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Tribal Government 101: An introduction to Amnesty Within Native America

Our tribe lacks true equality among people, true equal justice in our court and true honest leadership in our council. We have been segregated for far too long by the leaders and policies that are ineffective, corrupt and oftentimes violent.

There must be an end to political favoritism by voicing our dissatisfaction with those leaders who place themselves above our laws. We need to define what constitutes equality and human rights in our reservation society and in our government.

If we are ever to make any type of progress we must build upon that one great resource our tribe has today ? our people. We have the workforce, we have the finances, we have the intelligence and we have the treaties, so then why haven't we made economic progress in these many years since we have had a tribal government?

One major reason is because we have come to accept the stereotype stamped on the brow of our race, the belief we are a people who don't know how to survive by our own hand and must continually be fed by another.

Today I can also say our leaders have only perpetuated this stereotype by using our poverty as a flag to wave to get attention and pity from the world rather than working hard to find solutions for our problems.

They have become professional poverty pimps.

Do we want the world to look at us as pitiful people or as a strong and sovereign nation?

Some people call our problems external and some blame them on other races, but I do not believe that this is so. I believe it is internal, so much so that it has infected the arteries of the heart of our people, our younger generations.

I call upon you, my brothers and sisters, to look deep into that heart gifted to you by our ancestors, who gave their lives for you and me today.

Look into that place in yourselves and find the inner fear hiding behind your oppression and you will see that demon who has been killing our people with our own hands since we were placed on these reservations ? the demon called greed. Greed built the fort, greed fermented the fruit, greed built the prisons, greed invented the gun, greed created the reservations and their governments, and greed keeps us in poverty today.

For too many years and generations we have become second-class citizens within our own lands because of the unequal perception of what defines a Lakota man and woman in this state and country.

This misunderstanding of our people by past tribal leaders who were taught by the local white man that their race, through racism, was a race of worthless ingrates, has led our people down that road to self destruction, politically and domestically, with these puppets leading the way. They do it just so they can place themselves on the pedestal of their self-glory, for all they see as below them, to forcibly admire.

A time of absolution is coming, the seed has been planted. A new era for change will become reality and this reality can be found in your children, as they will always want a better life and as adults they will want a better tribe.

They say that younger generations will change our people and lead them into a new era for our people and today we are on the threshold of that time. Right now we are walking through that door of change by understanding what change feels like when it is spoken by one of your own Lakota sons.

But I will say that if we want to create better nations for ourselves, then we must become examples for our younger generations as parents. We must put down that alcohol and throw away the drugs. We must spend time with our children and teach them the culture. We can never have a true economy without the influences of a healthy family nor can we have a true culture without the influences of a sober mind.

Amnesty within our reservations can only be accomplished through the evolution of our people into a world where we all are recognized as equals within our governments. In an environment that is constantly changing, we must also change if we ever expect to grow as healthy sovereign nations in a sovereign world.