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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 27, 2000

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

On January 26th, Oglala Sioux I.R.A.Tribal President Harold Salway and BIA Superintendent Robert Ecoffey met with the Grass Roots Oglala Lakota Oyate to bring news on the status of the removal of the Tribal Treasurer and members of the Tribal Council for long-term gross misconduct and mismanagement of federal funds allocated to the members of this Tribe.

Mr. Salway and the Executive Committee were under tribal court order to meet concerning the treasurer's fate. Salway had promised to suspend the Tribal Treasurer if he could form a quorum for the meeting. However, Salway stated that he was unable to reach all of the committee members and could not form a quorum. To date, the committee has not met. Mr. Salway informed the people that "…self-government or traditional government will never work on this reservation. The people are not ready for it. The I.R.A. (Indian Reorganization Act) government is all we have."

One of the tribal grandmothers invited renowned international lawyer, Germaine Tremmel to attend the meeting and speak on behalf of the Grass Roots Oyate. She drilled Salway and Ecoffey on their authoritative powers. She pointed out to that since Ecoffey is an enrolled tribal member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that there is a conflict of interest due to his personal friendships with the accused and that he has failed to uphold his trust responsibility to protect the well being of the tribal members. Mr. Ecoffey's stated, "I don't feel that I have a conflict of interest. I am impartial. I am only a messenger in this situation. I have no power over the Tribal Council, Tribal Treasurer, or the Tribal President. If the people don't like my answers, there are proper procedures to file complaints to have me removed." He further stated, "The people have not broken the law. You entered this building in a peaceful way. This building belongs to you."

Ms. Tremmel elaborated on the laundry list of federal and tribal laws that the Tribal Treasurer and the Tribal Council have violated. She stated that the list grows each day that we remain in the tribal building. She requested that from this day forward, the superintendent, as well as president, put all their information in writing to the Grass Roots Oyate. She reassured the people that they had every legal right under the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie to occupy the tribal building and that the contents belong to the people, including everything in the Tribal Treasurer's office.

The Grass Roots Oglala Lakota Oyate are in their 12th day of maintaining control of the Red Cloud Building, the Tribe's primary administrative office. The building remains on lockdown for the 4th day. No tribal council members, the tribal treasurer or employees are allowed in the building. Their sole purpose of occupying the building is to protect and maintain financial files, pending a full forensic audit of the indirect and general fund accounts that directly implicate the tribal officials. They are demanding the immediate, permanent removal of Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs as treasurer and several Tribal Council members for long-term, widespread corruption. On January 18th, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation did confiscate some files from the basement of the tribal building. However, the people have confirmed that the real evidence remains in the treasurer's overly secured office.

Today, spokespeople for the Grass Roots Oyate, spoke with government officials in Washington, D.C. and proclaimed their sovereign immunity and declared a "State of Emergency" for our nation. Under the guideline of the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty, the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Interior must take immediate action to protect the general welfare of the tribe. On January 25th, an order was given to the BIA superintendent requesting that he assume temporary financial services (medical, burial expenses) for the tribe. He maintains that he has no power to do this. Ms. Tremble reassured the Grass Roots Oyate that it is within this scope of authority.

Meanwhile, Jacobs and members of the Tribal Council maintain their innocence and refuse to resign from office. A regular session of the Tribal Council is scheduled to begin January 31st at Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge Agency, SD.

The Grass Roots Oyate stand for the "silent majority" that has been oppressed by this I.R.A. government for 65 years. Calls of support and prayers have poured in from other reservations, the U.S. and countries all over the world. We stand united and will remain in the Red Cloud Building until their demands are met.

For further information, please contact Floyd Hand or Media Relations Coordinator, Dale Looks Twice at (605) 867-5303.

As with all posts concerning the Occupation People, Please forward this to all interested parties in its entirety

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