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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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May 5, 2000

Red Cloud Building, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota:

Contacts: Floyd Hand or Dale Looks Twice (Media Coordinator) @ (605) 867-5303


In what resembles a three-ring circus, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council’s actions grow more bizarre by the day. In an off-reservation meeting last week, the Council passes a resolution that would, in essence, preclude them from criminal prosecution in the light of preliminary audit findings. Tribal members are enraged by the blatant callous actions of their elected officials. Grass Roots Oyate spokespeople stated, "…no one is above the law, not even the Tribal Council!"

At the behest of the Grass Roots Oyate, a full forensic audit of the Tribe’s financial records is underway. On national public radio, Kevin Gover, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Interior stated that his office would pay for a five-year, full forensic audit to determine if the Grass Roots Oyate'’ allegations are true. The Oyate are holding Mr. Gover to his word.

To date, an audit of the 1999 General Fund account is complete and the ’99 Indirect Cost Fund audit is scheduled for release today. Due to the fact that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is financing the audit, they will have the first peek at it. The Grass Roots Oyate are pressuring local and regional BIA officials to provide them with copies for immediate distribution to tribal members. For years, corrupt tribal officials have refused to provide financial reports to tribal members.

Constitutional Reform Underway…

The Grass Roots Oyate have recruited renowned constitutional attorney, Dean Cycon, to assist them with intermediary and long-term changes to create a more people-centered, traditionally based form of governance. Cycon, a long time advocate for oppressed indigenous nations, is working "pro bono" t assist in this process. In a two-hour radio interview on the Tribe’s KILI radio station, Cycon stated that the complete changeover to traditional government will take time, but immediate amendments can and must be implemented to effectively stop the cycle of corruption. Cycon, who has basically retired as a practicing attorney, spends his days roasting organic coffee beans on his East Coast farm. Through the success of his coffee enterprise, he is able to dedicate his spare time to assist indigenous tribes from Montana to South America. Since his arrival on the reservation, he has visited with numbers tribal members and is conducting open forum meetings in various communities on the reservation to get input on the new government structure.

Land? What Land?…

One of the top demands of the Grass Roots Oyate has been a full land audit of the Pine Ridge Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s land offices. There has been no official written response to this request, however, the BIA superintendent, Robert Ecoffey has stated, "…it would take years and cost too much money." In April 1999, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a resolution to have these audits conducted based on testimony from four community meetings. To day, no audit has been conducted and tribal members continue to lose their land base. The underlying concern is that the land records are as disorganized as the I.IM. Account records that have become the subject of a federal class action lawsuit. The Grass Roots Oyate are putting the Department of Interior on notice. As the caretaker of indigenous tribes, the Department of Interior has fiduciary responsibility to keep accurate records on behalf of tribes.

In their 110th day of the peaceful occupation of the Red Cloud Building, the Grass Roots Oyate vow they will remain in the building until the Tribe’s Treasurer and Tribal Council are removed from office for gross misconduct and mismanagement of the Tribe’s $120+ million annual funding from the U.S.

As with all my emails concerning the Occupation Peoples please forward to any and all interested parties in its entirety

Wild Horse


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