Vote 2020

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It’s an exciting week at Standing Rock as we’re in full swing with our Vote 2020 call center! On Wednesday, our media team hit the ground running, and we trained a full room of 25 Standing Rock members to call and activate voters around the U.S.


Watch our new video: Standing Rock members call potential voters in North Carolina.

It’s been said a thousand times: this is the most important election of our lifetime. With so much wrong in the world, we can turn the tide — right now. I’m confident that we’ll successfully combat attempts to disenfranchise Native people and make our voices heard loud and clear on Nov. 3. 

We’re encouraging everyone we speak with to vote — and whenever possible, we’re making sure they can do so early. This election offers us a chance to turn what is usually a particularly hard time of year for us in Native communities into a time of hope. While it’s always a challenge being Indian in America, as we go from October into November, our pain intensifies. Beginning with Columbus Day and continuing through Thanksgiving, the wider culture seems to constantly celebrate calls for erasure of Indigenous personhood.

That history is exactly why we’re calling on each other to speak truth to power, to envision who we want to be in the times to come. This election is a test: Who are we, really, when the going gets tough? As Americans, it’s critical we work together to be our best selves. Yes, this is a hard, trying time — but as Indigenous peoples and nations, this has always been the case. 

Standing Rock Protest Video
Callers celebrate a day of effective outreach.

Let me be clear: we believe in American ideals as much as anyone. We want liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So this November, we’re doing everything humanly possible to make sure the Earth is respected, fascism is rejected, and our democracy is protected.

Wopila — thank you, always, for your generosity and heart.

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

The Truth and Healing Act

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Hihanni waste,

In the U.S., some of the ugly realities of our history continue to unfold, but there is always hope when we push back. We’re seeing this now in the continued struggle for racial justice, a movement that is playing out not only on the streets but in the halls of Congress. We’re grateful that last week, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives to bring to light the injustices suffered by my people at the hands of the federal government. 

The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States Act aims to establish a formal commission to expose the atrocities committed by the federal boarding school policy, and give a voice to the descendants dealing with the resulting trauma. It is co-sponsored by a long list of congressional reps, including Rep. Sharice L. Davids (D-Kan.), a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Davids and Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) were recently the first two Native women elected to the House.

Between 1879 and 1918, more than 10,000 Native American children from 140 tribes attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. 158 graduated.

As you may know, the Indian boarding school era is one of the darkest chapters in the history of American Indian policy. Under a government-approved goal to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” our children were taken and forcibly assimilated into colonized ways of thinking. Their braids cut and the speaking of their languages prohibited, these children were subjected to repeated physical, sexual, and mental abuse — and too many never made it back home. The horrible reality is that hundreds, if not thousands, of these children still lie in boarding school graveyards around the country instead of resting in their homelands with their ancestors. 

This history is not removed from modern day, either. My sister and I were sent to boarding school back in the 1940s, and this awful practice didn’t end until the ‘60s. I witnessed this genocidal policy firsthand. 

Here at LPLP, we’ve long been proponents of Truth and Healing. Back in 2015-’16, about 50 Native nations signed onto our petition for a congressional committee modeled after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation effort. We stand with the many other tribal leaders supporting the creation of this commission under Haaland and Warren’s bill.

In these days of deception and disease — when our rights are once again being violated by officials who seek to limit our power at the polls — a new way forward must be found. Truth and healing is exactly what we need.

Wopila tanka — In solidarity!

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

Voting Efforts

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As you know, the Lakota People’s Law Project does all we can to ensure that my fellow Native Americans can cast their ballots each election cycle. In recent weeks, we’ve been writing to you about our effort to pass the Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA). Now we’re taking things to the next level. We’ve partnered with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and leading up to the election we’ll run a joint phone bank where tribal members activate their neighbors and Native voters in swing states like North Carolina and Arizona. We’re doing all we can to see that Indian Country makes a big noise in the 2020 election.

Lakota LawOur first team members feel the joy after a day of making a difference in the 2020 election.

We’ll hire and train about 30 tribal residents as get-out-the-vote organizers. Using data-driven targeting and leveraging the latest tech to increase efficiency, we’ll have tens of thousands of conversations with voters. In addition to boosting the number of people casting ballots in important regional elections, this will put Standing Rock’s citizens to work learning valuable skills at a time when earning money is harder than ever on the reservation.

