Tribes Mostly Reject Death Penalty

Perhaps our American Indian friends can bring some civilization to the white man:

American Indian tribes for decades have been able to tell federal prosecutors if they want a death sentence considered for certain crimes on their land. Nearly all have rejected that option.

Tribes and legal experts say the decision goes back to culture and tradition, past treatment of American Indians and fairness in the justice system.

…“Our beliefs, that I was raised with, say that no one has a right to take away a life except the Creator. Period,” [Blackfoot tribal member Theda] New Breast said. “End of story.”

Congress expanded the list of death-penalty eligible crimes in the mid-1990s, allowing tribes to decide if they wanted their citizens subject to the death penalty. Legal experts say they are aware of only one tribe, the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, that has opted in [Felicia Fonseca and Russell Contreras, “,” AP via Washington Post, 2017.08.21].

That Blackfoot belief about life and the Creator sounds pretty Christian.

American Indians resist the death penalty even though they are twice as likely to be victims of crime than we trembling, “hang ’em high” white folks… and 57% of the violent crimes and 80% of the sexual assaults against Indians are perpetrated by whites.

31 Responses to Tribes Mostly Reject Death Penalty

  1. Roger Elgersma

    Natives know all about what happens when the death penalty is overdone. And the difficulty to change attitudes when it is happening. But then our states that have the death penalty have higher murder rates than those that do not have the death penalty. Because people mimic wrong methods just like they mimic right methods.

  2. Steve Hickey

    Good post.

    Yet, it’s long been a marvel to me – and I’ve challenged native friends on this point – how natives having enormous regard for nature and all of life can be so cool with abortion and callous to the unborn. They respect a little bird and honour earth itself but no probs dismembering a living biological human being!?

    Mitakuye Oyasin means all my relatives, we are all related, or all my relations. What about their unborn?

    Wakan yeja, it’s an important phase in Sioux culture and it means children are sacred.

    In ’06 I was working with life-respecting natives in SD to broadcast that message on the reservations…. “Meth, alcohol, diabetes, suicide, gang and domestic violence… these things are killing our people! Let’s NOT add abortion to the mix! Vote Yes For Life on Referred Law 6!”

    Here’s the full text of the postcard we send out…

    If there was ever a shortage of food,
    our elders would wander off so there
    would be enough for the children.
    (Children are Sacred)
    The well-being of a child is no choice for the
    mother, it’s an instinct. Mothers produce life.
    Mothers protect life. Even when we don’t choose
    to be mothers… even when a child is conceived
    in hardship, that child is still sacred
    (Children in the womb are sacred)
    There is no word in Lakota for “abortion” because
    native people have a rich tradition of love and
    respect for all life. Tribal law views women, children
    and men as being sacred and in need of protection
    from the time of conception through each cycle of life
    and throughout the elderly years.
    A YES VOTE on Referred Law 6
    respects life and will stop most
    abortions in South Dakota

    I wrote a whole chapter titled Wakan yeja in a book I wrote in 2008 about the SD abortion bans but that book remains an unpublished manuscript because I was told it gave away too much inside baseball in an ongoing matter of litigation.

    I changed my mind to move toward a consistent life ethic and now it’s your turn.

    With the suicides we are seeing of youth on the rez every form of young native humanity ought to be more valued and protected than any endangered species. Native moms-to-be ought to be considered national treasures and not bussed in vans every month to the abortuary. I’ve put my money where my mouth is helping young native moms/kids so don’t lecture me on caring more about the baby than its mother.

  3. Your Book that you thump on Mr. Hickey, is supportive of abortion, thereby making abortion sinless. What you call murder is looked upon in your Book as a necessity of life, thereby, not a sin. Native peoples have long looked at nature in that way as well, without the written words in your Book. Indeed sir, your argument falls upon the ears of those who have a much wiser look on life and its struggles than you. Common sense seems rules the day.

    The death penalty is revenge. Confucius , the great teacher of long ago times ““Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” To me, that speaks the truth..and as a sidebar, costs less as well. Those Natives seem a lot more conservative than many folks who claim that they own that title.

