August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Strong Heart Warrior Society: Lakota elders assaulted at secret council meeting

Update: Councilwoman charged
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye - Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or

January 27, 2011
Contact: Duane Martin Sr. 605-517-1547 or 605-454-0449


• Oglala Lakota Tribal Council Representative Deborah Rooks-Cook (photo left)
brandishes gun, assaults traditional Elders outside closed, secret
council meeting on Tuesday

• Elders demand immediate removal of Representative Rooks-Cook, Cante
Tenza Warrior Society seeks banishment under traditional Flotter Law

• Tribal Police, Council take no action against Rooks-Cook

• Former Council President Theresa Two-Bulls’ attorney Mario Gonzalez
calls tribal police, asks them to stand down on Councilwoman Rooks-

• Concerns mount that Tuesday’s secret meeting sought to reinstate Two
Bulls in council, allow cover-up of graft and corruption in her
administration including the attempted false arrest of traditional
Elders in October 2010 for “inciting a riot”

Pine Ridge Reservation, SD – The decades long tinderbox of tenuous
relations between the poor, full-blooded and traditional Lakota people
and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supported Oglala Tribal Council
that claims to represent them is set to explode as traditional Elders
stumble upon a secret tribal council meeting and are assaulted by
councilwoman Deborah Rooks-Cook.

On Tuesday, outside a secret meeting of the Oglala Tribal Council, a
group of Elders were physically assaulted and threatened with a gun by
Deborah Rooks-Cook, council representative from the Oglala District.

Respected Lakota Elders, including Chief Oliver Red Cloud, 89 year old
Marie Randall, Loraine White Face (69), and 1973 Wounded Knee
participant Cecilia Martin, were visiting the tribal offices to
request a new building for the elderly in the Porcupine community of
Pine Ridge, but grew confused when they were barred from the secret

As they sat outside the meeting, waiting to be told what was being
discussed, Oglala District Representative Rooks-Cook stormed outside shaking her fist and verbally chastised them, turning to Chief Red Cloud and asking, “What the fuck is going on?”

“She should have respect for the Elderly people,” said Cecilia Martin,
who turns 91 on Sunday and uses a wheelchair to get around. “We don’t
say, not one word. We don’t even know what’s going on!”

Cecilia’s son, Melvin Martin, a 68 year old veteran of the 1973
Occupation of Wounded Knee explained, “Elder’s should be able to
express themselves in Council. Instead, Elders stay outside, knocking
on the door. Why is the door closed? Why is this a closed session? Why
do they keep the Elders out? That I can’t understand.”

As Rooks-Cook became more agitated she began to physically push the
Elders in their chests. As warriors and others arrived to defend the
Elders, Rooks-Cook brandished a gun and retreated to the judicial
office to call in the tribal police.

Though Oglala tribal police were called in, Rooks-Cook was not
arrested for pushing the Elders or brandishing a gun at them. Later,
reports surfaced that Mario Gonzalez, attorney for ousted President
Theresa Two Bulls, contacted tribal police and intervened on Rooks-
Cook’s behalf. Two-Bulls attempted to arrest many of these same
Elders under the false charge of “inciting a riot” after the Elders
refused to be silenced at an October 2010 council meeting.

Cante Tenza: the traditional Strong Heart Warrior Society of the
Lakota Oyate (people) intervened to protect the Elders at Tuesday’s
incident and has been speaking with groups of traditional Grandmothers
and Treaty Council Grandfathers to discuss what action is needed in
the wake of this latest injustice.

Due to slow action by the Tribal Council, Elders are now speaking out
for the immediate removal of Deborah Rooks-Cook while Strong Heart
will seek banishment of Rooks-Cook and her family under the
traditional Flotter (pronounced “Floater”) Law that is supported by
the “Bad Man Clause” of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the
Lakota and the United States.

“We don’t want that woman there,” Cecilia Martin shared. “She might
hit us again!”

This winter has also seen more injustices against Elders and
traditional people who have been denied propane heating assistance at
the expense of those with family connections or who exchange illegal
drugs and alcohol to ensure receipt of tribal government benefits.

“In Lakota Country, there is no law for the Lakota people,” Martin
explained. “We have to be careful.”

On Monday, respected Grandmother Wilma Thin Elk (69 years old) was
illegally evicted from her home in the dead of winter, and her
attempts to get housing from Tribal Housing have been rebuffed because
they refuse to accept her Lakota tribal identification and are
demanding South Dakota state ID.

“We are the Oyate (people) who put them in there to get us help, but
we don’t get any help,” shared Cecilia Martin. “This is Indian
Country, it belongs to the Oyate, but they (tribal officials) have no
respect for us.”

Strong Heart Warrior headsman Duane Martin Sr. explained, “When tribal
officials violate the human rights of the Elders and the people using
tax payer dollars to abuse them – that’s not right!”

Many Lakota who have watched for decades while the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA) supported Oglala Tribal Government has squandered or
stolen millions of dollars in U.S. support while alienating and even
attacking full-blooded and traditional Lakota people while dismissing
traditional Lakota governance called customary law.

“We are taking our government back,” said Duane Martin Sr. “We’ve had

“I’m Lakota. No one is going to step on me and tell me what to do,”
Cecilia Martin said.

Strong Heart with support from the Urban Warrior Society/Black Hills
AIM (American Indian Movement) and Autonomous AIM of Rapid City will
be working to support the will of the Elders and bring justice back to
Pine Ridge and the Lakota oyate (people).
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye also known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society
of the Lakota Nation is an ancient Lakota warrior society as well as a
broad-based civil rights movement that works to protect, enforce and
restore treaty rights, civil rights, and sovereignty of Native people
and their communities across Turtle Island. In addition to activist
efforts to protect the land and people, each year Cante Tenza collects
and freely distributes shoes, winter coats, school supplies, food, and
other support to Oglala Lakota elders, children and families.
Councilwoman to Native Sun: "I just lost it ... I just snapped."
Rooks-Cook was charged with disorderly conduct and second degree assault.

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