To the Editor,
Greetings from the 2017- 2018 American Indian Business Leaders! We hope that all students, faculty, and community members enter the coming fall season in good health and good spirits. And to the new and returning students at Oglala Lakota College, we hope for you a school year that is filled with learning and growing while being instructed by some of the most compassionate, and knowledgeable people we know; our OLC professors.
It was our great honor to represent Oglala Lakota College throughout the 2017-2018 academic year. We had the opportunity to go places and participate in events that not only tested our academic knowledge but also our cultural and personal values. Whether we were dealing with a less than supportive department chair or administration, addressing misconceptions and falsehoods about our culture and traditions at elite institutions, or marching to demand action about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. We always faced challenges with the same compassion, respect and honesty that was taught to us by the people who helped nurture and raise us from birth. We know no other way!
During the 2017-2018 we were recognized for our excellence in academics and our commitment to our community. Cameron and Kellen were co-captains of the Business Bowl team that took 1st place at AIHEC. Kellen won Mr. AIHEC and placed 3rd in speech-persuasive. Nikki, Robert, Cante and Kellen were chosen as scholars by the Discovery Program at the prestigious
Bentley University. Cante and Kellen were part of the LNI College Success
Panel. Kellen was chosen as an American Indian
College Fund Ambassador. Kellen, Cameron,
Nikki and Robert gave the presentation at the
American Indian Business
Leaders National Conference where our chapter was named Chapter of the Year and Kellen was named Student Leader of the Year. Our business club achieved these distinctions through hard work and perseverance but also with the help and mentorship of many people throughout our college and community. We could not be more thankful.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank some people individually. Bryant Brewer and the Lakota Nation Invitational tournament for allowing us to be a part of the 2017 basketball tournament. Tammy Lafferty for your guidance and support. Gay Kingman for your mentorship and support. Bruce Long Fox for your support and business advice. Prairie Big Horn and the AIBL staff for accommodating us and always encouraging us to reach further and do bigger and better things. Mary Abraham, Whitnee Thorp, Lynn Cuny-White and Daralyn Runnels for going that “extra mile” when we needed them. The students and staff at the He Sapa College center for all your words of encouragement and constant support in and out of the classroom. Thank you to our jobs. We were all employed in addition to making this business club a reality and we are grateful that our places of employment accommodated our school AND our business clubs hectic schedule. And finally, to all our families. Our parents, our grandparents, our spouses and our children. They were a part of this business club as much as we were, and we share all our achievements and success with them.
As we close our final post as the 2017-2018 OLC He Sapa AIBL. And begin the transformation of our page into an informational resource for the various projects each of us have taken on. We must say that we understand there exists in our country an abundance of issues that are garnering significant attention in the news and social media. We hope that our example of approaching issues with as much compassion, respect and honesty – can be embraced by all who seek to weigh in on these various issues. It is our belief that though, social media offers an opportunity to voice our concerns and opinion; it should be emphasized that authentic conversation about the issues should occur someplace where the objective is honest, open dialogue. Rather than, a brutal post-fight to get the last word in or score “political social media points”. That type of confrontation only exacerbates the negative and prevents any type of understanding or fact finding to come to fruition. This also emboldens those who seek to distract the vision of the public from other important issues that are occurring right now in our government.
In Indian country, there is a reorganization that is being proposed by the Trump administration. A reshaping of how our government to government relationship is recognized. We have not seen a single post about the importance of this proposed reorganization. Is it reorganization, or the first steps of termination? There is a nominee to the United States Supreme Court that could have a generation of implications on Indian country. This court pick will determine how cases regarding our sovereignty, our land, our natural resources among other things are litigated. Yet, no hint of acknowledgement from the “social-sphere” has been posted. Will this court interpret law that looks forward to the destiny of all people? Or create law that advances and protects those privileged, elite few who aren’t us? We understand that many are passionate about those social issues being discussed in the immediate, but we would implore all to discuss the issues that we mention here. Because we believe that they warrant as much attention too, if not more.
Lastly, we would like to strongly encourage all to exercise their civic responsibility and VOTE. Within the past year, social media has been a buzz about an array of topics. We have sounded about how morally and ethically wrong it was for this administration to separate children (something we as Indian people can understand because it was a policy that originated with Indians; when they removed our grandparents and great-grandparents), we watched in horror as they whole-heartedly supported an alleged child molester in Alabama, just so that they could protect their Senate majority. We saw this administration time and again disparage a war-hero, because he voted for what he believed was good and right for all people. Even in death they couldn’t treat him with respect by lowering flags at the White House (they had to be pressured to finally do so). We listened and saw with anger, how this president disrespected our code talkers by blatantly and intentionally using a racist slur. All the while, the president who signed the Indian Removal Act, hung on the wall behind the ceremony. These are just a small snippet in what seems to be a daily routine of disrespectful behavior. And if you share our disdain for this behavior? – We urge you to show your dissatisfaction with this travesty of an administration and VOTE. Everyone of us has an opportunity to show our disapproval by voting and sending to Washington people who will let it be known that this administration does not represent our views on democracy, equality, and respect for one another. We need people who will be a check and balance on this administration. We need to elect people who will have the courage to be truthful and the common sense to understand that appreciating our diversity is the only way we can coexist.
Once again, we want to thank all who contributed to our success both in and out of the classroom. We are each grateful for the encouragement and support from so many throughout Indian Country. As we each move forward in our educational and professional careers, we will continue to work hard and strive to be the best representatives of our families, our communities and the best representatives of our ancestors who came before us!
2017-2018 OLC He Sapa American Indian Business Leaders
Kellen Returns From
Scout, Nikkole Bostnar,
Cameron Lafferty, Robert
Yellow Hawk, Cante Heart