Friday, February 25, 2011

Strong Heart Warrior Society: Oglala Tribal Council snubs elders again

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye - Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or
MEDIA RELEASE Feb 13, 2011
By Strong Heart Warrior Society
PINE RIDGE, South Dakota – The ongoing effort to get accountability
for a series of physical and psychological abuses against Lakota
elders on Pine Ridge continues to be stalled by Oglala tribal
officials who fear investigations into years of graft and corruption
within tribal government.

Following the most recent revelation of elder abuse in the Porcupine
Elderly Meals Program, elders have met regularly with the traditional
Strong Heart Warrior Society in order to explore ways to get
accountability. Even tribal officials that have voiced support for
the elders are now backtracking, likely out of fear of retaliation by
corrupt families and officials.

Porcupine District President Virgil Bush and Porcupine Representative
Scott Weston announced a hearing for the elders on February 21st -
but the hearing never happened even though elders had gathered to
attend. The meeting has reportedly been delayed to February 28th
though activists are skeptical.

“Tribal government has always eroded its position,’’ explained Strong
Heart Warrior headsman Duane Martin Sr.. “You cannot tell community
members you are upholding policies and procedures but then deny elders
due process.”

The truth depth of corruption within the Oglala Tribal Council, as
well as its cultural separation from traditional elders and the Lakota
people, is becoming clear to those even outside of Pine Ridge.

“So we have become our own worst enemies, we don’t listen to what our
elders have to teach us,” added Martin.

Pine Ridge elders, many of whom count Lakota as their primary
language, have made complaints and filed grievances to the best of
their ability. But the tribal council is playing a cat and mouse game
of delay and denial, saying the elders fate lies solely at their
discretion. Elders and activists point out that Council member
Deborah Rooks-Cook still remains in her council position despite her
admission she pushed and threatened elders with a gun at a secret
council meeting.

The Strong Heart Warrior Society points out the corruption in the
tribal government is a reflection of the distrust, dishonesty, and
cultural genocide that has been brought to Pine Ridge and other
reservations by white colonization and Christianity. Nearly ¾ of the
Lakota people have lost their language, and the traditional language
is on the verge of extinction in Pine Ridge. Few bother listening to
the traditional elders – which is part of the cultural system that
keeps elders healthy, engaged, and valued.

“We never take the opportunity to listen to the elders anymore – to
hear them,” Martin said. “They get upset and angry – into stress modes
– then they get sick, some of them die.”

The Strong Heart Warrior Society is calling upon all people who
support Lakota elders, Lakota sovereignty, and accountability to send
letters to tribal council officials as well as to the U.S. Department
of Justice and President Obama demanding a full-fledged investigation
into the corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs supported Oglala
Tribal Government.

"The laws of the Oglala Tribal Council don't belong to our people, but
to White America. Only by taking on traditional Lakota customary law
can our people be truly sovereign and free."

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