Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 6, 2012

Lakota elders take over tribal office to protest abuse


File photo: Lakota elder Occupation 2011


Oglala Sioux Tribal Government Resists Accountability, Legal Recall of Oglala
District Officials

Press Statement
September 6, 2012
Posted at Censored News

OGLALA COMMUNITY, PINE RIDGE, S.D. -- On Friday August 31st, 2012, a brave group of Lakota elders from the Oglala District of Pine Ridge Reservation peacefully and prayerfully took over the Oglala District Community Action Program (CAP) Office to protest unlawful Elderly Abuse and Neglect as a result of more than $10,000 in CAP funds that were stolen by Oglala District officials for personal gain. The peaceful take over of the CAP office followed two days of fact finding meetings by the elderly residents of the Oglala District.
Details of district CAP disbursements show how these funds were given out to District officials in stipends instead of being used for needs of Lakota elderly citizens such as emergency funding for propane and electricity, travel money for medical needs, and other elderly programs. The funds were provided by the Denver office of the United States Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Governmentspecifically for the health and welfare of the district’s elderly residents.
According to records obtained by the elders, $10,071.00 of CAP funds were handed out in the form of regular stipends and larger disbursements to five district officials including Floyd Brings Plenty, Avis Black Smith, Darlene Helper, Stanley Star Comes Out, and Goldie Star. Helena Little also received CAP money.
This is the second elder-led protest to occur within the last 16 months on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In March of 2011, Porcupine District elders took over the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building for 34 days to protest elderly abuse, neglect, theft of funds and center resources, unhealthy food, unsafe and unsanitary conditions and poor services. Despite a vigorous effort by the OST to deny the allegations, shutdown the protest, and illegally incarcerate occupation leaders – nearly everyone of the elderly complaints was proven true.
Since the Oglala Elder Occupation began last Friday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has routinely used threat of police action (an additional act of elder abuse) to remove the peaceful elders.

On Tuesday, the Tribe negotiated a 12:00 midnight end to the occupation promising elders could return in the morning.  This was a lie. Elders were prevented from entering the CAP Office in the morning and action by the Strong Heart Warrior Society to return the elders to the occupation was required.
“Like any elderly led protest, it is being held peacefully and prayerfully,” explained Strong Heart headsman Duane Martin Sr.. He further explained how Strong Heart is merely there in a support capacity to ensure the safety and welfare of the elderly persons involved. 
Oglala District elders have also been pursuing legal remedies of removing the district officials from office and forcing new elections.   Their intention is to lawfully create a District Government that protects their safety, growth, and well-being, and under which their rights of freedom would be guaranteed.
But despite initial go-ahead from theOglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Judiciary, the OST Tribal Government is now attempting to hide evidence of wrong doing by claiming District constitutional by-laws do not have to be honored by the Tribal Council. 
This claim is in direct conflict with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Constitution and amounts to an illegal power grab by the OglalaSioux Tribal Council over local democratic representation in the nine districts of Pine Ridge.
Emergency meetings of Oglala and otherdistrict’s elders are bringing out additional illegalities.  As with the March 2011 Elder Occupation,the Oglala Sioux Tribe is attempting to sweep the corruption and abuse under the rug by attempting to stop any investigations into wrong-doing.  Most grassroots Lakota believe the corruption of District Officials is present at an even greater level among representatives of Tribal Government.  Evidence of wrong doing is so prevalent, an independent team has been documenting and recording evidence of this wide-spread corruption and abuse of grassroots elders and people.
CanteTenza Okolakiciye - Strong HeartWarrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 | 605-517-1547 | Lakota Oyate on Facebook
Occupation,605-867-5617 Gerald One Feather, Katherine Looking Elk, Darlis Morrison Pro
Strong Heart,605-517-1547 Duane MartinSr.
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye also known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota Nationis 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.

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