Email Question from reader: “Why In response to an email question: “I am doing a research paper on Native American contributions to WWI and WWII I am trying to find out why Albert Grass is called the last chief of the Sioux Nation in his obituary when your site seems to show that is not true.”
It is good you are writing and carefully researching a paper about the many notable contributions of Lakota, Dakota, Nakota and other first nations people who dedicated their very lives to doing more than their fair share in supporting the international concerns of the U.S. during their ongoing wars with nations around the world.
Many of the Grass family who followed Albert Grass’ lead at his grandfathers’, John Charging Bear Grass’ urging, along with so very many of our first nations youth today, take great and solemn pride in their United States military service as a resolute demonstration of and responsibility towards the U.S. government with whom our appointed Chiefs attempted to make agreeable peace and signed treaties with. To this day our warriors continue to volunteer to enlist, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they wish to serve and be an integral part of the “new” nation that has already taken so very, very much from our first nations people and lands.
It seems right and reasonable to expect and believe that once information is published and in print, that it is true, and holds true perpetually. This is the way of integrity and trust.
This is even more applicable when the document in question (not totally unlike an obituary in the case of our LDN nation) is a treaty with the U.S. Government that was negotiated, composed and drafted after all parties examined and agreed to all available options, then printed, recorded and witnessed, and by the official presence and action of the appointed leadership of BOTH of the effected parties, was signed in by our dynastic traditional and spiritual Chief John Grass in good faith.
Years later, on May 19, 1921 when his grandson, Chief Albert Grass’ obituary was printed, it was true that no other traditional or spiritual dynastic Chief from the John Grass bloodline had been installed or appointed to take his place at that time.
The tumultuous times leading up to and following the WW1, WW11 wars and then on into the Viet Naum war era were years of great changes in the United States, in the world, and especially among the people of the LDN nation. With no standing appointed dynastic national Chief following Albert Grass to speak for us “Sioux, the result of trusting the U.S. to hold up to their end of, and the intent of the treaty, was tragic. What the U.S. was not able to illegally rob (according to international and human rights laws) by the taking of the lands and resources of what then remained of the our sacred lands, and the traditional spiritual way of life of our sovereign nations and peoples,” the “resources” remaining were left to be devoured and assimilated by the calculated and frequent ongoing legislation made by the U.S. political powers.
These powers, in effect, surrounded and infiltrated our people and reservations to confuse and re-define every aspect of what it meant to us to be Lakota. Along with the new laws that were made, much misinformation, misrepresentation and misunderstanding prevailed in the U.S. Government provided educational systems, religious and political arenas, and was further distorted and propagated by the drama of the media (including all those old Western movies), and thus imposed by the dominant culture upon Native Americans without our official consent or consensus.
The exploitive policies and procedures nearly successfully distorted and destroyed every remaining fragment of the pride, dignity, due process and freedoms guaranteed, understood and passed down to us from the John Grass negotiations and treaty making, which he had signed for the future of our nations’ interests and on our behalf. And, as the money from gold, minerals, water, timber and other rich resources stripped and stolen from our lands continued to flowing from our soil into the pockets of everyone but the people of our nations, new money making industries sprung up.
Government sponsored “non-profit” corporations and a rash of social service organizations (including a robust and profitably active penal and prison system), brought in more millions of dollars in revenue as new and diverse medical facilities backed by government programs in South Dakota and beyond created more jobs, wealth and brought tourists, moving larger populations into our sacred lands to profit from the chaotic, homeless, hopeless, sick and dying results in our peoples due to the dysfunctional programs and “life” styles forced upon us and our lands.
Miraculously some clear headed traditional spiritual elders managed to avoid imprisonment for keeping their spirituality and healing ceremonies strong through those years, and thus managed to survive surrounded by our people living in poverty, humiliation, depression and with the readily available alcohol and diabetes producing food rations supplied by the dominant culture to replace our time proven indigenous healthful ways of life.
In 1991, attended to and arranged by the few remaining traditional and spiritual elders and tribal leaders still respected by the people of our nations at that time, who had watched, listened and prayed all those years while the LDN (Sioux) nation had no viable traditional or appointed leadership since Chief Albert Grass, and thus, no official voice during the years following his demise; came together in a solemn and little publicized ceremony at Bear Butte, South Dakota, and installed a relative and blood descendant of John Grass, Richard Deo Grass, as Chief and sovereign of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nation.
Through tireless work Chief Richard Grass bravely began to speak out and find novel ways to be heard, and let the truth be known. Also, schools were opening up on the reservation to teach traditional values, culture and language to our youth under the eyes and encouragement of long standing Chief of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), Chief Red Cloud, who quietly lived on Pine Ridge all these years. Others of our tribes found ways to get their writings published, while Chief Richard was invited to speak at many universities and even at the Hague to let the truth be known. In this way, through the years since 1991, in a peaceful, diplomatic and methodical way more in line with the ways of our traditional spiritual chiefs, our youth are finally being provided with some good insights to learn of their true history and what still may be salvaged from our rich culture and languages.
One site of interest just recently published that contains ongoing and excellent information, in the form of copies of well documented letters, photos and correspondence about our nations “founding fathers” through the Grass dynastic line, can be found at http://www.welchdakotapapers.com/
which may be of use and helpful to you for your stated purpose.
In recognition, appreciation and honor for those who have gone before us and well served our best national interests through very tricky situations and difficult times, we continue with Chief Richard Grass’ legacy and the work he delegated and left us to do; to explore new ways to blend our “old” ways that value, speak and live in truth, with the hard lessons lived and learned from a very dysfunctional system imposed upon us.
Similar to our traditional spiritual leaders of old who prayed and thought long before engaging in any activity that effects 7 generations forward, we desire to wisely continue to explore the modern tools and new ways to move from a survival mode, beyond the abuse, to a thriving mode, looking and working towards a time when people of all nations can live freely, responsibly, bravely, wisely, respectably, in good relationship, in balance, harmony, abundance, peace upon our Mother Earth, just as our prophecies for this generation have envisioned.
The work you are doing to research and document the many contributions of those of our “Sioux” (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota) nations’ warriors who have courageously served in the U.S. military, we hope, will also prove to continue to break down prejudice and misunderstanding and injustices among the rich mix of peoples, cultures, and nations residing within U.S. borders and beyond.
We would be pleased to learn how to obtain a copy of your work once it is published.