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South Dakota History In The Making
Bruce Whalen Runs for US Senate

Six of the poorest counties in the nation are within the borders of South Dakota. All of them are counties that are home to American Indian Reservations, among them Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In the vastness of Badlands and high plains, the visual reminders of the poverty of a once proud people are nothing short of heartbreaking. However, the poverty is not the only claim to fame, Native Americans have the highest military enlistment rate of any ethnicity per capita in the country and there have been a few movies shot there as well. Pine Ridge Reservation and South Dakota are known for their connections to war chief Red Cloud, actor and musician Mo Brings Plenty, Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills, actor and activist Russell Means, author David Rooks, musician Buddy Red Bow and others.

The county is also known for 97% of the population living below the federal poverty line, 85%-95% unemployment rates, 60% of the homes are substandard, astronomic levels of alcohol and drug addiction, plus unbelievable crime rates. The health statistics show deaths due to heart disease twice that of their stateside counterparts, diabetes and tuberculosis rates 800 times the national average, an infant mortality rate 300% higher than anywhere else on the continent, and a teen suicide rate that by any standard is shocking. However, this environment did not limit US Senate candidate Bruce Whalen, Tatanka Ihanbla, which means “Buffalo Dreamer” in Lakota.

Bruce was raised on Pine Ridge Reservation and moved with his family to Utah at the age of 14. He served a total of 10 years in the National Guard and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Chemical Dependency from Oglala Lakota College, where he also served as Student Senate President for two years. He has credits toward a Master's Degree from Liberty University and Oglala Lakota College. He was employed with nonprofits managing grant objectives and with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in the Executive Director's Office, auditing contracts and grant programming. He was the Law-and-Order Committee Coordinator before transferring to the tribe's Property and Supply Department as its director. There he served in two critical areas for the tribe, Procurement and Financial Management.



He resides in Pine Ridge Village where he shares his life with wife Carol, children, and grandchildren. Bruce was the South Dakota Republican Nominee for United States House of Representatives in 2006. His political involvement could not be dissuaded because of the massive government footprint on "Indian Reservations" directly contributing to tribal dependency on the federal and state governments and waste of tax dollars. Years of researching the so-called "Indian problem" led him to Congressional records and the discovery that social experiments were conducted on tribal people. Those experiments were used during WWII and now we see similar efforts rolling out across America by the powers in charge. They empower bureaucrats to rule over U.S. Citizens. Bruce believes this must stop before it becomes deeply rooted and irreversible in American life.

As a Christian, conservative and lifelong registered Republican, he worked boots on the ground to get John Thune elected in 2004. Now he is not only running against John Thune, but he is the first ever Native American to run for a US Senate seat in South Dakota. His experience in private employment and military service were a stark contrast to working in Tribal Government and as liaison to federal and state agencies. His employment with the Oglala Sioux Tribe opened his eyes to graft and corruption within tribal government that was ignored by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of United States Attorney (SD). Bruce believes that elected representatives hold two primary duties: 1. Securing our Rights 2. Keeping the Republic. When asked why he was running against John Thune, his response struck a chord with me. He said in a very matter of fact tone of voice, “I’m not running against John Thune, I am running for the people of South Dakota”. He is the beacon we need to shine light on our voices in Washington, DC.

--Gwen D. Caldwell

Post Date: 2022-02-18 13:30:51Last Update: 2022-04-21 20:56:32


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