The Rez: Part 2

I am sitting here thinking about what to write about today concerning the PineRidge Reservation. Today we went to Melanie’s house for lunch. She works at KILI radio, the voice of the Lakota. We were going to have a BBQ, but the rain had something to say about that. We had hamburgers and talked. It was a wonderful time and she was a very gracious host.

After a while Melanie asked if we had ever viewed the documentary discussing how KILI radio was started. The story the DVD portrayed was fascinating. There were personal stories such as a woman with the last name Two-Bulls. There was footage of the Wounded Knee occupation in the early 70‘s. Also, included were several interviews with John Trudell, who was a part of the protest. The first interview was in the 70’s when he was at Wounded Knee surrounded by the FBI, and the second was more recent as an older man looking back.

Today’s discussion with Melanie and DVD documentary demonstrated to me the severity of issues on the Rez. The lack of trust that the Lakota have for the United States government is intense. On the other hand, many US citizens distrust the government. But the issue I found most interesting was the Lakota-on-Lakota lack of trust. The phrase I kept hearing was hanging around the fort. It refers to those Indians that hung out near the place where government handouts were distributed to get the best. They wanted to get their’s before others did. However, it is the tribal leaders that are now handing out the provisions.

There do seem to be a few carpetbaggers here. There are those individuals who are taking advantage of the situation. They provide various services for the Lakota but charge an incredible amount of money and then do substandard work. There are so many issues it is hard to say what needs to happen first.

The fact is there is a huge class of cultures. The white culture that is threaded throughout the Rez is in constant conflict with the Lakota culture. For these two races to come together it will take dialogue, and by dialogue I mean new definitions, new levels of communication, and change on both sides. It will take the best managers and management techniques to improve this situation.

The fact is, the relationship between the US and the Lakota is like labor and management in a volatile dispute over a contract. If management lies and tries to take advantage of labor, productivity goes down the tubes. If labor thinks they are entitled to a certain level of benefits, etc. then the negotiation process breaks down. In either case it has negative consequences. The relationship suffers.

The mental models of the past need to be broken down by new visions of what can be. The Managers of the United States need to bargain in good faith. The Leadership of the Lakota labor force need to come to the table and negotiate a better life for their membership.

Maybe we should put the tribal leadership and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) leadership into a hotel and not pay them of let them come out of the hotel until they create solutions. That is unless a new Lakota society could be born, which is what my next blog will discuss.

And that is my thought for the day!

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