Report Consumer Fraud in Indian Country

INDIAN COUNTRY – When we visit businesses to buy the items we need, we expect sales people to offer truthful and accurate information about the products we want to purchase.

What we don’t expect are sales people who lie to us and force us to sign documents that we haven’t reviewed. Yet, there are many victims of consumer fraud who have had terrible experiences with salespeople who scammed those customers out of their money.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a government agency which provides consumers with assistance when they have been ripped off by unscrupulous businesses and/or salespeople. A public briefing called “Spotting and Avoiding Scams in Indian Country” was recently hosted by several FTC officials.

The briefing featured a Navajo Nation citizen who shared the consumer fraud she experienced when she went to trade in her vehicle. Residents of the Navajo Nation reservation often live in remote areas accessible by unpaved roads that lack regular maintenance. Navajo tribal citizens travel long distances to border towns to purchase supplies, food, fuel and other items. They depend on their vehicles to also haul feed and water to their livestock.

Sherry is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. She was interested in trading in her vehicle for a truck so it would be easier for her to haul supplies to her remote residence.  She visited a car dealer in Winslow, Arizona after receiving a flyer in the mail. After finalizing what she thought was an upfront purchase, she turned over the key to the car she thought she was trading in and left in a different vehicle.

A few of weeks later, she got a call from the finance company about the vehicle she supposedly traded in. She later got a letter stating she was responsible for an abandoned vehicle, which was the one she supposedly traded in. She took the letter to the dealer to ask where the car was. He told her the lienholder came and took the car back.

The car she believed she traded in was eventually repossessed. She still owed $10500 on the vehicle. She was told by the car salesman who lied to her to ignore the phone calls seeking payment for the repossessed vehicle. She then sought legal help. The FTC helped the 3500 victims in this case receive $415,000 in restitution payments. You can see more information on this case at https://tinyurl.com/y9k3snk2

According to their website, the FTC’s mission is to help protect all communities, including American Indian and Alaska Natives, from unfair and deceptive business practices. This is done through law enforcement actions and by sharing resources to help people spot, avoid, and report scams and bad business practices.

The FTC wants to hear from American Indian and Alaska Native communities about their experiences. Your reports can help the FTC and their partners stop scammers. If you believe you have been the victim of a fraud, scam, or bad business practice, you can report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

Iron Shell member of Midwest Honor Flight

Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. is shown leading the flag retreat by Lakota veterans during the 2014 Rosebud Fair & Wacipi. Photo by Vi Waln

Rosebud, S.D. – Korean veteran Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. was part of the most recent Midwest Honor Flight, held to honor soldiers with complimentary travel to memorial sites.

Iron Shell, a 90-year-old descendant of Chief Iron Shell, was accompanied by his son, Eugene Iron Shell Jr. The weekend began with a banquet for all the veterans in the Sioux Falls Convention Center the evening before the Midwest Honor Flight. The group of 82 veterans were hosted for the trip by the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation Mission 7 to visit military memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C.

“He was one of the very few Native Americans to ever go on the Midwest Honor Flight,” said Iron Shell Jr. “Most Indian Country veterans do not know about this opportunity.”  The tour included World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iwo Jima (Marine), Navy and Air Force Memorials.

Iron Shell witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery. He enjoyed visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial. He remembered George, his oldest brother and WWII Veteran, while viewing the WWII Memorial. 

“The most memorable part of his journey was the homecoming, after we got back to Sioux Falls,” stated Iron Shell, Jr. “There were people at the airport to welcome them, and all of the families were waiting at the Sioux Falls Arena to say welcome home.” 

Sicangu elder Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. holds the proclamation issued by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. President Scott Herman declared September 19 as Eugene S Iron Shell Sr Day. Photo by Eugene Iron Shell, Jr.

A proclamation issued by Scott Herman, Rosebud Sioux Tribal President, declared September 19, 2021 as Eugene S Iron Shell Sr Day. It read in part: “Eugene Steven Iron Shell, Sr., age 92 years was born on August 6, 1929 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Iron Shell, Sr. in Rosebud. He was one of 13 siblings and was baptized into the Catholic Church by Fr. Eugene Buechel, SJ. He went to school at St. Francis Mission From 1935-1947. When the 82nd Airborn Division recruiter came to St. Francis, he enlisted in the United States Army along with his brother James and also Doley White Eyes.”

