August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Navajo Human Rights: Hate crime sentencing

NNHRC witnesses Beebe’s and Sanford’s federal sentencing today
First defendants to be charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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ST. MICHAELS, Ariz.—Earlier today, Navajo human rights official witnessed the sentencing of Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford at the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in Santa Fe for a hate crime the defendants committed against Vincent Kee, Navajo.

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice today, “Beebe was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison followed by three years supervised release. Sanford was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years supervised release.”

On August 18, 2011, Beebe entered a guilty plea to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention law and Sanford pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.

“During the plea hearing [on August 18, 2011], Beebe and Sanford admitted that Beebe took the victim to Beebe’s apartment, which was adorned in racist paraphernalia, including a Nazi flag and a woven dream catcher with a swastika in it. After the victim had fallen asleep, the defendants began defacing the victim’s body by drawing on him with blue, red, and black markers. Once the victim awoke, Beebe branded the victim, who sat with a towel in his mouth, by heating a wire hanger on a stove and burning the victim’s flesh, causing a permanent deep impression of a swastika in his skin. The defendants used a cell phone to create a recording of the victim in which they coerced him to agree to the brand,” according to a press release issued in August by the U.S. Department of Justice District of New Mexico Public Affairs Officer Elizabeth Martinez.

Moments before Beebe’s and Sanford’s sentencing, Kee’s mother Bernice Silversmith addressed the judge with a Navajo greeting of well wishes, “Ya’at’eeh abini,” explained she was as the mother of Vincent and said, “I would like to express my extreme disgust for the actions that Mr. Sanford and Mr. Beebe took against my son.”

Silversmith continued and said, “They took something from him that he can never fully recover. They took away his trust in people. Before these men manipulated and attacked Vincent he was like a butterfly. He fluttered along making friends with people, greeting and shaking hands never realizing that evil exists in certain people…

My son still cries when he has nightmare of this torture and as his mother I try my best to comfort him,” said Bernice Silversmith who lovingly adopted Kee when he was an infant. She continued and said, “However, I cannot give the type of comfort and security that you can Judge Black because I cannot make sure these men stay in a place where they cannot torture another person.”

Kee’s mother had asked for maximum time allowed by the law.

The staff and commissioners of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission would like to acknowledge the courage and integrity of Vincent Kee and his family in seeking justice in the federal court.

Another defendant William Hatch has not been sentenced yet, according to the U.S. Department of Justice press release issued today.

Next, the state court will be sentencing Beebe and Sanford at a time to be determined.

NNHRC staff would like ask for your continued support and prayers as Mr. Vincent Kee and his family continue on their path for justice.

Black Hills Treaty Council wins judgment against RainDancer Resource Management

Treaty Council Wins Judgment Against RainDancer Resource Management

By: Natalie Hand
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The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Law and Order Code, Chapter 2, Section 122 False Pretenses states…(a)”It shall be unlawful to obtain, take, or receive any property of another by means of a trick or deception, or false or fraudulent representation, statement, or pretense with the intent to deprive the owner thereof..”

On Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, a judgment was issued in OST Court against RainDancer Resource Management/American Horse Ventures LLC, et al, essentially barring them from doing any and all business on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The suit, brought by Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council Oglala Delegate Floyd Hand and Itancan Oliver Red Cloud, alleges that RainDancer’s ultimate goal is to commandeer, not only Tribal assets, but also private Tribal members’ allotted land assets.

According to their proposed partnership with the OST, they are seeking exclusive rights to allotted lands! This is what caught the attention of the Treaty Council. The Tribal Council has NO authority over individual tribal member’s allotted lands.

RainDancer Resource Management began soliciting the Oglala Sioux Tribe months before they were even a registered business. In fact, they were meeting with Tribal officials before they had possession of a valid Due-Diligent Pass, which is required under Tribal law. They were eventually granted a 30-day Due-Diligent Pass on September 15, 2011. However, they did not become a registered business in the State of Oregon until October 3, 2011. That is false representation.

The central figures of this organization are Raycen American Horse Raines, R. Dennis Ickes, Valerie Red Horse, Michael “Rawhide” Sierra, Todd Gandy, Stephen Gomes, and Stuart Cohen. Raines calls these individuals his mentors. However, when OST Attorney David Frankel conducted the due diligence on their company, his discovery raised eyebrows and more questions.

Mr. Raines states that he is an enrolled member of the OST. He uses the name American Horse. However, the American Horse Tiospaye has never heard of him. Ms. Red Horse, a financial broker and investment advisor, currently has a pending investigation against her and two other final judgment liens against her. Mr. Gomes and Mr. Sierra have had past dealings with the Tribe, having charged substantial amounts to the Tribe and then failed to produce results.

