08/28/2012 07:07 am ET Updated Oct 28, 2012

Tribal Truths

A trip to South Dakota and a visit with the local Native American community is enough to change ones view and perspective of America. Thousands upon thousands visit South Dakota yearly to snap a photo with the busts of four of our founding fathers or even to jump on their trusty Harleys and head to the famous town of Sturgis to show off their chrome. A member of The Great Sioux Nation has a totally different view of both of these attractions tucked away in the sacred Black Hills. Most of the American education of Native American history, more specifically the Sioux, has been really left up to Hollywood or the limited weeks on the subject spent on it during our time in grade school. Most non-Native people vaguely remember names such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse or more importantly the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

The first Treaty of Fort Laramie was an agreement between the U.S. Government and the Sioux, in addition to seven other nations, outlining land ownership, which included the mountain range along the Black Hills as property of the Sioux. Later President Lincoln, with the signing of the Homestead Act, encouraged settlers to move into Native American lands, which included Sioux lands. Later with the introduction of the transcontinental railroad, more lands were stripped from the Lakota, again going against previously established treaties. The Lakota finally had an uprising, which lead to the second Treaty of Laramie, further guaranteeing ownership of the sacred Black Hills to the Lakota people.

A few years later, Colonel George Custer, after discovering gold in the Black Hills, expressed to the president the idea to break all treaties with the Lakota. This led to ore uprisings by the Lakota, which in turn led to many attacks by Colonel Custer, who is regarded as a well-known Indian Killer. All treaties were later revoked and the reservations were broken up in order to provide individual land ownership to the new Americans. If all the treaties were upheld, the Lakota would currently own part of the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska.

Recently, the Republican Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, met with local American Indian tribes and received backlash from a member of her own political party. According to an article in the Indian Country Today Media Network, Pat Rogers, the Republican National Committee leader, who is currently in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, sent an email to Governor Martinez stating that this encounter is an insult to the memory of Colonel Custer.

It is obviously a huge oversight by our public education system that we are not taught about the numerous broken treaties between all Native American people and the United States government. If politicians and government officials focused on further developing our education system, then there would be less insensitive statements made by such influential members of American society.

Tribal Truths