Tribe Prevents Mega Truck Loads from Crossing Reservation

SD/NE STATELINE – At least one truck carrying an oversized mega load was prevented by tribal police from entering the Rosebud Reservation on Monday afternoon.


Tribal members and police officers stopped and detoured the truck at the Rosebud Fuel Plaza late Monday afternoon. The truck belonged to Hess Services, Inc. of Hays, Kansas and was headed north on highway 83. The company manufactures tanks and other equipment designed for chemical mixing as well as storage. They also provide tank delivery and set up.


 “Approximately seven tractor trailer loads headed north from the Rosebud Fuel Plaza,” stated Gary Dorr of Oyate Wahacanka Woecun. “They held equipment for Zenergy, which is a sub-contractor for TransCanada.”


The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council has a standing resolution opposing the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion, including the transport of equipment on roads running through the reservation. RST Resolution 2014-33 was approved on February 27, 2014 and reads in part: “The Tribal Nations of the Oceti Sakowin stand in unified opposition to the construction of the TransCanada XL Pipeline.”


At least four trailers loaded with single well stream process packages manufactured by Hess Services, Inc. remained in the parking lot of the RST Fuel Plaza on Monday afternoon. However, Zenergy was “asked to remove their equipment from the premises and that any prior agreements made between the Auto Plaza Manager and the Hess Transport company were null and void [as ordered RST President Cyril Scott],” continued Dorr.

Apparently, an informal agreement had been struck between the RST Fuel Plaza Manager where the company would guarantee gas purchases for their trucks in exchange for storing the trailer-loads behind the store on the gravel lot. Four trailers were left on the premises.


“Tribal police made contact with one truck driver from Hess Trucking and asked him to turn around and go back to have his company remove the trailers,” stated Dorr.  “He said he would call the company and he did leave in the direction of Valentine, NE.”


The four trailers were removed by the company from the RST Fuel Plaza parking lot on the morning of April 15, 2014.


The Rosebud Sioux Tribe did establish a Spirit Camp on March 29 on tribal land near the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route. Visitors are welcome and can take highway 18 east of Mission, SD and then drive north on highway 53/183. The camp can be seen on the east side of the highway.


For more information you may call the Rosebud Sioux Tribe at (605) 747-2381. The Oyate Wahacanka Woecun also has a Facebook page at which you can check for updates or you can call 1-888-742-7244.


Photos by Gary Dorr at

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Camp brings a face to South Dakota Tribes’ KXL fight


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Spirit Camp Hosts Opening Ceremony on Rosebud Reservation


Photo and story by Vi Waln

IDEAL, SD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has set up a Spirit Camp as a peaceful, non-violent way to protest construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (KXL).


Over one hundred cars caravanned to the site on March 29 from Mission, SD to attend opening ceremonies held over the weekend at the site which is located south of the Ideal Community on the Rosebud Reservation.


A ceremony was led by several local spiritual leaders and medicine was placed within the ground along the actual proposed KXL route. “We’re going to sit here and protect this medicine,” stated Russell Eagle Bear. He is a spokesperson for Oyate Wahacanka Woecun (Shield the People) which is an organization sponsored by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “Three more camps are scheduled along this [KXL] corridor,” he said. “We are doing this with prayer.”


“It’s good to see all of our relatives here. It’s good to see the all little ones here, this is what we are here for – to protect the future generations, for clean air, clean water and good land. ” stated Cyril Scott, RST President.


Scott also asked the people of Rosebud to boycott the Ampride station in Mission, SD and plans to ask the tribal council to revoke their business license. People gathered in the parking lot of the convenience store in preparation to caravan to the camp site were told by management they needed to leave because they were trespassing.


“Today we stand together, today we stand united,” stated Brandon Sazue, President of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. “The KXL pipeline will not come through here, I will die if I have too.”


“You can feel the power here,” stated Bryan Brewer, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “This will be non-violent, we will take our coup stick and count coup. This Thursday the OST tribal council is going to declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline.”


Ed Schultz of MSNBC’s The Ed Show also traveled to South Dakota to witness the opening of the Spirit Camp. He interviewed tribal leaders along with several other people during the course of the day. KSFY of Sioux Falls, SD was also on site conducting interviews.


