The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently selected Scott James to fill the position of attorney general, reports KOTA News. James was previously a prosecutor for Kiowa County in Kansas, where he was elected to serve two terms. This will be James’ first time working as an attorney in Indian Country.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Attorney General position has been vacant since March 2017. The position was previously held be Tatewin Means.
To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
During the 2016 legislative session, Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, delivered the first State of the Tribes address. The address was delivered before a joint session of the South Dakota Legislature and provided a review of key issues impacting the nine tribal nations that share South Dakota’s geography.
In his address, Chairman Frazier spoke of many timely topics, including Medicaid expansion and infrastructure in Indian Country, including county roadways which weave through tribal lands. Frazier also spoke of the number of suicides on reservations in South Dakota, as well as efforts the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was taking to address the methamphetamine epidemic within its borders—namely banishing members who are convicted of dealing, making or trafficking the drug.
The State of the Tribes Address is a tradition that has continued throughout the remainder of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Administration. In 2017, Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, delivered the address. Just last week, Chairman Boyd Gorneau of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe provided remarks before the South Dakota Legislature.
On January 3, 1961, Ben Reifel became the first Lakota man to serve in the United States House of Representatives. As a congressman, Reifel was a strong advocate for education, veterans affairs, and the humanities. Reifel was the first American Indian to serve South Dakota in Congress.
Although Reifel did not complete the 8th grade until he was sixteen years old, he was able to attain degrees in both chemistry and dairy science from South Dakota State University. During his undergraduate career, Reifel had joined the Army Reserves and later served in World War II. Reifel went on to earn both his master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University after the war. He was one of the first American Indians to earn a doctoral degree.
After working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Pine Ridge Reservation, Reifel ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican. Reifel won his first campaign and went on to serve five terms. As a congressman, Reifel advocated for education in tribal communities, and advocated for combining county and tribal schools so that both Native and non-Native students could learn together.
Reifel returned to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work following his last term in Congress. Reifel died at the age of 83 in Sioux Falls, following a battle with cancer. Shortly after his death and to honor Reifel’s legacy, Congress renamed the Cedar Pass Visitor Center to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Additionally, Governor Dennis Daugaard declared September 19 as Ben Reifel Day in South Dakota in 2017.
On December 21, 1981 Bear Butte, located east of Sturgis, South Dakota, was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Bear Butte is one of just over 2,500 National Historic Landmarks across the nation. National Historic Landmarks must be “historic places that possess exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States” and may be buildings, sites, structures objects or districts.
Known as Mato Paha by Lakota people—and as Noahvose by Cheyenne people—the butte is not a butte by definition but is instead the remnant of ancient volcanic activity. Bear Butte sits 1,200 feet above the land that surrounds it, at a total of 4,426 feet above sea level. The result of a volcano that failed to fully erupt, the land feature is also a place of deep significance to a variety of indigenous peoples from the region. The Cheyenne spiritual leader Sweet Medicine is said to have received the basis of Cheyenne spiritual and moral customs on Bear Butte, while Lakota and Dakota people have held various ceremonies there.
By the end of World War II, homesteader Ezra Bovee was the legal landowner of Bear Butte. Early in 1945, Northern Cheyenne individuals requested to hold a ceremony at Bear Butte to pray for the war’s end. Bouvee welcomed their presence and became a steadfast supporter or preserving the butte. Bouvee went so far as to spark interest in making the butte a national park. While the federal government did not show interest in creating a national park, the South Dakota legislature set the area aside as a state park in 1961. Four years later, the butte was designated as National Landmark.
On December 14, 1935, the Oglala Sioux Tribe narrowly accepted an Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) constitution, followingly various lengthy discussions. The Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes passed IRA constitutions that were similar in content, although their political district boundaries varied.
Passage of the IRA constitutions was strongly encouraged by the Office of Indian Affairs, which had not previously been heavily involved in the creation of or revisions to tribal constitutions. Previously, the Office of Indian Affairs chose not to insert itself into tribal governance decisions, believing instead that revisions were better made by tribal community members and not outside governmental forces.
