Oglala Sioux Tribe adopts ordinance after banning missionary

Pine Ridge Oglala FlagChurches and Missionaries are now required to register and go through an approval process by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) in order to do any activity on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The ordinance, No. 22-54, was adopted after a 15 for; 2 against, and 2 not voting tally during July 26 regular session.

The OST adopted it following the banishment of Missionary Matthew Monfore of the Jesus Is King Mission.

The council held a special session on July 22 to discuss what they legally could do about Monfore after he was allegedly distributing pamphlets that demonized Lakota culture and religious practices.

During the meeting, council members shared their thoughts:

“I was raised going to church but also I was going to a sweat lodge and participating in the summits. So, there’s two different ways I was taught to pray and with my uncle, Alvin Slober, the past council representative, always told me you don’t have to pray one way. It’s one person that you’re praying to so just choose which way you want to pray,” Tyler Yellow Boy, Oglala Sioux Tribe Councilman said. “So, I chose how to follow spirituality through both our traditional way and also the church way. But for me I don’t go around and press which religion needs to be practiced.”

“To me personally, I’m not talking on my family side but personally I grew up there, and being Episcopal is my religion. However, growing up and learning and doing the Lakota ways, that’s my way of life and I’m proud of that and I take part in everything that the Lakota traditions – the Sundance sweat lodges – things like that, ” Stacy L. Two Lance, OST Secretary, said. “But being Episcopal, we also grew up with we knew we had to name our kids and we have those Lakota values of feeding people and things like that. I feel like the Lakota smaller not just Episcopal but the other churches shouldn’t be a part of this because it is those non-members that come in and that benefit off of our tribal members and that takes away from other churches.”

The council, as the governing body of the tribe, manages economic affairs and protects the property of the tribe. They may adopt laws to govern people’s conduct while on the reservation and to protect the well-being of tribe members.

The Constitution of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Bill of Rights protects the rights to freedom of religion, speech, and press, much like the U.S. Constitution. While the Council and President Kevin Killer to the Oglala Lakota Constitution’s Bill of Rights, they feel obligated to “ensure that the Colonizing principles of the past are not asserted against the Lakota people again.”

According to a July 22 release from the OST, Monfore was distributing material that demonized the Lakota Culture and Faith, and that it was disrespectful and unacceptable.

“When it’s called demonizing the culture, I clearly said in the pamphlet, this isn’t about race. So there’s a difference between culture and an ideology. The OST Constitution says that they are guaranteed a religion and that freedom of speech and press shall not be infringed,” Monfore said. “So culture can include your food and even clothing, language, etc. So I was in no way saying that you can’t or attacking their language or even their skin color. What I was attacking was an ideology which I believe is the foundation for my salvation, but for how society operates. I think that there’s a lot of emotion.”

It also read that “The Oglala Lakota Tribe is open to all faiths and opinions, but we do not tolerate Hate.”

With the emergency banishment that the council voted on, Monroe removed himself from the reservation, but a process must be followed for a permanent banishment. This allows Monroe to request a hearing after receiving notice of his banishment.

“I met with the fifth member of the council, which is part of the investigation. I volunteered information, I don’t know if I was required to, but just to help them out with what happened,” Monroe said.  “And he asked if I’d be willing to give the presentation I gave the other day to the Council, and I said I would be willing to do that. In my presentations and my other sermons, I don’t just attack Native American religion. I mean, I attack other religions, even so-called Christian religions that would be, from what I see in the Bible, a variant. And I also condemn certain people even in white American history.”

Monroe says that he only spoke at Dream Center and that he’s not associated with it in any manner.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News