs via the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. We must remember that Maka (Earth) is considered their mother, according to our Otokahe Kagapi (First Creation). The European concept of owning land was completely unheard of among our ancestors and is likened to owning one’s own flesh and blood mother.

From the east bank of the Mni Sose (Muddy Water), now called the Missouri River, and touching on five contemporary states, the land is owned by the treaty signers, specifically the Lakota, Saiyela, (Cheyenne), and Mahpiyato (Arapaho) and Santee but we never think about such things.

When the intruders found gold in the He Sapa (Black Hills) in 1874, they became demoniacal. This stuff had been there since time immemorial. Congress then removed the “hills” from the “Great Sioux Reservation” in 1877 and assumed possession of it. Then in 1980, when Congress was ordered to pay “just compensation” for stealing the Black Hills, it tried to pay a price comparable to 1800s value of the land. Various tiospaye (extended families) resided along the creeks and rivers of the Pine Ridge Reservation prior to 1889.

These old camp sites were called otiwote. There the tiospaye maintained their ancient language, culture, history and experienced the last remnants of their traditional government until 1935 when the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) was implanted here. But, we never talk about such things.

Then the first “cluster” housing sites were built in 1975. Centrally located, it drew the tiospaye residents away from their otiwote leaving the original treaty lands for leasing by non-Lakota ranchers. Actually, these “cluster” housing sites helped to destroy their ancient sovereign tiospaye way of life and government.

Today, Lakota residents and land owners are often not allowed to harvest seasonal foods (turnips/fruits) and are told to leave the area by these ranchers. There are several non-Lakota rancher residents today each leasing thousands of acres at “dirt cheap” prices. They reside on the last of the Lakota treaty lands as if poised to assume control of the land at a moment’s notice, but we never think about that.

Anyway, a tiospaye was once an independent entity adhering stringently to the same unwritten natural laws forming a powerful sovereign nation. Sadly, most Lakota residents no longer remember their extended family histories or have lost track of their spiritual origins and that in itself has led to some obvious and highly destructive conditions in those “cluster” housing sites.

Today, we have totally accepted the concept of “tribe,” a title not native to North America. It is undignified and originates from the Latin “tribus” and is tied to biblical and ancient times.


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Read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: Homelessness, a pesky and inconvenient problem

Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at

Note: Copyright permission Native Sun News Today