Romneysia Hits Lakota Country

Ryan Wilson

I awoke early this morning concerned that my good friend Tim Giago had contracted Romneysia by wedding himself to Kristi Noem’s reelection aspirations. Concern for my friend compels me to do my part in inoculating him and Lakota land from the spread of Romneysia.

Kristi Noem an attractive highly skilled communicator entered the U.S. House of Representatives as one of the least educated and inexperienced law makers in modern South Dakota politics. South Dakotan’s and especially the Lakota have paid a heavy price for her inexperience.

Nothing exemplifies her inexperience more than her failed attempts to move the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and her nuanced dance with the Tea Party and the leadership of the Republican Party which openly rebuked her efforts.

As South Dakotan’s were forced to abandon their crops, thin their herds at less than fair market value and watch dust cyclones wisp away hopes for necessary federal intervention to a real crisis – Noem chose to play politics.

At first openly expressing exasperation with her party leadership, Noem led a “Discharge Petition” in the House that would force a floor vote on the Farm Bill and later she relented to party leadership and withdrew her support for this petition. This shows an exceptional lack of moral courage and South Dakotan style of independence.

Troubling to many South Dakotan voters of all parties is the fact that Noem’s family farm received over $3 million in United States Department of Agriculture Farm Subsidies from 1995-2009 allowing her family to keep their family farm. She now supports major cuts in this program.

Mitt RomneyThe U.S. House version that Noem supports, cuts over $16 billion (yes with a B) from the Farm Bill food stamp program over the next 10 years. This hurts family farms, commercial farms and recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

These are real cuts that will hurt real people. South Dakota Indian reservations have been economically disenfranchised since day one – the forced pauperization of the Lakota people is one of the greatest inhumanities ever inflicted upon a group of people. Giago cannot point to one legislative achievement or policy of Congresswoman Noem that would help the Lakota in breaking the economic sanctions that have crippled reservation economies from the beginning.

Besides Noem’s hypocrisy on the Farm Bill her vote to support the Paul Ryan Budget Act for fiscal years 2013-2022 deserves careful review from Lakota voters. These cuts reflect Noem’s values and priorities.

Supporting the extreme budget plan by Paul Ryan demonstrates a complete opposition to Treaty Based Appropriations for Indian Tribes by Noem. These budget cuts cripple Indian Education, Indian Health, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs budgets to name just a few. This radical departure from the federal governments’ Trust Obligation to Indian Tribes especially Treaty Tribes deserves a vigorous challenge from tribal opinion leaders.

Giago has been a defender of treaty rights, Indian law, and sovereignty his entire career, surely my friend can’t be swayed by a politician’s participation at a pow-wow or attendance at a Tribal College graduation.

Noem sits on two House Committees that have immense influence on Indian Affairs. They include the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Education and the Workforce. She has failed in every respect to advance any signature piece of legislation on Indian Affairs to offset her support of devastating cuts in Indian Affairs.

As a national leader in Indian education I had the privilege of working with many Republican and Democrat leaders in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for over a decade. There are many good leaders on both sides of the aisle who care about Indian affairs and have the legislative record to document their commitment.

Unfortunately for Noem in the world of real politics, real consequences and high stakes decision making we can’t make voting decisions based on a person’s potential, or hope that they will like us and magically grow intellectually. Noem’s voting record on the Ryan Budget plan, The House version of the Violence Against Women Act (which drastically reduces Indian provisions), lack of leadership on the Farm Bill, vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which contains the hard fought victory of the Treaty based Indian Health Care Improvement Act) and her unremarkable advocacy on the Natural Resource Committee, and Education/Workforce Committee disqualify her completely from receiving support from the Lakota Nation.

Noem can run but she cannot hide from her record or her ties to the Tea Party.

I take great offense and so should all Lakota to folks who swear fidelity and allegiance to the United States Constitution until it comes to the Treaty Clause, the Commerce Clause, and Indian Nations. As Noem and Tea Party extremists praise America’s founders, their infinite wisdom and ideals, these folks conceal the truth that when they take an oath of office part of that oath is to uphold Indian Treaties and Indian sovereignty.

