RST Council nearing dangerous precedent

By Alfred Walking Bull, The Sicangu Eyapaha

 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council went through one of its most difficult legislative challenges in recent memory, concerning the future of Police Chief Grace Her Many Horses on May 30 and June 7. It decided that any tribal employee – regardless of enrollment – can be fired without due process.

 

As the managing editor of The Sicangu Eyapaha, I do not ordinarily render an opinion on tribal politics of the day because issues such as these typically come and go with fanfare, in the guise of populism, standing up for the people and raging against the machine. Resolutions are made, meetings are held and the work of telling the story of my people goes on. But this incident has illustrated to me – both as a journalist and as a tribal member – that the concept of fairness and equality under tribal law and personnel policy is endangered.

 

Two protests staged on May 22 and 30 in front of the tribal administration building in Rosebud by family members of a dismissed police officer, called for the dismissal of the police chief. At issue at the time was if she can be summarily fired by a motion from the tribal council without a hearing.

 

The council faced the unenviable choice of allowing current grievance processes to yield results at a later time – a decision characterized by protesters at the time as a lack of swift leadership – or to directly intercede and risk damaging the credibility of that process and set a dangerous precedent of the council exercising discretionary and arbitrary authority.

 

A motion excerpt from that council meeting reads, in part, “Motion 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 restructuring.” Since this motion, confusion, anger and a floodgate of charges opened without a filter for context and impartial due process.

 

In a special meeting, called by RST President Rodney Bordeaux on June 7, the tribal council assembled to discuss the advisability of its motion on May 30. The meeting, to the credit of the administration and council, was broadcast on RST 19, streamed on The Sicangu Eyapaha’s Web site and on KOYA Radio for public record. Unfortunately, prejudice against non-members and discriminatory interpretations of policy were used to justify the actions of the elected body.

Regardless of how one personally feels about Her Many Horses, what happened was nothing less than untempered rage and fear-based demagoguery. Sicangu exceptionalism was bandied about with pride that tribal enrollment primacy counted above the rule of law and the due process of the personnel policy. We – as the same tribal members – must also expect more from our government. We must expect this government to weigh all sides of an argument, whether in executive session or in a public forum, impartially and without prejudice. We expect these things because we believe in the rule of law and under the law, all are equal and all are afforded the benefits of justice.

 

The matters that sparked the protests and brought out every complaint from the woodwork are regrettable for everyone involved. But the results of the protests are more regrettable for future generations of Sicangu. With the single act of passing broad legislation, the council set the precedent that it will target anyone – regardless of enrollment – who is complained about. The council has effectively lessened itself from a legislative body to a 20-member personnel committee that will exercise any action it wants.

 

The motion passed on May 30 did not name Grace Her Many Horses; it named the Chief of Police for, “a lack of leadership.” Ergo, any future chief of police’s critics can cite this motion as precedent for termination. And one could argue that any tribal employee – even this writer – can be fired for any reason without due process.

 

It falls now to the council to rescind its original motion or let it stand. If it rescinds the motion, the future of any tribal employee is secure under the personnel policies of the tribe; if the motion stands, we simply wait for the next group of protesters to come knocking and the council is obliged to follow its own precedent. What happens after that is dangerous territory.

 

In 2011, the federal government withheld housing funds from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma for exercising undue authority when it came to denying equality under the law for its Freedmen members (Freedmen are descendants of the slaves of the Cherokee Nation prior to the Emancipation Proclamation). And so, with this motion by our council, our tribe risked an oversight by the federal government, by denying Her Many Horses her right as an employee (regardless of enrollment) to make her side of the case before being terminated. Should she choose to sue this tribe for the original violation of her due process as an employee, she’ll win and our tribe will lose and we will all bear the consequences.

 

Despite what’s written here, there will always be radicals and revolutionaries within our tribe who cannot accept the legislative, judicial and personnel review process of our tribe. They will see any disagreement with their demagoguery as standing against the people, the people being those who agree with them. As a member of this tribe, it’s also this writer’s duty to point out that when our government denies anyone, regardless of enrollment, their due process, all people lose.

 

There is some small victory for the rule of law in all of this, Her Many Horses will seek a grievance hearing and her case will be heard. Even if all the charges against the police chief are substantiated and her termination is upheld, or if we learn new facts that support her position, it’s a win for our tribe because it has afforded the opportunity for all sides to be heard.

 

We must hold our government to a higher stand because we have entrusted it with our traditions of always being fair, hearing all sides of an issue and protecting the least of us, even if the least of us is unpopular at the moment; and looking forward and considering all consequences of its actions. Because due process and justice aren’t popularity contests, they are much more than that; they are at the core of what we are as Sicangu and as Lakota.

 

Alfred Walking Bull is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and graduate of the American Indian Journalism Institute. The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the views of the tribal administration, employees or any tribal entity.