The adoption of the IRA constitution was not the first form of constitutional governance approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Having a keen knowledge of constitutional governance, the Tribe adopted its first written constitution in 1921. Drafters the first constitution hoped the new form of governance would encourage political participation among tribal members. When completed, James H. Red Cloud submitted the document to reservation agent Henry Tidwell, who thought Red Cloud and his supporters were “troublesome, unprogressive old men.” Tidwell did not approve the constitution, as its terms fell outside of the philosophy of the Office of Indian Affairs.
A new constitution—which later became known as the Committee of 21—was adopted after Superintendent Jermark noted that the council meetings under the first constitution were called sporadically and believed tribal members to be disillusioned with the document. After the new constitution was written, Indian Affairs Commissioner John Burke revised the governing document to include a provision to allow the reservation superintendent to call special meetings of the tribal council. The constitution was later overwhelmingly rejected by tribal members and council delegates in favor of the first constitution which had been written by the tribe without external involvement.
Efforts are currently underway to reform the Oglala Sioux Tribal constitution. Read more about this process on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Oglala Sioux Tribal police officers have noticed a significant rise in bootlegging in the Pine Ridge Reservation, reports KOTA News. The rise in bootlegging follows the decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court which resulted in end of beer sales Whiteclay, which is located just outside of the reservation.
Police officers have reported finding water bottles filled instead with clear alcohol such as vodka and even hairspray and rubbing alcohol. Those purchasing the bootlegged alcohol pay as much as $10 per bottle.
The Pine Ridge Police Department has just 32 police officers to patrol the reservation, which is similarly sized to the state of Connecticut, making enforcement of the ban on alcohol difficult at best.
Learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
Native American Heritage Month was first established in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Since then, the month-long celebration has been reauthorized annually by each American president.
November offers everyone an opportunity to learn more about Native American histories and cultures. This November, take a few moments to learn more about the demographic characteristics of American Indians in South Dakota by perusing our infographic.
For more information on Native Americans in South Dakota, visit our Native Data Series as well as our various charts and graphs on the South Dakota Dashboard. Download a full resolution version of this infographic at the bottom of this page.
On November 20, 2013 American Indian code talkers from 33 tribal nations were honored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. During the ceremony, 67 South Dakotan Native American code talkers were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for the their efforts in World War II. The code talkers hailed from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe.
In 2008, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Code Talker Recognition Act. This act authorized the creation of the gold medals to honor the Native American code talkers. Each tribe designed their own medals, which were produced by the U.S. Mint. The Congressional Gold Medal of Honor is the highest award that Congress can give.
Several Senators and Representatives spoke during the November 2013 ceremony, including then Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. A member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Johnson delivered remarks honoring the code talkers he was able to meet during his time as an elected official. During his remarks, Senator Johnson noted the valiant efforts of the Native American code talkers during the war, although many were not yet citizens of the United States. While some American Indians were granted citizenship through landownership, marriage to a non-Native, and by other treaties and special agreements, all Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act.
According to a ruling issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge, South Dakota has been placed on “immediate jeopardy” status. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, actions taken by the hospital have caused or are likely to cause death or injury to its patients. While on immediate jeopardy status, the hospital will not be able to bill Medicare and Medicaid eligible services to the government.
Documents released by CMS indicated the immediate jeopardy status was invoked following the death of a diabetic male patient who was incorrectly diagnosed at the Pine Ridge hospital.
To learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
Sioux San – Rapid City Indian Health Service (IHS) Facility
The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
IHS is an agency that operates within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The United States Constitution, along with numerous treaties between the United States federal government and sovereign American Indian tribal nations established a trust responsibility that requires the government to provide certain services to Native Americans. Healthcare is one of the services included in the United States’ trust responsibility.
