The Sioux City Human Rights Commission granted its annual War Eagle Human Rights Award to Frank LaMere, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and head of the city’s Four Directions Community Center, and Tito Parker, who is Blackfoot, Cherokee, African American and Mexican American. Parker works with children in the public schools and is a very active community volunteer. The award is named for a 19th-century Santee Sioux who was adopted into the Yankton Sioux Tribe and became a leader and peacemaker, said commission chair Karen Mackey, Santee Dakota Nation.
The honorees received plaques during a December 9 city-hall ceremony opened by the Winnebago Veteran’s Association Honor Guard and Drum. “It’s notable the commission honored two individuals who not only positively affect civil rights in Sioux City but also work to better children’s lives,” Mackey said. “Frank is a long-time child-welfare and juvenile-justice advocate, and Tito teaches children they have the power to help others, no matter how humble their life circumstances.”
In a garden Parker established, Mackey explained, children raise food for their own families and to give to others; he and his wife and family also use their own funds and time to feed the hungry, house the homeless and help youngsters with homework, among many other activities. LaMere, who was instrumental in the passage of the 2003 Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act, also fights to stop the flow of alcohol and accompanying social devastation from Whiteclay, Nebraska, to the adjoining dry Pine Ridge Indian reservation.
During the event, LaMere encouraged audience members to stand up for what’s right, and Parker said, “It’s not who is right or wrong, but what is right or wrong, and that’s how I live my life.”