  4. Roger Cornelius

    Having been raised in a Lakota home with the presence of strong women not just in my own family, but in my extended family and community, I learned the respect men should have for women.
    The utmost was respecting a woman’s health and monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy and delivery. If a Lakota woman chooses to have an abortion no one other than the women that might assist would know about it and that’s how it should be and that why I feel that is not the business of a man or preacher.
    There are greater joys to have about women than worrying about her most personal healthcare decisions. Women are the most beautiful of all creatures, their mysteries are unending, I have never tried to ‘figure women out’, that would only frustrate and take away what is so sacred and entertaing about women.
    Leave women alone, Hickey. Lakota women’s healthcare and women’s healthcare during their most personal decisions is none of your business.

  5. Roger Cornelius

    It is an absolute insult to Lakota women on and off the reservation to be presented with a petition to Vote Yes on Preferred Law 6 by a white preacher.
    Native Americans live by more laws than any other group of Americans, we have tribal laws, state laws, federal laws, and the most important laws of our culture and nature.
    And, as we know, women in general in this country live by more laws than men because of their sex and men trying to control their sexuality and healthcare.

  6. Roger Cornelius

    My apologies for letting myself get distracted by Hickey’s ‘whataboutism’ on abortion when the topic of this post is the death penalty.
    The easiest decision for me to make about the death penalty is that if you are a Christian, or even if you’re not, and believe in the Ten Commandments, the commandment that says Thou Shall Not Call should guide us all. There is no * following the commandment that make exceptions for murder.

  7. Porter Lansing

    Hear, hear Mr. Cornelius.

  8. Well stated Roger. I wonder why they hate women so much? Back to that apple thingy I guess.

  9. Porter Lansing

    @Jerry … To Catholic and born-again fundamentalist religious males, women represent one thing. They represent temptation. Temptation to carnal desire. In order to maintain their self-imposed discipline these male zealots must conquer their inner desires and that means conquering, subordinating and dominating the choices women have as equals. If these males should recognize women as equals, that’s opening the door to desire and moving down the path to carnal sin.

  10. I just find that first paragraph by Hickey kind of offensive to the Native population. So Natives have more of a disregard to human life than any other culture? I didn’t know that, Hickey.
    Last time I worked in a SD hospital there were plenty of white conservative women with histories of abortions.

  11. Actually Porter, priests are more into altar boys.

  12. Pastor Hickey, I am sure you enjoy seeing those Muslim families and their large broods all over the Europe and the US also, then? They are against abortion too, you know. Little muslim children are beautiful and a joy to see. They are going to make such good productive Americans.

  13. Even in countries that have suffered horrific violence and mayhem involving the deaths of their citizens, the countries of Europe refuse to be taken in by revenge killing. The death penalty has been proven over and over again to be unjust in sending accused to their deaths. Today, this news

    The United States needs to stop this and instead put life without parole as the strongest punishment enforced.

  14. Roger Cornelius

    Another reason you may find tribal opposition to the death penalty is the fundamental belief that goes back decades if not centuries.
    Tribes were always respectful of those that broke the unwritten laws of the tribe even if was murder or adultery.
    The severest penalty for tribal violators was banishment from the tribe. Often times those banished from tribes would go off and hopefully join another tribe or they would stay with in proximity of their tribe and not be able participate in tribal activities. Even with banishment the tribe would feed, cloth, and shelter the banished.
    It certainly wasn’t the death penalty, but it was a life of isolation and shame.

  15. Porter Lansing

    I’m only describing the fundamentalists, Jenny. The religious zealots that hold their beliefs above women’s rights. Even their Pope has denounced the practice. Every proper thinking Catholic in my SoDak family became Episcopalian years ago.

  16. bearcreekbat

    Roger C’s last 4 posts in this thread are some of the best I have seen on DFP or otherwise. Thanks Roger, for sharing your experiences!

  17. Roger Cornelius

    Thank you bear, your kind words are appreciated and humbling, especially coming from someone of your stature.

  18. Roger Cornelius

    The children of Catholic priests has got to be one of the best secrets held by the Catholic Church. Many of these children live lives wondering who they are and the shame of not knowing who they are.
    Only recently with all the advances in DNA have many of these children discovered the truth.
    I know a woman that lived on the east coast that had two children by the same Catholic priest. The woman was talked into and bribed to turn over the children to the priest’s family to be raised so he could continue his practice as a priest.
    Just weeks before the woman’s death did her adult children learn that she was their mother. The priest’s family finally decided that the children should know their mother if it were for only the briefest of time.
    The children were devastated to find out that the woman, a casual friend of the family, had been cut out of their lives for nearly three decades.