Lakota LawDana Yellow Fat works the phones to Standing Rock the Vote.

Meanwhile, growing support for NAVRA has moved it closer to getting out of committee and into law. Over the past month, partly because of our efforts, the bill gained five new sponsors in the House of Representatives (including some in critical swing states). We’re also engaged with investigative journalists at national press outlets to ensure high-level coverage of the suppression tactics and other difficulties faced by Native voters in 2020.

We’ll maintain our ambitious media and video production calendar to make sure you’ve got a clear window into the work. As always, your support makes all we do possible — and I can’t thank you enough for helping us lead the struggle. Let’s stay committed!

Wopila tanka — my gratitude for continuing to propel this movement forward.

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

Standing Rock

Thu, Oct 1, 2020 6:36 pm Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota Law (info@lakotalaw.org)To:you Details

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Warm greetings! As we look to escape the shadow of the most embarrassing presidential debate in the history of our still-young nation, our team here at Standing Rock has begun assembling tribal phone bankers. Our mission? We must remind Native voters in battleground states that their voice matters and help them cast their ballots. Much more news to come soon on that front. 

Meanwhile, I share with you a powerful new video about our NoDAPL stand, produced by VICE News in conjunction with the Lakota People’s Law Project. As we’ve continued to work with students at Loyola University to compile our archive of NoDAPL resources, we’ve also been releasing videos to tell you the full story of our stand to protect Standing Rock’s water. Another key reason for compiling these materials is to allow journalists, like our friends at VICE News, to help tell that story effectively. 

About a month ago, VICE News sent their “I Was There” production team to meet me in South Dakota so we could talk about what really happened at Standing Rock. We also provided their team with access to our archival resources. Using all of that plus other sourced footage, they produced “I was There: DAPL Protests.” I urge you to watch it to gain a fuller picture of the timeline and meaning of our movement, and how it fits into the present cultural moment. I hope that you will find it informative.

Please know that, as we ramp up our Vote 2020 campaign to protect the future of our right to be heard in this democracy, we won’t stop our continued efforts to defeat DAPL — and Keystone XL — once and for all. This year has shown us so clearly that we must take our vigilance to new levels to protect one another. We have to fight on multiple fronts and make sure that the truth always comes to light. We’re so grateful for responsible journalists like the team from VICE News who help us do that. And, of course, we couldn’t be more appreciative of you for helping us stay in the fight every single day.

Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with us and with Standing Rock!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Latest DAPL News

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I hope you’re hanging in there in what has become a more difficult and surreal year with every passing month. As if 2020 hadn’t hit hard enough yet, the death this week of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg landed yet another troubling blow to the health and safety of our democracy. But we’re pushing back in Indian Country.  

The fate of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) is one among many issues that could be adversely affected, if the Senate confirms a conservative nominee from President Trump as Justice Ginsberg’s replacement. But because Joe Biden’s team has announced his intention to shut down both DAPL and Keystone XL (KXL), the courts could be removed from the equation entirely should he become president.

In our new DAPL Archive video, SD Rancher Marv Kammerer — the personification of what mutual understanding and alliance-building should look like — discusses appropriate stewardship of land and water.

No matter what happens in November, we must stand unified, together, across dividing lines real and imagined, to protect our future in this homeland. To see exactly what that looks like, I invite you to watch our latest DAPL Archive video. In 2017, I wrote an op-ed in The Hill about DAPL’s continuation of the age-old battle between cowboys and Indians. I’m happy to say that, in 2020, we have now evolved a small cowboy-Indian alliance against DAPL and KXL. Listen to our ally, rancher Marv Kammerer. You’ll be inspired.

At the end of the day, it is our shared values — not our racial differences — that must determine where we stand and where we’re going. By giving our common values a chance to resonate, we can heal the past and present and create the future we want. 
 
Please stay with us as we begin to hire and train dozens of Standing Rock tribal members to call voters in states like Florida and Arizona between now and Nov 3. We’ll make sure Native votes are cast and counted in this all-important election. Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, America will hear our voice. As Marv so eloquently puts it, we must be proper stewards of this land. So let us rise to the occasion.

