Posts Tagged ‘Oglala Sioux Tribe’

(Editor’s Note: Today is a day for light posting as I spend most of it traveling. Please check back this evening for postings of the day’s events.)

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Elouise Cobell, whose name heads the historic Cobell v. Salazar class action case, has been touring the Dakotas this week to answer questions about last fall’s settlement of more than $3 billion in the case. The money is to compensate tens of thousands of Indian people for federal mismanagement of royalty payments due on their lands. The amount, while one of the largest ever in such a case, still falls far short of the roughly $50 billion some estimate is more accurate, and not everyone is happy with the settlement. Here‘s the entire Rapid City (S.D.) Journal story, by Mary Garrigan, on one of Cobell’s sessions this week:

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls

Tribes in western South Dakota are re-evaluating a $3.4 billion settlement proposed in a class action just days after Elouise Cobell toured the state to explain it.

Cobell finalized the proposed settlement in December 2009 after a 14-year legal battle on behalf of more than 300,000 Native American trust land owners. She alleged the Interior Department bungled the accounting on thousands of individual Native trust accounts for more than 100 years.

But as the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the settlement, which Congress must approve and fund by an April 16 deadline, critics began cropping up on Capitol Hill and on reservations in South Dakota.

After a March 8 public meeting in Kyle, where Cobell and two of the attorneys in the 14-year-old lawsuit answered questions about the settlement, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls said Wednesday that “there are a lot of questions” about the settlement throughout her reservation, and she canceled a trip to Washington, D.C., to speak in favor of it.

“I declined to testify at the March 10 hearing. I need to hear from my tribe first. I can’t go there to say yes or no on the settlement,” Two Bulls said during a radio address Wednesday to the tribe, broadcast live on KILI radio.

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Even though Congress has twice delayed approval of more than $3 billion settlement mandated in an Indian trust case (see previous post here), the lead plaintiff in the case is forging forward.
Elouise Cobell, who fought for more than a decade on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Native people owed money because of federal mismanagement of royalties from the use of their lands, will be in South Dakota next week to answer questions about the case.

As the Rapid City Journal reports, here:

Elouise Cobell (Billings Gazette)

Elouise Cobell will take questions about the case on various reservations next week. (Billings Gazette)

    The House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee plans a March 10 hearing on the Cobell settlement, which comes amid growing complaints that the settlement was reached without adequate input from tribal governments. Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls is slated to testify at the congressional committee hearing.

    Cobell’s tour of South Dakota reservations begins on Pine Ridge Reservation with an informational meeting from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Oglala Lakota College center in Kyle. According to a tentative schedule, it continues with a 1 p.m. meeting Monday at Sinte Gleska University in Mission on the Rosebud Reservation. She will attend a meeting from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Eagle Butte High School Auditorium and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, N.D., on Standing Rock Reservation.

    Two Bulls will host a public meeting about the negotiated settlement at 10 a.m. Monday at the Little Wound School in Kyle, but it is unclear if Cobell will attend.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has yet to take a position on the settlement. But Myron Pourier of the tribe’s Fifth Member’s Office says he personally opposes it.

“I feel like we’re settling for pennies on a dollar again,” he tells the Journal. “We need to bring it back to the drawing board.”

In addition to her speaking tour, Cobell answers questions about the case online every week in her Ask Elouise column. You can access it directly here, or look for a summary and links weekly on Buffalo Post.

Gwen Florio

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Emerald Elk, a maintenance worker with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, clears snow from one of the entrances to the Wounded Knee housing area after last month's blizzard. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)

Emerald Elk, a maintenance worker with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, clears snow from one of the entrances to the Wounded Knee housing area after last month's blizzard. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)


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By most accounts, the Christmas Day blizzard that socked South Dakota was a disaster, especially on places like the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where many people were stranded and ran short of fuel and food, and tribal President Theresa Two Bulls declared a state of emergency.

But the blizzard has brought about one good thing: The process of determining who needed help urgently means the tribe now knows who its shut-ins are and where they’re located, according to this Rapid City (S.D.) Journal story.

“Thanks to the blizzard, a complete list has been compiled,” says Monica Terkildsen, acting Oglala Sioux Tribe emergency management director.

    For the first time, the tribe will keep an updated, centralized list of dialysis patients, hospice patients and others with life-threatening chronic health conditions — identified only by a color code — that is cross-referenced to a reservation-wide map in the case of a blizzard or other emergency. The medical I.D. map contains blue marks for dialysis patients, red marks for cancer patients and yellow marks for those with other chronic health conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Terkildsen said.

Verna White Bull, 71, a longtime dialysis patient who drives 90 miles each way for her treatment, says that’s a comfort to her.

“I feel good about it,” she says.

Gwen Florio

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Correctional officer Wamniyomni Bear Runner works her station in the direct supervision male housing portion of the Oglala Tribal Offenders Facility in Pine Ridge. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)

Correctional officer Wamniyomni Bear Runner works her station in the direct supervision male housing portion of the Oglala Tribal Offenders Facility in Pine Ridge. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)


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Jails on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are badly in need of an overhaul. But that need ran right into the reality of this year’s recession.

The result? Ten fewer corrections staff people than the previous year, Andrea J. Cook of the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal reports here:

    Adequately housing and supervising the more than 17,500 adult prisoners admitted to jails on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation over the past year was a bigger problem than the prisoners themselves, according to Jean Whirlwind Horse, captain of corrections for the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Department of Public Safety.

    Whirlwind Horse supervises the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s corrections system, which includes a 144-bed adult offenders facility in Pine Ridge, the 24-bed Medicine Root Detention Center for adults in Kyle, and the KiYuksa O’Tipi Reintegration Center, a 32-bed juvenile facility in Kyle.

Staffing isn’t the only problem. Conditions are so bad at the Medicine Root center that prisoners had to move back and forth when heating and cooling systems failed. Offenders awaiting trial and sentencing were held in the Pine Ridge jail until the Bureau of Indian Affairs closed it in August 2008, ruling it was unsafe.

“The bottom line is that conditions at the jail would never be tolerated under federal and state laws,” says Department of Public Safety attorney Patty Marks.

Improvements could come in the form of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which would increase funding for law enforcement and ustice programs on reservations. The only problem? Congress has to fund it.

Gwen Florio

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Raymond Janis walks down a road plowed to a single lane in Pine Ridge on Wednesday. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)

Raymond Janis walks down a road plowed to a single lane in Pine Ridge on Wednesday. (Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)



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This information just posted on the Facebook “Friends Helping Friends Winter in Pine Ridge SD” group:

A online benefit concert to help the people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is set for New Year’s Day, from 7-9 p.m. Many of them live far from the main roads, and have yet to dig out from a Christmas Day storm. People are running out of fuel and other necessities.

To tune in, click here.

The Facebook page describes it this way:

    Windwalker and Edoal Spirit Buffalo of Wind Spirit Drum; Karla R. LaRive of Studio West Management; Michael Bucher; and quillwork artist Virgil Redcloud-Goode will be calling us from Fall River county, the neighboring county to Pine Ridge Reservation (Shannon County) to talk about the relief efforts; Blue Sky Charity group and the free benefit concert for the children and family give away-including warm coats.

    Please tune in…call in your New year’s hopes, greetings and offers of assistance!!!!

    For more information on particpants, click here, here and here.

    For the RED Alert/State of emergency for Pine Ridge Reservation, click here.

    For more information, please feel free to contact Loretta Afraid of Bear-Cook, Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Relations @ (605)441-5692 or (308)207-5732. E-mail: Loretta@oglala.org

Gwen Florio

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