Behind the beautiful smile, the public appearances at tribal events, and the polished public speaker is a dangerous person to Indian country and in particular the Lakota.

“Romneysia” is a dangerous condition whose only cure is a steady dose of truth serum. We are now days away from this crucial election and as South Dakotan’s mourn the loss of Senator George McGovern we are all reminded of what true patriotism looks like, what conviction leadership is about, what integrity means and what we deserve in honesty from our Congressional delegation.

No individual is more loyal to the Lakota Oyate than Giago. I am confident that when he enters the election booth on Nov. 6 and lends his support to the future of America and the Lakota that he will correctly see Noem, the Tea Party and Romney as one in the same. This potential moment of clarity will hopefully relieve my good friend of his temporary Romneysia.

Ryan Wilson, an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, is president of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages. Wilson is a past president of the National Indian Education Association, and served several terms on the NIEA Board (2000-2010). He is widely credited with securing passage of the Esther Martinez Native American Language Act of 2006. Wilson is a recognized national leader and advocate of Indian Education, Native Language Revitalization, and American Indian Youth Development. Ryan can be reached at: oglalawilson@gmail.com

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larrymoniz's picture
Just an observation. It was "fake" Indians that staged the original Tea Party at Boston Harbor.
forbiss's picture
Mr.Ryan Point 1: BTW, Obama campaign spells it romnesia, but it's still pure hokey that's increasingly becoming a target for derision and a flashpoint of Obama's desperation. On Morning Joe Show 10/24, three reputable journalists, a BBC anchorwoman, Mika and Scarborough sat with hanging heads after showing the same "romnesia" video clip for a second time, just to confirm their first opinions about the depths of ignominy to which Obama has fallen since 2008's lofty proclamations about what he'd do for America. Each one passed judgment, the milder of which was "depressing." Even if he wins, they said, he's powerless and subject to residual rancor because of his unconcealed hatred of Romney and arrogance of having to even stand for re-election. This is a show on the very liberal MSNBC, keep in mind. Point 2: Noem is of no concern to me. What I did notice were several tacky words and phrases that paint you as clueless about gender/sexist bias, which might become a dilemna for you some day. I'll brush that issue aside, so as to get to Point 3 sooner. Point 3. Beginning with the first sentence, you betrayed an astounding level of insecurity and uncertainty about your capabilities to convince readers that Tim Giago is not as smart or discerning as you, and you never became a smidgen more confident. You'd be better served to step back until you can write from a less colonistic perspective. Democratic and Indians are patently oxymoronic. Also, you could possibly discover a higher plane of political sophistication. Maybe you're swimming in that old familiar big-fish-ina-little-pond trap. Best regards, otherwise.
forbiss's picture
Under the guise of playful banter, Ryan Wilson executes a sly, passive aggressive attack upon Tim Giago's freedom of speech, thought, and action. After aping senatorial prattle usually reserved for the Senate Floor, i. e. "my good friend" Wilson then gloms onto current Democratic buzzwords "romney-sia" , with the intention to tarnish ridicule and derision onto Giago. Wilson then goes Romanesque, as in Brutus vis-a-vis Caesar (I come here not denounce Tim Giago...) by declaring, "No individual is more loyal to the Lakota Oyate than Tim Giago." as if he could induce anyone to question Giago's loyalty. Wilson begins one bombast with "I take great offense...." Au contraire, Mr. Wilson has given not taken undue denigration. That, he has heaped upon Mr. Giago. In near libelous terms and statements, Wilson has attempted to abrogate another Indian's right for independent thought, but instead has accomplished nothing less than arrogant malice. Wilson concludes with a tone of triumph by patronizingly vouching for Giago's return to true Democratic dogma. In the end, we Indians who've not succumbed so pitifully to colonialistic expediency, will recognize Wilson's amateurish try at perverted privilege for what it is: blind, thoughtless colonialistic cant.