Crazy Horse Canyon still burning

The fire which started on June 14, 2012 about 1/4 mile west of Chases The Woman Dam is approximately 80% contained as of 9:30 am today June 18. According to BIA Fire Officer Dana Cook, the cause of the fire is under investigation. As of this morning, at least 305 acres of timber have been lost in this fire. More updates as they become available.  Thank you for your prayers.

Fire burning out of control in Crazy Horse Canyon

GRASS MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY – An out of control fire is burning on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south central South Dakota.

 

The fire, which began late in the day on June 14, is believed to be human caused. Local firefighters initially had the blaze under control that same evening. However, high winds caused the fire to flare up again on Friday morning.

 

Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux gave notice to all tribal programs which activated the Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP) late Friday afternoon (June 15 2012). EPP will to remain active until further notice. Additional fire-fighting crews and resources, including aircraft, have been ordered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Department.

 

The residents of the new housing area in Grass Mountain Community were asked to evacuate their homes late Friday afternoon. This is only a precaution because the fire has already jumped several lines and the right conditions can change the direction very quickly. Communities on the west side of the Rosebud Indian Reservation are seeing large quantities of smoke blowing through as the wind is blowing from the southeast.

 

Residents can tune into KOYA Radio at 88.1 FM for updates on the fire. A command center has been established at the Rosebud Fire Hall. For more information please call the Fire Hall at 605-747-2700. You may also contact EPP Director Bill Giroux on his cell phone 605-828-1308.

Candidate list is certified, Rosebud’s Primary Election is July 26 2012

Seventy (70) candidates were certified as eligible to run for election by the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Election Board last week. Their names will appear on a ballot for the Primary Election set for July 26, 2012.

 

Tribal members are encouraged to vote. Any enrolled tribal member who is at least eighteen (18) years old and has lived on the Rosebud Reservation for at least thirty (30) days prior to the election is eligible to register to vote at the Tribal Secretary’s office. Voter registration deadline is July 15, 2012.

 

Candidates for Tribal President: Lenard “Shadow” Wright, Cyril Scott, Edward Edd Charging Elk, Reg “Reggie” Little Thunder, Rodney M. Bordeaux (incumbent), Kenneth Night Pipe, Valerie Crazy Bull, Lynda “Mona” Douville and Gabriel A. Medicine Eagle.

 

Vice-president: William “Willie” Kindle (incumbent), Sherman D. Wright, Claudette C. Arcoren, Lois D. Antoine and Oliver J. Semans.

 

Antelope: Scott O. Herman (incumbent), Louis Moran III, Emil P. Wilson, Shannon M. Shaw-Brill, James R. Leader Charge, Glen Yellow Eagle, Shawn Bordeaux, Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr., Trent Poignee and Dolores R. Barron.

 

Ring Thunder: Patricia Douville (incumbent), Rose Stenstrom, Martha Blue Thunder, Raine K. Eagle Cloud and Alvin Bear Heels.

 

St. Francis: Bonnie J. Hairy Shirt, Dean Yellow Hawk, Anthony Bordeaux, Jr., Joe Ford, Michael Boltz, Sr., John Swift (incumbent), Darleen Black Spotted Horse, John C. Arcoren and Patsy Valandra.

 

Swift Bear: Delano Clairmont (incumbent), Robert Becker, Harold Medicine Bear and Alvin Bettelyoun, Sr.

 

Horse Creek: Fremont Fallis, Webster Two Hawk, Sr. (incumbent), Roger A. Moran, Christine M. Arrow and Craig Marshall.

 

He Dog: Royal Yellow Hawk (incumbent), Floyd Lafferty, Mary Waln, Salina Whipple and Janet Wilcox.

 

Rosebud: Floyd Reynolds, Troy Lynn Peneaux, Sarah Reynolds, Leana M. Long, Richard Lunderman, Kenneth LaDeaux, Ronald D. “Jock” Gassman, Steve Leader Charge, David C. Reddest, Stephanie C. Sully and Neal T. Kramer.

 

Upper Cut Meat: Fred Whirlwind, Philimon D. Two Eagle, Kathleen High Pipe (incumbent), and Calvin Two Eagle.

 

Corn Creek: Arlene (Old Lodge) Black Bear and Brian Hart.

 

Bull Creek: Todd Bear Shield.

 

According to officials there was one challenge filed but the paperwork was not received before the deadline. For more information please call the Election Board at (605) 856-2373.

Rosebud is without a Chief of Police (again)

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is without a Chief of Police. A motion excerpt issued by Tribal Secretary Linda Marshall and addressed to President Rodney Bordeaux states in part that the tribal council voted on May 30, 2012 “to terminate the Chief of Police for lack of leadership and that the police department have a review done and that the Police Commission/Judiciary Committee start the process of restructuring.” The motion was made by Steve Denoyer, Jr. and seconded by Tony Metcalf with the question by Lenard Wright.

