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Editorials
From the Editor's Desk: Thinking Beyond Our Own Salvation
Monday, March 10 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgWhether by flood, fire or rapture, almost every culture has its own form of eschatology. There seems to be no end in how people predict the end of the human race. The earth will be consumed by fire, it will be re-appropriated by the waters or the faithful of the world will be called upward toward heaven, body and soul.

The focus is that there will be an end to humanity as we know it and that there are very clear markers of when, where and how.

The problem with eschatology is that it is a human-centered system of belief that removes any kind of responsibility when it comes to how we treat our environment, other forms of life and each other. As a millennial Catholic Christian, my generation's religious education was not to focus on the Second Coming as a means to judge others and use up what resources we could in our lifetime; we were taught to respect the inherent dignity of other people, in all forms of life and to be respectful of our surroundings.

As a Lakota, educated in Wolakota – our belief system – I was also told the stories of our people's creation and how we became the dominant species on this planet. Lakota are not dominionists, nor are we salvationists; we believe in merit. The story of how we came to be where we are is a story of merit. We believe that we once lived as equals with our relatives in the animal world but over time, the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) began to think they were superior to others because of their size and strength. A great race was held on the outer rim of the He Sapa (Black Hills) between the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds to decide which group would have primacy over the others.

 


From the Editor's Desk: Tribal Sovereignty Through Federalism
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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The concept of tribal sovereignty for the uninitiated can seem like a confusing and mercurial legal arena; and often times, it can be. What may work for one tribe may not work for another. But even in the most confusing cases, there are broad truths that can be taken into account where sovereignty is concerned.

We see now on Pine Ridge that an Oglala Sioux Tribal committee is referring a public vote on the legalization of marijuana as a means to produce revenue. Under federal law, which is directly applicable on Indian reservations, the cultivation, distribution and/or sale of marijuana is prohibited and goes directly under federal jurisdiction. For better or worse, the Oglala have always had a history of acting sovereignly, asking no one's permission to do as they please within their own territory. If passed, observing this act of sovereignty come up against federal law will be fascinating, in addition to considerations with the states of Colorado and Washington passing their own legalization laws.


Guest Opinion: White Earth constitutional reform and leadership questionable
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Jeff Armstrong,
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Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of the troubled history of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota will understand that questions over the legitimacy of tribal membership and leadership, along with the more recent controversy of absentee voting, are at the core of more than a century of internal conflict. It is, perhaps, a tribute to the public relations skills of White Earth Chair Erma Vizenor that she has been able to push through a constitution in violation of the one, under which she governs entirely by mail-in ballots with provisions to open reservation enrollment to anyone with remote tribal ancestry, to the universal acclaim of reporters, academics and activists who should know better.

It was reported in the Fargo Forum the day before the election that 2,000 ballot requests had been received and sent out over the course of a month, fairly typical of White Earth election turnouts. But when the ballots were being tabulated, the vote count had suddenly nearly doubled in the course of one day, to 3,492. None of the press reports the following day took note of this mysterious spike, though some suggested the higher-than-average turnout was evidence of heightened interest in the historic election. If so, one would be hard pressed to find evidence of it in the sparsely-attended public meetings, at which the vast majority of attendees expressing an opinion spoke out against the draft constitution. Social media sites such as the White Earth's Voice for a Nation reflected broad and deep opposition to the proposed constitution.

From the Editor's Desk: White Earth Blood Quantum Reform a Courageous Act
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpgThere is a courage to be admired by those who take an action first. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recently voted in a constitutional reform effort to effectively remove its blood quantum requirements for citizenship. Of the Ojibwe that I have come to know here in Minnesota, there's been mixed reaction ranging from hopeful joy about the future to immediate calls for the dissolution of the tribal government for taking what they regard as an unwarranted action.

Having covered my own tribal council for just over two years, it wasn't a question if – but when – a tribal citizen or fellow council member would allege constitutional violations, followed by long executive sessions where the press and members of the public were required to leave the room for hours at a time.

From the Editor's Desk: Again We Speak Against Injustice
Monday, November 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpg“Ake” is a word we use in Lakota to express our frustration. It's translated as “again.” Growing up on the Rosebud reservation, I would hear my parents say, “Ake!” when someone unnecessarily repeated themselves, made another promise that may have been suspect or when another frustration took hold in the family or in the community.

Again, we find ourselves discussing the issue of Native American mascots in the American mainstream. Again, we find ourselves having to explain to non-Native people why this is not just a demoralizing but dehumanizing issue for our people. And again, we find ourselves listening to the same ignorance involved with the caricaturization of a minority group of people.

The Washington D.C. team will play the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 7 and the Native community in Minneapolis, led by the perennially-outspoken American Indian Movement, will protest the Washington team. In fact, the team was met by a similar protest in Denver on Oct. 27.

Again, the fans of the Washington team were effectively amoral when they saw the protests against the name, regurgitating the ignorance with phrases like, “Get over it,” or “We're honoring you.” And again, they are dead wrong.

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