Archive for January 4th, 2012

OST tribal members march in protest of drunk and impaired drivers on the reservation. (Photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News)

Story and photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer:

RAPID CITY – The Oglala Sioux Tribe, the center of many controversies involving the alcohol sales right across the state border, at White Clay, Neb., has taken a step to put a stop to the high rate of deaths due to impaired drivers on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Tribal members, along with the cooperation of the OST Tribal Police force, have created the newest Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, as it is nationally known, on the reservation.

On Dec. 30, 2011, the OST MADD chapter staged a march that ventured from the center of Pine Ridge Village toward the south, in the direction of White Clay, Neb. A quarter of the way to the border town, the march symbolically turned its back on the location of several million dollars of annual beer sales, and returned to the village.

Escorted and supported by the OST police department, the march was led by Lakota singers who offered songs of prayer and encouragement for the crowd of about 30 walkers. All ages were represented, from walkers as young as three years old to the very elderly, who were assisted by younger family members.

Once the march returned back to the village of Pine Ridge, the crowd was escorted into the Billy Mills Community Hall where a meal had been provided by various donors and supporters of the new MADD chapter.

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The Kitsap Sun’s Steven Gardner shares an update on Heather Purser, the 29-year-old Suquamish woman who helped gay couples secure marriage rights through the tribe this summer.

Heather Purser, left, drew national attention this summer for her efforts to get the Suquamish Tribe to recognize same-sex marriage. But she and her partner of two years, Rebecca Platter, say they aren't ready to tie the knot just yet. (Contributed photo, via the Kitsap Sun)

Here is Gardner’s August article on Purser. And the update:

    Heather Purser drew national attention in August and won’t be out of the spotlight soon.

    The 29-year-old Suquamish Tribe member and Seattle resident helped influence the tribe to recognize and grant marriage licenses for same-sex couples, a quiet change there that defied how similar change has happened elsewhere.

    Her role in a broader acceptance of same-sex marriage is likely to continue. Purser said she has been contacted by advocates who will lobby the Legislature to formally grant same-sex marriage rights in Washington.

    “She is a classic example of how one person telling a story can make such a profound difference. She has created change simply by having the courage to publicly talk about who she is and what her hopes and dreams are,” said Joshua Friedes, marriage equality director for Equal Rights Washington.

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