Northern Cheyenne vow to guard Stronghold with Oglala
Stronghold gains support from tribes at United Native Nations
By Brenda Norrell
Special to Lakota Journal
SEATTLE -- Northern Cheyenne Tim Lame Woman presented a Cheyenne flag to a delegation of Oglala and vowed Cheyenne would join those guarding the Stronghold, during a weeklong meeting of the United Native Nations.
"We are putting the National Park Service on notice that the Cheyenne will stand in solidarity with our people at the Stronghold," Lame Woman told indigenous elders and representatives from throughout the Americas.
"I am proud of our brothers for taking a stand," Lame Woman told the Oyate delegation of Guy White Thunder, James Big Boy and Bill Swift Hawk.
"They guard the spirits of our people, our relatives there," said Lame Woman, from Lame Deer, Mon., and headsman for the Elks Horn Scraper Society.
As Lame Woman presented the Cheyenne flag to the Oyate delegation, he said, We are going to take our turn on security at the Stronghold.
"It is our turn to take care of security and tell the National Park Service, Thats as far as you come! You have crossed that line into the lands of the Lakota people."
While accepting the Cheyenne flag, Big Boy said, "Yes, this flag will fly over the Stronghold on cold winter nights and our ancestors will sleep well. They will respect the Northern Cheyenne flag flying above them."
The Cheyenne and Oglala presentation on the Stronghold was during the weeklong United Native Nations Legislative Assembly session, Oct. 13 17, which included a canoe ceremony on the bay and reports from North, Central and South America on the struggle for indigenous human rights, land issues and transitions to traditional forms of government.
Big Boy, from Pine Ridge, began the Stronghold presentation to the United Native Nations by describing the struggle to protect the South Unit of the Badlands from a planned fossil excavation of the National Park Service. He explained the need to extinguish a memorandum of agreement giving the Park Service administrative duties in the South Unit.
Cheyenne and Oglala are joining forces to fight for the land that belongs to the people.
Big Boy said the fight for lands has not ended for the Oglala.
"We are still fighting for our land on our reservation and we will continue to fight for our lands."
Big Boy said the National Park Service has failed to abide by tribal law and the Oyate guarding the Stronghold have halted teams from the Park Service from entering the Badlands for the purpose of beginning the process to excavate fossils from the area where the Ghost Dancers were massacred.
When the Park Service entered the South Unit in early October, Big Boy said they were halted. Just last week, we turned them around again, and this time we had the help of our tribal police.
Big Boy said 80 men, women and children were killed on the Stronghold by the Homeland Security of the time, the National Guard.
Those who fled from the massacre of Wounded Knee took refuge at Stronghold Table and performed the Ghost Dance. Oglala, Cheyenne and Arapaho were among the tribes massacred there.
Their frozen bodies were thrown over the edges of the cliffs, Big Boy told the United Native Nations.
Today we stand on that Table taking a stand to protect the ancestors. They were obligated to protect us, we are now obligated to protect them.
Currently, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Tribe, United Native Nations and the American Indian Movement have passed resolutions supporting the Oglala efforts to maintain full control of Oglala land in the Badlands.
Big Boy said, "Now our brother Tim, of the Cheyenne who we fought side by side with at the Little Big Horn to defeat Custer, has stood up to support the Oglala Sioux Tribe."
Big Boy said when 50 Oyate moved to the Stronghold at midnight on June 17, 2002, they took a stand and told the Park Service: You will not remove us!
"We said, You have violated our treaty rights, you have violated our human rights!"
White Thunder, Oglala elder, said there was no question as to the land belong to. "That is our land. We always owned it."
White Thunder said Oglala suffered after the South Unit was seized as a bombing range in 1942. Some people were homeless. Because of this, Charlie Underbaggage began the Lakota Landowners Association with regular meetings.
Swift Hawk from Pine Ridge told the United Native Nations that the people defending the Stronghold are the descendants of those killed and thrown off the cliffs there.
In order to push the National Park Service back, Swift Hawk said, "We put our lives on the line once again.
"We did it because of the Ghost Dancer spirits up there, they died for us to protect their way of life."
Lame Woman said, "They are fooling around with the spirits of our people that dont belong to them."
