Grass Roots Oyate
January 16, 2000
Until we Win
Current Pine Ridge Weather
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2000
Today, the Oglala Sioux Tribal President, Harold Salway issued a " Declaration of State of Emergency" for the Pine Ridge Reservation. The declaration states that, " ... in order to safeguard the sovereignty of this Nation in the face of imminent and immediate danger brought about by serious financial and administrative mismanagement and malfeasance by certain officers and members of the Tribal Council, resulting in the freezing of all federal program funds, and for other just and good causes, do hereby declare a State of Emergency...." This declaration will be in effect until," ..... the establishment of financial and governing systems that are responsive and respectful to our Oglala Lakota Nation, the traditional ways, heritage and customs of our people, and effective to provide for the sovereignty, health and welfare of our Oglala Lakota Nation...."
However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs stated that it will not recognize the declaration. Further, the BIA Aberdeen Area Director, Cora Jones, informed President Salway that the BIA believes he is the " mastermind" behind the Grass Roots Oyate's occupation of the Tribe's administrative offices. Jones informed him that the Government is preparing charges against him. Salway informed the Grass Roots Oyate that he has exhausted all remedies in dealing with the " renegade" tribal council and tribal treasurer and that we must have faith that criminal indictments will come out of the special financial audit currently underway.
The Grass Roots Oyate have maintained from the beginning of their peaceful occupation that they represent the silent majority of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Grass Roots Oyate include grandmothers, grandfathers, women, children, and men that are committed to providing a better future for the generations yet born. They contend that President Harold Salway has no influence over the people in the building, he did not direct anyone to take control of the building. Importantly, Salway is included on the list of officials that are not allowed in the tribal building. To say that he is the leader of the Grass Roots Oyate is preposterous. The Grass Roots elderly that travel over 100 miles from the other side of the reservation to stand for their sovereignty rights are the true leaders of this movement, of this nation.
Dean Cycon, Esq., representing the Grass Roots Oyate pro-bono, has stated that the tribal president is well within his scope of authority to declare a state of emergency in a crisis of this nature. Cycon, who specializes in indigenous and environmental law, stated that he will be working closely with the Grass Roots Oyate to protect their inherent rights and assist them in the reformulation of their governance system to better serve all the members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Elders at the Red Cloud Building remember stories told to them by their elders of times when the reservation " agent" ( presently referred to as " superintendent") would withhold treaty " payments" and " rations" from Indians that went against the system. Over 150 years later, the agent at Pine Ridge is taking the same tactic.
The Oglala Lakota are recognized leaders among Indian nations. They have never lost in
battle to the United States and, in fact, took the United States flag at the Battle of
Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. The Grass Roots Oyate contend that they will continue to
fight for what their ancestors fought and died for---their land, their freedom.