Wopila tanka — thank you for being part of our alliance!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Become a Member: Lakota Law Project

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Despite COVID tearing through the Dakotas in the wake of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and wildfires threatening our team in California, we’re as committed to lifting up our communities as we ever have been. No doubt about it, 2020 has been a challenging year. It’s forced us to develop new strategies for securing justice and achieving our goals. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205198/252206446/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=textlink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>That’s why we’re launching a membership program for Lakota Law, and we want you to be one of the first to join. Because a donor has promised to match all gifts, your generosity will do twice as much good.

What does membership with us mean? It means that together, we can make an even bigger impact on our journey to justice for the Lakota People. It will give you new ways to build community with like-minded supporters, contribute to the projects that matter most to you, and ensure stability for our work during turbulent times.

We know the value of stability. Last year, we realized a longtime dream when we bought a house on the Standing Rock Nation and opened a foster home for some of the reservation’s most at-risk children. In partnership with community members, the home has provided a safe place — in Native care — for 25 Lakota kids in 2020. And it has given those children stability. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205199/252206447/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=textlink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Renee, will you join us by becoming a member of the Lakota People’s Law Project today?

<a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205200/252206448/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=piclink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Some of our foster kids with their tribal foster parent, at our kinship care home on Standing Rock Nation.

Over the years, your support has created a better world for Lakota children and families. In the beginning, I formed the Lakota Child Rescue Project. In 2012, we hosted an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Summit. We transported dozens of Standing Rock families to Rapid City. There, tribal members from across South Dakota testified about the state’s Department of Social Services removing our children to illegally place them in non-Native care.

Now, your support can help fund a youth center adjacent to our Standing Rock foster home. We’re optimistic that, with your help, we could break ground as early as spring of 2021! So much of the suffering on our reservations — the suicide rates, the substance abuse, the juvenile offenses — could be solved by providing more resources for our young ones. We must work together to provide consistent places to sleep, learn, and play. That’s what building real stability looks like.

Wopila tanka — my deep gratitude to you for your committed friendship!
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
 

P.S. Lakota Law members join a community of like-minded supporters and give us financial stability, ensuring that our work together is both strategic and effective. As a member you’ll receive meaningful benefits, including new ways to connect with us — and with each other. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank" href="https://click.everyaction.com/k/19205202/252206450/1958792018?utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mlfh&utm_content=pslink&sourceid=1042976&amp;

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&nvep=ew0KICAiVGVuYW50VXJpIjogIm5ncHZhbjovL3Zhbi9FQS9FQTAwMS8xLzU4MDcwIiwNCiAgIkRpc3RyaWJ1dGlvblVuaXF1ZUlkIjogImRlMTY4NjBhLTZmZjgtZWExMS05OWMzLTAwMTU1ZDAzOWU3NCIsDQogICJFbWFpbEFkZHJlc3MiOiAiYXp0ZWM4ODg4QGFvbC5jb20iDQp9&hmac=ke7PoBOq6ZnUqC2Qe0IQ_hFLFUE7lPUxAbGUF9lImFQ=&emci=5e2001a3-9cf3-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&emdi=de16860a-6ff8-ea11-99c3-00155d039e74&ceid=2659296″>Please visit our website to learn more; and become a member by Saturday, Sept. 26 to join us for our special Membership Launch Event that day with me, Chase Iron Eyes, and our Lakota Law leaders!

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Victory for Red Fawn!

The best news I have heard this year! She should never have been arrested in the first place. It was a clear set up and attempt to intimidate protestors.

Image Credit: Twitter: @lakotalaw

An Indigenous water protector who was arrested during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline has been released from federal prison. Prosecutors accused Red Fawn Fallis of firing three shots from a handgun as police in riot gear, wielding batons, surrounded her to make an arrest amid mass protests against the pipeline in 2016. Red Fawn’s uncle, Glenn Morris, welcomed her release Thursday, telling Indian Country Today, “The real criminals continue to pump oil through the pipeline in violation of the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties and US environmental laws.”

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/9/11/headlines/standing_rock_water_protector_red_fawn_fallis_leaves_federal_prison

Voting Rights >Action Needed!

