Young people are constantly told to pursue college degrees so they can work to improve tribal programs and services. Yet, our educated tribal citizens are consistently disregarded by those elected to our tribal council.
Consequently, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Ordinance 2007-09 was implemented as the Personnel Manuel to guarantee employment preference to qualified tribal citizens. Article III, Employment Conditions and Provisions, Section C. reads:
“As a condition of consideration for and employment in a Tribal position, a non-member shall enter into a written agreement (form available from the Human Resources Director) with the Tribe by which the non-member agrees to resign from his/her position upon notice by the Human Resources Director (1) that an RST tribal member who meets equivalent or above the qualifications for the job in question seeks to be retained for such job, and (2) the Director, with the approval of the Tribal President or his/her designee, the Tribe has determined to place the tribal member in the job. With all due consideration to non-member tribal employees, the Human Resources Director shall give such non-member employee at least one (1) month’s written notice of enforcement of the resignation agreement. Such action shall not be deemed as unsatisfactory performance on the part of the employee, unless such is the case. If a nonmember employee loses his/her position, they may be transferred to another open position if he/she meets the qualifications for the position and there is no qualified tribal member who applies for such position.”
Last week, the tribal council disregarded law established by Ordinance 2007-09 with the following action: “Motion by Richard Smoke Whipple that we deny Ione Quigley’s challenge and Ben Rhodd stay in as the THPO Director. Seconded by Lenard Wright, question by Russell Eagle Bear. The vote: eight (8) in favor, zero (0) opposed and four (4) not voting. MOTION CARRIED.”
After this action was approved, President Bordeaux stated for the record that “Ione Quigley is a tribal member, met the qualifications [for the Director position at the Tribal Historical Preservation Office] and this is the law.” President Bordeaux reviewed the education and experience of both Rhodd and Quigley. Rhodd is not Sicangu Lakota.
Furthermore, the council tried to cover their blatant violation of tribal law by approving the following action: “Motion by Rita Means to find the resources to fund a position for Ione Quigley at THPO, Land Office or somewhere. Seconded by Lila Kills In Sight, question by Richard Whipple. The vote: eleven (11) in favor, zero opposed and two (2) not voting.”
Other council representatives in attendance at the February 25 meeting were: C. Steve Brave, Clifford Lafferty, Robert Rattling Leaf, Wilda Wooden Knife, Eileen Shot With Two Arrows, Martha Blue Thunder, James Leader Charge and Dwight Spotted Tail.
Instances like these are very discouraging for all of us. Rosebud’s educated citizens obviously don’t have much to look forward too in terms of tribal employment. Tribal council representatives aren’t above the law. Tribal law is written for educated Sicangu people to have first preference at employment.
Rosebud’s Primary Election is scheduled for July 23, 2020. Ten council seats are up for election. I encourage all tribal citizens to register to vote and then support new candidates who will follow the law. Now is the time to recruit tribal candidates from Grass Mountain, Ideal, Spring Creek, Soldier Creek, Two Strike, Butte Creek, Parmelee, Black Pipe, Milks Camp and Okreek to run for office.
We will not more forward until new people committed to upholding Rosebud’s tribal laws are elected to office. Please support candidates who can read, understand and enforce tribal laws. Representatives without integrity will continue to trample over the policies and laws we all must follow.
Vi Waln is Lakota and an award-winning journalist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.