Ahoicipe (ah-hoh-ee-chee-pay, the Lakota word for pride) intends to explore the role of traditional identity in the daily struggle of Native Americans, examining how they use pride of their original culture and traditions in dealing with their dismal objective conditions. While their cultural practices and language have been almost vanished by the various attempts at “assimilation”, the tribal peoples suffer a sort of forced segregation at the very bottom of American society: on every indicator, from the 88% unemployment to the worlds second lowest life expectancy, the reservations stand as Third World islands in the biggest economy on Earth. My project, however, would like to depart from the gritty depiction of these issues common in other works on the subject. By portraying American Indians in a positive light and exploring how they rediscover and use pride as a tool for survival and advancement, I would like to highlight inspiring stories of confident women and men rediscovering and using pride as a tool for empowerment.
The South Dakota Dept. of Social Services placed 7 Lakota foster children into foster care with a non-Native, known molester.
In what appears to be a common situation, the state of South Dakota placed 7 Lakota children into a foster family with a known molester, Richard Mette, and his enabling wife, Wendy Mette, from 2000 to 2013. The DSS knew of the accusations against Mr. Mette, but still placed Lakota foster children with him.
The state ignored MULTIPLE complaints of sexual and physical abuse, and pleas for help from the children.
1. In 2001, the state ignored the foster boys’ complaints of molestation, and simply made the Mette adoptive parents sign a contract pledging to discontinue any illegal behavior.
2. In 2007, one of the girls told the police how she was sexually molested by Mr. Mette. She reported that Mrs. Mette knew about the molestations. Again, the DSS defended the Mette foster parents, and allowed the children to stay in the home.
3. Afterwards, Kelly, the older foster sister who had aged out of the Mette foster family, was getting reports from her younger siblings that the sexual and physical abuse was increasing and intensifying. She reported this to the South Dakota DSS, who ignored it and said they did not believe the children.
Yankton Doctor sees bruises and reports abuse. In October 2010, the only boy among the Mette foster siblings at that time went to see a doctor at the Human Services Center in Yankton, S.D. The child, covered with bruises, disclosed abuse occurring in his adoptive home. He also detailed how Richard Mette, the adoptive father, was molesting the girls. The doctor contacted the authorities at once.
Brandon Taliaferro, the Assistant State’s Attorney responsible for criminal child abuse cases in Brown County, immediately began an investigation.
The police search the Mette house and find more evidence of sexual abuse, including enough pornography to “pack a store”, including “family incest” porn.
The children revealed they had been subjected to physical abuse, sexual molestation and threats of being beaten if they did not comply with the molestation or if they told anyone. In addition, the children explained that they were often given a choice between “b***jobs or beatings”.
The children say they were forced to watch incest porn with Mr. Mette. The children were told that the porn, with titles like “Family Heat”, is how families are supposed to act.
The disgusted police charged Mr. Mette with 23 counts of child rape and incest, and Mrs. Mette with 11 counts of physical abuse and enabling.
The State prosecutor, however, first attempted to drop all charges, and charged sexual predator Mr. Mette with only one count of “spanking”.
When the State was not allowed to do this, they decided to charge Mr. Mette with only one count of rape of a child under 10. The other 22 charges of aggravated child rape and incest were dropped.
The State then dropped all charges against Mrs. Mette, who the children said knew about and enabled the abuse.
Children are now back with Mrs. Mette, where they can’t sue the State DSS. As the state’s DCI agent explained, South Dakota fears that they will face an expensive lawsuit by the seven Lakota foster children whose complaints of sexual abuse were ignored by the state for 10 years. Since they are now minors in the custody of Wendy Mette, the person who enabled the abuse, they cannot sue the state without her permission and support.
What can we do?
Please call Tony West, the Associate Attorney General of the United States, and let him know that the federal Department of Justice needs to Free the Mette Children immediately! (202) 514-9500
The Eagle Bull- Oxendine family is being sued by their child’s school for defamation, because they asked the school to permanently change their offensive and culturally insensitive Thanksgiving curriculum and to honor a two-year scholarship taken from their daughter after they voiced their concern over Native appropriation there.
