Regional and Local Briefs: July 2014
Monday, July 07 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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PINE RIDGE, S.D. – The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council suspended President Bryan Brewer following allegations that he acted without the council's approval on two occasions and mishandled a $5,000 check.

The council voted 10-5 on June 24 to suspend Brewer until July 17, when a hearing is scheduled to determine whether he should be reinstated or impeached, Councilman Garfield Steele said. Brewer will be given an opportunity to defend himself at the hearing.

"I support the president," Steele said. "I support a lot of things that he's done. He's done good things and the reason why I voted to accept this was to allow him to give his side of the story."

Steele said the complaints against Brewer allege that he signed over the tribe's power of attorney in order to approve bonds without the council's consent, that he approved health benefits for the tribe's former casino manager without the council's consent, and that he mishandled a $5,000 donation a business made to the tribe. Steele did not say what Brewer is alleged to have done with the money.

A tribal judge will oversee the July 17 hearing, with the eventual decision on Brewer's future left to the council. It would take a two-thirds vote of the 19-member council to remove Brewer from office.

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. – The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is fighting a court order to remove electronic poker games from one of its casinos.
The tribe installed PokerPro at the Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison. A February 2009 opinion from the National Indian Gaming Commission determined that the devices fall into the Class II category, outside of state control.
Judge Barbara Crabb, however, said the machines fall Into the Class III category. Since Class III gaming isn't allowed at the Madison location, the tribe must remove the games, she concluded in a decision earlier this month.
“The Nation began offering video poker only after it received the OK from the Nation Indian Gaming Commission, which is the federal oversight agency for Class II gaming and the appropriate authority in this matter," President Jon Greendeer said in a press release announcing plans for an appeal.
The case will go to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
PIERRE, S.D. – Five South Dakota tribes are seeking more control over child welfare programs that are currently handled by the state.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe filed applications to run their own Title IV-E programs. Their action comes amid concern that too many tribal children are being placed in non-tribal homes.
"I think the Lakota Nation feels very strongly that the state is derelict in its duty," Matthew Renda of the Lakota People's Law Project, which helped the tribes prepare their applications, told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
According to the project, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was the first in Indian Country to receive Title IV-E planning dollars. The tribe was awarded $300,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services last year.
Indian children make up 13.8 percent of the state population yet they represent 56.3 percent of the foster care population, the report said. Of the 440 Indian children in foster care as of July 2011, 87 percent were placed in non-Indian homes while 39 Indian foster homes went empty, according to the group.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are currently suing the state, alleging non-compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and violations of Indian parents' constitutional rights.
ONEIDA, Wis. – The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin asked Bank of America to break ties with the Washington NFL team, a tribal leader said.
Brandon Stevens, a council member, said tribes do a lot of business with the bank. But talks broke off last year.
"We want to put this in economic terms. We want to put them in a position where they have to say 'yes' or 'no' on the name," Stevens told The Washington Business Journal.
The tribe is also pressuring FedEx over the shipping giant's connections to the team. FedEx holds naming rights on the stadium in Maryland where the team plays, and its president, Fred Smith, is a member of the team’s ownership group.
WHITE EARTH, Minn. – Darrell "Chip" Wadena, a former chairman of the White Earth Nation, was laid to rest on June 28 and so was the debt he owed to his tribe.
Wadena led the tribe from 1976 to 1996 and was considered a political powerhouse in Minnesota and in Washington, D.C. But the self-described "Super Chief" faced criticism at home for his strong-arm tactics and eventually was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, theft and embezzlement charges.
Wadena was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, theft and embezzlement charges for cheating the tribe in a business deal. He served 33 months in prison and was ordered to pay $585,287 in restitution.
Wadena paid $100,000 in 1999 and started making monthly payments to the tribe. But he apparently lapsed at some point and only paid a total of $198,719.09.
With penalties, he owed another $731,608.75, according to the paper. The debt has been wiped clean due to his death last week at the age of 75.
“I want people to remember him for the good he has done,” Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, who was challenged by Wadena when he tried to make a comeback in 2004, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Serving in tribal office is not an easy job.”


ROSEBUD, S.D. – The Interior Department has sent out $50 million in offers to landowners on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

The success of the Buy-Back Program is vitally important to the future of Indian Country,” Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said in a press release today. “Consolidating and returning these lands to tribes in trust will have enormous potential to unlock tribal community resources. We are committed to exhausting all efforts to make sure that individuals are aware of this historic opportunity to strengthen tribal sovereignty by supporting the consolidation of Indian lands."

The $3.4 billion Cobell settlement authorized $1.9 billion for land consolidation. DOI is using the money to buy fractionated interests from landowners in order to return the land to tribal governments.

Participation is entirely voluntary. DOI will pay "fair market value" as required by the Indian Land Consolidation Act.

Since the start of the program late last year, Indian landowners have received $67 million for their fractionated interests. Nearly 190,000 acres have been transferred to tribes.

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