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PINE RIDGE — The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council will meet Thursday, Aug. 14, to address the resignation of police officers and other public-safety issues on the reservation.
"We are not pointing fingers," Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "We have difficult issues to address, and we are going to deal with them in an orderly manner that serves the best interest of the tribe."

Yellow Bird Steele said he and his staff are working to reduce tensions and provide stability for reservation law enforcement in the aftermath of a dispute Tuesday involving tribal police officers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Rapid City said it sent agents about midday Tuesday to Pine Ridge to deal with a situation between Oglala Sioux Tribe public safety officers, the police chief and tribal council members.

Steele said tribal council members met with tribal police officers Tuesday to hear grievances relating to federal budget cuts that have reduced the reservation police force by half and increased working hours of remaining police officers.

"Tensions boiled over, and a scuffle broke out," Yellow Bird Steele said. "Approximately one-half of the remaining police force resigned."

To address the situation, Steele said that a number of certified officers working for the Tribal Parks Board as game wardens have been assigned to public safety duties.

"We are taking immediate steps to alleviate the shortage of police officers caused by the resignations of nearly 30 police officers," he said. "By temporarily reassigning the game wardens and receiving additional officers ... from other reservations by the BIA, we will be able to provide adequate protection for our people through this difficult period," Yellow Bird Steele said.

He said the blame lies with the federal government.

"The U.S. government and its citizens have pillaged our homeland by taking billions and billions of dollars worth of natural resources out of the ground, and the government has failed as a trustee to provide the 'consideration' necessary to provide police protection on the reservation," he said.


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