Let’s assume the Tribal Council turns a blind eye to all this and allows RainDancer the exclusive rights to economic development. In their proposed contract with the OST, Raines asserts that he has a partnership with Robert McKee of Native American Investment Group (NAIG). Not to be confused with NAEG. According to OST Council Resolution #11-164, McKee has expressed an interest in providing $20,000,000 to fund a tribally owned “central” bank, using the Tribe’s treaty rights and sovereign immunity. The Tribal Council and Executive Committee are not sovereign. They raise their hand to uphold the U.S Flag and Constitution. The Oyate have the sovereignty.

The Tribe’s own due-diligence attorney questioned the legality of the proposed “off shore” or “central” bank, calling it questionable and needing extensive research. The most alarming assertion that RainDancer/NAIG is making is that the Tribe assumes no risk and that the Tribe will not be subject to federal taxes, or the Patriot Act. Really? Really?! Tribal members cannot even grow industrial hemp on their so-called sovereign land without the DEA storming in, but McKee and Raines are confident that they can by-pass the Feds.

In a simple internet search, we discovered that Mr. McKee is party to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Utah (Case # 2:06CV00109 PGC). McKee is listed as President of Native American Oil Refinery Company (NARCO) which is being sued for failure to produce the promised capital of $50,000,000 to purchase a chain of convenience stores. When NARCO did not come up with the money, they strung the plaintiff along by increasing the payment to $65,000,000, plus offering standby letters of credit from a supposed Indonesian bank partner (another defendant, Bank Negara Indonesia-BNI) in the amount of $25,000,000.

McKee’s NARCO/BNI never paid any of the amounts owed to the plaintiffs, thus forcing the plaintiffs to foreclose on their properties. To that end, the plaintiffs are seeking damages of $115,000,000 from NARCO/BNI for breach of contract. This case has not been settled to date. So how can Mr. McKee offer $20,000,000 in seed money to start a bank on the Pine Ridge Reservation? Through “letters of credit” from a rogue Indonesian bank? That is deception and false representation.

According to McKee’s bio, his background is in oil and gas mining. In fact, he is a proud member of the American Petroleum Institute and the American Gas Association. So while his front may be to help the Oglala Lakota have their own bank, in my personal opinion, NAIG is teaming up with RainDancer to have exclusive rights to the Tribe’s natural resources! It is actually stated in the preamble of the proposed agreement with the Tribe. The bank, wind/solar operation, etc. is just a front, in my own personal opinion. Just as infamous NAEG did a couple of years ago, promising to come in and “clean” our water. Where is NAEG today? Are they promoting their clean water technology on another rez? No, they are mining oil/gas in North Dakota and developing coal-bed methane in the endangered Cook Inlet Basin of Alaska.
RainDancer has also attempted to enter into a contract with the Wakpamni District Executive Board to create a pay day loan operation. This type of enterprise is known as a “predatory” lending operation and is notorious for setting up in low-income communities across the U.S., preying on the disadvantaged.

Although pay day loan businesses are legal, RainDancer’s proposed contract with Wakpamni District Executive Board is illegal, according to Treaty Council legal advocate Bill Bielecki. According to the most recent copy of the Wakpamni District’s Constitution & By-Laws, provided by the OST Secretary, the role of the District’s Executive Board is to simply carry out the wishes of its communities. There is a distinction to be pointed out here. The District Executive Board is not the District Council. The District Council is comprised of members from the 6 communities and must have at least 4 communities with a quorum of 5 members per community, present at a meeting for it to be a legal District Council meeting. When the quorum standards are met, they collectively can vote on issues and business proposals for the progress and welfare of its District’s membership.

Additionally, according to Article VI, Section 2 of the Wakpamni District’s Constitution states, “…Any resolution before the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council will be presented to the Wakpamni District by our Wakpamni District Representatives for discussion before they are voted upon.” Article VI, Section 3 states, “…Any resolutions that the Wakpamni District Representatives present to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council must originate in the Wakpamni District Council.”

While RainDancer/American Horse/NAIG are courting our District elected officials, it is my understanding that there was never a legal Wakpamni District Council meeting, because they did not have a legal quorum of membership when discussing a joint venture with this group.

Importantly, why would the Wakpamni District want to partner with a group that has such a questionable performance history? Why was the OST due diligence attorney shut down when he began delving into RainDancer/American Horse group’s background? Why would the Wakpamni District Representatives offer a letter of support/endorsement for RainDancer even after the Treaty Council won a temporary restraining order against RainDancer? I would think that this action by our treaty elders would give them pause and encourage them to investigate RainDancer further.

Perhaps they were all blinded by the bright light of a few shiny coins. We all want progress, employment opportunities and economic growth on Pine Ridge. Today’s Treaty Council delegates are descendants of the original Treaty Council, the men that signed the 1851/1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties. It is their duty to uphold the rights that their ancestors fought and died for…to protect their homeland and its resources from being raped and pillaged by the fat takers. Exploiting what little land and resources that the Oglala Oyate have left is not progress or steps towards self-sufficiency. It will be the end of the Lakota way of life.

All of the information furnished herein, with the exception of my opinions, was sourced from public records. If you wish to have a copy of any of the federal court documents, Tribal documents, or state records that I have obtained, please feel free to contact me at 867-5762 or

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