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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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JANUARY 16th, 2000: Grass Roots Oyate took peaceful control of the Red Cloud Building, tribal administrative offices of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST). An altar is erected to hold a sacred cannupa, eagle staffs, and coup sticks. They declare their sovereign immunity rights under the guidelines of the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie. No Tribal Council members or Executive Committee members are allowed in the building.

JANUARY 17th, 2000: FBI agents arrive at Red Cloud Building to hear list of demands and 3 hours of testimony from Grass Roots Oyate. Most important demands: permanent removal of Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs as Tribal Treasurer; suspension of entire Tribal Council; five-year full forensic audit; referendum vote to abolish I.R.A. government formulation of self-governance system; BIA land audit; First National. Bank of Gordon, NE land audit

JANUARY 18th, 2000: FBI seized some tribal financial records for 1998-99 from Red Cloud Building; then traveled to Pass Creek District office to confiscate financial records upon request from concerned district members.

JANUARY 19th, 2000: OST President Harold Salway rescinds his suspension of Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs based on lack of support from his Executive Committee.

JANUARY 20th, 2000: Grass Roots Oyate appear in OST Court to remove Jacobs as the signatory at the Tribe's primary bank, First National Bank of Gordon. At 3:30 p.m., the ruling was made in favor of the plaintiffs. Members of the Tribal Council begin making threats of violence if the Oyate do not vacate the building. U.S. Department of Justice Mediator arrives to begin negotiation process.

JANUARY 21st, 2000: Treasurer Jacobs and OST Attorney Marvin Amiotte demand that all utilities be disconnected in the Red Cloud Building, thus violating the Oyate's basic human rights. They successfully had the telephone service disconnected for 8 1/2 hours. All services were returned under court order.

JANUARY 23rd, 2000: Building goes on full lockdown with no employees allowed inside. Members of the Tribal Council advise the U.S. Department of Justice Mediator to "…pack up and go home; we don't need you here. Those troublemakers will be physically removed from the building…"

JANUARY 25th, 2000: Grass Roots Oyate present a resolution to BIA Superintendent Robert Ecoffey to assume temporary control of the Tribe's minimal financial services such as medical emergencies, burial assistance, etc.

JANUARY 26th, 2000: A Tokala (protector) was shot after leaving the perimeter of the Red Cloud Building. OST Public Safety officials downplay the event by first stating: he shot himself in an intoxicated state; or he was shot in a gang-related incident. He was treated and released from an area hospital.

International treaty lawyer, Germaine Tremmel speak on behalf of the Grass Roots Oyate in a meeting with BIA Superintendent Ecoffey and OST President Salway. Salway informs the Oyate that "…traditional government will never work on this reservation." Ecoffey accuses Ms. Tremmel of being "an outsider".

JANUARY 28th, 2000: Sacred ceremony conducted for the members of the Tokala Society that have protected the building since the takeover.

JANUARY 31st, 2000: OST Treasurer Jacobs is suspended without pay by OST Council under extreme pressure from the Grass Roots Oyate.

FEBRUARY 1st, 2000: Grass Roots Oyate present resolution to the Council demanding termination of OST Attorney Amiotte. He resigns and leaves the meeting.

FEBRUARY 2nd, 2000: Bomb threat on Red Cloud Building.

FEBRUARY 3rd, 2000: Illegal OST Council meeting held to reinstate Treasurer Jacobs. Attorney Amiotte states he did not resign and is still the attorney-of-record.

FEBRUARY 5th, 2000: Lakota Headsmen meet at Red Cloud Building and proclaim that I.R.A. government be abolished and a return to self-governance be formulated.

FEBRUARY 6th, 2000: Treaty elder Pete Fills The Pipe, Sr., 89, dies. Memorial services conducted in the Red Cloud Building.

FEBRUARY 8th, 2000: FBI agents confiscate more financial records from Red Cloud Building.

FEBRUARY 9th, 2000: Independent auditing firm Orrobba & Assoc. begin impartial audit of 1999 general fund account. Tribal Council continues to have bi-weekly illegal sessions.

FEBRUARY 12th, 2000: Protest march against the Grass Roots Oyate amounts to 2 women and their children. Elder grandmothers in the building prepare soup to feed the protestors, but they don't approach the building.

FEBRUARY 14th, 2000: Wounded Knee District Council Member, Michael Her Many Horses is removed from his position by his constituents in a 2/3 majority vote.

FEBRUARY 16th, 2000: Grass Roots Oyate celebrate one-month anniversary of their takeover with special feast and prayers. In telephone conversation with Chief Oliver Red Cloud, BIA Area Director Cora Jones stated that the BIA does not recognize the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie.

FEBRUARY 17th, 2000: As copies of the Tribe's financial ledger continue to circulate, Council Members attempt to defend their excessive spending in district meetings.