Previously, American Indian healthcare was overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as provided in the Snyder Act of 1921. Seven years later, the BIA began contracting healthcare services through the Public Health Service and continued to do so for approximately 30 years thereafter. In 1955, Congress removed Native American health services from the Department of Interior and placed it under the Department of Health and Human Services. With this placement, the Indian Health Service came into fruition. Today, IHS provides health services for approximate 2.2 million people within 567 recognized tribes in 36 states.
Rapid City, South Dakota is part of the Great Plains Area of IHS. This area includes South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. The Great Plains Area currently includes seven hospitals, eight health centers, and additional smaller clinics. Seventeen Tribes share the same geography as these states. Approximately 130,000 individuals receive care in the Great Plains Area of IHS.
Rapid City Boarding School/Sioux Sanitarium/Rapid City IHS Timeline
|1898||Rapid City Indian School was created for acculturation for Native American children from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. They required them to speak English at the school.|
|1929 - 1930||1930 - The school had a large number of students with tuberculosis and became a Sanitarium School for those students.|
|1933||The Civil Conservation Corp used the facility for a federally funded work relief program.|
|1939||The location became the Sioux Sanitarium for tuberculosis for Native Americans.|
|1943||The antibiotic for TB was discovered.|
|1955||The Indian Health Service (IHS) took administrative jurisdiction over Sioux San.|
|1966||Congress appropriated funds for the pilot IHS Clinic in Rapid City.|
|2001||Indian Health Board of the Black Hills created to address issues of care for those eligible.|
|2002||Indian Health Board of the Black Hills brings forward issues of patient care.|
|2003||A $4 million dollar renovation is started and expected to be complete in 2005. It includes more lab and x-ray space as well as additional handicapped-accessible restrooms, and more exam rooms.|
|2004||Aberdeen Area Office proposes closing the Sioux San inpatient services.|
|2004||IHS users bring their unrest about available funding and services to a budget session with local administrators.|
|2006||IHS officials sign program justification document to begin a federal process that will help build a replacement facility.|
|2007||IHS officials propose an expansion that will be complete in 2012 under the best circumstances which are unlikely.|
|2009||Sioux San Hospital cancelled all appointments to prevent a further H1N1 outbreak.|
|2010||Sioux San Hospital’s Hope Lodge caught on fire and destroyed the substance-abuse center because there was no extinguisher system available.|
|2016||IHS investigates quality of care concerns regarding Sioux San Hospital.|
|2017||IHS announces Sioux San will close Sioux San inpatient and emergency services to make way for a new hospital to be completed by 2022.|
Additional Links and Resources
Crow Peak Hall on the Black Hills State University campus has a new name. As reported by KOTA News, the hall was recently renamed Bordeaux Hall in honor of Dr. Lionel Bordeaux who is an alumnus of the university and later went on to earn his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Minnesota. Bordeaux then utilized his education and became the president of Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation.
Bordeaux has served as the president of Sinte Gleska University for over 44 years, making him one of the longest-serving university presidents in the United States. Bordeaux is also a member of the South Dakota Hall of Fame and has previously served on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council.
Read more about 0education on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Fifty-two years ago, Billy Mills charged across a rain-soaked track and set a new record pace for the Olympic 10,000 meter race in Tokyo, Japan. Not only did Mills set a new record, but he also became the first American to win gold for the race, and still holds the title today.
Billy Mills was born in 1936 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Orphaned at a young age, Mills frequently recalls advice given to him by his late father, who told Mills he could “rise from broken wings and one day fly like an eagle.” Mills discovered his running ability in high school and was determined that the Olympic games are where he would soar.
Some credits Mills’ win to the heavy, soddened track. The 1964 Olympics was the last before all terrain tracks were utilized. A period of heavy rain had muddied the track, disabling many runners who were accustomed to ideal running conditions. During the final stretch of his race, Mills also made the decision to run on the outermost lane, which was not as sodden as the rest of the track.
Mills ran the 10K race in 28 minutes and 24 seconds, outpacing the previous record by over seven seconds. Only four other Americans have ranked highly in the 10,000 meter race: Max Truex who placed 6th in 1960, Frank Shorter who placed 5th in 1972 and Galen Rupp who placed 2nd in 2012.