Voting rights are under attack across America. President Trump’s threat to withhold funding from the U.S. Postal Service is just the latest attempt to limit our power by blocking free and fair elections. Of course, to Native people like me, this is nothing new. That’s why, two weeks ago, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe voted unanimously to team up with the Lakota People’s Law Project, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) to make sure Congress passes the Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA) as soon as possible.

You can help us realize this vision! Please use your voice to inspire lawmakers to prioritize and pass this bill right now. Use our brand new Action Center to send a letter to your congressional reps today, and tell them it’s critical to support NAVRA. All voices must be heard for the health of our democratic institutions to truly be respected.

Lakota LawWe Standing Rocked the Vote in 2018, and now, with your help, we’ll pass NAVRA and ensure fair elections are held throughout all of Indian Country.

You likely recall that, in 2018, North Dakota passed a voter ID law specifically aimed at disenfranchising Native citizens without street addresses. I remain grateful that you leapt into action at that time, helping us Standing Rock the Vote. Together, we put 100 tribal volunteers on the street, printed 800 new IDs, and doubled turnout over the prior midterm.

But other Indigenous communities around the U.S. aren’t so fortunate. Many face significant hurdles, such as remote or difficult-to-reach polling locations, language barriers, and no vote-by-mail option. NAVRA will address these concerns and more.

I also want you to know that we’re just getting started. We intend to engage the members of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association — the leaders of 16 tribes throughout North and South Dakota and Nebraska. We’ll also organize with tribal nations around the country to gain bipartisan support, and we’ll train a group of ambassadors from Standing Rock to phonebank and turn out the national Native vote, come election time. The tribe has also requested a congressional hearing.

Voter suppression within communities of color must end, right now. We have the opportunity to make a tremendous difference — not just for folks on reservations, but for the future of our nation. Please join us in what could be the most important action we’ve ever undertaken together.

Wopila tanka — my thanks for standing with Native voters!

Phyllis Young
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

P.S. No less than the fate of our democracy could be on the line if we don’t stand together to protect elections and the right of communities of color to cast our votes. Email your senator and congressperson and tell them to support — and pass — the Native American Voting Rights Act.

Lakota People's Law Project

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Regarding Covid-19 in Standing Rock

Hello again from the front lines! I’m happy to report that, thanks largely to your support, things are much quieter here than you might expect. We’re at the tail end of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the largest gathering without protection in our country since the pandemic began. But because of Cheyenne River’s lawsuit against the Trump administration, and because you’ve sent 28,000 emails to SD Governor Kristi Noem and federal agencies, our COVID checkpoints are still up and running. They’re keeping the bikers — and the contagion they could have delivered — outside our borders!

Thank goodness, because COVID-19 is bad enough here as it is. With nearly 200 confirmed cases at Pine Ridge, about 100 at Cheyenne River, and a death at Standing Rock, the Lakota People’s Law Project is spending tens of thousands on personal protective equipment, cots, tipis, stoves, and other supplies to help with the quarantine effort. But we still need more help, right now. Can you pitch in today to ensure we have what we need to keep our communities safe?

Checkpoints Video
In my new video, you’ll hear about how our checkpoints keep our tribal nations safer, even as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally descends and the pandemic grows.

Our combination of government advocacy and grassroots organizing is having an impact. And we need to keep it up, since we can’t allow the Oceti Sakowin to suffer the way our Diné relatives — the Navajo Nation — have, so tragically. Having 250,000 bikers descend on our homelands, most not wearing masks, just makes our situation more difficult.

As we await further action from Congress on COVID-19, we’ll remain vigilant in the face of the abject bullying and incompetence of this White House. Please keep eyes out next week for our joint message with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in support of the Native American Voting Rights Act. We will need every available Indigenous voice to be heard this November.

Wopila tanka — my sincere thanks for your solidarity throughout this crisis!

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

P.S. Please contribute what you can today to help Lakota Law continue funding COVID relief on tribal nations in South Dakota. Your gifts now provide real, in-the-trenches materials that are limiting coronavirus spread and saving lives. Thank you so much!

 

Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

Native American Voting Rights Act

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.
Lakota Law
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