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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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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 are.

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 sovereignty.




We suggest the following principles be honored for this process to be embraced by our people, and to insure a successful outcome:

    1. The process is people-centered. It is not a political process controlled by any one organization.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.




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 >

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> Strength > Generosity > Openness > Integrity >

The process would be as follows:

    1. 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 times.
    2. All Lakota social, cultural and political organizations and groups, including Elders, Tiyospaye, Women’s 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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 Referendum.





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.


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