Dances with Senators AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE

By Tim Giago. Tim Giago, editor of the Lakota Times in Rapid City, S. D., is currently a Nieman Fellow . | The Christian Science Monitor, March 7, 1991 | Go to article overview

Dances with Senators AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE


Tim Giago. Tim Giago, editor of the Lakota Times in Rapid City, S. D., is currently a Nieman Fellow ., The Christian Science Monitor


IN his 1986 race for a seat in the United States Senate, South Dakota's Tom Daschle campaigned with vigor on the Indian reservations of his home state. Mr. Daschle won by about 11,000 votes because the reservations, at least in those days, voted a straight Democratic ticket.

One of the first appointments Daschle sought after winning the election was to the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. In my opinion, Daschle has used this position to block legislation prepared by the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation aimed at getting a small portion of their sacred Black Hills returned.

Not only did he prevent the legislation from getting out of his committee, but he was instrumental in assisting an anti-Indian group calling itself the Open Hills Association in spreading misstatements about the proposed legislation, thereby effectively turning public opinion in South Dakota against it.

Daschle wrote an opinion piece for the Feb. 14 edition of The Christian Science Monitor under the headline, "Dances with Garbage." I know Daschle didn't write that head, but his opening paragraph led directly to it. He wrote, "The sweeping beauty portrayed in Kevin Costner's epic drama `Dances with Wolves' is about to become host to one of the largest garbage dumps in America." As the lone Democratic senator from South Dakota, Daschle should be totally aware of the economic situation on the state's nine Indian reservations. Desperate people do desperate things in order to survive.

IF the United States of America, through its good senators and congressmen, had seen fit to honor the nearly 400 treaties between the Indian nations and the federal government, Indian tribes would not be considering building dump sites on their sacred lands in order to survive.

In the final paragraph of Daschle's article, he says: "I and others have spent years attempting to improve economic conditions on the nation's reservations."

When the Sioux Moccasin Factory in Pine Ridge, S. …

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