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OYATE WILL ALWAYS COME FIRST—THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND POSITIVE CHANGE

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COUNCIL REPORT

By Rep. Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln

I am respectfully submitting, for the Oyate, a Council Report using my own words and opinions.

The report contains the highlights of recent events, including: Tribal Finance, IHS Healthcare, and the Ethics Hearing against Cyril Scott.

Tribal Finances

Rosebud Sioux Tribe is still having problems with cash flow. If you review the current Treasurer’s report, it shows programs funded by the General and Casino accounts all have money, on paper.

However, budgeted cash for these accounts do not come in one lump sum. The general account has revenue deposited throughout the month, and it may show a large amount deposited or a small amount, depending on what shows up. These accounts are used to pay for a wide range of bills, including services to the Oyate.

One of my concerns is the casino account and its cash flow, and the monthly release of obligated funds from Rosebud Casino. The way this works is the RST Council and casino’s general manager come up with an annual payment projection. In this budget projection, different amounts are committed monthly.

For example, for FY 2014-2015, the casino budget was approved at $2,450,000. In the past two casino payments to the tribe, the casino was close to its monthly projections. March payment was just over $291,000, and used to fund the 20 communities’ monthly allocations, fund other programs in the budget, and cover any other approved payments assigned to the account.

In prior months, the casino’s payment to the tribe was far short of the approved projection. This causes a ripple effect in shortfalls. After critical obligations were met, the tribe was left with a balance of only $30,000, seriously affecting services to the Oyate and the tribe’s ability to give each community their full allocation.

In response, RST Council passed resolutions taking out loans from Rosebud Casino for additional funds to cover needed services to the Oyate. These loans are then paid back monthly to the casino by subtracting set amounts from the next month's tribal payment.

My guess, without numbers in hand, is that the casino is nearly $500,000 short of the monthly projections. Of course, this is only a projection of monthly payments. I could understand falling a little short, but not missing a projection by $150,000 to $200,000, or more.

Rosebud Casino’s general manager stated the casino was only $133,000 short of present day on payment projections based on the loans the tribe received from the casino. This was upsetting and misleading because the loans are being paid back to the casino but the manager is not debiting the loan payments, which still leaves a substantial financial shortfall. If this shortfall is not addressed immediately, it will negatively impact all programs funded by the casino, to varying degrees.

IHS Healthcare

I want to provide the Oyate with Indian Health Services (IHS) stats right out of IHS’ acting CEO’s monthly report, and it is very troubling.

In the Purchased Referred Care component, it reveals that 535 IHS patients were turned away from receiving higher medical care. Only 199 patients were approved referrals.

There were 271 referral patients who were denied for higher or better medical treatment from IHS, meaning they were simply turned away from receiving any further healthcare treatment. And IHS’ acting CEO reported over $2 million in carryover funds (unused) that had been available to pay for these denied referrals.

IHS then reported the $2 million in carryover funds was inaccurate. In all the subsequent discussions after that first statement by the acting CEO about $2 million remaining, no definite number was ever provided to the tribe.

In continuing meetings, IHS maintained there were carryover funds, but when pressed they were unable to provide a consistently accurate amount. The Council repeatedly asked IHS, why were people denied advanced healthcare when there was plenty of carryover money available to pay for it? The acting CEO was further asked if Medicare or Medicaid money could be used to repair potholes? The answer was yes. If that was the case, I asked, why couldn’t it be similarly used to pay for patients who were denied advanced healthcare referrals? The answer was yes, they could do that, Pine Ridge does it, but no explanation was forthcoming on why it wasn’t done automatically, and why our people are turned away.

To me, as a tribal member and elected official, any unused carryover of Purchased Referred Care (Contract Health) is unacceptable, especially when fellow tribal members are being denied better healthcare because of it. If there are carryover funds, regardless of the amount, a tribal member’s referral should not be denied and medical bills should be paid by carryover funds, whatever the changing amount.

I asked to see the budget showing the carryover and told ranking IHS officials the Council could read debits, credits, and expenditures to present day, including an accurate carryover amount. The tribe, they said, would receive a letter, but not the budget.

