Is it Ignorance or Arrogance?

Richard Rahn refused to obtain a Tribal Business Licence on the Rosebud Indian Reservation

Richard Rahn refused to obtain a Tribal Business License on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Photo by Vi Waln.

When tribal members travel off our Rez, it’s generally understood that we will be subject to the laws of the tribe, county, state or country which we are traveling through or visiting. Right?

The original boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation, which was illegally established in 1889 through a partition of the Great Sioux Reservation by the federal government, include the counties of Todd, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory and Lyman. Consequently, many Sicangu people were duped into selling their land allotments for next to nothing after the reservation was partitioned.

Still, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe recognizes the five county area as being within the exterior boundaries of the reservation as tracts of trust/tribal land are located within those counties. Consequently, non-Indian business owners quickly forgot the fact that the land their establishment was built on in Todd, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory or Lyman County originally belonged to a Sicangu Lakota. They will also refuse to acknowledge that the acquisition of the land they “own” wasn’t always a fair deal.

Today, the Rosebud Reservation is legally recognized as comprising all of Todd County. So, Todd County is the Rez, even though some of the land here is “owned” by wasicu. Thus, when you are doing business within the boundaries of Todd County you are subject the laws of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe whether or not you are a tribal member.

I attended the Cherry Todd Electric Cooperative Annual meeting in Mission last week. I do realize many of our non-Indian neighbors are ignorant when it comes to the way the Tribe conducts business. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt but I was rudely reminded of the ignorance and arrogance which the wasicu are capable of; the behavior I witnessed at the meeting was truly appalling. All those arrogant and ignorant wasicus need lots of prayers!

An issue which carried over from the 2013 meeting was the fact that an attorney retained by Cherry Todd didn’t have a tribal business license, which resulted in the tabling of a motion last year. The motion was apparently to remain tabled until the attorney obtained a license. Yet, the attorney was ignorant enough to believe he did not need a tribal business license to provide services within the legal boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation. Maybe he skipped class when his law school offered the lesson on the importance of complying with the laws of the local jurisdiction when doing business.

This attorney is not covered by Cherry Todd’s tribal business license because he is not an employee of the cooperative. Attorneys are paid a retainer to provide services. This attorney would only be considered an employee if he was at the cooperative office every day and paid a salary instead of a retainer.

People doing business within the boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation are required to obtain a tribal business license. It’s that simple, yet ignorance or maybe just plain arrogance got in the way of this lawyer doing things according to tribal law.

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