Eight tribal flags representing the Yankton, Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Oglala and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes of South Dakota as well as flags from the Shakopee Mdewakanton, Prairie Island and Upper Sioux Communities of Minnesota are all flying at the Spirit Camp. In addition, black, red, yellow, white, blue and green banners are also flying to represent the six directions.


Nine tipis have been erected in what was a cornfield on tribally owned land. The camp area also has a wall of 1,500 pound hay bales around it. There is a cook shack area located just north of the tipi area as well as a prayer lodge located south of it – both of these areas also have the big round hay bales set up around them. According to organizers, the camp will be manned 24 hours a day until the proposed Keystone XL pipeline permit is denied by President Barack Obama or ground is broken for construction.


Visitors can take highway 18 east of Mission, SD and then drive north on highway 53/183. Signs are posted along the way. The camp can be seen on the east side of the highway.


For more information you may call the Rosebud Sioux Tribe at (605) 747-2381. The Oyate Wahacanka Woecun Project has a Facebook page which you can check for updates or you can call 1-888-742-7244.

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Does a suspended SWA charter also mean suspended evictions?

Congratulations to Pamela Kills In Water, Calvin Hawkeye Waln, Steve DeNoyer, Lydia Whirlwind Solder, Alvin Bettelyoun, Rose Stenstrom, Kathleen High Pipe and Michael Boltz for appointing themselves as the new board of commissioners for the Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi (SWA) Corporation!


I’m sure they will dedicate themselves to solving the current housing crisis facing the Sicangu Lakota Oyate.


The issues which have plagued SWA for decades are numerous. An issue which concerns many tribal members are the vacant houses boarded up in nearly every community.


There are approximately fifty or more SWA houses currently sitting empty on the Rosebud Rez. Some of those houses have been boarded up since 2011. There is $0 rent being collected from those houses.


Fifty homes rented for a mere $100 per month would bring in at least $60,000 per year to housing coffers.


The vacant houses sit in stark contrast to the most recent SWA waiting list which contains approximately 292 applicants. The list lengthens considerably when you add people who’ve applied for a FEMA trailer.


Consequently, it might not be possible to collect rent on those houses even if they were occupied.


Could this be why they remain vacant?


The number of evictions being pursued by SWA might give one an idea of how many homes aren’t actually being paid for. Furthermore, you can look for more houses to be boarded up as March is the month when the eviction process awakens from a six month hibernation.


But wait. Does a suspended charter also mean suspended evictions? I hope so.


The tribal council members who now serve as commissioners could also review the housing evictions. I remember going to meetings where a tenant facing eviction would be listed on the agenda. The board would listen to the person even though there was nothing which could be done to stop the eviction.


The board would often be criticized by the administration for trying to meddle in an eviction process. Why would a tenant being evicted be placed on the board agenda if there was actually nothing which could be done to stop a legal process already in court?


In closing, the tribal council had an executive session before they moved to suspend the SWA charter/board of commissioners. Common courtesy could have been extended to the members of the SWA board that day as they were having a regular meeting at the same time the tribal council was voting to suspend them.


In my opinion, it was awfully rude for the tribal council to not extend common courtesy to their own tribal members. Still, I realize a normal day of business in the council chambers is often characterized by rudeness. The board of commissioners were given “official” notice of the charter suspension through a certified letter from SWA which contained a photocopy of the motion excerpt issued by the RST Secretary’s office.


The two years I served as a commissioner were eye-opening. The Sicangu Oyate deserve to hear what really goes on at SWA.


Stay tuned.



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They’re lying

The Keystone XL pipeline could be the final rape of Unci Maka.


The natural minerals of Unci Maka are basically non-toxic until man excavates them for profit. We aren’t meant to mine these minerals. 


In Canada, portions of the Boreal Forest are now decimated due to tar sands mining. Indigenous people in the surrounding area currently suffer from major illnesses.


Canadian and American politicians have sold their souls to wealthy big oil corporations. They have zero conscience regarding the corporate assault upon Unci Maka.


They obviously don’t care about what happens to our sacred water and all the living things we as humans must co-exist with.


