The greatest resource of a tribal nation is their people. Every elected tribal council has a responsibility to the membership that they serve but more importantly they have a sacred obligation to protect the welfare of their future generations.
Over these past few years we have seen many legislative acts coming out of the Obama administration that have had a direct effect on the unique and detrimental issues that plague our reservations. VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) are just a couple of them.
These acts play an important roll in administering the safety of our membership on our reservations but more importantly they bring our nations into compliance with federal mandate as directed by these acts.
We can never measure which type of violence outweighs another. Violence toward anyone in any form is an atrocious crime and should be addressed by all tribal councils directly but when violence is committed against a child especially a sexual assault is when a tribal council must take strong action to eradicate this genocidal threat to our future.
Recently U.S. Attorney Eric Holder held a tribal consultation meeting in Bismarck, ND and spoke to the issues concerning VAWA and SORNA. SORNA has express statutory requirements that must be obeyed by the tribes. Native Nations are federally mandated that all sex offender registrations for offenders living on or visiting the reservations must be put on the tribes website and made available to the public and tribal law enforcement via the tribal website or the public safety funding for the tribe could be put in jeopardy. Simply having a link to the state sex offender registry just isn’t enough.
Where do we as an Oglala Nation take our stand to protect the welfare of our children? We begin by coming into compliance with current federal mandates by publishing the names of those tribal members on our website who have committed atrocious crimes against our children. We begin by making it our own sacred cause to defend our future generations against the sexual predators that roam our communities no matter who they are related to or who they are politically in the community or what they write in the newspapers. It shouldn’t take an act of congress for we, as a sovereign nation, to do what’s in the best interest of our children.
It is fundamentally wrong on every level to give power and protection to those who have committed the most heinous crimes against our children behind closed doors. We are better than that, our heritage is greater than that and we as a nation must take action on every level to address this issue. Dis-enrollment and banishing child predators are just a couple solutions but coming into compliance with federal law is where we must begin.
There is no one person more corrupt in our society than an individual who attacks our native children and any council representative who defends such an individual should also be held politically accountable.
Over these past few years I have been reading the editorials written by Oglala Sioux Tribal member but was surprised to find out that this Tribal member is a convicted sex offender but not just any sexual offender he is an offender of a child. He makes accusations toward our tribal leadership about being corrupt but how can an individual such as this criticize about an issue when their crime outweighs any issue concerning a tribal representative. Money issues can be fixed, leadership issues can be remedied but his victim will always suffer long after the tribal council issues are resolved.
Why hasn’t that person ever written an editorial to the victim for the crime he was sentenced for? Why hasn’t he ever apologized to his victim publically? I guess the bigger question would be… Why is he being published in the first place?
I agree with public criticisms of our tribal leadership on every level but I find it impossible to give credence to a child sex offender. Why would anyone condone or support the word of any one who lacks morality or integrity.
These publications should be ashamed of themselves and I encourage our Oglala Sioux Tribe to boycott any publication that gives newsprint space to the ramblings of such an unholy predator living in our community. Why pay for advertising in a publication that gives merit to the words of a child rapist?
We have fought back from genocide, and we have lived through the violence of boarding schools. We have survived because we made the choices that, at the time, were in the best interest of our people and our future. Nothing has changed in our bravery as a nation, only our resolve faltered now and again.
To ensure the safety of our children we must regain the sovereignty of our future and do what is right by all the child victims on our reservations who suffered at the hands of these pedophiles. We must come into compliance with the federal laws and acts that we are mandated to comply with and we must punish those who assault our children. As our ancestors once said “When we ignore the evil in our camps the evil will flourish. “
This issue must be brought into the public discourse even though it is so horrible that we are ashamed of it. Hiding it behind politics is the greatest crime that any leader can commit against their people. This act is worse than any missing funds or bad business dealings the tribal council may be accused of.
The children’s safety must be the top agenda and the actions the council makes must protect them from those who lack integrity. Supporting a child rapist should be punishable by impeachment.
Garfield Steele is a Wounded Knee District Council Representative.