December a time of reverent remembrance for Native South Dakotans

By Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (December 16th, 2020)—The month of December is a time of wokiksuye (reverent remembrance) for the people of the Oceti Sakowin. Three atrocities took place in December which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Lakota and Dakota people: Dakota 38+2, murder of Sitting Bull, and the Wounded Knee Massacre.

On December 26, 1862, the day after Christmas, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota. The event is the largest mass hanging in the history of the United States and transpired by order of President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1890, on December 15, Hunkpapa itancan Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) was killed on the Standing Rock Agency by Indian police at his residence along the Grand River. The respected leader’s murder sent shockwaves throughout the Oceti Sakowin and set off a domino effect which ultimately resulted in the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890.

The aforementioned events are just a snapshot of the countless atrocities that have resulted in collective trauma and unresolved grief within South Dakota’s indigenous communities. The cumulative psychological and emotional wounds across generations have created multidirectional fractures that have impacted family structure, culture, language, mental and physical health of indigenous nations.

The South Dakota Democratic Party recognizes that Native people continuously grapple with historical trauma. Being a good ally to indigenous people is important to the SDDP. Democratic legislators are diligently working with tribal leaders to tackle some of the most predominant issues facing Native nations today. Healthcare, education, language preservation, civil rights, and Covid-19 are some issues that tribal leaders have shared that need attention and action. The South Dakota Democratic Party recognizes these concerns, and we will work hard to ensure that the voices of indigenous people are heard during the legislative session.

The month of December holds unique spiritual and cultural significance for different people around the world. While this is a time of festivities, joyous occasions and gift giving, it is also a time for wokiksuye. In order for us to be good allies, we must understand this month is a time of mourning for the Lakota people. Intentional and conscious understanding of the wrongs committed against indigenous nations is vital to building meaningful connections and being good neighbors.

Please direct questions to SDDP Executive Director Pam Cole via email or phone (605) 695-1996.