Grass Roots Oyate
January 16, 2000
Until we Win
Current Pine Ridge Weather
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2000
Red Cloud Building, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota:
FBI AUDIT OF OST FINANCES UNDERWAY!
In a surprise visit today, FBI Supervising Agent Chip Burras of the Minneapolis regional office met with members of the Grass Roots Oglala Lakota Oyate (people). He listened patiently as Lakota grandmothers explained why they are participating in the occupation of the tribal administrative offices of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The agents informed the people that the forensic audit for 1999 was underway. Agent Burras assured the group that the auditors are going through every transaction and if there are any signs of mismanagement, they will find it. The agents stated that they were planning an afternoon meeting with South Dakota Civil Rights Commissioner Elsie Meeks to discuss the situation here.
Meeks, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has been conspicuously absent since the occupation began on January 16, 2000. The Grass Roots Oyate are wondering if she is letting personal conflicts of interest interfere with her job duties. The group cites that their civil rights and basic human rights have been violated since the occupation began. They asked the FBI agents to bring her to Pine Ridge Agency to meet with the people.
The Grass Roots Oyate contends that the Tribal Treasurer Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs and members of the Tribal Council have formed a steel ring of corruption and embezzlement of federal funds allocated to the members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The group is confident that they are breaking the ring, one link at a time. The BIA Superintendent, Robert Ecoffey, has scheduled an "informal" meeting with the Tribe's Executive Board, the Tribal Council and the Head Tribal Judge for tomorrow in Kyle, S.D. Ecoffey stated that this would be a closed-door meeting to resolve issues that will allow tribal government to begin again. However, the Grass Roots Oyate questioned Ecoffey's political agenda for this meeting. They asked him how he could effectively resolve these issues without the grass roots people present at the meeting. He informed the group that these issues were between the President and the Council. The group reminded him that they are not occupying the building on the President's behalf and that resolutions will come when their demands are met.
Since the beginning of the occupation, critics have argued that President Salway orchestrated the peaceful takeover of the tribal building. Contrarily, the group represents the common people of the reservation. They include elders, children, men and women that believe that they have exhausted all remedies to change the current, corruptive government that has plagued this nation since its inception in 1934. The group is calling for a return to self-government or the "Council of 21" system that governed the tribe long before the Europeans arrived on Turtle Island.
The Grass Roots Oyate will begin monitoring the financial activities of the interim tribal treasurer starting on Thursday, February 10th to ensure that only critical services are paid. The group stated that they have physical evidence that shows several Tribal Council members receive mileage allowances for non-existent trips; several months worth of monthly auto allowances in one check; multiple meeting stipends at once, and so on. Meanwhile, the majority of the tribal members rarely get assistance for basic needs such as propane heating fuel or food.
The Grass Roots Oyate are in their 25th day of occupation in the Red Cloud Building. They have stated repeatedly that they are exercising their authority under the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie to monitor and protect the files in the building from tampering/destruction. The traditionalists have declared their sovereign immunity in the building and the BIA Superintendent acknowledged that it is their building and they have not broken any laws. The Oglala Lakota Sioux are one of the few indigenous tribes that still have an active treaty with the United States government.
For further information, please contact Floyd Hand or Media Coordinator, Dale Looks Twice at (605) 867-5303.
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