At the urging of longtime Native Sun News editor Tim Giago, Governor George Mickelson proclaimed 1990 as the Year of Reconciliation to honor of the 100th anniversary of Wounded Knee. The Year of Reconciliation was intended to health the relationships between the state and tribal governments in South Dakota.
However, that was not the only challenge Giago posed to Governor Mickelson. Giago also requested that Governor Mickelson take up an effort to nix Columbus Day in South Dakota in favor of Native Americans’ Day. With a strong lobbying effort, the South Dakota Legislature was swayed to rename the day.
On October 8, 1990 Mickelson invited Giago to celebrate the Year of Reconciliation at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The event also commemorated the first Native Americans’ Day, which would be held later that week. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to rename Columbus Day in favor of celebrating the rich histories and cultures of American Indians.
Today, several states and municipalities have chosen to rename Columbus Day, with the most recent additions including the state of Vermont as well as Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado. Meanwhile, the states of Alaska and Hawaii have never officially celebrated Columbus Day. Alaska officially adopted an Indigenous Peoples Day in 2015, while Hawaii has celebrated Discoverer’s Day, in remembrance of the Polynesian explorers who originally settled on the islands.
The history and land tenure of a portion of West Rapid City formerly belonging to the Rapid City Indian Boarding School, is currently under evaluation by researchers and government officials. As reported by KOTA News, William Bear Shield, Chairman of the Sioux San Unified Health Board, has stated that the Regional Behavioral Health Center, Clarkson Mountain View Health Facility, and the Canyon Lake Senior Center, in West Rapid City are in violation of a 1948 federal law outlining to whom and for what purposes the land could be used.
The boarding school closed in 1933 and later became as a sanitarium for Native American tuberculosis patients. After the tuberculosis epidemic had ended, Congress appropriated funds for the facility to be used as a health clinic for Native American patients in 1966.
Under the terms of the 1948 act that broke up the boarding's school's 1,200 acres, the land could be made available to the city of Rapid City, the South Dakota National Guard, the Rapid City School District, to be sold for use by religious institutions, or slated for use by "needy Indians." Bear Shield believes that Behavior Health, Clarkson, and the Senior Center to not fit these terms and, per the 1948 act, should revert to federal ownership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs agrees with Bear Shield and recently issued a letter declaring its support for a mutually beneficial solution.
Learn more about the Rapid City Indian Boarding School lands at the Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors (MOA) website. Past stories on Native American issues are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
On June 29, 1911, President Taft signed a proclamation which opened over 450,000 acres on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, as reported by The Evening Times in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The proclamation also opened approximately 150,000 acres in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Just six years earlier, the Burke Act was signed into law. The Burke Act amended the General Allotment Act to allow for the relinquishment of tribal lands for sale to non-Native individuals. Policymakers of this time believed that Native Americans would not make adequate use of the land, and so excess land was parcelled off to non-tribal members.
While the proclamation was issued at the end of June, the lands would not be available to non-Natives until October of 1911. Those seeking parcels of the land could request it at several locations, including Rapid City, Gregory, Chamberlain and Dallas.
Removing parcels of land from tribal jurisdiction and placing them into fee status resulted in a checkerboard effect in both Pine Ridge and Rosebud. The intermingling of trust lands, fee lands which all lie within reservation boundaries creates a myriad of jurisdictional issues and often hampers tribes’ ability to use the land for traditional and other purposes.
The South Dakota Board of Regents will consider naming two facilities on the Black Hills State University campus after American Indian leaders, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The library on the campus would be renamed after Lionel R. Bordeaux and the American Indian Center would be named after Jace DeCory.
Lionel Bordeaux, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is currently the president of Sinte Gleska University in Mission, and is also one of the longest-serving university presidents in the United States. Bordeaux earned his undergraduate degree from Black Hills State University in history and political science, and went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in educational psychology. Bordeaux earned his doctoral degree in education administration from the University of Minnesota.