 

In a roll call vote the motion was approved by a vote of eight (8) for, four (4) against, four (4) abstaining and four (4) absent. Voting in favor of termination were Opal Larvie Maxey, Arlene Black Bear, Steve Denoyer, Jr., Robert Shot With Two Arrows, Lenard Wright, Pam Kills In Water, Delano Clairmont and Tony Metcalf.

 

Voting against termination were Todd Bear Shield, Willie Bear Shield, Patricia Douville and John Swift. Abstaining from voting were Russell Eagle Bear, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, Royal Yellow Hawk and Charlie Spotted Tail. Absent were Scott Herman, Webster Two Hawk, Sr., Gabriel Medicine Eagle and Kathleen High Pipe.

 

Prior to the vote several tribal members were allowed to verbally air their grievances against the Chief of Police Grace Her Many Horses and the police department in general. However, Her Many Horses did not get to speak on her own behalf before the tribal council voted to terminate her.

 

The issue of the termination was again brought up on the tribal council floor on June 7 even though the personnel action had apparently already been signed by President Bordeaux. Once again, several tribal members were allowed to publicly state their opinion about the police department during the meeting.

 

At the June 7 meeting, Ms. Her Many Horses stated she had not been officially notified of the action taken by the tribal council to terminate her employment. She has the option of filing a grievance within the timeframe specified in the RST Personnel Manual.

Cleaning up a big mess

There are many people all over the world who view the Lakota as humans who are still one with nature. In fact, many of us remain deeply connected with Mother Earth through ceremony. Also, most American Indian Tribes are viewed by many as environmentalists because of our connection to the land.

 

We are often called stewards of the Earth. I have read stories about how the American Indian people were designated as the original caretakers of Mother Earth. Many elders have also stated that our role is to protect Mother Earth.

 

Still, as we drive through our own homelands it often does not appear that we are the environmental stewards that people say we are. We have big problems disposing of our trash. It really doesn’t matter what reservation you drive through either because many have the same issues with trash disposal.

 

Here on the Rosebud you can drive around and see where people have tossed out their bags of trash along the highway. And now we have illegal dump sites which make the problem much worse.

 

Every spring on my rez there is an annual clean up. This clean-up usually starts in April to coincide with Earth Day. It is the time of year when we are all supposed to work together to clear all the debris which accumulated during the fall and winter. It is also the time of year when I see tribal entities, community members and tribal officials squabble over who is doing what.

 

It seems that the annual clean-up, along with many other activities on most reservations all across Indian Country, always stirs up that proverbial bucket of crabs. When you work to do something good, there will always be those people who are never satisfied.

 

For instance, some will not be satisfied with who is organizing the clean-up. Others are not satisfied with where the trash is piled before it is hauled away to the landfill. And still others won’t be satisfied with the color of the trash bags. I guess you can’t please everyone.

 

Most of us who live on the rez know about the crabs in that proverbial bucket. Still, let me remind you of who they are. They complain about most everything which happens on the homelands. No matter what is being done to improve the community it will never be good enough for them.

 

Also, some of them drive around in the community, brazenly stalking the people who are trying to make a positive difference. They gather in their little cliques and verbally condemn everyone involved. These are the Lakota people who are the role models I do not want my takoja to imitate.

 

When we all work to keep our own yard and surrounding areas free of debris there will be no reason to bicker over who is or who is not involved in the clean-up. There will be no more complaining about all the trash lying around. Right?

 

Still, I know many people who have a lot to say about all the garbage lying in the ditches, in the streets and in private yards. Many are hypocrites because they will complain about it all the while continuing to throw their beer bottles, candy wrappers and soda cans out of their car windows.

 

Also, there is always a limited amount of dollars available to pay for solid waste removal. Recently, I listened to discussion at a meeting about allowing tribal members who are sitting in jail to work with the solid waste program on my rez. For instance, people who still owe an outstanding fine to the tribal court are provided with an opportunity to help with the reservation wide clean up. There is no money involved, it is all in-kind work. For every day the tribal member works with solid waste, he or she gets a portion of their fine reduced.

 

Of course, there are tribal members who will not be satisfied with who gets the credit for creating a project which allows people sitting in jail to work with solid waste in lieu of making cash payments on their court fines. Like I said, clean-up always stirs that proverbial bucket. To me, it doesn’t matter who thought about using tribal members who are sitting in jail to help with the clearing of debris. What matters to me is a reservation clear of unsightly trash.

 

I appreciate a clean community. Everyone is quick to blame solid waste for all the trash blowing around. Still, if we would all be a bit more careful with our rubbish we might find there is no longer a problem. Simply picking up can make a huge difference.