They’re raising funds to defray mounting legal expenses. Please share this link and donate what you can. If they lose, we all lose. This case has the potential to set dangerous precedent where Natives are effectively gagged from speaking out against appropriation and the abuse of our culture and sacred ways by mainstream society. This is legal conquest. We can’t allow them to play Indian and hide behind judicial robes to do it. Thank you.
Contribute here: http://www.gofundme.com/8f3z30
When most Lakota children wake up to for their 18th birthdays, it is
more of dreaded date than a celebration. This is the time when those in
foster care will exit the state system and be sent into the world with
very little preparation or tools to be successful. By age 20, over 60%
are homeless, in prison, or dead. Many Lakota foster children
have also been prescribed a cocktail of psychiatric medication to
“control” them, unfortunately, this leads to much more severe problems
later in life. It becomes a struggle to get off of these drugs and make
sense of their fractured world without family or community for support.
Sadly, this problem is not new. Lakota children have been taken from
their families for more than 130 years. It began in the 1880s under a
U.S. Government policy of forced assimilation: children as young as five
years old were removed from their homes, shipped to boarding schools,
and instructed in the ways of white culture with the official motto:
“Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Today, a generation of children is once
again losing its connection to its culture through state-sanctioned
kidnapping under the auspices of the South Dakota Department of Social
Services. Every year South Dakota blatantly violates the Indian Child
Welfare Act by removing over 740 Native children from their families and
community and putting into non-Native foster care.
I arrived to Lapwai on Nez Perce land where I met a women named Rosa. She told me I was looking for Sikem, and that some young Numipu (Nez Perce) could help me find him. So I asked a young Numipu named Olivia if she knew Sikem and she said yes. She said she had known him since she was seven. She said she was free when she was with him and that he was her therapy. With him she felt like she could do whatever she wanted. She had a picture of Sikem on her shoulder saying “Live to Ride.”
Continuig west to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla I met Katie. She told me she knew of Sikem too. She said she couldn’t imagine her life without him because it was him that gave her a personal tie to her family’s history and culture. She told me a person could learn a lot from Sikem and in time he will become your best friend; you could even go on adventures together. She said Sikem is a part of her family. She had sewn all her own regalia for Sikem.
Not too far away in the Yakama Nation I met Patricia. She told me I was looking for Kusi her treasured friend. She said don’t let him fool you, he is a gentle giant, that has the tendency to be wild but again so gentle and tame. She held a bag that her mother had beaded with Kusi on it.
I travelled further south and met Benson on the Navajo Nation. He told me I was searching for łįį’ . He said he hoped I could pronounce it or he might be hard to find. He told me when his time on earth was over łįį’ would be his ride to the spirit world.
I lmet Clayson here as well. Clayson told me if I breath on łįį’ and if he breathes back onto me, a bond has been created for life. Clayson had made a crown piece for łįį with a half moon shape in sliver and some turquoise.
On my way north I stopped in Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Nation I met a man named Phillip. He told me “Mo en ha, was who I must be looking for, Beautiful, Holy Spirit. He told me, “Our Language comes from the creator, when we speak, it creates thought and a thought never leaves its source, Mo en ha reminds us that we are all connected and we are all beautiful holy spirits.” He told me that he helped children and adults alike find Mo en ha because when they find him they find themselves.
Across the way in Crow Agency I heard the name, iichiili, and so I inquired after him. I met a family that lived with iichiili , they said if I looked far in the distance and as close as front door I could see iichiili everywhere and that Iichiili has always been here.
Finally on my travels east. I met a women from the Lakota nation named Sung Agli Win-She Brings Back the Horses. She told me I was looking for Sunka Wakan. Her father had told her when the spirits brought them the gift of the Sunka Wakan they found that it was four legged and with a coat like wolves and dogs, but with special powers. It was hard to translate but maybe it was like “large four legged being with spiritual powers.” She said that I would find Sunka Wakan living harmoniously in spirit like all of nature and that our connection with him was a gift from Creator for which we are grateful. She said we are tied together, us and Sunka Wakan. Like the buffalo they reflect us and link us back into the sacred rhythm and balance of nature. Any given child or person spending time with sunka wakan may find the effect hard to describe because they are being touched at a deeper level.
