Our children deserve a tribal government which is free from corrupt individuals

It is election eve on the Rosebud. Even though I do not have much faith in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, it is the government which my tribe operates under. Sadly, it is the only form of government we have. Until the people rise up and re-write the constitution we are governed under, nothing will change.

 

I have been going to tribal council meetings pretty regularly for the last 10 years or so. I have learned a lot just sitting there watching them conduct business. I strongly believe a prerequisite for running for any office in tribal government should be to attend at least a year of tribal council meetings. The tribal council members who have served many terms are quite knowledgeable about tribal government. They know the system and this can also make them very dangerous.

 

Tribal members do not realize we are 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 people are wrong, in my opinion. It is not a good practice to stand behind the people when the people are wrong.

 

Some of the current candidates who are running for office are only thinking of themselves. They need your vote. They do not want your vote because they want to help the people, per se. They need your vote so they can remain in the position they are in. They are serving in a job which pays an extremely decent salary. They also have unlimited access to pay advances, tribal loans, free travel and a free smartphone.

 

Some of them need more than what I just listed above. Some candidates have personal vendettas against tribal employees. They need to get back into office to carry out those agendas. There are candidates who want very badly for certain tribal employees to be fired. This isn’t right. But that is the history of tribal politics; sometimes you lose your job simply because someone doesn’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.

 

In May 2012, the tribal council voted “to terminate the Chief of Police for a lack of leadership and that the police department have a review done and that the Police Commission/Judiciary Committee start the process of restricting.” This very ambiguous motion carried by a vote of 8 for, 4 against, 4 not voting and 4 absent. This action plunged the most crucial arm of the tribe into instant uncertainty. And it was all due to politics.

 

I saw a department head disciplining the employees because they needed to be put in line. Many tribal members believe the police department is corrupt. But I also know that people who work within the law enforcement system on Rosebud believed the Chief of Police was dealing with corruption by taking proper action.

She was simply doing the job for which she was hired to do.

 

Consequently, the grievance committee determined that she was within her authority to take action, which included the termination of some police officers, so the integrity of the police department could be maintained. She was reinstated to her job.

 

Now, the representative from Rosebud Community, who is now running for tribal president, is still headhunting for the Chief of Police. Today at the tribal council meeting he suggested that the grievance committee didn’t know how to do their job and needed to meet with the tribal council. It was also suggested that the grievance committee needs training. What a slap in the face for the members of the grievance committee, who are appointed to their positions by the tribal council.

 

If the members of the grievance committee needed training, the tribal council should have provided whatever education they deemed necessary to the members at the time of their appointment. When a committee, board or commission makes a decision which the tribal council does not agree with, right away the tribal council determines that the committee, board or commission needs more training.

 

In my opinion, it is very self-serving 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. It also seems as though the character of the members of the grievance committee is being called into question. What is the point of having a grievance committee when their decisions are subject to being overruled by the tribal council?

 

I have often wondered why tribal council appoints those committees, boards and commissions to serve underneath them. Everything is fine and dandy until one of those committees, boards or commissions takes an action which irks the tribal council. Then the tribal council will (1) call members of the committee, board or commission into a council meeting and ask them what the heck were they thinking when they made that decision or (2) remove the entire committee, board or commission and appoint one which will make only the decisions favorable to the tribal council.

 

I know this for a fact because I was once Chairperson of a commission and I was called in to an executive session of a tribal council meeting to explain why a certain action was taken. Another time I was a member of a Board which was removed by the tribal council and replaced with a new Board.

 

In closing, I am still not sure who I am going to vote for in tomorrow’s election. How does that saying go? Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Our children deserve a tribal government which is free from corrupt individuals.

Fire on Rosebud Reservation now 70% contained

http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

The latest update shows the fire is now 70% contained. Crews will work through Sunday, July 29, 2012 on this operation. A total of 42,930 acres have burned. Spring Creek is still under an evacuation order. Thank you to our awesome firefighters! They are the true Tokala today as they continue to risk their lives to protect us and our homes in containing this huge fire. Thank you to all of you for your prayers.

http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

A Crucial Day Ahead for Firefighters on the Longhorn Complex Fire

St. Francis, SD

 

New fire information phone lines. The public is encouraged to call between the hours of 8:00 am to 8:00 pm: 605-747-2046 or 605-747-2707.

 

Fire crews continue to make good progress on the fire. The fire is now 50% contained. Handcrews, engines and bulldozers continue to construct and strengthen fire lines, provide point and structure protection, and continue patrol, and mop up along the lines. Today’s weather forecast is for very hot temperatures possibly 110 or higher. New ignitions from embers are a concern for firefighters, with the forecasted high temperatures and low humidity as well as the overall dryness of fuels; fire crews will be on the lookout for these occurrences.

