Oglala Sioux Tribe Flag
The flag of the Oglala Sioux Tribe features a red background with nine stylized tipis in white. The blue border is a recent addition, dating to the early 1960s. Image courtesy Oglala Sioux Tribe
What the new Oglala Sioux Tribe’s flag means to me
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Native Sun News Today

The Indian Reorganization Act, and its so-called constitutional governing system and its flag, always rubbed me the wrong way.

With regard to all who champion the new red, white, and blue “tribal” flag, I have a very difficult time accepting it as a symbolic representation of the Ikce Oyate (Human/Natural Man Nation). I am merely stating historical realities.

After digging into the history of federal-“Indian” history, I see it as a symbol of conquest of the Ikce Wicasa (Natural Man/Human). I write this with deep respect for the creator of this flag, former President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the late Enos Poor Bear and his late son Webster, who flew a small replica in Vietnam.

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

Realistically, very few see it as the obliteration of our ancient yet equitable tiospaye (extended family group) governance system. The ancient wapaha (eagle feather staff) still holds more meaning for the steadily diminishing traditional people.

Today I see an implied acceptance of the federal Oglala Sioux Tribe’s (OST) distinctive “tribal” flag among younger populations. Bumper stickers, decals, screen prints (T-shirts), and bead work have been glorifying this symbol since it was created. This colorful flag is always present at gatherings like “tribal” inaugurations, parades, powwows, funerals, and now at the annual Wounded Knee gatherings.

In the same year Custer was wiped out in Montana, the Canadian Parliament enacted the Indian Act which compelled First Nations to renounce their sovereign status and join Canadian civilization. The law basically banned indigenous people from identifying themselves through self-governance and culture. The United States Congress followed suit by assimilating “Indian” children into American society in the 17th century.

Tribal Flags
Tribal flags are seen at the Pierre Learning Center in Pierre, South Dakota, during an exhibition titled “Honoring Native Pride and Spirit – Yesterday, Today and Forever.” Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Herrmann / U.S. Army National Guard

This explains the acts of intimidation and violence to older “treaty men” throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Many were stopped on the road, pulled out of their vehicles and brutally beaten. A couple of these men (who are no longer here) gave me some historic government documents which inspired me dig deeper into the history of this reservation.

My research led me to “see” this “tribal” flag as a rallying point for those who continue to oppress the consistent resisters to total assimilation. It is that inhumane government rule which younger generations are unwittingly promoting, simply due to their unawareness. Yes, we do those who aspire to the federal racial extermination mandates directed at the Oyate treaty-signers and their descendants.

Ideally, a national flag is a symbol of pride and devotion to one’s country. All-in-all, this “tribal” flag represents an opposition to Lakota life ways and inherent rights, such as happiness, freedom, and dignity.

Reality is, we have an uneasy, deep-rooted, division among the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. For the descendants of the Lakota treaty-signers, it is hardly a rallying point.

If this flag accomplished anything, it is the obliteration of our ancestor’s ancient culture, government, spirituality and history.

NATIVE SUN NEWS TODAY

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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 matonasula2@gmail.com.

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