In #SouthDakota, many #Lakota foster children who age out of state facilities are given a few hundred bucks on their eighteenth birthday and dropped off at this market. We can end this. #OurChildrenAreSacred
Wounded Knee Massacre 124 years ago: We remember those lost December 29, 2014
One hundred and twenty-four winters ago, on December 29, 1890, some 150 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by the US 7th Calvary Regiment near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some estimate the actual number closer to 300.
Snowfall was heavy that December week. The Lakota ancestors killed that day were left in brutal frigid wintry plains of the reservation before a burial party came to bury them in one mass grave. The photograph of Big Foot’s frozen and contorted body is a symbol for all American Indians of what happened to our ancestors.
Some of those who survived were eventually taken to the Episcopal mission in Pine Ridge. Eventually, some of them were able to give an oral history of what happened. One poignant fact of the massacre has remained in my mind since first reading it, and every time I think about Wounded Knee, I remember this:
“IT WAS THE FOURTH DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1890. WHEN THE FIRST TORN AND BLEEDING BODIES WERE CARRIED INTO THE CANDLELIT CHURCH, THOSE WHO WERE CONSCIOUS COULD SEE CHRISTMAS GREENERY HANGING FROM THE OPEN RAFTERS. ACROSS THE CHANCEL FRONT ABOVE THE PULPIT WAS STRUNG A CRUDELY LETTERED BANNER: “PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN,”
writes Dee Brown in “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”
There was no peace on earth for the Lakota four days after Christmas.
Later, as absurd as it may sound, some 20 US Calvary soldiers were given the Medal of Honor – for killing innocent Lakota men, women and children. What an insult to those who lost their lives. What an insult to humanity.
The Wounded Knee Massacre is a symbol for all American Indians of what happened to our ancestors.
History records the Wounded Knee Massacre was the last battle of the American Indian war. Unfortunately, it is when most American history books drop American Indians from history, as well. As if we no longer exist.
Fortunately, American Indians have survived – one generation after another – since Wounded Knee. It is for us who remain to remember our ancestors as we make for a better life for those we encounter today. We are also taught to prepare for the next seven generations, but as we do, we must remember our ancestors.
We remember those ancestors lost on December 29 — 124 winters ago.
Circle Bear was jailed on a bond violation at the Brown County Jail
in Aberdeen. On Sunday, July 6, she was found unresponsive in a holding
According to KELO, Circle Bear was taken to a nearby hospital where she died later that same day.
that when Circle Bear was transferred to the holding cell, she told
guards that she was in excruciating pain. Jail personnel reportedly told
her to “quit faking” and “knock it off” before lifting her partway off
the floor and dragging her to the cell where she was later found
According to Manning, “I recently learned about Sarah Lee Circle Bear
while attending a family ceremonial gathering. A relative set out a
memorial chair for Sarah, a tradition of the Dakota and Lakota people.
Sarah’s story was shared, and the circle prayed for her and her family
for four days.”
The 24-year-old left behind two infant sons, ages one and two.
In 2012, the Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi preschool opened its doors to its first cohort of 3 years olds to receive 100% of their instruction in Lakota.
Housed at Sitting Bull College on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe reservation, the Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi immersion nest gives students the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Lakota language for 8 hours a day, 4 days a week. Lessons are mixed with best practices in early childhood education and traditional Lakota knowledge.
The Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi program, along with the schools parents, teachers and community members are currently looking finical support to help keep its doors open and expand the immersion school.
AP PRIDE Rebel Music’s premiere has been picked up by the Associated Press. Check it out!
MTV’s ‘Rebel Music’ highlights Native Americans
When MTV’s “Rebel Music” debuted last year, the globe-trotting documentary series searched out passionate young artists driving change in hotspots including Egypt and Afghanistan.
This time around, it stays close to home with Native American activists. There’s Frank Waln, a hip-hop artist seeking to protect the environment and his heritage, and pop musician Inez Jasper, demanding attention for women’s rights and safe harbor from violence.
Musicians Nataanii Means, son of American Indian Movement activist Russell Means, and Mike Clifford, working together to foster hope and fight suicide among Native American youngsters, also are featured in the series, debuting 4 p.m. EST Thursday on MTV’s Facebook page. …read more