Posted October 20, 2008
It is said prior to every election that this is one of the most
important elections of our time. And then the voters go out and
re-elect the same old politicians. Change?
On November 4, 2008 the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South
Dakota are looking at new choices. Neither of the top two candidates
has ever served as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Russell
Means, commonly known as an Indian activist, and Theresa "Huck" Two
Bulls, the current South Dakota State Senator, former Vice President
of the Tribe and four-time elected Tribal Secretary are facing off
for the office of President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Russell Means, a convicted felon, was pardoned by former South Dakota
Governor Bill Janklow thus setting him free to run for public office.
He is best known by tribal members for his often outlandish actions
in promoting the American Indian Movement. If elected president there
are those who fear that he will take the Tribe in a direction that
would jeopardize federal funding for the many tribal programs by his
non-conformist approach to solving problems. But then again, maybe
that is exactly what the OST needs at this stage in their history.
For example: The gaming compacts issued by the State of South Dakota
to Indian tribes limits the number of gaming devices in their casinos
to 250 regardless of the size of the tribe. Most Lakota find this to
be an infringement upon their sovereign rights. Means is not afraid
to challenge ignorant, and yes racist, laws such as this. In fact,
there are many things that need to be shaken up on the Pine Ridge
Reservation and it will take a person of extreme courage and
confidence to get it done. Means has never been at a loss for courage.
"Huck" Two Bulls is the most experienced lawmaker of the two. She was
working alongside of OST Attorney Mario Gonzalez on the Black Hills
Claims Settlement 28 years ago. She knows Indian law and Indian
politics. Above all she is honest beyond doubt and dedicated to
serving the people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Two Bulls has never
backed down from a fight and is more likely than not to follow the
letter of the law when making decisions that have a direct impact
upon the future of the tribe. Serving as Secretary of the Tribe for 4
terms has allowed her to sit in at most Tribal Council meetings and
to take the notes of the meetings, but more than that it has allowed
her to get one of the best educations on tribal politics and history
than any candidate in the past.
The first woman ever elected to serve as President of the Oglala
Sioux Tribe, Cecelia Fire Thunder, was impeached by the Tribal
Council. Some fear that this action could cost votes for Two Bulls.
Gender discrimination is not out of the question in this election.
Perhaps the pundits are right and this is one of the most important
elections in the history of the Tribe. Means has spent most of the
last 20 years making movies in Hollywood and some were very good
movies, while Two Bulls has been working long and diligent hours at
home on the reservation trying to improve the lives of the people of
the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Theresa "Huck" Two Bulls will make every effort to keep the waters
calm, while her opponent, Russell Means, may generate a tsunami. The
differences between the two candidates are definitive and quite
clear. Once again the future of the Pine Ridge Reservation is in the
hands of the people.
Among the young Means is very popular because of his movie career. He
has also made headlines with strong comments intended to shake up the
white race. The turnout for the Primary Election was unusually weak
for the Pine Ridge Reservation and a large turnout in the General
Election should favor Two Bulls. However, no one can read the minds
of the voters and we will know what the people were thinking on the
morning of February 5, 2008.
I wish both candidates the best of luck.
(Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota, is from the Pine Ridge Reservation. He is
the recipient of the H.L, Mencken Award for Journalism, The Golden
Quill Award for Outstanding Editorial Writing from the International
Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and the Honor Award for
Distinguished Services to Journalism by the University of Missouri
School of Journalism)