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.


Published by Vi Waln


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