Regional and Local Briefs: July 2014

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OGLALA SIOUX TRIBAL COUNCIL SUSPENDS

PRESIDENT

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.

HO-CHUNK NATION APPEALS ELECTRONIC

POKER GAME DECISION

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.

 

S.D. TRIBES SEEK CONTROL OVER CHILD

WELFARE PROGRAMS

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 NATION ASKS BANK OF AMERICA TO

BREAK WITH NFL TEAM

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.

 

FORMER WHITE EARTH CHAIR LAID TO REST

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.”

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SENDS $50 MILLION IN

BUY-BACK TO ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE

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.