Nine helicopters and air tankers will continue making water and retardant drops. Air efforts will be focused on the South Crazy Horse Fire and the Spring Creek Community. These areas are of critical concern. Mop up and cold trailing is continuing along the northern perimeter of the fire.

The resources that arrived yesterday are on the job today and currently there are 597 personnel assigned. In spite of unfavorable weather, steady progress has continued on the fire. No residential structures have been lost. Four outbuildings were lost when the Iron Shell Fire doubled in size on Sunday night. At today’s morning briefing, Incident Commander Joe Lowe told firefighters, “Let’s get it out, finish strong, and not take the progress made for granted.”

Spring Creek Community is still under an evacuation notice. The Red Cross Evacuation Center at St. Francis remains open.

BIA 30 and BIA 5 are closed into the Spring Creek Community. Also, the junction of BIA 501 and BIA 5 towards Spring Creek is closed.

The Longhorn Fire has burned 1,664 acres. The Beads Creek Fire and the Iron Shell Fire have burned together and are now known as the Iron Shell Fire, for a total of 36,887 acres. The South Crazy Horse Fire, located 1/8th of a mile east of the Iron Shell Fire and 1.5 miles north of the Spring Creek Community, has burned an estimated 1,500 acres. A total of 40,051 acres have burned in the complex to date.

Longhorn Complex Fires on Rosebud burn at least 38,976 acres

ROSEBUD, SD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribe declared a State of Emergency on Monday along with a reservation-wide disaster due to the string of wildfires which have been burning out of control since Thursday, July 19. As many as 18 fires were initially ignited by lightning strikes on the Rosebud Reservation last week.

 

There are three active fires which continue to burn on the Rosebud Reservation, dubbed Iron Shell, Longhorn Complex and South Crazy Horse. These lightning caused fires have now burned approximately 38,976 acres, and are 25% contained. Also, a burn out operation was initiated on the east side of the Iron Shell fire to secure the perimeter. The extreme fire behavior and fire spread during the Sunday night operational period resulted in a 20,300 acres growth of the Iron Shell fire.

 

These fires are the top “priority in the region because of the threat to human life,” stated Joe Lowe, Incident Commander. He leads the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C, a Type II Team, which assumed command of the fires as of 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, 2012. “We will continue to build on the successes of the local firefighters; they have done an excellent job with minimal resources.”

 

The first threat to human life came on Saturday, July 21, 2012 when the Iron Shell Fire forced the evacuation of 50 homes in the Spring Creek Community. Evacuation Centers were opened at the St. Francis Community Center and the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium. Red Cross staff has been on hand to take care of the needs of evacuees.

 

Also, approximately 100 people living in the Upper Cut Meat Community were ordered to evacuate around midnight on Sunday, July 22, 2012 when the Iron Shell fire quickly doubled in size due to high wind gusts, some up to 60 miles an hour. Highway 18 from the Bennett/Todd County line to the community area itself was also closed for part of the night. The evacuation order for Upper Cut Meat, located on the west end of Rosebud, was lifted Monday afternoon as heavy equipment crews worked very quickly to build a stronger line around the fire after the burning moved out of rough terrain.

 

Also on Monday, July 23, 2012 a lightning strike was believed to be the cause of a newly ignited fire, the South Crazy Horse Fire. This fire is located east of the Iron Shell Fire. Additional resources responded, constructing fire lines and providing structure protection.

 

Crews on the Iron Shell fire continue to provide structure protection and construct and improve fire lines, as they battle to protect homes, natural and cultural resources. Fire crews will also be working to improve lines in the area of BIA Road #5. Ground efforts are supplemented with air support.

 

Four Type 1 helicopters (including two South Dakota National Guard Blackhawk helicopters), Four Type 2 and one Type 3 helicopters are assigned to the fire.  Air tankers based out of Rapid City provided retardant drops on Monday.

 

To date, no residential structures have been lost. However, four outbuildings were destroyed in the Iron Shell fire on Sunday night when the fire doubled in size due to the strong erratic winds. Spring Creek Community residents remain evacuated from their homes as of press time. Currently, BIA 30 and BIA 5 remain closed into the Spring Creek Community.

 

Local rancher, Chase Strand had high praise for the work of fire crews. “Fire crews did a phenomenal job, I am very pleased.” Strand and several other ranchers have approximately 400 head of cattle in the rangelands north of the fire. Fire crews working in the areas south of the cattle successfully held the fire lines in spite of the extreme fire behavior; allowing the cattle to remain in place and thus preventing a stressful and difficult relocation operation.

