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METH USE ON ROSEBUD REZ HAS CLEARLY REACHED EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS

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COUNCIL REPORT

By Rep. Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln

It’s always an honor to address the Oyate and I take pride in being transparent, so you have a better understanding of crucial issues within the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

The issues I will report on this month concern tribal finances, Keystone XL pipeline, methamphetamines, and the tribe’s lawsuits.

First, where do we stand from the last tribal Treasurer’s report? As I reported in the past, the tribe invested $15 million of the Salazar settlement with Wells Fargo Bank. Recently, printed in newspapers and on websites was a detailed report of our tribal debt provided by the president.

The RST Council passed a budget for a line of credit allowable in the investment agreement. This line of credit has been locked down by Wells Fargo due to REDCO having to complete an audit. This audit has been complete and access to the budgeted funding is still not accessible to the tribe.

Now, Wells Fargo wants to wait for finalization of documents to separate TLE debt from the tribe; TLE is a chartered entity with its own accounts and is responsible for making installment payments.

Since this is happening, and Wells Fargo isn’t giving the tribe full access to the Oyate’s money, it’s causing financial strain on the tribe’s General and Casino accounts. This strain is causing vouchers-to-be-paid to almost come to a standstill.

The council passed a motion for the treasurer to seek out different financial institutions able to better handle the tribe’s large number of accounts and cash flow.

So, if you hear the rumor the tribe is broke, that is not true. It is my opinion that Wells Fargo is illegally holding the Oyate’s money hostage. I will ask more questions and push to resolve this issue promptly and will provide you with a status report. This issue is also preventing clothing orders from being released.

The next issue is the Keystone XL pipeline. In recent news stories, the US House of Representatives passed the Keystone XL pipeline bill, moving it forward to the US Senate. We know the pipeline bill was voted on by the senate and did not pass in a vote of 59-41, one vote short of the required 60 to pass.

This was a great victory for the Great Sioux Nation and all its efforts opposing the pipeline. The scary thought is that 13 Democrats voted in favor of the pipeline and three of the Democrats sit on the Indian Affairs Committee.

The newly elected senators will take office in January and I’m pretty sure the Keystone bill will be the first one back for a vote. With Republicans reassuming majority in the senate, it will more than likely pass. The tribe will have to encourage and demand that President Obama veto passage of the bill. Then it would take 2/3 of the senate to override the president’s veto.

I pray the senate does not obtain the required 2/3 vote. With this drawn out process, it is my prayer the process will be further drawn out until the next presidential election in 2016 and through other legal battles.

With that being said, I have read in about every press release that our President Cyril Scott declared the house of representatives passing the pipeline bill an “act of war against our people.” This statement in my opinion was premature and should have waited until the senate vote. With the long drawn out process I mentioned, it will give us time to further the tribe’s plan of action opposing the Keystone pipeline. We have the US president demanding environmental laws be followed in connection to climate change. The tribe still maintains a strong stance against contamination to our water and protection of our sacred land. I firmly agree and will stand by this stance and I strongly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

The statement that the House passing the Keystone bill was an act of war can be interpreted in many ways. If this is an act of war ... at this point in time is smoldering issue.

But the Oyate face a more immediate threat against the welfare, cultural way of life, and safety of elders and children. This threat is methamphetamines. RST Council has declared a state of emergency regarding meth, which is affecting our people in many negative ways.

The increase in violent crimes, health issues, unborn and new born children, are suffering the effects of methamphetamines.

I ask why the tribal president hasn’t made a statement that anyone trafficking meth onto our sacred lands is also an act of war? Why hasn’t the RST and president declared a war against methamphetamines? Is there a plan of action in place to keep the Oyate safe? To sit, wait, and depend on the federal government to solve this problem is a failure to the people. The tribe should adopt a plan of action.

As part of law enforcement, I actively participated in a proactive approach to placing meth back underground. All the years I was tasked with combatting meth, this is the longest stretch of time I’ve ever seen meth present on our sacred lands. The question the Oyate should ask is why has meth been present for so long?

As an elected leader of our tribe, I plan to make this a priority, and with a unified council I know we can do this with the help of the Oyate.

Lastly, I would like to tell the Oyate that the council will be reviewing the IHS lawsuit. And the tribe is still in the initial litigation process with the Cherry-Todd lawsuit. These two priority lawsuits also need immediate attention and tribal government needs to push forward for the welfare and safety of the Oyate.

So, if the Oyate have any complaints or concerns in relation to IHS, please contact the RST Health Administrator Evelyn Espinoza; and any complaints and concerns regarding Cherry-Todd, call RST Tribal Utility Office or the Office of Attorney General. Another priority issue the Tribe is tasked with is ICWA and the protection of our children. The council is having a special meeting just on ICWA Nov. 25, in council chambers.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you in this public council report. My reports reflect the priority issues facing the tribe. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at (605)-319-0567.

/s/ Rep. Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln

Antelope Community

—Rep. Calvin Waln, a former criminal investigator, is serving his first term on the powerful RST Council, representing Antelope. He is up for reelection in 2015.

 

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