Royce Gay, left, is an Oglala Lakota Native from South Dakota who believes that Donald Trump may turn out to be a good President. Although Gay admits that he’s not a politically minded man, he believes that prayer is the answer to any and all of life’s problems. Through prayer and having a God consciousness, the troubles of the world can work out to humankind’s benefit, he says. Gay believes in keeping a positive attitude about all things, and in the photo, he’s pictured with his friend, Norm Ash, giving the “People Power” sign of a closed fist.
“Being a Native American, I never got involved with politics growing up,” said Royce Gay, an enrolled Oglala Lakota member who said he is a direct descendent of Crazy Horse. “But when the pendulum of politics goes past the halfway mark, I guess it’s okay to talk about such things.”
“As far as Native Americans go, we really don’t want to get involved with this President — such talk can create a lot of trouble among friends and family members. What’s happening in America today is that there are a lot of prophesies. One of the main prophesies we believe in is that we need to take back the earth. We need to go back to a true spirituality and really listen to God. As Natives, we look to our ancestors to help us. It’s hard explaining to non-Natives how we can communicate with our ancestors. But this is something that’s occurring on a global scale among Native people.”
The sacred and spiritual traditional medicine wheel, here, drawn in colored pencil, shows all the hues and tints of which God’s children are represented.
Royce Gay said he isn’t the type of person who sees the color of another’s skin as being a defining factor for anything, really. He said the colors of the Medicine Wheel — Red, White, Black, and Yellow – are the hues and tints of which all races are derived and since God loves all these colors, so must he.
“The earth will be here long after we’re gone. All of us who fought the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannonball, N.D., were involved with a very spiritual thing, fighting for the earth. One of the Lakota prophesies is that when a man is not touched by God, we all have the responsibility to try to turn him around, and this even includes political leaders. In this age, what we really need are peacekeepers. We need to have people close to us who know the Native culture. There is a lot of fear now. We need some kind of diplomacy at work to bridge the gap between the Native and non-Native cultures ,” said the 45-year-old, who is confined to a wheel chair and who is working on a Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management with a Master’s in Business Administration at the National American University in Rapid City, S.D.
“I argue with our more radical Native brothers and always try to let them know there are two sides to every story. Yours and mine. But if we can watch the signs, maybe we can come to some sort of agreement, possibly even a compromise. I don’t really think going to Washington, D.C. and pushing my weight around and demanding things from the political elite is the right way to get things done. I’ve gone there numerous times and I’ve talked to federal leaders. Do you know what? They were very nice to me. Do you know why? Well, I was nice to them, too. Some of my radical brothers use more menacing and abrasive tactics, but in my opinion, if we were still living in the days of the Indian Wars, they would be the first ones killed in battle. As warriors, they would have been killed first. Through a calmer and more practical approach, I’ve turned racists into tree huggers. I’ve turned fighters into lovers. And I’ve turned those who were unwilling to compromise or see things from my point of view to agree entirely with me. Now I am not the voice of any movement, but I really care about the small man, the workers’ hands. And above all else, I believe in Native people.”
“Something’s coming. It’s not a revolution but an awakening. What happened with that big pipeline protest in Cannonball was unique. None of us got life sentences like Leonard Peltier. I don’t know, some claim that the really radical Indians will help our people but I think they cause a lot of damage. Youth are the future for all our tomorrows and we must always remember that above everything else, we are fighting for the betterment of our young.”
Joelle Clark, whose family bloodline is that of Oglala Lakota, said, “I’m terrified. Donald Trump has a history of going after American Indian tribes that have casinos that have been in competition with his casinos. He has an interest in petroleum and he has plans to lay pipelines everywhere. The DAPL is a good example of this. As long as we get the oil to go wherever he wants it to go, it’s okay with him; and this terrifies me,” she said.
“I really think the man is an egomaniac. From everything I see in interviews and everything that comes out of his mouth, I don’t think he has an interest in anything but Donald Trump. He’s narcissistic, and looking back at the election, I don’t think we even had a good choice,” Clark said
“They all have their problems, but this particular President will actually try to follow through on what he plans to do – I think he will follow through on laying these pipelines, that he will try to privatize Indian reservations and that he will go after every tribe that has a casino because he is very vindictive,” she added.
“The reality is that the United States has never honored Constitutional law because it always has broken Article 6, which maintains that treaty law is the supreme law of the land.
“Honestly, I can’t think of any one thing he can do for us. Even the way he’s talked about women. To have a President who has a trial coming up for child rape is nauseating to me. It’s very hard to think of his innocence, when he says about his own daughter that if she wasn’t his daughter ‘I’d date her.’ What can I say about this?”