 

Monday was a battle of firefighter versus weather. In spite of the above average temperatures and low humidity, fire crews achieved success on many fronts. “Today we had some hard fought victories on several parts of the fire. Hopefully, we will have some favorable weather factors tonight that will improve fire conditions,” stated Incident Commander Lowe.

 

Again, crews working on the fires will continue to provide structure protection and improve fire lines, as well as patrol the fire, and mop up. Fire crews continue to provide structure protection and line construction on the Iron Shell Fire. Despite the size of these fires only a handful of injuries were reported. Some firefighters were treated for heat related problems while another firefighter suffered a knee injury.

 

Nearly 600 firefighters from across the region continue to work to contain the fires, which were often dangerously out of control due to the dry conditions and high winds. Firefighters and other personnel worked long hours to build lines around the fires for several days in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.

 

Governor Daugaard visited the Incident Command Post on Sunday, July 22, 2012 and encouraged fire fighters to “do your job, work hard and be safe” at the morning briefing.

 

Smoke continues to be heavy in the areas closest to the fires, and may settle into lower areas during nighttime. Drivers are reminded to use caution when driving in these areas. People with respiratory diseases, such as asthma or other breathing problems, were advised to remain indoors.

 

Much of this information was taken from the Longhorn Complex Fire website. For more recent updates please call the Incident Command Center located at St. Francis Indian School at 605-747-2046 or 747-2707. Around the clock updates are also being provided by KOYA-FM Radio, located at 88.1 on your FM dial.

 

To view maps and other information on the Longhorn Complex Fire, visit http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

 

 

 

Fire has burned 38,976 acres on the Rosebud Reservation

Good Progress Made on the Longhorn Complex Fire

 

St. Francis, SD

 

New fire information phone lines were established today. The public is encouraged to please call

605-747-2046 or 605-747-2707.

 

The erratic winds that were predicted in the fire area today did not materialize. Because of this firefighters made good progress on all three fires today. Crews, helicopters, and air tankers focused their efforts on the South Crazy Horse Fire working hard to stop its spread. It is now 425 acres, and is located east of BIA Road 5 and 1.5 miles north of the Spring Creek Community.

The Beads Creek fire and the Iron Shell Fire have now combined together for a total size of 36,887 acres. Today handcrews and engines continued to construct and improve fire line, provide structure protection, patrol, mop up and watch for spot fires across completed fire line, while being assisted by helicopters and airtankers making water and retardant drops. The fire lines on the Longhorn fire (1664 acres) are holding and mop up continues. There are now 597 personnel assigned to the fire.

These three lightning caused fires in the Longhorn complex have now burned 38,976 acres, and are 25% contained.

The evacuation notice issued at midnight last night for the residents of the Upper Cut Meat area was lifted this afternoon, allowing residents to return home. Spring Creek Community residents remain evacuated from their homes. The Evacuation Center at the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium remains open.

Four outbuildings were destroyed in the Iron Shell fire on Sunday night when the fire doubled in size in the strong erratic winds. No residential structures have been lost.

Tonight’s weather forecast predicts 30% chance of dry thunderstorms. Gusty, erratic winds are expected as a warm front moves through the area that could possibly effect fire behavior tonight. Smoke continues to be heavy in areas near the fires.

Four Type 1 helicopters (including two South Dakota National Guard Blackhawk helicopters), Four Type 2 and one Type 3 helicopters are assigned to the fire. Air tankers based out of Rapid City provided retardant drops today.

Currently, BIA 30 and BIA5 roads are closed into Spring Creek Community.

27,000 acres burned in Rosebud Reservation fires

All information obtained from: http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

 

St. Francis, SD-

Last night the fires on the Longhorn Complex were very active. Dynamic fire behavior, driven by winds and dry thunderstorms, have caused the Iron Shell Fire to double in size.

A lightning strike is believed to be the cause of a newly ignited fire, the South Crazy Horse Fire. This fire is located east of the Iron Shell Fire and is estimated at 150 acres. Resources are responding, constructing fire lines and providing structure protection.

A new evacuation notice was issued at midnight last night for the residents of the Upper Cut Meat area, forcing an additional 100 people out of their homes.

Today’s weather forecast predicts a series of changing weather conditions to move through the area into the evening. Shifting winds and dry afternoon thunderstorms, will effect today’s fire behavior.

