FW: [NativeNews] Traditionals claim no change at Pine Ridge

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Tue Mar 20 11:30:47 MST 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Schaefer [mailto:jkschae_98 at yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2001 11:43 PM
To: Eugene Johnson; Jim Craven
Subject: Fwd: [NativeNews] Traditionals claim no change at Pine Ridge

--- Senior Staff <senior-staff at nativenewsonline.org> wrote:
> To: NatNews at yahoogroups.com
> From: Senior Staff <senior-staff at nativenewsonline.org>
> Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 14:33:15 -0500
> Reply-to: NatNews-owner at yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [NativeNews] Traditionals claim no change at
> Pine Ridge
> from Paul P..thanks!
> Traditionals claim no change at Pine Ridge
>                 by David Melmer
>                 Today staff
> http://www.indiancountry.com/
> PINE RIDGE, S.D. - Fifteen months have passed and a group
> of people calling themselves the Grass Roots Oyate still
> occupy the Red Cloud tribal building and advocate for the
> same goals.
> Nothing has changed, the occupiers say, even though a new
> president and council have been selected. The people are
> still not benefiting from the federal programs and money,
> Oyate leaders claim.
> But tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele said he
> doesn't know what the group wants, even though he has met
> with the members a number of times. "I don't know who's
> the boss down there."
> Steele and the group were scheduled to meet March 14, but
> the session was canceled by the group. Marie Horn Cloud,
> an elder and pipe carrier for the group, said Steele came
> to an earlier meeting of the group unannounced and was
> told not to do that again. "We will meet when scheduled.
> He was not nice to the people."
> Steele said he had no idea what she was talking about. "I
> went there, the pipe is there, and I am honest and tell
> the truth." He said he would not pursue prosecution
> against those in the building. "The building is only
> material to me, I'm concerned about the people." He said
> he didn't know who was in charge.
> Actually the elders are making consensus decisions.
> Recently the people who are left after some dissension in
> the ranks, formed a working group to plan future actions,
> raise funds to maintain the building, raise money for
> basic supplies, food and organizational expenses, said
> Robert White Mountain, who joined the group from Standing
> Rock. He also said the working group will be involved
> with economic development for the membership.
> The working group will take care of the business side of
> the operations, he said.
> At present the bills are mounting up on heat and
> electricity for the Red Cloud building. Steele said he
> was told by a Nebraska utility that the bill had reached
> $10,000. Steele said funds could not come from the
> tribe's indirect-cost pool, because the tribe was not
> using the building. The money would have to come from the
> general fund.
> Millie Horn Cloud, keeper of the 1868 pipe present in the
> building, said the grass-roots group was being harassed
> by the tribal council. She didn't give specifics, but
> elders in the building said the original seven members of
> the Grass Roots Oyate, who were the most vocal in the
> early days, were now on the tribe's payroll and were
> causing problems for the group. Again, there were no
> specifics.
> Oyate members said people were using them. Others can
> access a post office box to which supporters across the
> country are sending donations. "We don't see the money.
> People are using us, we are not here for that," Horn
> Cloud said.
> The group continues the argument against the IRA or
> Indian Reorganization Act government established by the
> act in 1934. A more traditional government, based on
> Oglala culture and spirituality, is desired by the group.
> "The group now running things has been doing that for 67
> years and it's going nowhere. This is still one of the
> poorest counties in the nation," White Mountain said.
> "We want to bring back honesty and power to the people.
> We want complete honesty and through the sacred pipe it
> keeps us honest. The IRA replaced honesty with
> dishonesty."
> With a traditional government in place, economic
> development would not be abandoned, the group said. "It
> is here now, but doesn't filter down to the people,"
> Marie Ann Red Cloud said.
> "A traditional government would help everyone. The IRA
> government only helps a few who are in the system. It's
> who you know that gets you jobs."
> In simple terms, the group works for a return to the
> Oglala cultural values that will divide the benefits
> equally among the tribal members and to "replace
> dishonesty with honesty in government," White Mountain
> said.
> The traditional government would be made up of the
> tiospayes with headmen chosen and medicine men advising.
> However, the federal government needs to work with a
> specific leader, said Jaimie Aruba, accountant with the
> tribal finance office.
> Aruba is attempting to retrieve computer equipment used
> by the finance office that has been in the building and
> unused since Jan. 16. He told the group he needed the
> equipment to properly organize the finances of the tribe.
> Horn Cloud said he couldn't have it until the elders met
> to decide what to do.
> The group's demands have not changed since the first day
> of the takeover. The main complaint was with former
> tribal Treasurer Wesley "Chuck" Jacobs. The demands were
> that he be removed from office. He was not reinstated as
> treasurer in the new administration. The group demanded
> the audits of the tribe's financial records, which are
> under way.
> The most-mentioned demand however is the return to a
> traditional government and removal of the IRA form of
> government. Aruba advised the Grass Roots Oyate that the
> federal government would not work with each tiospaye, but
> would require at least a designated person for
> government-to-government relations.
> A fear of the group is the fact that at any time, with
> the Republican conservative administration in power,
> termination of all American Indian nations is a
> possibility, Oglala Russell Blacksman said.
> "I want to see a time when we don't rely on the federal
> government. We have our own land base and we can use
> solar and wind energy. Our ancestors were visionaries and
> we have to find that. We are the ones that will carry
> on," he said.
> Blacksman added that the Oglala nation would have to have
> something to fall back on if termination occurred.
> Aruba assured the group the federal government could only
> terminate the reservation, the government, not the tribe
> itself.
> David Melmer reports from the northern Great Plains and
> nationally. He can be reached at (605) 341-0011 or by
> e-mail David at indiancountry.com.
> =====
> Paul Pureau
> ndn-aim is now archived on line at
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