Okay uh, my name’s Ken Hart. I was born here on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I’m a full blood Lakota. I started doing this kind of our work from 1999 and I had to go through a lot of different issues in order to get this started and situations that were in. To get it explained to the people and to some of our Oyate that’s a hardship. That hardship is some of us went through a system and that system is this federal system. And before I went through that, I would never pay attention. I wouldn’t.
Listen to our people, I wouldn’t listen to our grandmas, grandpas. I was one of these guys that didn’t care and did whatever he wanted to do. I didn’t know there was consequences involved had grandpa’s that used to tell me things but I didn’t pay attention I wasn’t listening. 1999 I and or 1997 I ended up in the federal system and I took a plea bargain and I pled guilty and I I felt like I was guilty for what I did and which was distribution of two grams of marijuana.
I did 18 months, three years papers and I thought it was over with done and I admitted my guilt because I felt guilty that I did that but yet something kept bothering me. Things were going good. I was hearing people through the system people that were locked up, people that were on their way to the big house. I was listening to everybody that was going through the same thing. That same thing as a federal system and then in 1999, why I don’t know, but we call it another number.
Cante Oyate Spokesman Ken Hart Interview Pine Ridge South Dakota
By another number is you pick up another charge. When you pick up another charge for some other reason, this charge, I didn’t feel like I was guilty. I didn’t feel like I committed a crime but yet through the federal system your appointed a public defender. A public defender is paid by the federal government to represents you. As I picked up the second charge and I was going through this in 1999 I started realizing things that were going on and I felt like my guilt I needed to fight this case because I wasn’t guilty.
But yet we had a public defender that couldn’t really help us. He wanted us to plead guilty. Whether you are guilty or not they want you to plead guilty. That’s their easy way out of representing you and to make the story short from there I had a legal attorney come out of California. He wanted to represent me pro bono. He said I’m interested in the federal government. I wanna know how they operate. I wanna know why there are so many crimes. Why there’s so many violence and as I sat there.
And I listened to this attorney, I agreed you will represent me, I will plead not guilty. We will find out what was going on through the federal system. So, I got him as an attorney to represent me through federal court through the freedom of Information Act and a motion of discovery he did a research on my behalf from 1970 to 1999. We had a crime rate on this whole reservation that involved rape, murder, assault and all the serious crimes you could think of and yet there was no.
Prosecutions, there was no investigations. No one knew what was going on. This attorney said look at your first charge Mr. Hart. There’s something here that don’t look right. So under the motion of discovery, we looked at my distribution charge. My distribution charge for two grams of marijuana should have only carried six months in prison one year probation but at the time I was not told and I didn’t know and my public defender didn’t tell me that the confidential informant was a child molester so by the time I picked up the second number that attorney found that evidence.
Under the motion of discovery and when we found that out, we found out that this certain gentleman has already raped two or three people already and it was the federal government that would wire him up and send him on the reservation. As he went around reservation our people were getting picked up left and right. This attorney says this agent that is representing this informant is in charge of these murder investigations, these assault investigations. Something is not right here. Why is this one agent have done a field investigation from 1970 to 1999.
This certain agent is a classmate of the two FBI agents that got killed Jumping Bull Hall. He made it a point to stay on the reservation and investigate any Indian crime under the major crimes act. 99 I went back through the system and as I went through the system we discovered that the majority of Native Americans were getting incarcerated at very high rate. And as at a high rate I felt like something wasn’t in right and this attorney helped me. By helping me, he did his own investigation and he said there’s something.
Not right here on this reservation. We need to get the Justice Department involved. We need to get some of these issues looked into and I agreed with him, okay you help me, we will do it. And as we proceeded to do this the Oyate, the people started gathering and they started bringing their stories, what they’ve been through, what their family members been through and the point that I would like to make is that I feel like our federal government is targeting our people for what may have happened in the 1800’s,.
It’s never went away. We’re still being targeted and a lot of our older peoples do call them the long nights because in prosecutions we don’t get legal equal representation. So now that we got back into this area of helping our people and listening and trying to bring the attention to our representatives to the people we elect to speak on our behalf is when I started noticing the corruption. I noticed the embezzlement, the fraud and as I work with the elderly they tell me this is a puppet.
Government. IRA government is under the federal government. The federal government are the ones that pulled the strings on what happens on federally recognized land, which is what we are on this Lakota reservation. So by working with the Oyate, it took us thirteen years to spread the word on what’s going on and we finally got to this point in the last three years we are gathering as the Lakota Oyate to bring all these issues to the forefront to were we wanna eliminate IRA which is effecting our treaty obligations in such as healthcare,.
Education and welfare. Our people are suffering they’re misdiagnosed. Our health care is not what it’s supposed to be. Our education ain’t what it’s supposed to be. Our welfare, our people don’t have nowhere to live. They have nothing. Those are all treaty obligations. and the federal government likes it when our people fight amongst each other over these obligations but if united, the Oyate united we could come upon and removed the system and form another governing body for the Oyate and each district where we won’t have the IRA.
Government. That’s what the Oyate, they want and that’s who I speak for is the Oyate I was picked by the people to speak for them through a ceremony that was told to us that I was given a voice to speak for the people, for the help that you give to people is to help that you’re gonna get back. So I am the voice and that’s how I can help our people, being the voice for our people and that’s how I am and that’s why we are Cante Oyate. We’ve been.
Thirteenyear strong young and old, we’re all together that’s the heartbeat of the people which is the heartbeat of the drum. That’s us, the Lakota Oyate. If we ever lose that heartbeat were gonna lose that drumbeat. That drumbeat is the Lakota culture of our people. So we have to keep the heartbeat and the drumbeat going together all the time and that’s the heart beat of the Oyate, the people. Ok, as far as being in these situations I’ve spoken for our Oyate in situations in court cases involving child custody a.
Lot of different issues where a lot of our people were treated unfairly through the court system and to me that was violation right here and I brought those issues up and we had removed tribal judges that were. well I shouldn’t say tribal judges, I should say two tribal judges that were really going against our Oyate. So as we got ’em removed, we ended up getting uh, falling into the politics area where we seen our corrupted officials pocketing money, embezzling money, spendin’, money and as I brought questions and ask questions.
Certain representatives didn’t like these issues. It got to a point where we elected a lady chairmen for our reservation and this lady chairman was gonna go and start abortion here on our reservation. Our elderly agree that we shouldn’t do that and as me, for the spokesman for them, we brought the issue up and with the surrounding Oyates’ help and other people’s help, we had her impeached and removed. We had another chairman put in place and as we started breaking the ice cubes down into little places where corruption was involved, I noticed things started.
Happening to me. Within the last three years, I’ve had windows broken out of my house, I had my trailer house taken away by this council that’s elected, which was my home. I had my house burned down with all my sacred stuff which would be my Chanunpa, my Sundance equipment, my staff, all burned down in a house which is arson. No investigation, nothing’s ever happened. And those are what I go against for speaking for the Oyate but I’m a believer that as I speak and as I speak the truth none of those will bother me because I’d rather.
See the help go to our Oyate and the help we’ll come back in time as us Lakotas believe, good things come in a circle and what goes around comes around. I believe that whatever happened may have been bad in my way towards me but I forgive these people because it’s the hardest thing any Lakota could do is forgive each other if we can’t forgive then we can never, never get along. So, I forgave these people and I still talk about the same issues which regards everything from.