THE HEART OF THE
OGLALA LAKOTA NATION
RESTRUCTURING THE CONSTITUTION &
BY-LAWS TO REFLECT WHO WE ARE
KNOWING WHO WE ARE
We now came together as Lakota people, through restructuring the constitution &
By-laws, to bring out the true Lakota values of respect, dignity, accountability and
generosity back into our governing system.
This process will include all Lakota Oyate. All voices will be heard and all views
considered. In this way, we seek to create a governing system that reflects who we truly
In order to assure full and open participation we ask all Lakota Oyate to begin a
focused dialog on what needs to be done to make the Oglala Constitution & By-laws
reflect who we are, and to remove and restructure those parts and the process in the
Constitution and By-laws that have not honored the Lakota Oyate, our values and our
PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESS
We suggest the following principles be honored for this process to be embraced by our
people, and to insure a successful outcome:
- The process is people-centered. It is not a political process controlled by any one
- The process is open to views and insight of all people at all times. It shall listen to
the wisdom and guidance of our elders, the dreams and hopes of our youth and the
experiences of all the people who have participated in the governing process.
- The process is transparent. All meetings and documents will be open and available to any
interested Lakota person. There will be no secrets or closed meetings.
- The process will be honoring and respectful to all participants. We each have
experiences and insight to share, we each have a contribution to value that will be given
respect. The key to success will be listening more than talking.
A STRUCTURE THAT HONORS THE PROCESS
We suggest the following structure to guide our deliberations, to insure a free and
open flow of information and insight, so that all Lakota Oyate will be heard and included.
> Dignity > Tradition > Honesty > Respect >
> Strength > Generosity > Openness > Integrity >
The process would be as follows:
- The coordinating committee will form, and begin to receive information, documents,
testimony from all participants, and then disseminate information about the specific
issues and concerns of the people. It will act as a clearinghouse for information between
different groups, to insure that all information is available to all participants at all
- All Lakota social, cultural and political organizations and groups, including Elders,
Tiyospaye, Womens and youth groups and others, will meet and discuss the
Constitution and By-laws, and share problems, experiences and suggestions for change. All
groups will record, write or otherwise document their contributions and share through the
Coordinating Committee and directly with other groups and the people at large. The Oglala
Lakota College, KILI Radio and other forums will be invited to participate in the sharing
of information through this process.
- At all times, the process will be open to listen to the wisdom, experience and concerns
of all Lakota Oyate, to insure a sharing of information that is a legitimate reflection of
our individual and collective experience with government.
- The process will evolve into the formulating of specific proposals for the restructuring
of the Constitution & By-laws. Proposals will be shared between groups and collected
and compiled by the Coordinating Committee. All proposals will be shared, as no one group
will have the right to silence the opinions or proposals of others.
- As proposals get reviewed and commented on by all participants, they will evolve into a
set of specific questions for consideration at a Constitutional Convention and Referendum.
This Referendum will be called by petition directly to the Secretary of Interior. The
Secretary will comment on the proposals and we will consider his comments. Any changes or
reformulation that the people wish will be incorporated into the proposals and the
Constitutional Referendum shall be held. The Secretary shall approve the results of the
~ BEGINNING THE PROCESS ~
REMEMBERING WHO WE ARE
All people are encouraged to read the Constitution & By-laws, and to identify those
specific sections that require restructuring. For example:
- How do we incorporate Lakota values of openness into the governing process? Should all
meetings and all transactions of government be fully open to review by the people?
- How do we honor and re-establish the role of Elders in the governing process? Should
there be an Elders Council involved in the Court? In the Council?
- How do we restore the Lakota values of integrity and generosity to the government?
Should Council Members serve without salaries or should they not be entitled to more
benefits or privileges than other Lakota people?
- How can elected leaders be more directly responsible to their constituents? Should there
be a more direct recall of representatives? Should legislation be more subject to
referendum than it is now?
- How can we put teeth into the Constitution for the enforcement of the rights of the
people? How do we guarantee that the voice of the people, as expressed in elections,
referendums and recall is actually respected and obeyed by the government?
- Do we need a clearer separation between politics and management? Should finances be in
the hands of a professional, whose contract would allow him or her to be held directly
accountable to the people for his or her behavior?
These are just a small sample of the questions we must ask ourselves. We must look into
our experience, our lives and our hearts to help rediscover who we are as Lakota people
and how we should govern ourselves.
Join your families and your fellow Lakota in this historic and exciting process!
This document was prepared with the assistance of Dean Cycon,
Esq., an attorney experienced in indigenous government and constitutional change, who is
volunteering his services to the Lakota Oyate for this important project.