OST Council suspends Christian mission activity

Matthew Monefore

PINE RIDGE—After an emergency meeting on July 26, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council temporarily suspended all activity of Christian missions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. An ordinance was passed, requiring all churches and religious organization to complete a new form to request the right to conduct missionary work on the reservation, then the form would be reviewed by the tribe’s executive committee.

At the heart of this issue, was the work of a fellow called Matthew Monfore, who recently was asked to leave the reservation on July 22 for distributing pamphlets that demonize Lakota spirituality. A more recent call, was in regards to the Dream Center Missionary group, and an independent investigation to be done by Justin Pourier. Primarily the tribe is looking to find out how much the organization is earning in donations, where the funds come from and how those funds are being spent. If they fail to comply with the investigation, they as well may be removed from the Reservation.

Dream Center, a nondenominational, non-profit, is alleged to be associated with Matthew Monfore, previously noted.

The original Mission, the Jesus is King Mission, a Baptist organization was ordered to leave the Reservation after pamphlets were distributed that promoted that Jesus, not Tunkasila (Lakota for Grandfather) is the “true God.” Facebook memes featuring Monfore also had him referring to Tunkasila as a “demon.” It has been noted this is not the first time the organization had spread the pamphlets, inmates at the local jail reported that the same pamphlets were spread around the jail four years prior, noted by a councilman at Tuesday’s tribal council meeting.

The Tribal Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 10 to review the investigation.

“We all know that churches have always played a violent role in our communities and to our people,” said Tyler Star Comes Out, 19, at Tuesday’s tribal council meeting. “Today, we come to you as youth and young adults with a main objective to decolonize our minds, hearts, spirits, space, land and knowledge.”

“We take pride in our identities, We are Lakota and it’s time to return to our ways,” she continued. “We don’t want any more assimilation. We don’t need any more churches and we don’t need your god.”

According to the youth council, the Dream Center has been mistreating Oglala Lakota children for years.

“The Dream Center has been accused of a lot of false things and we have not been able to defend ourselves,” said Dream Center Pastor Lori McAfree at the tribal council meeting. The Dream Center works on four other reservations in South Dakota and stated specifically that they are not associated with Matthew Monfore, or the brochures being passed out.

“You have the wrong idea of who we are,” she said. “Your culture is beautiful and it’s being destroyed by hate.”

Part of what makes the investigation tricky, is the jurisdiction. Several churches within Pine Ridge have deeds to their land, and have a say on who can investigate on private land. However there is a tribal ordinance, 11-23 that regulates non-profit organizations and their operations.

The ordinance passed on Tuesday, with the following part:

Therefore, it being ordained that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council does hereby approve the registration and request for authorization to conduct missionary activities form.

And be it further ordained that the Tribal Council delegates authority to the OST Executive Committee, the review and approval or denial of submitted forms to the secretary’s office with approval or denial done by Executive Committee resolution attached to the form and filed with the secretary‘s office and copy given to the church or missionary organization.

Be it further ordained that all church/missionary organizations shall submit a list of all participants of the organization and submit proof of background investigation clearance for all participants of the organization who will be located within the exterior boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation with their request form.

Information from Native News Online helped assemble this article

(Contact Joe Budd at sales2@nativesunnews.today)


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