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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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April 13, 2000



If you took a survey today on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the majority of the Oglala Lakota people would say they are not surprised by the Tribal Council’s recent actions. Less than 72 hours after Tribal President Harold Salway took back control as the Tribe’s highest elected official, the Tribal Council re-suspended him, pending an impeachment hearing. Salway contends that his suspension was illegal to begin with and that it gave the Council only 20 days to bring sufficient evidence to support their charges against him. According to Salway, those 20 days came and went with no documented charges brought forth. Therefore, with the support of elders, Salway informed the Council that he remains the duly elected President. In an illegal session today off the reservation, the Tribal Council re-suspended Salway and appointed Vice President Wilbur Between Lodges as "president".

OST Council Suspends Police Chief, Gives "eerie" Erie Broad Policing Authority!

A member of the Lifegivers Society, a traditional Lakota women’s group, addressed the Tribal Council. She talked about the Council’s lack of respect for their Lakota relatives and questioned whether or not these proceedings had been rehearsed. In what appeared to be a prearranged plan, the Council successfully passed a resolution to suspend the OST Public Safety Director William Brewer, Chief of Police Barney White Face, and Police Captain Austin Watkins. Then a proposed ordinance was read by illegally-appointed Tribal Attorney General, Richard Erie. The ordinance was passed, giving Erie broad and very vague authority to arrest and subpoena individual tribal members. Erie stated that he intends to "…restore law and order to the reservation…". Although BIA Superintendent Robert Ecoffey questioned the full scope of Erie’s proposed powers, the Council supported the motion. As of this late report, talk of this ordinance is spreading like a wild prairie fire across the reservation. Tribal members caution that if Erie proceeds with his anarchical approach to law and order, violence will ensue. Commonly referred to as "eerie Erie" by tribal members, the Grass Roots Oyate stated that Erie has acted as a prime instigator to incite violence against the traditionalists occupying the Tribe’s administrative offices. The Oyate feel that he has shown complete and utter disregard for the general welfare of the Oglala Lakota people. The Oyate are demanding the immediate removal of Erie from the reservation for exacerbating an already tense situation at Pine Ridge Agency. The BIA’s Code of Federal Regulations handbook states that all attorney contracts must be approved through the BIA and Superintendent Ecoffey has confirmed that Erie has not been approved through his office. Additionally, the Oyate have proven that Erie has misrepresented himself on his resume by stating that he is bar-certified in eight states. They have confirmed that he is not certified in any of these states. Therefore, the Oyate question why Erie is being allowed to operate on the reservation.

Grass Roots Oyate maintain peaceful occupation…

The Grass Roots Oyate and their critics agree that the Tribe’s governance system is crumbling around them and change is mandatory. The Oyate continue to maintain a vigil at the Red Cloud Building. Although the Tribal Council’s actions incites anger and frustration amongst tribal members, elders at the Tribal building contend that they must stay strong and have faith in the sacred pipe that has guided them for the past 88 days on this bumpy road to justice and accountability.

The Grass Roots Oyate took peaceful control of the Red Cloud Building on January 16th to bring attention to the widespread corruption that has plagued the Tribe’s government for decades. They maintain that they will remain in the building until their demands are met. Only one of their nine demands have been partially met, an audit of the Tribe’s financial records is underway and the Grass Roots Oyate are confident that indictments are forthcoming. The alleged ringleaders are the Tribe’s treasurer, Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs and the Tribe’s contracted C.P.A., John Donham. Donham, conspicuously absent since the occupation began 13 weeks ago, resigned due to the crisis in Pine Ridge.

The Grass Roots’ actions have created a ripple effect throughout Indian country. Tribes from all over the U.S. and Canada are closely monitoring the Grass Roots’ campaign to give the power back to the people. Many reservations, frustrated by years of oppression under the Indian Reorganization Act government forced upon them in 1934, are on the verge of their own revolutions.

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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