This is the 47th annual SGU celebration to thank the People for you continued support and also, to again, ask for your assistance, guidance and prayers to help us as we continue our work in strengthening our institution to improve our ability to better serve you as a People.
This year our theme is: Mak’e akanl tako unpin a icagapi hena etkiya wicun ki yugata pi kte heun Sicangu Oyate ki han Oyate wicaglu witayapi kte. “Reaching out to all Creation for Sicangu Oyate Nation Building.”
We know that we, along with the nation, the world and our fellow tribal nations, are at the crossroads of our lives. We have come a long way as a nation of People. We’ve known many struggles. Some have been more difficult than others. However, we have stayed together with all our dreams and our efforts to succeed. We have relied upon the love of our families and tiospaye for our continued existence and development. We have been guided by our spirituality and the carrying on of our cultural traditions as our ancestry envisioned and fought for. However, we must look at ourselves and assess all that we are and represent. We must look at our schools, and our governments with their many services, be they tribal, federal, state or county. We know that we must continually examine our need to ask how we can better and strengthen ourselves. We as a Tribal People and our entities must continue to set the direction needed now, and, for our youth and the generations to come. We need our youth to be involved with our planning so as to design programs which when developed will benefit them. How can we make life a little more comfortable for those amongst us who are growing older and who did so much for us? Equally, we must strengthen the memories and traditions which our ancestry represented.
It is our institutional aim to continue developing plans encompassing a vision and strategy to guide us. However, SGU cannot do this alone. We need everyone, whether it is your ideas, your leadership, or your prayers. We need our reservation programs so as to incorporate their plans, resources and leadership to address who we are and want to be. In doing so, we strengthen and improve the quality of our daily lives. Charlie Colombe said, “We must define ourselves and articulate who we want to be as a People.” He was summing up what all of our previous generations and former leadership have been saying for over a century. Likewise, Albert White Hat, Sr. always said to stand strong on the Lakota traditions and our spirituality, to always maintain this philosophy and way of life as the foundation of our lives.
Our governance models, both, tribal governments and our other systems such as schools need to be reviewed and updated. We all have something to offer toward these efforts. Our efforts and changes need to be systemic. For example, our schools need to unite to get better use of all resources. These need to include use of the facilities and skills which we all institutionally possess for a future plan preparing students to be better trained and to be productive adults. I say this knowing the difficulty of time and circumstances changing throughout the year and making things difficult to plan.
A tribal motion exists supporting the tribal administration and council to holding discussions with all programs and various reservation organizations and schools in developing a futuristic vision and comprehensive strategic plan. The Tribe, the Treaty Council and the Community Chairman’s Association are all needed. Educators cannot do this alone. This needs to be done not only here on the Rosebud, but, also amongst the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (Lakota-Dakota-Nakota Oyate tribal nations) and nationally across Indian country.
Indian country, today, needs to assume serious thought and discussion about itself through visioning, planning and establishing a process of reviewing, redefining, articulating and restructuring itself. We need a critical academic analysis of the tribal-federal and state relationship. This initiative must be a movement across Indian country. This movement needs to address the needed overhauling of tribal nations as to all policies and procedures governing and directing our lives. We need an assessment of who we are and a planned action as to the future state of our affairs. We need to define and articulate self-determination and its applicability in providing direction and guidance to future generations. Our future must be greater than who we are today. Al aspects of livelihood affecting the quality of our daily lives need to be examined and re-legislated as needed to true tribal self-determination of what we want, not what somebody else wants. In our review and analysis, we must return to ancestry and the ancient laws that were provided by the Creator and based on our natural and/or inherent rights. We must develop an updated philosophy and agenda addressing what is needed when we talk “control” of who we are and what we want. The late President Stanley Crooks of the Mdewakantonwan Dakota Oyate of Shakopee, Minnesota tribal nation, proposed an Oceti Sakowin presence in the He Sapa (Black Hills). He called for this in the areas of culture, education, economics and veterans. This needs to be expanded to include health, housing, energy, land, social services, judicial and other areas of need.
We have many sharp, young minds with the energy and technological knowledge and skills that need to be involved. Working together with older leadership we can plan and do this. The People need it. In fact, many throughout the world await the call and leadership of the Great Plains Tribal Nations working with all of Indian country to set the example.
In short, it is urgent to develop a tribal blueprint to be planned and carried out with prayer and ceremony to address and strengthen our future as needed for thriving tribal nations. This is what our ancestry, as led by Chief Spotted Tail and the many other Sicangu chiefs and leaders of their time envisioned.
With prayer and ceremony, careful thought and consistent action the above mentioned can be addressed and eventually achieved. Future generations will know that previous generations cared and had them in mind when the People of the Rosebud and Oceti Sakowin Oyate initiated the development of a “Seven-Generational” and beyond Plan of Action. This will give hope, guidance, direction and substance in setting the “wheels in motion” to sustaining the Sicangu and Oceti Sakowin Oyate for time immemorial. A thousand years from now we will still be able to say, “Hechena un Lakota pi kte yelo.” (We will still be Lakota).