“Every time Donald Trump opens up his mouth he says something stupid. I’m not fond of politicians, believe me. But I am especially very leery of Donald Trump. Way back when he began attacking casinos when he wasn’t even a Presidential contender, but a businessman, I really detested him. Having this man trying to take our casinos away because they are in competition with his, well, competition is healthy. Indian casinos are important for the tribes. A lot of tribes depend on them for education, health care, and some of the more affluent tribes are more prosperous because of the casinos. The Seminoles in Florida are a good example of this prosperity,” she said.
“A lot of the people Trump is putting into key positions in his cabinet terrify me, too. They’re unqualified. He’s putting someone who’s been the head of oil companies for decades as the head of the EPA. Oh really? Do you think he cares about the environment? Get real. Actually, I don’t think anyone we’ve voted for in a long time really cares about Indians or even, for that matter, the American people. They all care about private interests,” Clark said.
Joelle Clark’s mother was a longtime “Aimster”, as is she, as well as many other members of her family. She said she has some family members who live on Indian reservations.
“Everything’s in God’s hands right now,” said Frank Kipp, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe who lives in Browning, Mont. “I don’t think Trump’s in anybody’s best interest. People who don’t have money, people on Social Security, these types of people will be left out. I have a traumatic brain injury that I have to take care of and I’m concerned about my own welfare – so no, I don’t think Trump’s in anyone’s best interest, and this isn’t just Natives I’m talking about. It’s everyone except the very rich. It’s a sad deal.”
“ God looks out for us. That’s all I can say. We voted. We didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t care for Hillary, either. I liked Bernie Sanders. A lot of Native people did.”
“I think Trump will cut programs that help people. He’s going to affect a lot of poor people, not just Native Americans. Anyone who doesn’t have a lot of money, even White People, will be hurt by Trump. My philosophy is if the people don’t want him, just give him enough rope to hang himself. All I can do is pray. You can’t wish he does a bad job, because if he does a bad job, he affects everyone.”
Hermus Lone Dog, a Rosebud Sioux Native, said if Donald Trump cared about Native Americans, he would have done something to stop the attack of a militarized police force near Cannonball, N.D., that maliciously harmed many protesters with attack dogs, rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas.
Hermus Lone Dog, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who lives in Nebraska, said, “With Trump being in the Presidential race, we’ve seen a lot of racism and even hate crimes. You see this sort of thing every day over the Internet. Some people even say he’s part of the Ku Klux Klan. If he was really on the side of Native Americans, he would have done something to stop that nightmare in Cannonball where people were being hit with rubber bullets, attacked by police dogs, and shot with water cannons and tear gas.”
“I could care less,” Lone Dog said. “Every President we’ve ever had hasn’t done a thing to help Native Americans,” and then he added that all the tweeting on Twitter Trump has been involved with is shocking and revolting.
Fred Sitting Up, who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, said Donald Trump “needs to get himself straight” and that “he reminds us of a lost soul. If he’s not careful, he might bring something bad down on himself. I am not saying this as a threat, but it’s something that seems to be in the wind for him — really, what I’m talking about here is impeachment. He can’t lead the country as a President the way he’s been acting as a political candidate and as a President-Elect.”
Sitting Up said that not only is he concerned about the future of Native Americans, but for the nation as a whole. “Trump will affect everyone negatively,” Sitting Up said. “He’s made some references of us in the past. There is no such thing as conquering. All the resources we have belong to us but he refuses to see this. He is a powerful businessman, this much is true, but it’s in the Constitution that this is a conflict of interest — he’s trying to privatize our land base so he and his business friends can come up here and mine, frack, drill and do whatever they want.”
“But it’s still our land and there’s no way they can get around this. We’ve always made comments throughout all the negotiations we’ve had with the white man concerning our treaties and the white man has always abrogated our treaties,”
“But to abrogate a treaty they need three-quarters consent of all the adult men of the tribe, and this never has occurred. They rewrote the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. The original had only five articles included in it. But the government added on to it, with twelve more additional articles.”
“That’s the treaty they took back to Washington, D.C., and ratified,” Sitting Up complained. “Trump doesn’t even care about Constitutional Law so I doubt that he cares anything about treaty law.”
“Most people I know don’t care about politics,” said James Magaska Swan, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who is the leader of the United Urban Warrior Society based in Rapid City, S.D. “This country is doomed. It was built on a lie. Everyone knows that. Nothing changes. Step back and look at the big picture. Every President says they’re going to do this and they’re going to do that. But nothing changes.”
