I write to you from Standing Rock with encouraging news: despite losing a tough mayoral campaign in McLaughlin, South Dakota, I’ve been promised appointment to the city council. Given the profound hardships it took to get here, I’m pleased with this outcome.
Three months ago, my uncle Robert White Mountain shared my story with you — I was unjustly removed from the ballot as a mayoral candidate by McLaughlin’s majority white city council. Robert’s message triggered an article in our local paper, The Teton Times, which put City Hall on alert: the Lakota People’s Law Project — and supporters like you — would not tolerate violation of my right to run for elected office. The pressure worked, and I gained a last minute chance to re-enter the race.
In Lakota Law’s new video, I talk about our mayoral race in McLaughlin and my plans, as a future City Council member, to provide for our youth.
While I couldn’t win with just days to campaign, an appointment to the council will still let me accomplish many good things for this town. Thank you for being part of the watchdog community who supported my right to run. More and more, we Indigenous people are seeking elected office throughout the United States, and we are casting more votes, too. But the trend of keeping us off ballots — or of not counting our ballots at all — remains a huge problem.
That’s why, just last week, the Lakota People’s Law Project forged a compact with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to support a nationwide campaign encouraging Congress to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act. Very soon, Lakota Law will give you an opportunity — via its about-to-be-launched Action Center — to make your voice heard on this critical topic.
As I prepare to join the city council here in McLaughlin, I plan to collaborate with the Lakota People’s Law Project to start a youth center where, as director, I will ensure that the children of our tribal nation have access to culturally enriching experiences, like sweat lodge, ceremony, and prayer songs. Because of the imposed poverty here at Standing Rock, far too many of our youth fall into substance use, gang activity, or suicide. As someone with a degree in social work, I intend to help solve this crisis.
Thank you for supporting our work here on tribal nations in the Dakotas. Please stay with us. We have much to accomplish together to protect Native voting rights and assist our youth.
Wopila tanka — my enduring gratitude for your care and attention!
Hoksila White Mountain
Via the Lakota People’s Law Project