Eugene’s first military assignment was as a parachute rigger in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was an outstanding solider and was quickly promoted to Corporal. In 1951 he was transferred to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. He was a combat infantryman, participating in the battles along the 28th parallel at Kumwa Valley and the Chorwon Valley. He also participated in the breaking up the prisoner riots at Koje-do, Korea.

Eugene came home in August 1953. He then went back to the 82nd Airborne Division, this time to the 325th Airborne Infantry, where he was the guidon bearer for Company E. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant, he was subsequently assigned to the recruiting office of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC. His final assignment was with Company I, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Fort Campbell, KY and Japan.

Eugene later earned a degree in counseling. He was a counselor at both the St. Francis Mission and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He has been sober since June 13, 1975.

Eugene is a member of the Kit Fox Warrior Society, a position held by his great-grandfather Arnold Iron Shell. As a young man Eugene, met the late Bill Schweigman, a yuwipi man, and learned the traditional Lakota ceremonies. He sun danced at Crow Dog’s Paradise for 30 years.

Eugene has been a member of the Chauncey Eagle Horn-Phillip Iyotte American Legion Post 125 for 44 years. He served as a post commander and as Todd County Commander for 16 years. Since 1978, he has provided military funeral honors to thousands of veterans across the Rosebud Reservation. He still volunteers when needed for the firing squad at funerals.

Eugene has 3 adult children: James, Ronda and Eugene Jr. He has one living sister Theresa Iron Shell-Hiatt of Hastings, NE. He has many grandchildren and extended family members. He resides with family in Rosebud, SD.

Eugene Iron Shell, Sr., a Korean War Veteran, pauses for a photo at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC. He holds a photo of himself as a young soldier. Photo by Eugene Iron Shell, Jr. 

Midwest Honor Flight is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization in Northwest Iowa, South Dakota, and Southwest Minnesota dedicated to providing Veterans with respect, honor, and closure with an all-expense-paid trip to our nation’s capital. Interested veterans or their family members must apply to be considered for the Midwest Honor Flight and are placed on a waiting list.

“I was able to sign up one of our Vietnam Veterans for Midwest Honor Flight,” said Eugene Iron Shell, Jr. “I think all of the Veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam should have the opportunity to visit The Wall or the Korean Memorial or the WWII Memorial. I have applications if anyone is interested. It is a very simple process.”

US Rep. Johnson honors Vietnam Vets

Rosebud, S.D. – US House Representative Dusty Johnson presented a Challenger Coin and lapel pin to several Vietnam veterans in a special ceremony held here last week.

John Leroy visits with Congressman Dusty Johnson about the the Sicangu Lakota Warriors Eagle Feather staff at the Rosebud Fairgrounds. Photo by Vi Waln.

The presentations to Vietnam and Vietnam veterans are a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense, Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the US House of Representatives. On behalf of the Congressional office, the veterans received a Challenge Coin, which depicts the seal of South Dakota on one side. The seal of the US House is on the other side of the coin. 

The Vietnam era was “a dark time in our country’s history,” stated Congressman Johnson. “This is an opportunity for America to step up and try to right one of those wrongs.”

Rep. Johnson speaks at the special ceremony held to honor Vietnam veterans. President Rodney Bordeaux (left) also offered remarks. The Sicangu Lakota Warriors served as Color Guard. Photo by Vi Waln

“Indian Country and the Lakota have always celebrated their warriors,” continued Johnson. “America, as a whole, has not done as good a job. Today, we will be shaking the hands of these Vietnam and Vietnam Era veterans, thanking them for service.”

A grateful nation thanks and honors you – is the message engraved on the back of the Challenger Coin. “That is the message we did not provide properly when people returned home from Vietnam,” Johnson said.

Other local veterans who were honored included Anthony Castaway (Army), Francis White Bird (Army), Fremont Fallis (Army), Charles Mancini (Air Force), Bill Menard (Army), Jim Herman (Marines), Orlando Morrison (Army) and OJ Semans (Navy). Others recognized were Vaugh Matt Gordon (Army), Melford Leighton (Army), George Leneaugh (Army). Robert Kelly served in the Marine Corp but was not able to attend. His metal was accepted by Jasmine Henry.