But Lame Woman said much of what has been lost to the people is now being returned.
"We are going to put aside jealousy and dissention and replace it with harmony and unity."
Lame Woman said the struggle for freedom and independence for Indian people has been long and difficult, but it continues for the sake of the children and elders. He urged the representatives here to return to their communities with a message of hope.
Lets take them back a message of a new dawn, a new beginning.
Big Boy said receiving the Cheyenne flag was an historic moment, demonstrating the unity between the tribes that defeated General Armstrong Custer in 1876 at the Little Big Horn.
The flags that flew over the Little Big Horn were the Great Sioux Nation, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
It is an act of solidarity, Swift Hawk said of receiving the Cheyenne flag. He said efforts continue to gain flags and support from many tribes to fly over the Stronghold.
Swift Hawk also shared his story of the journey to Seattle. On his way, he hit a deer and was stranded on a remote highway in Montana. Rather than accept offers of rides or turn back, he told himself, Ive just got to get to Seattle.
Standing beside the highway after midnight, wrapped in a blanket, Big Boy found Swift Hawk waiting and they proceeded on to the United Native Nations in Seattle.
The United Native Nations' Grand Council includes Aleut and other Alaskan tribes, Taino of Puerto Rico and Hoopa. Grand Council members from the Great Sioux Nations and Northern Plains are: Dave Bald Eagle, Tetunwun Lakota; Garnett Black Bear, Tetunwun Lakota; Leroy Curley, Tetunwun Lakota; Richard Grass, Lakota-Dakota-Nakota; Marlene Locke, Lakota-Dakota-Nakota; Tim Light Bear Lame Woman, Tsisistas Northern Cheyenne; Darlene Pipe Boy, Sisseton-Wahpeton; Antoinette Red Woman, Tsisistas Northern Cheyenne.
Leroy Curley, recovering the Lakota self
By Brenda Norrell
Lakota Journal correspondent
SEATTLE Leroy Curley, Lakota from Eagle Butte, S.D., knows the power of the independent search for truth.
"I have been on this road to independence since the last part of the 1950s," Curley told the United Native Nations legislative assembly gathering Oct. 13 -- 17.
"At that time I knew I was being brainwashed with a lot of information I didnt need.
"I kept adding on to who I am. That was my journey, to recover who I am."
Curleys first language is Lakota and it is also his teacher.
"I am able to learn from that who I am. Finally, I am no different from my grandfather and my grandmother in my way of thinking.
"We are not the Sioux Nation, we are the Lakota Nation. That was part of the reprogramming I did on myself, to reprogram who I am."
Curley told the indigenous assembly that there are more than 7, more than 14 council fires and Lakota, Dakota and Nakota all understand one anothers language.
"We have a time sense of 40,000 years or more.
"Lakota tell of the big mother who can chomp on anything, referring to the dinosaurs.
"We knew the dinosaurs, part of the dinosaur family."
Lakota also have a number system that includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
He said missionaries learned to pray only about 2,000 years ago.
"We have been praying for 4,000 years. What have they got to teach us? Nothing. In fact, we can teach them something.
"I am just like my grandfather was, free, independent and sovereign. I am free. Thats who I am."
Curley said the United States does not operate on a democracy, but rather on a hierarchy, operated by the people who keep control of the money.
"It is a monopoly. It is the money people who elect and control.
"Once we get going as a sovereign people, we can teach them a lot."
Curley said the Treaty of 1868 is still strong and the Lakota people can recover their power based on this treaty.
He has also tossed out the word chief.
"Chief is a white word to put us in our place. We have our own terms for leaders. I dont use the word chief anymore.
"I am deprogrammed. That is some of the reconstruction I have been through."
On the subject of the oil that flows through the earth, Curley said, Corporations take the oil, which belongs to all of us, and they use it for private gain.
"It doesnt belong to just a few, it belongs to all of us."
The United States government is not the best in the world, we can teach them a lot once we recover what we are.
When Curley had finished his talk, he received a standing ovation.
Curley received praise from Rudy Al James, secretary-general of the United Native Nations, which formed four years ago to support traditional sovereign governments and preservation of Indian culture and identity.
James said of Curley, "That man is one of the smartest men I have ever known."