I listened to a retired politician chatter on television last week about how the Keystone XL pipeline is safe. The nonsense he spoke didn’t convince me. His meaningless words reminded me of the numerous roughnecks who testified at the State Department’s Public Hearing in 2011. One by one they spoke like pre-programmed robots. Their scripted speeches were about how the project was going to put them to work.


They were likely programmed with what to say as they cruised in the prepaid charter buses to the 2011 State Department hearing in Pierre. They’ve also sold their souls. They’re highly misinformed.


The construction of a monster pipeline might bring jobs. Yet, they will be temporary jobs which are likely already promised to the union workers who advocate mindlessly for destructive pipeline projects such as Keystone XL.


It’s really about The Almighty Dollar.


There are many aspects to a construction project like this. One reality which has many worried is the prospect of a man camp being established on our Rez.


Do you have relatives living on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota? They are aware of what a man camp is and how much grief it has brought to their area.


Imagine a throng of strange roughnecks living within 100 miles of Rosebud. Don’t know what roughneck means? My favorite online dictionary defines the term as “a rough or violent person; thug.”


We are facing grave danger. We definitely don’t need a large group of violent thugs living so close to us.


Consequently, Three Affiliated tribal members affected by the oil boom on Fort Berthold can give firsthand accounts of what their people have suffered. The oil brought roughnecks, money, drugs and crime.


Heroin drug dealers and high crime rates, including violent sexual assaults, are now regular occurrences on Fort Berthold.


The final day to submit your comments on the Keystone XL pipeline project is Friday, March 7, 2014. If you have access to a computer and can get online please leave your comments AGAINST this death project.


The Ogallala Aquifer is at risk. People who are blind to everything except money will tell you the project is safe.


Politicians who’ve sold their souls to big oil will tell you there is no danger from man camps to your children, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmas.


They’re lying.

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Our Children Need Us

I watched a bunch of happy children enjoying the Valentine’s Day Carnival sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of Rosebud last week. The staff and volunteers did a great job.


It would be awesome if all of our communities could have a site for children to go and have activities to do. There are youth councils in every community but there are still lots of children who are being left out. When you add the lack of funding to this problem the issue seems insurmountable.


Also, another issue of concern is what is happening in our schools. There are so many of our young people being viciously bullied at school. A bully can be someone of any age. Students, paraprofessionals, teachers, support staff, administrators and school board members can be bullies.


Is your student being needlessly harassed by an adult at their school?


Consequently, many of our young people are very angry. In order to numb the anger they are feeling inside some of them choose to hurt themselves. There are many young people who are cutting themselves today. It’s a way for them to focus on something other than the pain they are feeling inside.


Also, many young people are having thoughts of going further than just cutting themselves. Some have made one or more attempts to end their own lives. Many have succeeded in leaving this world behind while others will make more attempts to leave.


Our precious children find heinous ways to deal with their inner anger. I received a message about an animal cruelty incident in Parmelee recently. Someone had wrapped up a dog in a plastic bag and covered a cat with duct tape. Children who do things like this to animals are emotionally disturbed. They grow up to be emotionally disturbed adults.


A handful of adults actually care about what happens to our young people. I hear a lot of people talking but see hardly anyone doing. Many of the tribal programs which are funded to help our youth have a better life are just empty programs. You might see their program listed on the poster of an event sponsored by another entity which is as far as their involvement goes.


A parent recently approached me to vent her frustration at the lack of coordination between the numerous programs funded with millions of dollars meant for our youth. She also told me about pictures on her daughter’s cell phone. Our young people are texting pictures of themselves to one another to show the severity of the cuts they inflict upon themselves.


Parents: your teenager needs you. If you are all wrapped up in your addictions please know that your children will be better off when you start tending to their needs.


Angry children grow up into raging adults who do more than cut themselves. At some point animal cruelty evolves into assaulting humans. Your child’s unresolved anger can even lead them straight into prison.


The future of the Lakota depends upon the children.



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Stop blaming a wayward tribal chairman and get the job done

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is not taking care of business.


The tribal council is the governing body which is responsible for ensuring that tribal operations are being conducted properly.


Yet, how can business be conducted when meeting after meeting is either being cancelled or fails to reach or maintain a quorum?