It is estimated that 42,000 Native Americans served in the military during the Vietnam era. According to the Vietnam Memorial, there were 248 American Indians/Alaska Natives killed during the Vietnam war.

The Sicangu Lakota Warriors served as the Color Guard for the honoring. Eyapaha was Pat Bad Hand, Sr.  Bad Hand also sang the Lakota Flag Song, a Vietnam veteran song and an honor song. Staff members from Senator Thune and Senator Rounds office also attended the event. The RST Veteran’s office provided lunch to all who attended.

The lapel pins were presented to recognize, thank and honor local Lakota military veterans who served during the Vietnam War. Eligible veterans included living US veterans who served on active duty in the US Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin.

Copyright © 2021 Vi Waln, All rights reserved.

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Lots of small Lakota children are being traumatized as you read this. Parents, guardians, grandparents or other caregivers are inflicting trauma on our children every minute of every day. Trauma isn’t just physical abuse. Mental, emotional and spiritual trauma is also child abuse.

There are lots of small children acting out the effects of trauma. For example, there are many children on our reservations that learn how to be a bully in their homes. People responsible for the care of children may often believe they only have to feed, clothe and provide shelter for the small children in their care. They haven’t a clue about how their personal behavior is traumatizing the children in their home.

For instance, there are a lot of Lakota people right now whom are heavily addicted to using large amounts of drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse regularly happens in front of the children in the home. There are also many children who witness extreme levels of violence in their homes. Yelling, physical assaults and adult dysfunction are just a handful of behaviors our children and teens are exposed to every single day. Consequently, these are behaviors which inflict trauma on our youth.

People who have to regularly cuss are also inflicting trauma. There are articles out there right now that encourage the use of cuss words by adults. When people cuss all the time or are unable to carry on a normal conversation without interjecting the F word between every other spoken word, it creates negativity in the home.

Also, when every other word out of your mouth is f***, you can be certain the children and teens in your care will follow the example you’re setting. This is very obvious in the number of small children who call adults “bitch” or other disrespectful names. It’s not funny when I hear a 4-year-old child say f*** you to an adult.

Right this very minute, there are small children home alone. They were not sent to school today. Many don’t have clean clothes. Others don’t have any food in the house because the SNAP card was sold for drugs or alcohol. These are traumatized children who will grow into adults and likely suffer a myriad of issues in their lives.

The trauma children suffer stays with them. It isn’t forgotten when they reach adulthood. They will likely inflict the same kind of trauma on their own children, perpetuating the vicious cycle we all witness on a regular basis. Our children deserve a healthy childhood in a home with caring, sober adults. Our children deserve to eat a good meal, have clean clothes to wear, as well as look forward to a safe home after school and on weekends. Parents are obligated to help their children grow into healthy adults.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) “are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.

ACEs include, but are not limited to: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, intimate partner violence, mother treated violently, substance misuse within household, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce and an incarcerated household member.”

May 10 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. We often claim our children are sacred but most of us don’t walk the talk. It’s up to you to raise healthy children. Do your part to break the vicious cycle.

Sicangu Lakota children enjoy the annual wacipi hosted in their honor at the Rosebud Fairgrounds.

Vi Waln (Sicangu Lakota) can be reached at cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

We all need to vote

Lakota people didn’t always have the right to vote in this country. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920. Our grandparents were reluctantly granted citizenship in 1924, even though our ancestors were born on Turtle Island. Citizenship in the United States guarantees us the right to vote in the wasicu elections. Indigenous people of Turtle Island have the power to elect Joe Biden, but we can’t elect him if we don’t vote. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3, 2020 I will go to the election polling place in my community to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I will exercise my right to vote because I do not want the world to suffer another four years of the sitting President of the United States (POTUS).

Tribal leaders from both the Crow and Navajo Nations have gone public with their endorsement of the sitting POTUS. I have no idea why they would support him. Over the weekend, I was made aware of a tweet posted by David Flute, South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations and a citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. The tweet read “It is fantastic to see my native brothers and sisters supporting President Trump, and knowing I’m not alone. #nativesforTrump”

Obviously, Secretary Flute isn’t working for the best interests of the South Dakota tribes he is supposedly representing. He is probably one of the few tribal citizens in this state blindly following the Republican lead. Consequently, Flute and his governor have done nothing for the tribes in this state.

