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.