Press release from the Lakota Solidarity Project:
Asheville, NC – Started in a Fairview living room in March 2011, the Lakota Solidarity Project (LSP) continues to support the traditional and grassroots Lakota people on Pine Ridge. Now that the Trump Administration has threatened “termination policy” on Native American tribes and reservations, the work of LSP is more timely than ever.
“The Lakota Solidarity Project was created in partnership with the Lakota Strong Heart Warrior Society to defend grassroots elders and people,” explained LSP co-founder Ana Oian Amets. “The situation on Pine Ridge Reservation is very bad for the language speaking Lakota people, and now the Trump Administration is threatening privatization of all Native land and resources.”
Amets, who is an adopted member of the Strong Heart society and active in asserting real independence for grassroots Lakota people, has seen the movement to defend grassroots Lakota people grow in phases. The NoDAPL protests at Standing Rock brought media attention and millions of dollars to pipeline issues in Lakota territory, but did little to help the daily lives of grassroots Lakota people. Currently on Pine Ridge, most BIA social services have been cut, and grassroots people with limited incomes are struggling to find enough for daily food and medical care.
“Pipeline battles have their place, but LSP is concerned with helping the return of healthier Lakota communities after decades of forced poverty and wide-spread discrimination,” Amets added.
Addressing decades of enforced poverty and dependence on resources provided tribes through treaty agreements takes thoughtful and strategic action. One answer is the assertion of authentic Lakota independence as a separate nation.
“The Independent Lakota Nation is part of a multi-generational movement by Lakota elders and people to maintain independent nation status and ensure customary cultural institutions survive in a hostile environment,” said LSP coordinator Ezeder Tzorginda. “As a descendant of settlers, its humbling to be invited to support this independence even through there is so much resistance.”
LSP helped to form the Lakota Truth Tour in 2013 and produced the Lakota documentary Red Cry to help bring attention to the situation on Pine Ridge. The Truth Tour helped to bring the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office to Pine Ridge for the first time in history to meet with the grassroots people.
Following this first phase of organizing, LSP is now helping to support specific community-based projects on Pine Ridge that support Lakota families who want independence. Building a safe community gathering space and growing emergency food distribution are two key projects in development.
LSP is holding two events on May 30 and 31st to bring attention to the situation on Pine Ridge Reservation and grow support for these projects. “Lakota Solidarity Beyond Standing Rock” presentations will be held on Tuesday May 30th from 6pm -8pm at Firestorm Books & Coffee and then followed up on Wednesday May 31st from 6pm – 8pm in the Activity Room of Pack Memorial Library, downtown Asheville.
“The Lakota people are in this position because of decades of mistreatment and enforced poverty at the hands of the American system,” Amets said. “We have a responsibility to help right this wrong by supporting full Lakota independence and the return of their ways of life.”