SIOUX FALLS (AP) – The Oglala Sioux Tribe is requiring churches and missionaries to register with the tribe before entering the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota after an evangelist was banned from entering the reservation for distributing a pamphlet that disparaged traditional Lakota spirituality.
The tribal ordinance, which does not apply to local churches and ministries run by tribal members, was passed in late July amid concern from some tribal council members over Christian ministries evangelizing on the reservation, working with children as well as a history of abuse against Native Americans by some churches. The tribe's leadership has insisted it remains open to all religions, in keeping with its Bill of Rights, but the action showed significant pushback against some Christian missionary groups.
“The history of abuses by the churches on Indigenous peoples has caused generational trauma to Indigenous peoples across the world,” the tribal council stated in its ordinance.
The council's actions were prompted by a South Dakota group called Jesus is King Missions creating a pamphlet that called Tunkasila a false god or demon, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported. It also claimed that the late Lakota medicine man Nicholas Black Elk, who converted to Catholicism and continued to practice Lakota ceremonies, had a “racist vision.”
“According to the Bible, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by him,” said Michael Monfore, a missionary with the group. “I know that may not be considered politically correct, or it might be considered intolerant or bigoted, but that’s what Christ said.”
The tribe has banned Monfore from entering the reservation.