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Ghost Nation Responds To Governor Kristi Noem: ‘She Must Apologize’

Above photo: Chief Bear Cross of Wanagi Oyate. Ghost Nation.

Wanagi Oyate (Ghost Nation) of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has issued the following statement, condemning South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s misguided and misinformed rhetoric regarding sacred Lakota practices and allegations of criminal activity.

Chief Bear Cross of Wanagi Oyate (Ghost Nation) expressed his concerns over Noem’s statements, saying “The only people on Pine Ridge Reservation affiliated with the name ‘Ghost’ is Ghost Nation. We are not and have never been associated with violence, drugs, trafficking or the Mexican Cartel. Governor Noem’s remarks are damaging and dangerous.”

Earlier this week, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Frank Star Comes Out issued a public statement, effectively banning South Dakota Governor (and avid Trump supporter) Kristi Noem from tribal lands. This is the second time in five years that the OST have banned Noem from Oglala tribal lands. Two additional Sioux tribes, Cheyenne River and Yankton, reinforced Star Comes Out’s decree.

Star Comes Out’s actions were triggered by an inflammatory public statement from Noem in which she accused a fictitious Lakota “gang,” which she referred to as the “Ghost Dancers” of “killing our children with their drugs and trafficking.” Noem made claims that the Mexican Cartel are associated with this “Ghost Dancers” gang. In-so-doing, Noem is joining the growing border dispute in Eagle Pass, Texas; taking a predictable stance on immigration.

Ghost Nation is composed of Lakota descendants whose ancestors survived the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. This historic tragedy occurred when the United States government became alarmed by the practice of the sacred Ghost Dance ceremony. Nearly 300 Lakota men, women and children were killed in what is known as the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

“Governor Noem conjured up a fictitious and violent gang of murderous drug dealers which she calls the ‘Ghost Dancers,’” says attorney Itancan Chase Iron Eyes (Ghost Nation), “Her placement of this gang on the Pine Ridge Reservation where the Wounded Knee massacre occurred has resurrected trauma for our families; and her reference to the sacred Ghost Dance ceremony is blasphemous.”

President Star Comes Out denounced Governor Noem’s support for usage of razor wire on the Southern border, reminding the governor that some of the migrants are Indigenous People seeking a better life. “They don’t need to be put in cages, separated from their children like during the Trump administration,” says Star Comes Out, “or be cut up by razor wire furnished by, of all places, South Dakota.”

Clearly, Governor Noem’s lack of insight into the history of the Ghost Dance shows her miseducation and disinterest in reverence for Indigenous spiritual practices. She should be reminded that it wasn’t until the United States government passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978 that so-called “religious” ceremonies became “legal” again.

News of Noem’s banishment was quickly picked up by worldwide media outlets, including the Washington Post, Associated Press, the Guardian, USA Today and many others. Her baseless accusations regarding the “Ghost Dancers” and her allegations of criminal activity sparked concern from the leaders of the Ghost Nation.

“We are real people, human beings,” said Chief Bear Cross, “Wanagi Oyate is a spiritual home, a way of life of the Oceti Sakowin. At any time, Governor Noem could reach out to us and meet with us. We have nothing to hide. Instead she chose to publicly slander our name and insult our spiritual ways. For this she must apologize.”

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