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Pine Ridge

Occupation Peoples

Grass Roots Oyate

January 16, 2000

Until we Win

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The Grass Roots Oyate, in their record 92 days of occupation in the Red Cloud Building, will formalize plans to break away from the U.S. Government's oppressive Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) form of governance tomorrow, April 18th. This historic event will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge Agency. The Grass Roots Oyate, rising above insurmountable odds, are scheduled to declare their sovereignty under the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie. The Oglala Lakota, one of seven bands of the Great Sioux Nation, is one of the few remaining tribes with an active treaty with the United States. Many tribes talk about sovereignty, but few have displayed the courage to enforce it. With other tribes curiously looking on, the Oglala Lakota believe that there is no turning back; they must forge ahead and resume a traditional approach to governing this tribe. Just as France or China would deal with the U.S., the Grass Roots Oyate maintain they must communicate with the United States on a Nation to Nation basis. Accordingly, the Grass Roots Oyate are expecting the U.S. to uphold their obligations as written in the treaty, the very document they authored.

Grass Roots elders talk to the younger generations about a simpler time when tribal headsmen dealt directly with Washington. There was no interference with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at least at the current level. For the past 67 years, the BIA has been in the business of babysitting Indian nations and micro managing their federal funds, thus absorbing millions of dollars of tribal funds each year. Which begs the question, who has the most to lose with this sovereignty declaration - the fat cats that have "run the Tribe" for decades? - or the BIA, which gets a tidy percentage of the Tribe's funds for "operating expenses"? Both, say the Grass Roots Oyate.

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive…

What began as a simple approach to a simple problem - Oglala Sioux Tribal Treasurer Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs - has ballooned into a complex web of deceit and fraud. When the Grass Roots Oyate entered the Red Cloud Building, the Tribe's administrative offices, on January 16th, they were frustrated and angered over their Tribal Council's relentless support of Jacobs and his dictator-like approach to managing the Tribe's finances.

An outsider might question why elected officials would allow a man such as Jacobs, with sole power over $100+ million dollars in annual federal funding, to continue to operate. Speculation of gross mismanagement was confirmed with the recent release of the audit of the Tribe's General Fund. It would appear that the reason behind their camaraderie is because the Tribal Council has also been involved in financial shenanigans. For the few dozen that have been involved in IRA tribal government, a steady paycheck has provided them with the necessary blinders to overlook the poverty and despair around them. As it is in Washington, the senior tribal councilmen break in the new ones and continue the cycle of corruption. Grass Roots elders stated that the ones that do not get prosecuted as a result of the audit findings, will eventually be brought back into the sacred circle to walk amongst the people, for we are all related.

Additionally they say, once the dust settles, there will more economic and employment opportunities for a larger percentage of tribal members. Tribal elders tell stories of huge community gardens, and community socials that went for days, summer or winter. Everyone supported each other. This notion may seem idealistic, but the Oglala Lakota have endured for centuries on these common principles. The IRA system was set up to poison the spiritual foundation of indigenous tribes. However, the Grass Roots Oyate say the wounds are only superficial and that sovereignty is the greatest antidote.

The Grass Roots Oyate welcome all media to attend and witness a nation of people take back their power.

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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