If you’ve been following our work on Standing Rock for the past year, you won’t be surprised to hear that the white-dominated city council in my hometown of McLaughlin, South Dakota is displaying its usual biased treatment of Native residents. First they cut power to homes during the early, cold months of COVID-19. Then they blocked my friend, Hoksila White Mountain, from running for mayor of the Standing Rock’s reservation’s second largest town. Now, they’ve reneged on the mayor’s promise to appoint Hoksila to city council. Unacceptable!
Please help us reverse this ugly, local pattern of Native subjugation. Sign our petition to the McLaughlin City Council today and let them know you stand behind our refusal to accept this broken promise.
On Monday, we’ll attend the council meeting and, in a show of force by the Native people of this community, deliver our message directly to our local lawmakers. I’m also leading a team of five people going door to door collecting signatures around town, and I’m happy to report that our lead counsel, Chase Iron Eyes, will be there on Monday to represent Hoksila.
As an additional pressure point, we’re in dialogue with the Campaign Legal Center in D.C. (the law firm that successfully joined the Native American Rights Fund in suing North Dakota in 2018 over its voter suppression law) about this matter. I’m confident the power of our combined voices can achieve the change we need.
We have leverage. McLaughlin’s mayor is on record, multiple times, saying Hoksila will fill the vacant seat in his own ward. The mayor has no valid reason to back off from this public promise — only fear and/or racism. Hoksila would be just the second Native person on the city council in Standing Rock’s second largest town, which was once a KKK stronghold. (My friends and I call it the “Deep North”.)
But I grew up on this land, and I know the power it — and its original inhabitants — have. This November, we at Standing Rock helped generate the largest electoral turnout in U.S. history, and the Native vote had an undeniable impact. So we refuse to stand down and accept election irregularities like this at Standing Rock. Petition the City of McLaughlin, and let them know you stand with us in demanding Hoksila’s appointment to council. It’s past time for Native representation and justice in our homelands.
Wopila tanka — your action empowers our people!
Standing Rock Organizer
Lakota People’s Law Project