The Dream

Lakota Law
Lakota Law

On Aug. 26, 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. As you know, his powerful oratory laid out a vision of unification, calling for civil and economic rights and an end to racism. And yet, we still have a long way to go before his dream can become a reality.

On Monday, as we celebrated Martin Luther King Day, the Lakota People’s Law Project joined the Indigenous Peoples Movement (IPM) and Warrior Women Project to host an online panel discussion titled “Are We Fulfilling the Dream?” You can find the entire roundtable on our social channels, and we’ve also cut together a shorter video with some highlights for you here.

Watch: IPM’s YoNasDa LoneWolf was joined by Madonna Thunder Hawk of Lakota Law and Warrior Women Project — and a diverse crew of BIPOC thinkers — to discuss racism and civil rights on MLK Day.

As a mixed-race Black and Yamassee woman, I’m proud to work not only for Lakota Law but also for my tribe as its Cultural and Government Liaison. I am also an IPM coalition member, and as such, I’m embedded every day in the movements for Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation.

Sadly, many in this land are still working overtime to protect and propagate systemic exploitation. Just yesterday, the U.S. Senate met to debate a pair of voting rights bills — the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — which would implement voting protections especially helpful to People of Color. But conservative lawmakers are refusing to support these bills, leading to calls among liberals for filibuster reform so that a simple majority could pass them. Indeed, the filibuster is an antidemocratic institution; at a minimum it should be partially set aside to allow civil rights legislation, such as voting rights bills, to be passed by simple majority. 

At this critical moment, we can’t lose more ground in our battle for equity and justice. If we don’t stand for democracy now, we may never have the chance again. If you haven’t yet done so, you can use Lakota Law’s Action Center to write to your senators and tell them to safeguard the future of our democracy by reforming the filibuster and passing both voting rights bills! 

Please watch and share our discussion, and take action to create a more inclusive future. We can still fulfill the dream shared by MLK and John Lewis. We can let freedom ring from every mountainside. But we must act as one for the benefit of all.

Shonabish — thank you for standing for justice and equality!
Earth Hadjo
Social Media Coordinator
Lakota People’s Law Project

A Victory

Lakota Law

As many of us gather with family today — a “holiday” that people in our communities understand as a deeply problematic celebration of colonialism and genocide — I’ll choose to highlight a recent victory for Native America. You may recall that, a few months back, we asked you to help the Cherokee Nation seat a congressional delegate. Here’s the good news. About a week ago, after nearly two centuries of delay, Congress held its first ever hearing on the subject — and it went very well!

Watch the video and share this action: Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation sat down with us to discuss the importance of seating Kimberly Teehee as the Cherokee Nation’s first congressional delegate.

To be clear, it isn’t a done deal. However, as NPR accurately reports, last week’s House Rules Committee hearing represents by far the biggest step the federal government has ever taken toward fulfilling a promise it made to the Cherokee way back in 1835’s Treaty of New Echota. And while we can’t celebrate prematurely, the U.S. government making progress toward doing what it said it would for any Native nation is historic and a reason for optimism.

So now what? Let’s keep the pressure on. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin gave Lakota Law an informative interview about why it’s time to seat Kimberly Teehee as the Cherokee delegate to the House of Representatives, and that discussion is available to watch on our action page. If you have not already done any of the following, I urge you to make the time to watch the interview, send a message to your reps, and use the social media buttons on our action page (and perhaps dinner table conversation) to share this timely advocacy with your circle.

Given the tenor of the Rules Committee hearing and the outpouring of support by people like you, Chief Hoskin is confident the Cherokee can make history for Native representation in the halls of power as soon as this calendar year. Let’s help him make it happen!

Wopila tanka — thank you, and I wish you a good day of connection.
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director and Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project