Word is that many tribal programs are scrambling to hand carry petition resolutions around to gather tribal council representative signatures in order for business to carry on.


Petition resolutions are an extremely poor way to run a tribe.


The tribal chairman has cancelled numerous meetings for a variety of reasons. Of course, it is within his authority to cancel as many meetings as he pleases.


Still, when tribal programs and day-to-day operations begin to suffer because the governing body is not tending to business — we would do well to demand our tribal council representatives to get their collective you-know-what in gear.


Tribal officials belong in the council chambers tending to the business we elected them to take care of for the people.


Consequently, tribal members should know that all your elected representatives still get paid whether meetings are cancelled or not. The lack of a quorum to conduct business does not affect their paycheck. There is no such thing as leave without pay for your elected officials.


Furthermore, I fail to see why the tribal vice-chairman is not being allowed to preside over meetings when the tribal chairman is off on one of his many business trips. Tribal interests are supposedly being represented when the wayward chairman drives off the Rez or boards an airplane for DC.


There are no benefits which I can see offsetting all this money being spent on travel by those people whom we elected to office.  


Another question which many of us have asked is this — where are the tribal council representatives during all of these cancellations? Many of us listen to them complain about how many meetings are called off. We hear them bemoan about how they cannot get anything done.


A lot is being blamed on the wayward tribal chairman.


Yet, being the elected representatives that they are, it seems as though they could get past the blame game. The tribal chairman is only one person.


Would the governing body please take the initiative to voluntarily gather at the tribal council chambers to request a meeting be conducted by the vice-chairman?


Please stop making excuses.


Please stop blaming one another for cancellations.


The tribal membership needs business to be taken care of. Now. Today. You can consider this a directive to have as much meetings as it takes to finish up all of the tribal business which has been neglected for so very long.


Real leaders will stop blaming a wayward tribal chairman.


Real leaders won’t give excuses.


Real leaders won’t offer a myriad of complaints justifying how their hands are tied.


Real leaders will step up and get the job done.





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Michiyo Ohoka: March 8, 1969 – January 5, 2014


Michiyo Ohoka (Olowan Waste Win) was born in Osaka Japan to Sueo and Masayo Tani. Her grandfather was a Buddhist monk and was the caretaker of a temple. She grew up practicing the traditional fire ceremonies of her ancestors and when she was introduced to the Native American practice of the sweat lodge it resonated very deeply with her and felt closely akin to the spiritual practices that she grew up with.


Michiyo tended fire for seven years in Japan before coming to the United States in 2001 to embark upon a vision quest under the late Chief Phil Crazy Bull and participate in the Sundance. She would return several times over the next few years before relocating to the United States permanently in 2004.


Michiyo spent the last 12 years traveling the country, supporting Sundances, sweat lodges, the Native American Church and other traditional ceremonies. Michiyo was a phenomenal singer and she dedicated her life to sharing her gift of song with the world. She also was a cedar woman and offered spiritual food to the Tree of Life at the Paradise Sundance on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She also loved the traditional art of porcupine quill work. Her jewelry and other pieces were superb examples of the ceremonial art form.


In July of 2013 Michiyo was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy in Albuquerque, NM. Throughout the difficult treatment, Michiyo remained positive and vibrant. She never held any regrets about the life she chose and she was always resolved to live her life fully in each moment, making the most out of every situation that life had to offer. Her undying passion for life, in all its glory and struggle, was a testament to the strength of her spirit. Michiyo was committed to living a life of integrity and service. She embodied the principle of unconditional love, with an innocence and purity of heart that never went unnoticed. Through her living example Michiyo enriched the lives of everyone who was lucky enough to have met her. She is survived by her parent, Sueo and Masayo, her brother Masaaki, her son Cocoro and her special friend Tsuyoshi.


A one night wake was held at the St. Francis Community Center on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Cremains were interred at the Clearwater Cemetery in Crazy Horse Canyon not far from the Paradise Sundance grounds.


Chief Marvin Swallow and Chief Leonard Crow Dog officiated memorial services.


Mitakuye Oyasin.


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A violent mind sets violence into motion

First, I want to offer my condolences to the families of Ben Clifford Jr. and Calvin Kills In Water, Jr.