“The Native people who are spiritually committed see it as a big joke. I told a girl one time that if you take a representative who had all the mentalities of this country, well, that person wouldn’t be a Native. That person would be a bully, would be selfish, arrogant, and all out for their own self interests. Native are not like this — we don’t think or act like this.”
“I think Donald Trump will be very bad for Indian communities,” Swan said. “There’s been talk about his plans for privatizing reservations, which would mean that the reservation system as we know it would be obsolete. Indian lands and reservations have domestic sovereignty, which means that we have a different set of laws and leaders than other American communities. It has a bad effect, too, because any Indian charged with a crime on a reservation is charged under federal law. But the way things are now, we are in control of our own communities and our own governments.”
James Magaska Swan said he expects nothing but negative results for Native people under a Trump Presidency, but adds that it’s always been this way, under all the Presidents.
“Trump’s a big money man. All he cares about is money and he has no respect for the environment. He has said he plans to do a lot more fracking, mining and drilling. And he would have no problem doing these things on Indian land,” Swan said.
“He is not my President. All his cabinet officials chosen so far are middle aged white men. Not one woman or minority has been chosen. And they’re all billionaires,” he said. (Writer’s Note: This interview was conducted when Trump was first getting his cabinet in place, several weeks ago.)
“Trump wants to get rid of environmental controls. He has no cares or concerns about pollution. It’s very disappointing seeing all this happening and next Christmas, I fear, will be a lot worse than this Christmas. Sure, there are some who like him up in here South Dakota, like the cowboys and the rich people. The white people like him but not American Indians. I think his administration will be very bad for all minorities,” Swan said.
Francis He Crow, another enrolled Oglala Lakota Native, said, “Before he was elected to office, I knew Donald Trump is not trustworthy. I don’t think he should be a leader. A leader should see all men equally. The way he talks I know he doesn’t think this way. And that’s how I judge him. I know he’s a pretty good talker and good salesmen. He’s an expert. He had a lot of people vote for him. I don’t think he’ll live up to many of his campaign promises.”
Meantime, Canupa Gluha Mani, born pureblood Oglala Lakota and the founding member of the Strong Heart Warrior Society of South Dakota, has perhaps the most caustic criticism of all for Trump, calling him nothing more than “a White Supremist”
“What did Donald Trump say at his famous speech?” Mani asked. “He said the Indians can go to the `White’ table and beg. That’s the worst thing a man can say to a people who are still living free. As far as this word `peace’, well, it’s a lie, this word `peace’ doesn’t exist.
The leader of the Strong Heart Warrior Society, Canupa Gluha Mani, said that Donald Trump is nothing more than a White Supremist.
“Look at Standing Rock, it got a lot of people hurt. No one is protesting those corporate franchises that are selling water. In the next five years, I predict the cost of water will be as much as gas — by the gallon. The new President is to blame because he goes under the Roman rule, which is to neutralize the people’s rights to be free.
“When you have freedom, you have independence. All White Supremacists have been oppressed themselves. Because Whites suppress their own. This heinous behavior is still alive. White Supremists have no soul; their souls are dead. When people like Bill Clinton call Indians Super Savages and Blacks Super Predators, how can People of Color feel anything but antagonism against the government? I urge people not to vote for either the Democrats or Republicans,” Mani said.
“Let me put it in this context, of all Presidents, bad and good, the Democratic or Republican parties are not in tone of helping people. The Democratic Party always promises People of Color something that will help us. But none of them have lived up to anything except to incarcerate our men and women and take our children from our homes,” Mani said.
“Neither party has ever apologized for this, nor have they taken any blame. When was the last time any President gave back the independence to our people? It will be hard times for everyone, but especially for Indian people, under Donald Trump’s Presidency. With Trump we’ll be fighting White Supremacy, which is terrible,” he said.
“ These Presidents, before being elected, all say they will help People of Color. I want to talk about Black People now: The moment they were given Civil Rights, thanks to people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, the American powers-that-be were immediately began trying to take back these rights.
“How can we take seriously these powerful white people when they really don’t want Indians to be free and independent, either?” Mani said
“And as far as treaties go, the White Race has broken every treaty signed,” Mani continued. “The first treaty was signed in 1664 in Virginia. That led to the ethnic cleansing of several American Indian tribes. Remember what Trump said, he was going to extradite a lot of ethnicities? Well he needs to go, too. I am going to defend my people who are indigenous from Mexico and Cuba, as well. We are the indigenous who were here first and we’re not going anywhere. Anyone who isn’t indigenous is an illegal alien, as far as I see things.”