Same sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, but that federal decision didn’t apply to Native American Reservations. The Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe has officially recognized same-sex marriage on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Recognizing same-sex marriage on the Pine Ridge Reservation is part of a push to create inclusivity. Chase Iron Eyes is the Communications Manager for Oglala Sioux Tribal President, Julian Bear Runner. Iron Eyes says proponents of the ordinance gathered information from locals that helped convince tribal officials to pass it.
“We were alarmed to find out that six people had committed suicide in our homelands since May of 2019. And four, you know 66 percent of those suicides were people that were discriminated against or bullied or bashed or targeted on the basis of their gender or the way they were born or the way they identify-however you want to look at that.”
Iron Eyes says those findings represent a crisis in the community.
“The thing that triggered us is knowing that our young people are being bullied or bashed. Of that they’re having their self-esteem impacted.”
The tribe is also looking to adopt an anti-hate crime resolution modeled after the Matthew Shepard Act.
“They want to operate a hotline. It’s not just the legislation. It’s actually doing something in the community to build a foundation to create some capacity.”
Iron Eyes says the tribal President’s Office is also looking for ways to provide funding for suicide prevention resources.