The sitting POTUS has also done nothing for Indian Country; in fact, he continues to display his racist, misogynist behavior in public. He has criticized medical experts regarding the corona virus pandemic. He’s acted up in front of foreign dignitaries, while praising the actions of dictators. He has accused respected journalists of writing fake news.

In addition, the sitting POTUS has destroyed sacred sites on the traditional homelands of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. The Tohono O’odham Nation does not recognize the imaginary line – known known to many as the “border.” Tribal citizens have crossed this “border” regularly to visit relatives and attend ceremony.

However, the 62 miles of “border” on the Tohono O’odham homeland is now the construction site of a wall to satisfy the sitting POTUS mission to keep relatives – whom are Indigenous to Turtle Island – from freely traveling to visit family and attend ceremony. Consequently, both The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as well as The American Indian Religious Freedom Act were waived by the federal government to construct the wall.

The sitting POTUS also signed the Practical Reforms and Other Goals To Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act (PROGRESS) into law earlier this month. In addition, several regional offices were established last summer to work on cold cases regarding missing and murdered Indigenous people by the sitting POTUS.

These actions might be considered as a step forward for Indian Country. Yet, many of us have to ask why the sitting POTUS didn’t take action when he first got into office. For many of us, the sitting POTUS’ actions are just too little, too late. I see it as an election ploy to garner more Native American votes. Also, the federal stimulus payment we received came from taxpayer money. It didn’t come from the sitting POTUS personal bank account – like he would want you to believe with the letter you got weeks after your stimulus payment was likely already spent.

Please don’t believe any of the laws signed by the great orange father. He doesn’t care about Indian Country. His forked tongue continues to lie.

And don’t listen to other tribal citizens who accuse you of being colonized or assimilated because you chose to exercise your right to vote. Ignore the clamor and go vote anyway.

Our children and elders deserve better. Go to the polls tomorrow and vote against the racist misogynist who doesn’t care about Indigenous people.

Vote for Joe Biden for President.

Vi Waln can be reached through email cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

HeSapa: Home of the Lakota

Lakota people have always considered the HeSapa and surrounding area our home. Our people were guaranteed access to HeSapa by the treaties our ancestors signed with the federal government. However, when gold was discovered, the federal government passed the Act of 1877 – which was the illegal confiscation of our treaty land, now known as the Black Hills.

My late Unci was born in 1917. As a child, she attended the Rapid City Indian boarding school. She often spoke of the families who would camp along Rapid Creek, waiting for the school year to end so they could be with their children again.

This camp was called Osh Kosh Camp. Some people called it the Indian Camp and today the area is known as Founders Park. The camp consisted of not only family members waiting for their school children, but also included Lakota people who relocated to Rapid City looking for work.

On October 2, 2020, the Rapid City Journal published an opinion piece written by Oglala grandmother Beverly (Stabber) Warne. An excerpt of her letter reads: “In the 1950s, to keep Native residents far from tourists’ eyes, local leaders collaborated to dismantle the Indian camp and force the Native families north of I-90 to the ‘Sioux Addition,’ which, today, is adjacent to Lakota Homes.”

Many Lakota relatives still live in Rapid City. In fact, many are without a house of their own and still camp along Rapid Creek. Last week, the Mniluzahan Creek Patrol set up the tipis near the fairgrounds as a solution to shelter relatives during the cold weather.

However, the city government and police department continue to work hard to keep Lakota people from camping along Rapid Creek. Police make regular sweeps along Rapid Creek, confiscating blankets, tents and other belongings of the Lakota people sleeping there. The city has also placed large boulders under bridges along Rapid Creek to stop relatives from seeking shelter.

Large boulders under one of the bridges along Rapid Creek. Courtesy photo.

The Mniluzahan Creek Patrol set up four tipis on October 16, 2020 to provide immediate, unconditional shelter to Lakota people camped along the creek. The mission of Mniluzahan Creek Patrol is to offer care and protection to our beloved unsheltered relatives through offerings of food, blankets and cold weather gear as well as protection from police and settler harassment and violence.

The tipis were erected along Rapid Creek within city limits. Of course, the police threw a fit and ordered the tipis removed. Several live streams were shared on social media from the site.