RST Council will not accept a letter from IHS unless they include the information they are obligated to supply.

I think Health & Human Services (HHS) should be held accountable for the untimely taking of loved ones to the Spirit World.

According to stats reported, IHS is denying tribal members advanced healthcare in order for them to live a longer, healthier life. No matter the carryover, this money could be better used toward improving a tribal member’s health and getting proactive medical treatment so one’s health does not deteriorate. I researched, read, and can fully comprehend our treaties; healthcare is indeed an inherent treaty right.

I also researched U.S. Supreme Court decisions on treaties. The Cannons of the Treaty contains language of the justices, such as, “The Treaties are interpreted how an Indian (Native American) would interpret the Treaties.” I plan on presenting the language in the Cannons. It is the federal government’s agencies whose trust responsibility is tied to the treaties.

We will not accept NO for an answer anymore.

Ethics Hearing

I’d like to give some background on former President Cyril Scott’s ethics proceedings. Cyril Scott filed through his attorney a temporary restraining order (TRO) that was temporarily granted, preventing RST Council from imposing further sanctions. Scott was found guilty in the first ethics hearing in February.

It also temporarily prevented Council from scheduling the second ethics hearing.

On April 3, 2015, the TRO was heard in front of a special judge in RST Court. The judge ruled in favor of dismissal filed by the Tribal Council’s attorney.

RST Council set a date for the second ethics hearing for April 14, 2015. This complaint was one I had filed against Scott based on several complaints from tribal members. I filed the complaint on behalf of RST and its members who were denied due process and had their rights violated.

I presented my complaint to Council supported by witnesses and the facts based on evidence provided. The hearing was open to the public and most of it televised on RST Channel 93.

When the motion was made, I was unable to vote because I had filed the complaint. But all 16 council reps present that day voted in favor, none opposed, to removing Cyril Scott as president and disqualifying him from ever seeking office again.

I applaud the courage of council members for taking a stand for the Oyate. One of the biggest issues regarding this whole ethics process was the council having to spend money on a lawyer. The fact that Cyril Scott disagreed with the ethics process and attempted twice to sue the council in tribal court made it necessary for us to hire an attorney. The council had to protect the process and stand up for its laws, so it was Cyril Scott who cost RST money by suing and requiring it to defend itself.

I have read and heard various opinions on whether RST Council has the authority to remove a sitting president. Cyril Scott, by filing in court, forced the court to interpret our Constitution & Bylaws. But based on litigation and court orders that followed, it was deemed RST Council does indeed have the authority to remove a tribal president.

Addressing Rumors

Despite various public rumors against me for filing the ethics complaint—like me stealing $14,000 from the tribe as alleged by Cyril Scott—any tribal member can go to RST Finance to verify this never happened. Rumors are a part of being an elected official and this will always happen. I took a stand from day one as a council rep with a few other reps from the 2012 election. Corruption had always been kept under the radar, but since the 2014 election there is a unity within the Tribal Council to address corruption in government, and the saying, “Enough is enough,” is used quit frequently.

 2015 Election

I would like to take this time to formally announce I will be seeking reelection to the RST Council. I have received an overwhelming number of calls and suggestions asking that I run for reelection. I accept your requests and I won’t let you down.

I have always taken a stand against corruption, and stood up for tribal members and for employee rights. I will not take credit for changes being made at the tribal level as it took a unified majority of the council to make this happen. One vote can’t make things happen; it takes a collaborative effort.

I will always stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves, the quiet ones who were intimidated or bullied, just as I have spoken up for those this past term. My loyalty has always been to the Oyate. A politician is loyal to individuals, but a leader is loyal to all. And there is a big difference between a politician and a leader.

For me, the Oyate will always come first, and will continue to be the driving force behind positive changes happening with recent decisions being made on the council floor.

Wopila.

/s/ Rep. Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln

RST Council

Antelope Community

—Rep. Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln Jr. is serving his third year on the RST Council, representing Antelope. He is up for reelection in the summer of 2015.

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