Ben was a Grandpa. Calvin was a Dad. Each came from a large extended family and many relatives mourn their premature passing.


The violent murders of an elder and a young man are tragic. Many of us wonder if the way their lives were taken could have been prevented.


Accused murderers BillyRay and Riley McCloskey are brothers. Both are in their early 20’s which is normally a time we look forward to a life full of promise. These young men now sit in a federal jail awaiting trial for second-degree murder.


36 year old Crystal Red Hawk helped the McCloskey brothers try to cover up their crime. She is also in federal custody awaiting trial on accessory after the fact.


The federal justice system is predicable. The accused will remain in custody until their scheduled trial date of March 11, 2014. I sincerely hope they are not released on third party bond. I would not feel safe if any of them were to return to the Rez.


All three will be appointed an attorney, who will visit them in jail to discuss their case. At some point the government will offer a plea bargain. The appointed attorney will go over those documents and will most likely advocate for the accused to accept the plea bargain. 


Most tribal people indicted for a federal crime will accept the deal offered and enter a guilty plea to their charges. This might result in a lighter sentence than if they had gone to trial and been found guilty.


Second degree murder cases are not ones which will put someone away for life. Even when a defendant goes to trial and is found guilty the sentence could be anywhere from 10-20 years, depending on sentencing guidelines.


Ben Clifford, Jr. was 76 years old. Calvin Kills In Water was 33 years old. Perhaps a jail term of 109 years, without the possibility of parole, is a fair exchange for their deaths.


Yet, Calvin left behind small children who will grow up deprived of their father. Ben’s wife is now a widow. It isn’t fair to them. Many lives were changed. Forever.

A plea bargain will most likely see these people be released from jail at some point. Most of tribal members who serve time usually wind up coming home to the Rez.


Personally, I would be in favor of establishing banishment laws on the Rosebud Reservation. Violent murderers should not be able to live on our homelands. Our young people and elders deserve to be safe on their own Rez.


Yet, even if we advocated for our tribal government to enact banishment laws against our own tribal members, where would they go upon being released from jail? They have to go somewhere. Other people will be at risk from convicted murderers living nearby.  


A violent mind often sets violence into motion. No matter where they live.


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A vicious cycle for sure

I have many people who will inform me about what is happening around them. I appreciate the information they provide because it gives me something to think about. When I think about something long enough, I usually put it to words here to share with all of you.


When we hear the word bully, many of us tend to visualize a mean kid at a local school who will strong-arm other students into getting what he/she wants. We have to stop stereotyping our school children as the major bully figures because we have adults with much worse behavior.


Bullying is a learned behavior. The mean kid on the playground learned how to be mean from someone, right? Most of his or her actions can be traced back to a specific adult. And it might not be a parent.


We all know of at least one adult bully. On the Rez they are really prevalent. Many have developed excellent intimidation skills over the years. They are used to getting their way, even if it means acting violently in order to do so.


The bully is also in the workplace. Whether you are employed with the tribe, the federal government, a local school or a private company, you will most likely witness some form of the bully in your workplace.


Is it a bullying tactic to manipulate someone? I believe it is, especially when the one manipulating is doing it for some sort of personal gain. I saw this behavior in a workplace recently where some employees manipulate their co-workers and the system for financial gain. That’s an example of a corrupt system, which might be addressed in a future column.


The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act created the modern day tribal governments, which are patterned after the other political systems. Tribal governments consist of constitutional officers and tribal council representatives; along with an array of committees, commissions, boards and a treaty council. Most members are elected while several are appointed to these bodies.


These are the people who make decisions affecting all of us living on the Rez. Our lives could be changed by one simple motion. Or not. And the people who get their way on these councils, boards and commissions often resort to their bully skills to get what they want. Especially where it concerns money.


Many of those who sit on these councils, committees, boards or commissions receive a stipend for attending meetings. Or there might be travel money involved. In any case, money always seems to bring out the bully tactics of these so-called officials.


It’s not right to bully people into tears to get your way. Real Lakota leaders do not operate that way. The staff are there to help, not for you to pick on because your check isn’t ready.


On the other hand, sometimes the only way to get a bully to back off from you is to bully them right back. All of a sudden they are the victim!


A vicious cycle for sure.

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