Consequently, a group of Lakota people who were singing ceremony songs in a tipi were arrested and taken to Pennington County Jail. A Lakota woman, who was seen being dragged out of the tipi by police, is reportedly facing about 30 criminal charges. The live streams showed a majority of the police force (along with a team dressed in riot gear hiding in a dark area), an ambulance and fire truck on the scene to make sure our people left the area.

The city government, led by former police chief Steve Allender, claims they have proposed solutions to get people off the street. Homeless shelters, detox and treatment centers are some of their proposed solutions. Yet, some of our relatives would rather camp along the creek.

The tipis were an immediate solution and were erected to make sure the relatives with nowhere to go had shelter for the first snow of the season. But according to the police, the area was in a dangerous flood plain. We are currently experiencing a drought and it would likely take more than one rainstorm for the creek to overflow its banks. Chief Crow Dog said it best when he told the police chief “it’s not going to flood tonight.”

This incident is another example of government paternalism. That is, when our Lakota leadership comes up with a quick solution to deal with an issue at hand, it’s never good enough for most wasicu – including the mayor and his cops.

It’s the same old story – wasicu solutions are better than ours, even though the people who chose to stay along the creek are our relatives. Every level of wasicu government has consistently tried to force their policy down our throats. The wasicu still believe their way is better than our way. They work hard to take our freedom of choice away.

Perhaps they are just čanzeka over the loss of revenue the city is suffering because of the cancellation of the Black Hills Powwow (and likely December’s Lakota Nation Invitational). These events always brought big bucks to city businesses.

Also, we are affected by intergenerational trauma passed down from our ancestors. It’s up to each one of us to heal the painful cellular memory we are born with. We carry the trauma of our ancestors whom the wasicu tried to exterminate.

Consequently, the wasicu have their own form of historical or intergenerational trauma. The policy of their ancestors was to kill us all. Yet, we are still here.

The plan to kill off our ancestors failed miserably, so many wasicu work hard to ensure we never get ahead – especially in Rapid City, SD. The wasicu shame and guilt they hold in their cellular memory is their historical trauma. The wasicu who haven’t worked on healing their historical trauma feel čanzeka when they see a Lakota relative camped along Rapid Creek.

Just think, if the city officials would give even a few acres of #LandBack along Rapid Creek, unhoused Lakota relatives could build tiny houses or live in tipis like our ancestors did.

Kudos to everyone who had a hand in setting up the tipi camp on October 18, 2020 on tribal land outside of city limits away from the čanzeka city officials and their police.

Camp Mniluzahan. Courtesy photo.

A parcel of land owned by several Lakota tribes is now the site of a camp in HeSapa for our relatives to stay. Visit the Camp Mniluzahan site to learn how you can support this effort to house Lakota relatives in HeSapa.

Prayers for all Indigenous people suffering the corrupt systems put in place by the wasicu.

Vi Waln can be reached through email cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

Vote accordingly

We are all familiar with the saying “Women are Sacred.” The women of our tribe are the backbone of our society. Lakota women have always cared for our family and home. Our tribe wouldn’t exist if not for our women.

In modern Lakota society, some women work full-time jobs to be self-sufficient. Many are the sole financial providers of their household. As mothers and grandmothers, we work to feed our children and maintain a home for our family. Again, our tribe would not exist today if not for the women.

In our quest to provide a home with food and basic necessities for our family, many Lakota women also choose to pursue a college education. Lots of working women have registered for a full-time schedule of classes these last couple of weeks. These same women stay up late to study and earn a 4.0 GPA. They also don’t miss a day of work at their job.

Tribal officials continue to advise our young people to go to college because the tribe wants to hire educated people to make life better on our homelands. This isn’t true.

For example, a recent situation where an educated tribal citizen challenged a non-tribal citizen for a job would have been a done deal if the tribes’ personnel manual was followed. Instead, there are still tribal council representatives trying to manipulate the hiring process to the non-tribal citizen’s advantage.

Consequently, I’m not sure why tribal council representatives encourage our young high school graduates to go to college. It’s a fallacy to believe a college degree will help a qualified tribal citizen be hired for a job. And when you are a woman, there is no end to the abuse and discrimination we must suffer when we want to work for our tribe.

We’ve been told by elders the Lakota are a matriarchial society. When tribal citizens question whether or not we are a matriarchial society, they must remember Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman) who brought the Lakota people the Cannunpa. She provided the foundation of our spiritual way of life.

