On the Authority of Traditional Chiefs

Why this is Important: it explains the history that gave Chief Lone Hill the right to give LKS the OK to do what we do. It also points out how this traditional Chief became a part of MKP and met with us every year to advise and continually confirm we were successfully and appropriately conducting the process. Not everybody who is claimed to be a Chief actually is one. ED.

Prior to the beginning of the Reservation Period the Oglala people, a subtribe of the Lakota people, were divided into seven (or sometimes eight) bands, each band headed up by a Chief. These Chiefs were selected either by the people themselves or by other Chiefs. These Chiefs, consulting with Elders and Medicine people, were responsible for both Civil affairs, such as moving camp and the location and timing of hunts, and Ceremonial affairs, such as determining the location and timing of Ceremonies and Dances, in cooperation with the Medicine Men.

These Chiefs were also responsible for diplomacy between Tribes and in dealing with Colonial authorities.

There was also a Council of Chiefs of the bands. This Council would meet and determine by consensus policy matters for all the Oglala. When such a Chief would feel his age upon him he would nominate a replacement from among his own band, and with the consensus of the other Chiefs, a Nacha Ceremony would be held, where the eagle feather headdress of the sitting Chief would be placed on the head of the successor in a public ceremony.

When the Reservation period began the authority of the Chiefs over Civil affairs was taken away by the US Government and elected Tribal Councils, police forces, and a judiciary were established. The Chiefs retained their authority over Ceremonial affairs along with the Medicine Men, often exercising their authority in secret.

I do not recall when Fools Crow had the Nacha Ceremony performed over him but I believe is was in the early 1920’s. Lone Hill had the Nacha Ceremony performed over him in the summer of 1976 in Porcupine SD by Fools Crow with many dozens of witnesses. Lone Hill, in consultation with Elders and other Chiefs held the Nacha Ceremony over his son in July 2014. There is video.

When Lone Hill passed away in February 2018 the Council of Chiefs ended with him, the last surviving member of that Council, as the other Chiefs had declined to appoint successors to their positions in the Council.

As stated above, Traditional Chiefs retained their authority over Ceremonial affairs, as well as their authority to make diplomatic agreements over the use of their Ceremonies. Traditionally these agreements are respected by other Chiefs, and could only be rescinded by the Chief who made the original agreement, or by his successor. The agreements do not end when the Chief dies, but remain intact in the same way that a Treaty does not end when the original signatories die.

The new Chief Lone Hill attended the annual meeting of the LKS Council in the summer of 2019 and confirmed the continuing authorization, stating that he knew that what the LKS was doing was supported by his father, and was in keeping with his Great Grandfather’s beliefs. He affirmed that he, too, supported the continuing agreement, as he knew that the LKSI was continuing to abide by its commitment to do things in a Good Way.

For almost 30 years the LKS has been quietly practicing Cultural Appreciation. We have been practicing reciprocal generosity, and additionally generating many times more than 80,000 moments of Gratitude towards the People. There was no cultural appropriation—no taking of the Ceremony without consent. We went to an appropriate authority and asked.

I find it curious and dismaying that there has been so much questioning about Chief Lone Hill’s status and prerogatives. The manner in which this has been done is deeply disrespectful and insulting. It reflects a profound lack of knowledge about the people whom those who attack us are claiming to represent.

Finally, on the matter of Traditional Chiefs, this denial of Lone Hill’s authority and prerogatives is another attempt to further the genocide of the Traditions and the Traditional people. It is one of those deep and painful ironies that sometimes efforts to supposedly “help” the people have the opposite effect.

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