Special Report: Facing the Enemy Within – Criminal Corruption & Collusion in the Oglala Sioux Tribe Judiciary & Police

Special Report: Facing the Enemy Within – Criminal Corruption & Collusion in the Oglala Sioux Tribe Judiciary & Police

False Charges, Forged Documents, OST Tribal Council Uses Police and Judiciary to Silence Grassroots Lakota Elders and People; Outspoken Elders Threatened with Illegal Removal to Nursing Homes

TO:  U.S. Senator John Thune; U.S. Senator Mike Rounds; U.S. Representative Kristi Noem

FROM: Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Independent Lakota Nation

DATE: June 28, 2017

OFFICIAL CONTACT: Canupa Gluha Mani at 605-517-1547

Photo credit: Rapid City Journal

The Cante Tenza Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Independent Lakota Nation is submitting an Official Complaint to the United States Government via U.S. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, and U.S. Representative Kristi Noem.

 Federally funded Justice programs run by the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are being used to criminalize outspoken Lakota elders and strong-arm consent from grassroots Lakota people seeking an end to the wide spread criminal conspiracy and corruption on the reservation.

The Lakota Strong Heart Warrior Society has spent years trying to raise public attention to the abuses faced by the grassroots Lakota people at the hands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Government and Tribal Council (OST), it’s law enforcement and court system.  But with little public attention and continued negligence of United States Senators and the Department of Justice to hold these funded programs accountable – the crisis continues to worsen.

But the situation may have reached a turning point.  In early 2017, 94 year old Cecilia Martin was illegally removed from her home and forced into a nursing home hours away from her family and friends in an act of political retaliation against her outspoken activism and that of her grandson who leads the Strong Heart Warrior Society.

“She was the touchstone for younger grandmothers,” said a Lakota grandmother whose name has been withheld to avoid retaliation. “When she was removed into the nursing home, families got scared for their own grandmothers.”

Removing Martin into a South Dakota run nursing home took a criminal conspiracy to enact.  OST councilwoman Beverly Tuttle, long a focus of grassroots activists, was publicly reported as threatening to remove elders to distant nursing homes if the grassroots Lakota elders would not stop speaking out in tribal council proceedings.

“The system uses family members to attack other family members,” another anonymous source said. “If someone is a part of the corruption, they will even target their own family to keep the corruption going.”

This is where Carmen Martin Yellow Bull enters the story. An employee of the OST Judiciary office and previously implicated in the LOLO ‘money-for-foster-children’ scam in the documentary Red Cry,  Yellow Bull  drafted and forged paperwork removing her own grandmother from her small home in Porcupine to a nursing facility far in the Black Hills.  To shield her crime, she accused her brother and warrior leader Canupa Gluha Mani of failing to care for their grandmother, using her position in the Judiciary to issue a restraining order against him without any legal oversight or due-process.

These kinds of brazen attacks are not new. A similar tactic was used by the OST during the 2011 elder-led takeover of the Porcupine Meals for the Elderly Building to protest systemic abuse, neglect, and inedible food faced by grassroots elders at the center.  The OST created five false charges of elder abuse to hold Canupa Gluha Mani as a political prisoner for 31 days in attempts to force the end of the elder occupation.

“The OST has routinely allowed their own tribal advocates to break the law,” explained Canupa Gluha Mani. “Now there is no law, there is only survival.”

Despite numerous in-person meetings by Strong Heart and public efforts at exposing this corrupt system, the United States Government appears satisfied with the criminal activity within the OST Judiciary.  To this date, no real accountability has been sought from OST law and order programs funded with millions of U.S. tax dollars.

“Taxpayers need to understand what is happening here on Pine Ridge,” Canupa Gluha Mani said. “Judiciary employees are stealing money from court programs, using legal paperwork to silence or imprison critics, and even tricking people out of their EBT food cards for the promise of legal assistance that never comes.”

Often, the OST Tribal Council and Executive Office uses with the police as an arm of enforcement against outspoken grassroots Lakota and their families.  Grassroots elders and not allowed to contest ordinances or speak out in tribal council. If they do so, they are threatened with jail including false charges of “Inciting a Riot.”

The OST police have routinely acted with both bias and incompetence.  Non-Lakota officers often respond with aggression in attempts to intimidate traditional and grassroots Lakota people, and are quick to rely on their weapons even if not threatened.  On the other hand, drug-related crime is epidemic, murders routinely go unsolved or unprosecuted, and police are routinely implicated in illegal acts by grassroots people.

In June 2016, Jamie Lee Brave Heart was shot and killed by a Pine Ridge tribal police officer while at the Pine Ridge hospital.

In February 2017, the OST police failed to follow-up on a missing person report, and two weeks later the Strong Heart Warrior Society found the frozen body of 49 year old Donna Scout following pleas from her family to find their missing daughter.  OST police then tried to claim responsibility for the search.

In April 2017, Jeffery Curry of the Allen community on Pine Ridge was brutally murdered by OST police after a long chase. Eleven OST police officers were placed on administrative leave, the Public Safety Board was disbanded, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has taken over reservation law enforcement.

Police have also been accused of tipping off and protecting drug traffickers and dropped-charges-for-sex with minor girls and young women.

“The OST is still begging the Department of Justice for more money for public safety, but on Pine Ridge there is just white officers and indian officers killing Lakota people randomly,” an angry warrior leader explained.

Other OST employees implicated by grassroots people in the widespread corruption are Sonia Little Hawk Weston, Lydia Bear Killer, Stanley Little White Man, and Cora Whiting Hildebrand.

So why won’t the Federal government assert accountability over tax-funded tribal programs?

Many activists say the U.S. Government allows continuing corruption  in order to justify the eventual termination of all tribal government programs and a forced removal of jurisdiction and tribal identity to State of South Dakota control. In this scenario, any sovereign rights of Lakota people will be terminated as they become U.S. and South Dakota residents.

And this is not a far-fetched idea. In December of 2016, the incoming Trump Administration threatened to terminate Indigenous jurisdiction and privatize Native land for resource extraction. And now, the BIA is taking a more active role in Pine Ridge activities.

“The tribal council is hiding criminal activity that jeopardizes tribal sovereignty,” Canupa Gluha Mani said. “But the grassroots people and the Independent Lakota Nation are ready for any threat to our nation status.”

The Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Independent Lakota Nation is submitting another complaint to the United States Government based on these allegations.

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The Cante Tenza Okolakiciye or Strong Heart Warrior Society is a traditional Lakota warrior society as well as a modern day human rights movement to assert Lakota independence and enforce Indigenous rights for the Lakota and other Indigenous people of Turtle Island.  

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