Harold Frazier
Harold Frazier serves as Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as President of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association and as Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians for the Great Plains Region. Photo by Kevin Abourezk
As Native Nations, our Duty is to Protect Grandmother Earth for our Future Generations
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

In the beginning, the Creator through the sacred mystery created Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth, and the Creator gave the first woman and first man the breath of life, freedom, and a sacred duty to Grandmother Earth.

Together, we must always fight for our Native Peoples, our Native lands. Sitting Bull said, “The warrior is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, and above all, the children — the future of our People.” In Lakota, we call our grandchildren, Wakanyajea, the Creator’s sacred gift.

As Native Peoples, we are the Grandchildren of the Creator, and the Earth is our Grandmother. When our Native Nations gather together, we are here for the next Seven Generations of our People, our children, grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, unto the rising Suns of tomorrow.

As Native Nations, we arose from the land, and Crazy Horse said, “One does not sell, the land on which the People walk.” We love our land, and we will never leave the land, our sacred home. We are prior sovereign nations. For many thousands of years, we lived lives of peace and happiness in harmony with Grandmother Earth.

Our People are free and our Nations are sovereign because our Grandmothers and Grandfathers provided for us at the beginning. Today, our Grandfathers and Grandmothers continue to watch over us, our Parents carry on, and we must watch over our children and grandchildren for our part. The will of Native People from the beginning, today, and tomorrow that is our Sovereignty.

The National Congress of American Indians was founded to preserve our sovereignty.

Today, the Indian Sovereignty and Self-Determination policy is under fire. The Supreme Court says that state-chartered corporations can be equated with our Native Nations. That’s not right. State charters come from the state and are not prior, not original sovereigns, so they cannot be Indian tribes. State recognized Indian tribes must demonstrate that they are original nations, with their roots in the time prior to America.

NCAI has suffered drift. Programs are titled “Beyond Sovereignty.” Our Native Nations are not beyond sovereignty.

We, the Native Nations, are vested with original sovereignty. We stand for our Native Peoples, by their will. We look to the Future of Sovereignty because our People have always sought to live according to our own ways, maintain our own traditions, and provide for our children, grandchildren and the future generations of our People.

The Power of Nature moves in a circle. The Sun, the Stars, and the Life of a Person. From beginning to end to renewal. In the Spring, Sitting Bull said, “The Earth gladly received the embrace of the Sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love.” Our tradition is life and love. Native sovereignty protects and flows from life and love of our People.

As Native leaders, we must engage with America through the respect and honor of our Nation-to-Nation relations. That means sovereignty, mutual respect, and mutual consent. We cannot be dictated to by the Supreme Court. Our powers of government are prior to America.

As President Biden issues Defense Production Act directions for green energy and clean batteries, our Native Nations must be included in a shared vision of America’s future. We must have respect for our treaty rights to health care and education. The Bureau of Indian Affairs must honor its original commitments to build roads and honor tribal self-government. Even with the progress that we have made through Indian Sovereignty and Self-Determination, America will turn its back upon us if we do not remember who We are, where We came from, and where We are going.

When we fight the Black Snake, we must ask the Sun to give us light and warmth. The Four Winds to give us strength and clean power, as Water gives us life. Mni Wiconi. Water is life. We must restore, our relatives, the Buffalo. When the Buffalo thrive, the People live.

For our part, we recognize our fellow Native Nations as prior, inherent sovereigns. If a Native Nation chooses to use a corporation to engage in economic projects or endeavors, that is its right. The Corporations must serve Native Nations, Native Peoples. Native Nations do not serve corporations — We serve our Native Peoples.

Today, as Sitting Bull advised us, “let us put our minds together and see what lives we will make for our children.”


Harold Frazier is serving his second consecutive term as chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, an Indian nation based in South Dakota. He also serves as president of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association. He previously served as chair and vice chair of his tribe. He currently serves as a regional vice president for the National Congress of American Indians.
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