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Candi Brings Plenty Joins ACLU as Indigenous Justice Organizer

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Candi Brings Plenty has joined the American Civil Liberties Union as the organization’s new indigenous justice organizer for South Dakota and North Dakota.

As indigenous justice organizer, Brings Plenty works to build the ACLU’s public education and advocacy programs through coalition-building, leadership development, communication, and lobbying and is responsible for advancing the ACLU’s civil liberties and civil rights campaigns in the two states.

“Candi’s commitment to social justice, along with her background and experience in advocacy and organizing, made her a natural fit for this position,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota. “The ACLU has wanted to expand its work on indigenous issues in the region for a long time. With Candi on board, our capacity to create change is bigger than ever.”

The indigenous justice organizer is a new position for the ACLU of South Dakota, spurred on this year in part because the “riot boosting” bill Gov. Kristi Noem introduced and signed into law in the final days of the 2019 legislative session without consulting South Dakota’s nine tribes, many of whom have been vocal opponents of TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the “riot boosting” act and two other South Dakota statutes that threaten activists who encourage or organize protests – particularly protests of the Keystone XL pipeline – with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison. A federal court blocked enforcement of the unconstitutional provisions of several South Dakota laws in September.

But pipeline protests and free speech are not the only areas Brings Plenty will focus on. She also will be working to strengthen voting accessibility to tribal communities as 2020 approaches, focusing on the long-lasting epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and promoting Two-Spirit inclusion, among other issues.

As a Lakota cultural practitioner and through her spiritual activism, Brings Plenty works to bring her medicine to the Oyaté and advocates especially for the empowerment and visibility of Two-Spirit warriors to reclaim their walk of life in the sacred circle.

Prior to joining the ACLU of South Dakota, Brings Plenty was the campaign adviser and executive proxy for the tribal president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the executive director of the EQUI Institute, a trans and queer health clinic, in Portland, Ore. She also was the founder of the Two-Spirit Nation and led the Two-Spirit encampment at Standing Rock for 11 months during the peaceful prayer movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Brings Plenty graduated from Oglala Lakota College in Rapid City and earned graduate certificates in public and nonprofit management and public administration from Portland State University in Portland, Ore. Brings Plenty is an Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal member and a descendant of Crazy Horse’s Band. She grew up in the Black Hills and on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is deeply rooted in her Lakota culture, spirituality, and language.

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