Grass Roots Oyate
January 16, 2000
Until we Win
Current Pine Ridge Weather
GRASS ROOTS OGLALA LAKOTA OYATE
*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
March 27, 2000
Red Cloud Building, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota:
OYATE STAND STRONG AGAINST GOVERS THREATS OF ECONOMIC SANCTIONS!
On March 24th, U.S. Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover sent a letter to the Grass Roots Oyate informing them that if they do not end their protest; he will implement economic sanctions against the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Gover stated that the "fruits of the federal resources" are at stake and that the Oyates "victory will be terribly tainted if your actions become the reason federal assistance is withheld". He is referring to the "Empowerment Zone" project initiated by President Bill Clinton last summer. However, Oglala traditionalists have expressed a great deal of concern about this project. As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a "free lunch". They believe that this project will open the reservation up to state jurisdiction and taxation. And it will involve a large transfer of tribal land to federal and state government.
The Oyates claim of the Tribes Treasurer and Council Members gross misconduct and mismanagement of federal funds has fallen on deaf ears in Washington D.C. Gover contends that he will assist the Oyate with constitutional reform and that Tribal Council members have told him that they will not interfere with this process. As Grass Roots elders hear these statements, one can almost read their thoughts by the smile on their faces. They say that Tribal Council members are doing everything in their collective powers to undermine governmental reform. And, they add, that we should not bow to Govers gracious offer of assistance. In fact, the U.S. government has a fiduciary and trust responsibility to assist with government reform under the guidelines of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, the Tribes current governance system.
After 71 days of occupying the Tribes administrative offices, the Grass Roots Oyate contend that they gain strength from the daily obstacles put before them. They have no intention of backing down on their demands, which include the permanent removal of Tribal Treasurer, Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs, a five year, full forensic audit of the Tribes financials, an audit of the BIA Land Office, and the reformulation of tribal governance system.
An "draft" of the audit of the Tribes 1999 General Fund is complete and has been in the hands of the BIA Superintendent Robert Ecoffey for nearly two weeks now. Because the BIA paid for the independent audit, they have proprietary claim to it. Technically, they do not have to release the drafted version to the public. According to the auditing firm, Orabba & Associates, they had planned on releasing the final audit today, however, they receive daily leads that require further investigation. Therefore, it may be two weeks before the Oyate see results of the 1999 General Fund audit. The Oyate stated that they have waited years for justice and accountability and they are not afraid to wait a few more weeks. The Grass Roots Oyate are preparing a mass petition drive to call for a new secretarial election that would effectively halt all activities of the suspended Treasurer and the so-called "renegade Council". Further, they are seeking the impeachment of Tribal Head Judge Patrick Lee and the removal of BIA Superintendent Robert Ecoffey for their unethical bias towards elected officials.
The Grass Roots Oyate, comprised of Oglala grandmothers, women, men and children, contend that they will remain in the Red Cloud Building until their demands are met. This historic occupation has received international attention and will surpass the length of the infamous Wounded Knee Occupation that took place here in 1973. After 27 years, the fight to end tribal government corruption continues, with one significant difference the Grass Roots Oyate are unarmed, using only prayers and the sacred pipe to bring out the truth.
** For further information, please contact Floyd Hand or Media Coordinator, Dale Looks Twice at (605) 867-5303. **
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