Native American tribe rescinds ban on missionary work day after passing it

The Dream Center
A sign for The Dream Center of Wings as Eagles Ministries, a nondenominational ministry located at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. |

A Native American tribe based in South Dakota briefly suspended Christian missionary activity on the reservation, only to rescind the policy shortly afterward over constitutional concerns.

Last week, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to pass an ordinance that would have barred all activity of Christian missions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Additionally, as reported by Native News Online, the ordinance required all religious organizations to complete an application to be allowed to engage in mission work.

The next day, the tribal council voted 10-7 to rescind the ordinance, allowing missionaries and churches to continue their operations.

Pastor Lori McAfee is president and founder of Wings as Eagles Ministries, which oversees The Dream Center, a non-denominational ministry that works on the reservation.

In an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday, McAfee said the current rules are for faith groups operating at the reservation to register with the tribal leadership.

“It was unconstitutional, so they rescinded it,” McAfee noted, adding that they were now having churches and ministries “register within 90 days” of the ordinance being voted on.

According to McAfee, the whole issue stemmed from a recent incident of another ministry coming in “with a really, really bad brochure” which “was going around the reservation.”

“I guess somehow we got blamed for it,” she said, describing the situation as “a real mess” and emphasizing that the brochure came from a ministry that was “from outside the reservation.”

McAfee, whose ministry has been working on the reservation for several years, told CP that the registration requirement was not a novel condition.

“We’ve already done that over and over in the past,” said McAfee, adding that “every time there is a new tribal council,” they implement rules on a host of issues.

“This tribal council won’t be there unless they get voted back in, because they have voting in November. So, it’s only two years, so every two years there’s a new council and they do new rules. So, it just continues. So, we’ve done it in the past.”

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