  19. mike from iowa

    Roger tells it the way it is and some people don’t like it. Too bad. Roger C lives the life and always has. I’m guessing we should appreciate him more as resident expert on Native stuff in South Dakota.

    Besides, anyone that can tick off Stace Nelson as easily as our Roger can, deserves kudos and huzzahs galore. Thank you, Mr Cornelius. Keep telling it the way it is.

  20. Mr. mike, who is from Iowa, has likely never heard our friend Mr. C dispense his wisdom over a hearty breakfast, but I certainly can agree with him that Mr. C is a really swell fellow and throw a huzzah or two into the galore myself. Thank you, Mr. C.

  21. Roger Cornelius

    Thanks bunches mike who is proudly from iowa and you too grudz even though I have never had the honor of meeting you and sharing a breakfast with you. The only time I go out for breakfast is with very close friends and family.
    Cory may agree with me in that if you are going to debate you have to have your facts straight and have a huge dose of logic.
    The past few days Stace has been on a friend’s Facebook spouting his same old nonsense over and over, I swear, the man has never had a single original thought. I always get him to a point where he has nothing left but to hurl insults and call me names. One thing I have found out about Stace is he can’t handle it when you throw back what he dishes out.

  22. Pine Ridge, South Dakota, violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 100, is 79. Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The US average is 31.1.

    Don’t tell us about the respect for life among the Native culture when that very culture has a violent crime rate more than twice the national level. Facts and Acts cannot be denied.

  23. Roger Cornelius

    There are many people that are not a part of any crimes on the Pine Ridge
    The reservation has too much Indian on Indian crime just as many communities have too much white on white crime or black on black crime.
    I will talk about the respect the majority have for each other and how I was treated for the 55 years I lived there and never had an act of violence committed on me.
    Yes, crime is high on Pine Ridge and it comes from the years of poverty the people have endured and the introduction of white men’ s influence of alcohol, firearms and drugs.

  24. Poverty is the root of all evil in this world. If you took poverty away, you would not have the violence that we have seen world wide. Roger can speak of his years there in Pine Ridge as a testimony of not having crime come to his doorstep. The one thing I would add to the drugs that Roger speaks of are the newest members, meth and the opioids that are destroying communities all over the country. It is a bad break for all in each of the counties in South Dakota that are dealing with it, all of them. This crime thingy is not anything but a plague that shows no letting up. This plague causes violent crime to happen as the user becomes mentally ill. This is just another reason for rejecting the death penalty.

  25. Roger Cornelius

    Jerry, will you let OldSarg know that is best that he behave on this post, I’m watching the Trump rally in Phoenix and he’s really pissing me off.
    I’m ready to build OldSarg a new a**hole if he bothers me tonight.

  26. Roger, historians think the Neolithic Man invented alcohol, The Chinese invented firearms and the Native Americans ave been using drugs (Peyote) for 1,000’s of years. All of these things were part of the world well before the white man ever came to these shores. The fact that the Native population has welcomed these things into their communities is not the fault of others and until the Native people stop blaming others for the faults in their communities nothing will change. I know this hurts you and that is not my intent. My intent is just to tell you the truth. You can do with it what you want.

  27. I shall try Roger to get the point across to him before you put him into one with your 12th dimensional jujitsu mind take down techniques on him, yikes!!

    Oldsarg, don’t do it man. That is the best warning I could possibly give as I am kinda sure that English is his first tongue.

  28. Peyote is not a drug forbidden by law. Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia supported the use of Peyote for Native Americans. The legal opinion

    “In an opinion written by Justice Scalia (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices White, Stevens, and Kennedy), the Court discarded the long-standing compelling interest test, holding that facially neutral laws of general applicability that burden the free exercise of religion require no special justification to satisfy free exercise scrutiny.”

    I was looking at this the other day so thanks oldsarg for being that guy that makes it all easy to disprove you.

  29. The fourth largest Native American tribe in the US is also against the death penalty. Mexican Americans comprise those numbers. They are Native Americans as America is bigger than the United States, it comprises North, Central and South America that was first knows as America.
    South of the American border lies Mexico itself, all of those folks in Mexico are Native Americans, each one, that are all opposed to the capital punishment as are their northern tribal members.