Crews on the Beads Creek and Iron Shell fires will continue to provide structure protection and construct and improve fire lines, as they battle to protect homes, natural and cultural resources. Longhorn Fire crews will be working to improve lines in the area of BIA Road #5. Ground efforts will be supplemented with air support. Four Type 2 and one Type 3 helicopters are assigned to the fire, and tankers based out of Rapid City will be providing retardant drops. Two Seats and 1 Type I Helicopter are ordered and two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters will be working the fire today as well.

To date, no residential structures have been lost. Spring Creek Community residents remain evacuated from their homes. The Evacuation Center at the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium remains open.

Smoke continues to be heavy in the areas closest to the fires, and may settle into lower areas during nighttime. Drivers are reminded to use caution when driving in these areas.

Currently, BIA 30 and BIA5 are closed into Spring Creek Community.

The Beads Creek Fire is estimated at 6,034 acres and The Longhorn Fire is estimated at 1,414 acres. Size of the Iron Shell Fire is being determined. Containment for this complex of fires is at 25% percent. Lighting is the cause of all three fires.

http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

 

Continued Efforts on the Longhorn Complex Fire

Information courtesy of: http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

St. Francis, SD

Local rancher, Chase Strand had high praise for the work of fire crews. “Fire crews did a phenomenal job, I am very pleased.” Strand and several other ranchers have approximately 400 head of cattle in the rangelands north of the fire. Fire crews working in the areas south of the cattle successfully held the fire lines in spite of today’s extreme fire behavior; allowing the cattle to remain in place and thus preventing a stressful and difficult relocation operation.

Today was a battle of firefighter versus weather. In spite of the above average temperatures and low humidity, fire crews achieved success on many fronts. Incident Commander Joe Lowe remarked, “Today we had some hard fought victories on several parts of the fire. Hopefully, we will have some favorable weather factors tonight that will improve fire conditions.”

Crews working on the Longhorn and Beads Creek Fires, will continue to provide structure protection and improve fire lines, as well as patrol the fire, and mop up. Fire crews are providing structure protection and line construction on the Iron Shell Fire. Residents of the Spring Creek Community remain evacuated from their homes. Evacuation Centers are open at the St. Francis Community Center and the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium.

Smoke continues to be heavy in the areas closest to the fires, and may settle into lower areas during nighttime. Drivers are reminded to use caution when driving in these areas.

Currently, BIA Roads #30 and #5 are closed into Spring Creek Community.

The Beads Creek Fire is estimated at 6,034 acres and The Longhorn Fire is estimated at 1,414 acres. The Iron Shell Fire is estimated at 10,466 acres for a complex total of 17,914 acres. Change in acres is due to more accurate mapping. Containment for this complex of fires is now at 25% percent. Lighting is the cause of all three fires.

http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

Rosebud’s Election week is on fire!

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is conducting a primary election this week. Many tribal members say we need change. At the risk of sounding cliché, I will say the more things change in tribal government the more they stay the same.

 

I went to a community meeting last week. I sometimes attend tribal council meetings and was asked by the people at my community meeting if I knew what council was doing. I tried not to be offended as each community has an elected tribal council representative. I am not the one who was elected to represent my community. The tribal council representatives are supposed to attend community meetings to update the voters on issues which affect us. I would bet money that a majority of the twenty (20) communities do not have adequate representation because their tribal council person does not attend community meetings.

 

Recently, I saw a photo posted to Facebook which showed how much travel money was used by each tribal council representative. The total was $190,253.44 for a year. Travel is rarely explained by elected representatives. We know they travel but we hardly know why. We don’t see public reports from them until it is election time. Look at the newspaper ads from three years ago and you will see they are saying the same thing. Nothing has really changed.

 

There are candidates whose names will be on the ballot who owe outstanding travel. I will not be voting for any incumbents lest they owe travel. Taking a travel advance and not providing documentation of the trip is theft. When tribal employees owe outstanding travel their paychecks are garnished until the debt is paid. Why doesn’t this happen with tribal council representatives? I would personally like to see a list published showing how much money every past and present elected tribal official owes for outstanding travel. A comprehensive list would include both the council travel line item along with records from other tribal entities which provide trip advances.

 

Our children are suffering. Many are having an extremely difficult summer because of the heat. I do not see much effort being made to provide any kind of relief from these scorching summer days to our children. I see many children playing in swimming pools in their yards when the mercury hits triple digit temperatures while tribal officials sit in air conditioned buildings supposedly making decisions for the next seven generations.