In today’s society, our women suffer much abuse. The concept of women as sacred is cast aside by colonized men and women. Physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual abuse are inflicted on the majority of our women and girls. The abuse we suffer is inflicted by both men and women.

Our women also suffer abuse in the tribal work place. The folks in charge of some tribal programs work to intimidate female employees to get their way. In addition, elected representatives will work to manipulate their colleagues for situations to be voted their way. The rights of women are violated when intimidation and manipulation are involved.

The tendency for our elected men and women to push educated Lakota women aside when it comes to tribal employment is alarming. It’s outright discrimination when qualified women are subjected to hiring processes not required of male applicants for tribal jobs.

In addition, tribal voters who watch the live broadcasts of the council meetings have witnessed the reps in attendance treating female council reps badly. Some of us believe reps are using their positions to campaign during public meetings.

As Lakota women, we must stand up for our rights as tribal citizens. We must also support our women representatives. We can’t allow the double standard we’ve seen in tribal government to continue. Our people need to remember our Lakota women are the backbone of society.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 is General Election Day. Voters must ask what the incumbents have done to improve the community during these past three years. Think of what has improved in your community and please vote accordingly.

We need change in tribal government

It’s Primary Election week on the Rosebud. Voters will go to the polls tomorrow Thursday, August 6, 2020 (postponed from July 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to choose the top two candidates running for ten tribal council representative positions. The candidates we vote into these ten vacant positions during the General Election later this month will represent us for the next three years. Please choose carefully.

The majority of our Lakota Oyate do not have faith in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 – the government system the Rosebud Sioux Tribe operates under. Unfortunately, it’s the only government we have. Until our young people rise up and re-write the constitution we are governed by, nothing will change.

A very important prerequisite for running for any office in tribal government should be to attend at least one year of tribal council meetings to learn how the process works. Tribal citizens who attend council meetings to listen are the people who know how our governing body operates. It’s important for our tribal citizens to understand how the council operates.

Tribal citizens often don’t realize we’re all put in great danger whenever there is a tribal council meeting.

The tribal council is the governing body of our reservation. They hold power over all of our tribal programs. Their meetings often get emotionally charged and they approve legislation which hurts people. Some of them say they are voting the wishes of the people but there are times when the decisions tribal council approves are questionable or downright wrong.

Consequently, there are council representatives who’ve served more than one term and are quite knowledgeable about how the system works. There have been instances when a tribal council representative has manipulated the system to get his or her way. This corruption negatively affects hiring process of tribal directors or how resources are distributed to the people. Thus, some tribal council representatives are very dangerous.

Some of the incumbents running for office are only thinking of themselves or their family. They need your vote so they can remain in the position they are in. They are serving in a position which pays a decent salary. They also have unlimited access to pay advances, tribal loans, free travel and a free smartphone.

Some of the candidates have personal vendettas against tribal citizens. Other candidates need to be re-elected so they can help tribal programs maintain the status quo – aka the “good ole boy” system. They need to get back into office to carry out those agendas.

There are candidates who want very badly for certain tribal directors or employees to be fired. This isn’t right. But that is the history of tribal politics – you lose your job because a tribal official (or someone close to a tribal official) decides they don’t like you. And that person who doesn’t like you is usually related to or married to or buddy-buddy with the tribal council member or tribal president who can fire you from your job. Consequently, it is very unethical to use your influence as a tribal council member to micromanage and attempt to extend your legislative duties to those which belong to the personnel manager and/or grievance process.

Earlier this week, I heard a council representative bring up the attendance problems of employees working in a tribal organization. I thought it was hypocritical for the council to be discussing attendance at a tribal program job when nearly half of them haven’t attended a tribal council meeting in months.

Vote for candidates who will commit to attending every meeting they are required to be at. There were many times over the past three years when the tribal council could not reach a quorum to even have a meeting. Most of the time, they barely get eleven members to show up at 10am on council meeting day.

Our children deserve better; they need you to vote for ethical candidates.


Rosebud Postpones Primary Election


ROSEBUD RESERVATION – A community lockdown due to positive COVID-19 cases has resulted in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Election Board postponing the Primary Election.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council discussed the recommendation of the COVID-19 Task Force and law enforcement to lock down Black Pipe Community earlier this week at a regular meeting. The lockdown began at 6pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 and will stay in effect through Friday, July 23, 2020 at 6am. The action was taken due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Black Pipe Community. No one is allowed to leave or pass through the community, which is located on highway 63.