FEBRUARY 18th, 2000: "Grass Roots" concept gains popularity, as tribal officials embrace grass roots ideals and government reformulation concepts as their own ideas. They begin asking the tribal members for forgiveness for their gross misconduct and blatant greed.

FEBRUARY 21st, 2000: Elders from the Rocky Boy Cree Reservation, Montana arrive to observe and seek advice on how to deal with the corruption taking place on their reservation.

FEBRUARY 23rd, 2000: Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Sioux veterans take control of their tribal offices demanding the removal of their Gaming Commission Board members. The vets contact the Grass Roots Oyate for advice. Within 48 hours, their Council convenes, meets their demands, and the veterans vacate the building.

FEBRUARY 24th, 2000: OST President Salway suspends 13 of the 17 Council Members without pay until further notice! These 13 participated in an illegal council session the previous week. Grass Roots Youth address elders at the Red Cloud Building, sharing their hardships of life on the reservation; concerns over mismanagement of tribal funds; their hunger to learn more traditional teachings. Overall, they maintain an optimistic outlook for the future.

FEBRUARY 26th, 2000: Oglala Sioux Tribe celebrates anniversary of 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation/Liberation with four-direction prayer walk, feast and pow-wow. Some occupation participants traveled long distances to attend the celebration and offer words of encouragement to the Grass Roots Oyate. The 1973 occupation, lasting 71 days, was lead by traditionalists taking a stand against corruption within tribal government.

FEBRUARY 28th, 2000: Oglala Lakota College students visit the Red Cloud Building – class assignment: offer constructive resolutions to problems with current governance system. College professor suggests that OLC conduct public forums to address issues and begin community-based healing.

MARCH 2nd, 2000: Suspended treasurer and council members illegally obtain wired funds and travel to Washington, D.C. Council member gets arrested for public intox, resisting arrest, then escapes police custody. Head Judge rules in favor of Pass Creek District Oyate & removes district council for gross mismanagement.

MARCH 6th, 2000: Renowned indigenous/environmental attorney, Dean Cycon arrives to meet with elders to begin the reformulation of the Tribe’s constitution.

MARCH 8th, 2000: OIG Special Agent arrives at Red Cloud Building with subpoena for payroll records as part of Housing Authority investigation. BIA agent claims to have put #638 contracts on immediate "freeze", then it is confirmed that they are only on "high-risk".

MARCH 10th, 2000: OST President Salway issues "State Of Emergency" declaration to take temporary control of finances due to Jacobs/Council blatant spending. BIA Area Director refuses to recognize decree and public ally denounces Salway as the "mastermind" behind the takeover. Salway temporarily goes into hiding.

MARCH 12th, 2000: "Renegade" Council meets and passes resolution to remove Grass Roots Oyate with force if necessary. They appoint Richard Erie as Tribal Attorney General. Through background check, Oyate find that Erie is misrepresenting himself as bar-certified attorney. He has not obtained a license through the BIA or the Tribe.

MARCH 13th, 2000: Tribal Police arrest and escort attorney Erie to the reservation border for his involvement with "renegade" council.

MARCH 14th, 2000: OST President Salway informed the Grass Roots Oyate that he will not sign the Empowerment Zone Proclamation scheduled for 3/15, as it threatens tribal sovereignty.

MARCH 15th, 2000: Members of Oceti Sakowin visit the Red Cloud Building to offer spiritual and technical support. All agree that we need mass meeting with seven bands of Great Sioux Nation to collectively formulate new governance system.

MARCH 20th, 2000: Jacobs, Big Crow, Tapio, Between Lodges and Erie flew to D.C. at the oyate’s expense to meet with BIA’s Kevin Gover. President Salway declined invitation, stating that this is a People vs. Council issue.

MARCH 21st, 2000: U.S. Attorney Ted McBride "threatened" OST Public Safety officials with federal charges if they attempt to arrest or remove attorney Richard Erie.

MARCH 22nd, 2000: President Salway has phone conference with BIA’s Kevin Gover. Gover recognizes Council’s suspension of Salway. Meanwhile, Salway hosts a mass meeting with Council Members to hear concerns from tribal members. No Council Members attend, sending a clear message that they do not respect their constituents. Salway reinforces his "state of emergency". Auditor and FBI confiscate FY95 to present financial records to begin audit.

MARCH 23rd, 2000: BIA’s Kevin Gover releases statement to media warning Oglala Sioux Tribe to resolve issues or he will cut off federal funding – a direct violation of the active 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty. Gover issues letter to Salway informing him that he does not recognize him as president or the state of emergency.

MARCH 24th, 2000: BIA’s Kevin Gover sends letter to Grass Roots Oyate stating that we are jeopardizing "fruits of federal resources (Empowerment Zone) if they do not leave the building. Oyate stand strong against Gover’s threat of economic sanctions.

MARCH 28th, 2000: BIA’s Robert Ecoffey denies accusations that BIA is planning to bring in outside forces to remove Grass Roots Oyate from building.


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