Grass Roots Oyate
January 16, 2000
Until we Win
Current Pine Ridge Weather
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 08, 2000
Red Cloud Building, Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota:
Yesterday, special agents from the Office of Inspector General arrived at the Oglala Sioux Tribes (OST) administrative office with a grand jury subpoena in hand. The agents confiscated payroll records as part of their ongoing investigation of the Tribes Housing Authority. O.I.G. and FBI agents raided the OST Housing Authority on January 16, 2000 after a two-year grand jury investigation.
The Grass Roots Oyate were pleased to see the agents take the records. They believe that the housing investigation will eventually tie into their allegations against the Tribal Treasurer and the Tribal Council for gross mismanagement of tribal funds. The Grass Roots Oyate are confident that the criminal charges against the treasurer and council are forthcoming, upon completion of an audit of the Tribes 1999 General Fund. A bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-appointed special auditor has nearly completed the audit and is planning to release a draft of his findings this week. This action is a result of a verbal assault that the auditor experienced from the Tribes suspended treasurer, Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs.
Meanwhile, the BIA has placed an immediate "freeze" on twenty-four Federal #638 contract tribal programs due to non-compliance. The Grass Roots Oyate stated that this action is a result of gross mismanagement on the part of Jacobs and members of the Finance Committee. The Tribes Finance Committee, comprised of 13 members of the Tribal Council, along with Jacobs, have already placed the blame at the door of the Red Cloud Building. However, the Grass Roots Oyate claim, Jacobs has systematically taken control of all federal programs and has been co-mingling federal program monies with the Tribes General Fund. The treasurer and 13 members of the Council are currently suspended without pay pending the outcome of the audit. The Grass Roots Oyate feel that Jacobs and the Councils vendetta against OST President Salway will bring irreparable damage to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The Grass Roots Oyate contend that some programs, such as Burial Assistance are essential and should not be frozen.
However, the Grass Roots Oyate, in their 53rd day of occupying the Red Cloud Building, remain optimistic and refuse to be led astray. They focus on their demands, including the permanent removal of Jacobs from all tribal positions, suspension of the Tribal Council pending a referendum election, and an audit of the BIA Land Office. Although the treasurer is an appointed position, the OST Council refuses to fire him. They suspended him at the behest of their constituents, only to rescind their order two days later. The Grass Roots Oyate are charging Jacobs and the Council with gross misconduct and mismanagement of federal funds allocated to the members of the Tribe. They stated that the longer they occupy the tribal building, the more the officials break the laws they swore to uphold.
While elected officials continue to bicker, the Grass Roots Oyate are methodically planning the transition to a more culturally based governance system. Constitutional lawyers arrived at the Red Cloud Building on Monday to begin the process of reforming the Tribes government system. They have been spending the majority of their time with tribal elders to gain an understanding of how the Tribe governed their reservation before the forced implementation of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934. The Grass Roots Oyate stated that the IRA system is nothing more that a slow, silent form of genocide for the Indian Nations.
The group took peaceful control of their tribal administrative office on January 16, 2000 for the sole purpose of protection the financial records from further tampering/destruction. Two days later, FBI agents confiscated some records at the request of the people. The Grass Roots Oyate contend that they will remain in the Red Cloud Building until their demands are met.
For further information, please contact Floyd Hand, or Media Coordinator Dale Looks Twice at (605) 867-5303
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