 

Our elders are suffering. We have a nursing home which is dire need of many things. I attended a Christmas gathering there last December and one of the residents emailed me a couple of days later to tell me that he had waited for a top tribal official to visit him and look at the conditions of the rooms but the politician never showed up.

 

Also, there are many elders who do not have air conditioners in their homes. Did you know that Wal-Mart.com has 12,000 BTU window air conditioners for $259 each? $193,253.44 would have paid for about 731 of these air conditioners.

 

Another friend posted this on his Facebook wall and tagged me with it.

 

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power – This is one of my all-time [favorite] quotes by Abraham Lincoln. And in the spirit of the upcoming tribal elections, I will interject my opinion about the obvious lack of leadership my tribe has experienced over the past decade or so. Tis’ the season for candidates and incumbents to spew their rhetoric about helping our elders and youth when they are elected, this grandstanding approach is no longer laughable because it is downright appalling. We suffer not from the injustices of the federal government, but to our own tribal government. Our quality of life on the Rosebud is unacceptable: child abuse/neglect, elderly abuse, sexual assaults, alcoholism, drug abuse, etc. are what is keeping us from advancing as a People. Our elected officials have an apathetic outlook: if we wait long enough on an issue maybe it will go away. What new laws are being brought forward to improve our quality of life? Provide economic growth so we don’t have our hands out for basic sustenance to the federal system. My late grandpa would tell me we are our own worst enemies because we are jealous and not supportive of each other. We all know that the current approach of running a tribal government has failed miserably. Each elected official is so unprepared for the three mandatory [tribal council] meetings per month. It is embarrassing to listen to or watch these meetings. Every meeting entails personal issues brought to the floor and argued [over] throughout the meeting, very unproductive!”

 

My friend is not the only tribal member who feels this way. Life is pretty dismal for a majority of our people. Personally, I have no faith in political candidates. Most of what they tell you will never materialize.

Finally, I want to express my deep appreciation to all the dedicated Sicangu Lakota firefighters who completed rigorous training and are now serving on the front lines here on our own land. They work extremely long shifts risking their very lives for the people, animals and all which grows on the prairie or in the canyons. They walk countless miles in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees while breathing in smoke and carrying a 50 pound or heavier pack. Most are very strong and work tirelessly without breaks, food or complaint for their people.

 

Still, some of them were chastised by their own elected officials. I want to encourage any firefighter who was personally criticized by an elected Rosebud Sioux Tribal official during the fires which burned thousands of acres on our rez to please contact me so I can address it in a future column. Your identity will remain anonymous.

 

The firefighting crews did more for our rez this past week than most elected officials did in three years.

 

Weather a Key Factor on the Longhorn Complex

These updates are taken directly from the following site:

http://inciweb.org/incident/3030/

 

St. Francis, SD

Above average temperatures, low humidity, and gusty afternoon winds will continue today as fire crews battle the three fires in the Longhorn Complex. Incident Commander, Joe Lowe, stated at the morning briefing, “We are seeing some extreme fire behavior.” Dry thunderstorms are again expected this afternoon and evening. Giving rise to the possibility of more lightning ignited fires.

 

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard stopped by the St. Francis Incident Command Post and attended the morning briefing. “Do your job, work hard, and be safe”, he told fire crews. The Governor was getting a firsthand look at the fires burning in the area. Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C, a Type II Team, assumed command of the Longhorn Complex Fire Saturday, July 21 at 6:00 p.m.

The Beads Creek Fire is estimated at 6,093 acres and The Longhorn Fire is estimated at 1,443 acres. The Iron Shell Fire is estimated at 3,500 acres for a complex total of 11,036 acres. Containment for this complex of fires is now at 25% percent. Lighting is the cause of all three fires.

Crews working the Longhorn fire will be improving fire lines, providing point and structure protection as well as patrolling the fire and continuing mop up. On the Beads Fire, crews are continuing structure protection, mop up and completing fire lines. Fire crews are providing structure protection and line construction on the Iron Shell Fire. This fire started burning Saturday afternoon and has forced the evacuation of 50 residences in the Spring Creek Community. Evacuation Centers have been opened at the St. Francis Community Center and the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium.

 

Road closures have been put in effect due to heavy smoke and safety concerns for firefighters and residents in the area. The following road closures are in effect:

  • At the junction of BIA 1 and BIA 7
  • At the junction of BIA 5 and BIA 7
  • At the junction of BIA 3 and BIA 7

Residents should expect to see smoke for several days and are encouraged to use caution on roadways as visibility may be limited. Persons with asthma or other breathing difficulties are encouraged to stay indoors or temporarily leave the area until smoke diminishes.