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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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April 5, 2000



Located in the northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the isolated village of Wanblee is often out of sight, out of mind from tribal government. Except for yesterday. The controversial Oglala Sioux Tribal Council planned a meeting at the newly constructed Crazy Horse School’s "Teen Center". However, elders and other members of the Grass Roots Oyate would not allow the "renegade" Council to enter the building, citing that it had yet to be spiritually dedicated in a traditional Lakota manner. Apparently, the Crazy Horse School Board agreed. In a letter to Tribal Council Representative Ruth Brown, Superintendent Tony Garcia stated, "…our Board President and I agreed that it would be premature in our use of the building without saying prayers…I cannot take the gamble and place our students in a potential crossfire." Respected tribal elder and Grass Roots matriarch, Marie Randall was served with a temporary restraining order today for her part in protecting the center from being used as the Council’s meeting place. A hearing is scheduled for Friday, April 7th in Kyle, S.D. This is the third location in as many weeks that the Tribal Council has been turned away from. The Tribal Council did eventually meet at the district office in Wanblee where they received a chilly reception from tribal members. BIA-appointed auditor Jaime Arobba presented the Council with an overview of his findings of the 1999 General Fund audit. Arobba did not waiver amongst harsh criticisms and attacks on his auditing capabilities from tribal council attorneys.



Tribal Treasurer Wesley C. Jacobs and some members of the Council acknowledged that there are financial problems within the Tribe. Jacobs stated, "…I advised this Council at the beginning of the term that we were in a serious financial crisis, but they continue to spend." Today, Jacobs was spotted in the Tribe’s temporary accounting office reportedly issuing a sizeable check to the Tribe’s Vice President, Wilbur Between Lodges, for a personal loan.



At the Tribal Council meeting, local and regional BIA officials addressed the Council with a "proposed plan" to oversee the finances for all Public Law 93-638 contracts with the Tribe. These contracts fund integral programs such as Head Start, Public Safety, etc. In their proposal, they would assume financial oversight of all federal program expenditures; establishment of a special bank account in a separate bank to deposit federal funds; keep Tribe on "high risk" status indefinitely. The Grass Roots Oyate are demanding that the BIA implement this plan immediately instead of waiting for Tribal Council approval. Additionally, BIA officials and Clinton staffers are publicly humiliated by the Grass Roots’ efforts to expose the widespread corruption taking place on the Pine Ridge Reservation, jeopardizing Clinton’s "New Markets Initiative/Empowerment Zone" plan that would funnel millions of dollars to the reservation, via the BIA, for economic development. Republicans, hungry for control of the White House, have denounced Clinton for not thoroughly investigating Pine Ridge before dedicating millions of federal agency dollars to them. Grass Roots’ spokespeople stated that the traditionalists never approved of this plan because it would compromise thousands of acres of their tribal lands to state jurisdiction.



Today marks the 80th day for the Grass Roots Oyate peaceful occupation of the Red Cloud Building. The "council chambers" in the building now houses a ceremonial alter that holds sacred pipes, eagle staffs, and a framed copy of the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie, the Oyate’s cornerstone for their occupation. After declaring sovereign immunity in the building, with support from Tribal Police, the people remain in the building with no weapons, only prayers. No one expected the Tribal Council to hold onto the controversial Jacobs for this long. The Grass Roots Oyate confirmed that the Tribal Council have the authority to fire Jacobs, but yet, they refuse. Some tribal members believe that they have been bought off by Jacobs, who has sole control of what officials call "discretionary funds", the Tribe’s General Fund account. Publicly, Jacobs has stated that, "…if I go down, they all go down", referring to the Tribal Council.

The Grass Roots Oyate contend that they will remain in the building until Jacobs is permanently removed from all tribal positions and a more culturally-based form of governance is instituted to better serve this poverty-stricken reservation.

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

As with all my emails concerning the Occupation Peoples please forward to any and all interested parties in its entirety

Wild Horse


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