Special to Native News Online
Published May 1, 2018
The following letter is an open letter to the voters of South Dakota:
Dear South Dakota,
My name is Tatewin Means—and I am running for Attorney General.
My full name is Tatuye Topa Najin Win. I am Sisitonwan Dakota, Oglala Lakota, and Ihanktonwan Nakota. My mother is Peggy Phelps, she is Sisitonwan Dakota. My father is the late Russell Means, he is Oglala Lakota, and Ihanktonwan Nakota.
My name means the woman that stands with the four directions. And I will stand with all of you.
Tatewin Means. Democratic candidate for Attorney General of state of South Dakota.
Although I may be a new name to many of you, I am not new to the needs of South Dakota, nor am I new to the hard work required to serve as the leader that will fight for your best interests.
Here in South Dakota, and in states across our country, we are at a turning point, a critical juncture that will determine the future we leave for our children and families.
As a lawyer, educator, mother, woman, and an indigenous person, my determination has grown through a lifetime of experiences. These experiences fuel my passion and commitment for listening to the communities I serve and taking action for those that need it most.
South Dakota is my homeland, I have a spiritual connection to the land, to the black hills, to the bad lands, to Rapid City, to Sioux Falls, to the Sisitonwan area where my mother grew up and to the Yankton reservation where my grandmother—my namesake—lived. I have a commitment to making life better here for all South Dakotans because we must leave a better place for future generations. No matter age, race, religion, or class, I will fight for you.
I am running for Attorney General because I know I am the best suited to lead South Dakota in a new direction. I graduated from Stanford University, the University of Minnesota Law School and earned a Masters from Oglala Lakota College.
With this knowledge I came back—to serve communities in need because I love my homeland.
We have a responsibility to the each other and our children. Not only to create a better life for our future generations but to build a sustainable and stronger South Dakota.
As Attorney General, I will bring new visionary leadership.
Together, we will make real change for our justice system—change that we can see and feel in our everyday lives. Change that will support the most vulnerable in our communities and make ALL of our lives better.
We will bring new tools to take on addiction and child abuse, a new commitment to reforming our juvenile justice system, and new focus on reducing recidivism.
Together, we will push to see a cultural shift in how we approach justice and the intersection of law, policy, and public health. Justice stakeholders will work together to focus on prevention in all areas, specifically on ending child maltreatment and combatting adverse childhood experiences. We will redefine justice for all.
Together, we will create comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs that include medicated assisted treatment, resources for those with substance abuse and mental health issues, sober living communities, and housing for those suffering. As Attorney General, I will punish the companies that profit from pushing drugs on our communities.
As Attorney General, I will hold those in power accountable. From our statehouse to our nation’s Capital, I will be the independent watch dog we need. The law will be my guide and the people my motivation. As your Attorney General, I will hold steadfast to the rule that no one is above the law.
Over the last few weeks as I have talked to people about my campaign for Attorney General, people often ask me what makes me more qualified than others.
Combined with my legal bona-fides and my strong track record of working to protect and support the most vulnerable, I am the candidate who gives South Dakota a new direction.
The opportunity to envision something more, to create new paths. I am not satisfied with the status quo. I am restless to see change and I know that change includes me.
I hope you’ll join me.
Democratic Candidate for South Dakota Attorney General