Due to the lockdown of Black Pipe Community, the RST Election Board announced the postponement of the Primary Election from July 23, 2020 to August 6, 2020. The decision to postpone the Primary Election was made in a meeting of the Election Board, as well as tribal attorneys, on July 21, 2020.

The following statement was released by the Election Board:

“The RST Election Board has been faced with a very tough decision. First and foremost, our biggest concern is the health and safety of our tribal members of all ages. We would like to send thoughts and prayers to all who have been affected by the current COVID-19 Pandemic. Therefore, the RST Election Board, in a duly called special meeting, has moved to postpone the Primary Election to Thursday, August 6, 2020.

“We hope that all tribal members open your hearts and minds to our decision and remember that this is for the health and safety of our tribal nation. Thank you for your understanding. Please continue to adhere to the social distancing procedures. Stay healthy and stay safe. Love and prayers to all. NOTE: This postponement does not affect the General Election Timeline of August 27, 2020.”

For more information please call the Election Office at 605-747-3187.

Vote for Ethical Candidates



The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is preparing for elections. The Primary Election on Thursday, July 23, 2020 will determine the top two candidates for ten vacant tribal council seats. So, next week tribal citizens will cast their vote to pick which candidates will appear on the General Election ballot in August.

The tribal council representatives for the communities of Black Pipe, Butte Creek, Grass Mountain, Ideal, Milks Camp, Okreek, Parmelee, Soldier Creek, Spring Creek and Two Strike will be determined by all tribal voters. Tribal elections shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Voters must consider the qualifications, ethics and the ability of candidates to represent the entire tribe.

Tribal council candidates must be experts of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Constitution and Bylaws. Candidates must also be familiar with how legislation is introduced and voted on during tribal council meetings. Tribal council representatives are paid a decent salary to conduct the tribes’ business – whether they attend community, committee or council meetings or not.

Attendance at tribal committee and council meetings is not required for your representatives to be paid; they draw a salary regardless. They also draw their salary when they abstain from voting an issue on the floor up or down. We elect people we believe will show up at all the meetings (community, committee and council) so they can make decisions for all of us.

Last month an important issue was brought onto the council floor during a special meeting. A motion was made and seconded to deal with the issue. Seven council representatives voted yes and one voted no.

However, your incumbent council representatives – who speak for all the people while in session at council meetings – from Black Pipe, Corn Creek, Milks Camp, Parmelee, Rosebud and Swift Bear refused to vote on this particular issue. In addition, the council representatives from Grass Mountain, He Dog, Horse Creek, Ring Thunder, Soldier Creek and Two Strike were absent from this meeting.

SFISThis particular issue has been in the forefront for many tribal citizens during the last several months. So, it wasn’t like the council representatives who chose not to vote were unaware of the issue. In fact, the same issue was the focus of a special tribal council meeting held last month.

Electing tribal council representatives, as well as constitutional officers, should be a serious topic of discussion in your Tiospaye. Please discuss the candidates with your relatives who will vote on July 23. Better yet, visit all the candidates running for tribal council from your community.

Some of the topics you can bring up with the tribal council candidates is their knowledge of the RST Constitution, ordinances, resolutions and other documents the governing body deals with. Another topic for discussion is employment practices.

For example, a qualified tribal citizen challenged a non-tribal citizen for a director job with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The tribes’ personnel manual allows for these challenges. The tribal president accepted the challenge and signed the personnel action after researching the qualifications of the tribal citizen who challenged the non-member.

However, the tribal citizen has not been allowed to take the director position because the tribal council chose to make this employment issue political. So, the non-member is still at work and the qualified tribal citizen is still waiting for the issue to be resolved.

RSTC Motion Excerpt 02-25-2020

As tribal citizens living on the Rosebud, it is in our hands to elect ethical council representatives to vote on legislation presented to them. Tribal council representatives are not supposed to be involved in personnel challenges but they made the decision to micromanage this particular tribal directorship.

Elect candidates who will attend all their required meetings to cast ethical votes on every motion. What have the incumbents done for you?


Cante Hunkesni Win is an award-winning Journalist.