 

And it seems as though the trash problem is always magnified in our larger communities. Here on the Rosebud Rez, we have at least four big communities. They are Antelope, Rosebud, Parmelee and St. Francis. These are the areas which have the most residents.

 

Some of the debris in these big communities has been lying around for years and years. Burned out houses quickly became permanent piles of charred junk. They have always been an eyesore. It takes a lot of work to clear out an area where a house fire occurred.

 

In the last few weeks several residents of St. Francis Community worked very hard to beautify their district. They cleaned up piles of trash and debris which had been sitting for a very long time. They also cleared at least five abandoned lots which were sites of house fires.

 

I know both Rosebud and St. Francis paid daily cash stipends to community members who helped with the clean-up. Many used their own vehicles to haul garbage to the landfill, which is a 90 mile roundtrip. I commend everyone who had a hand in cleaning up the homelands. I also appreciate the tribal programs which assisted with finances to buy gas and pay day labor to those who volunteered to clean up everyone’s mess.

 

Thank you!

Rosebud gears up for summer elections

ROSEBUD, SD – Seventy (70) Rosebud Sioux Tribal members have filed affidavits seeking election to the governing body. Positions available include both the tribal president and vice-president jobs along with ten (10) tribal council representatives. All candidates must meet residency, blood quantum and age requirements before being placed on the ballot. Candidates must also pass a criminal background check.

 

Qualified voters have a right to challenge the eligibility of a candidate by filing a sworn written statement setting forth the grounds for ineligibility no later than Friday, June 8, 2012 at 1pm. A fee of $50 must be paid to the RST Treasurer’s office and the receipt should accompany any challenge documents.

 

All challenges will be reviewed by the RST Election Board. If the Board determines the candidate is not eligible for office, a hearing will be set and public notice given. The Board’s decision on the eligibility of a candidate is final. See RST Ordinance 86-10 which contains the Tribal Election Code.

 

Fourteen (14) tribal members filed affidavits for the top positions in tribal administration. They include Tribal President Candidates: Lenard “Shadow” Wright, Cyril Scott, Edward Edd Charging Elk, Reg “Reggie” Little Thunder, Rodney M. Bordeaux (incumbent), Kenneth Night Pipe, Valerie Crazy Bull, Lynda “Mona” Douville and Gabriel A. Medicine Eagle.

 

Also, Vice-president Candidates: William “Willie” Kindle (incumbent), Sherman D. Wright, Claudette C. Arcoren, Lois D. Antoine and Oliver J. Semans.

 

In addition, there were fifty-six (56) affidavits filed for ten (10) tribal council positions. The winning candidate will serve a three (3) year term. Tribal members who filed for the election are listed in the following paragraphs.

 

Antelope: Scott O. Herman (incumbent), Louis Moran III, Emil P. Wilson, Shannon M. Shaw-Brill, James R. Leader Charge, Glen Yellow Eagle, Shawn Bordeaux, Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr., Trent Poignee and Dolores R. Barron.

 

Ring Thunder: Patricia Douville (incumbent), Rose Stenstrom, Martha Blue Thunder, Raine K. Eagle Cloud and Alvin Bear Heels.

 

St. Francis: Bonnie J. Hairy Shirt, Dean Yellow Hawk, Anthony Bordeaux, Jr., Joe Ford, Michael Boltz, Sr., John Swift (incumbent), Darleen Black Spotted Horse, John C. Arcoren and Patsy Valandra.

 

Swift Bear: Delano Clairmont (incumbent), Robert Becker, Harold Medicine Bear and Alvin Bettelyoun, Sr.

 

Horse Creek: Fremont Fallis, Webster Two Hawk, Sr. (incumbent), Roger A. Moran, Christine M. Arrow and Craig Marshall.

 

He Dog: Royal Yellow Hawk (incumbent), Floyd Lafferty, Mary Waln, Salina Whipple and Janet Wilcox.

 

Rosebud: Floyd Reynolds, Troy Lynn Peneaux, Sarah Reynolds, Leana M. Long, Richard Lunderman, Kenneth LaDeaux, Ronald D. “Jock” Gassman, Steve Leader Charge, David C. Reddest, Stephanie C. Sully and Neal T. Kramer.

 

Upper Cut Meat: Fred Whirlwind, Philimon D. Two Eagle, Kathleen High Pipe (incumbent), and Calvin Two Eagle.

 

Corn Creek: Arlene (Old Lodge) Black Bear and Brian Hart.

 

Bull Creek: Todd Bear Shield.

 

A reservation wide primary election is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 2012. The top two vote getters will advance to the General Election on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Qualified tribal members who have registered to vote will have the opportunity to cast their vote to select a president, vice president and all ten (10) tribal council representatives.

 

For more information please call the Election Board at (605) 856-2373. Their office is located on Main Street in Mission, just south of the City office in the building which formerly housed the Mission Medical Clinic.