Jace DeCory, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has been a faculty member at Black Hills State University since 1984. DeCory received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and American Indian Studies from the University of South Dakota. She went on to earn her master’s degree in counseling and guidance from South dakota State University.
If the naming request is approved, BHSU will hold dedication ceremonies this fall.
To read more news higher education in the region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Over half of the cases handled by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota were comprised by violent offenses within the boundaries of the state’s reservations, according to KOTA News. Assaults comprised the largest percentage of crimes on tribal lands handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office at 37 percent, followed by drug charges at 18 percent. Of the total number of defendants charged on each reservation, 29 percent were from Pine Ridge, 28 percent were from Rosebud and 22 percent were from Cheyenne River.
Under the Major Crimes Act of 1885, many violent crimes (including most instances of assault) on tribal lands fall under federal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of crimes committed on tribal lands also varies by whether or not the perpetrator and victim are Indian or non-Indian, as defined by federal law. More information on jurisdiction on tribal lands is available from the Tribal Court Clearinghouse, a project of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.
Additionally, tribal courts have limited sentencing authority. Until recently, tribal courts could not impose more than 1 year of imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both per the Indian Civil Rights Act. However, under the Tribal Law and Order Act tribes can opt to be able to impose sentences up to three years and fines of $15,000. Several conditions must be met in order to impose the higher fees and imprisonment terms. More information on the Tribal Law and Order Act is available at the Justice Department’s website.
The U.S. Attorney also handles crimes outside of tribal jurisdictions. Drug charges off the reservation comprised 11 percent of the total cases handled by the U.S. Attorney. Immigration comprised 7 percent of cases filed, and white collar crime and official corruption each comprised 5 percent of total crimes not committed in Indian Country. The full contents of the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota’s 2016 Annual Report are available on the Justice Department’s website.
The South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition is turning to Wyoming to get ideas to improve the current costs incurred, reports the Rapid City Journal. The coalition was formed in 2015 and members were appointed by Governor Daugaard. The purpose of the group is looking into options to expand Medicaid for South Dakotans.
Wyoming hopes to save about $2 million by changing how the Indian Health Service (IHS) refers patients. Last year Wyoming spent nearly $32 million on patients referrals to non-IHS services and facilities. A shared savings approach could be one option, but would require collaboration between the state and IHS.
For more information about the Indian Health Services, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives. You can learn more about the South Dakota Medicaid Expansion by visiting the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub.
On May 4th at 6:30pm, the Journey Museum in Rapid City will host An Inconvenient Truth: The history behind the Sioux San lands and West Rapid City. According to KOTA News, the presentation began with an investigation into students who died and were buried at the Rapid City Indian School where The Rapid City Indian Health Service (Sioux San) now stands. The investigation led researchers to delve deeper into the history of the land in the area, in addition to reconnecting families with the children who attended and are buried on the Sioux San lands.
In the 1970s, Rapid City looked at creating a cultural park and museum near Sioux San. An archaeological consultation turned up nothing of historical or cultural note in the area examined. The report comes from the wider Proposed Sioux Indian cultural center, Rapid City, South Dakota : environmental assessment memorandum available in the Rapid City Public Library's local history room.
Past news stories on Sioux San are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
At the April 18 meeting of the Fall River County Commission, the Oglala Sioux Tribe requested a section of land, known as Flint Hills, be placed into trust, reports the Hot Springs Star. The land is located near the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe made a request to place the Flint Hills land into trust seven years ago. Fall River County as well as Attorney General Marty Jackley denied the request. The Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as the Tribe objected to the request, but no formal appeal was made.
Fall River County Commissioners raised concerns about jurisdictional issues for law enforcement if the land were placed into federal trust status. State’s attorney Jim Sword indicated that a federal arrangement was made for law enforcement at Pe Sla in the Black Hills, which was recently placed into trust.
While the county did not issue a decision on the trust issue, the Flint Hills land was placed into agricultural status for 2017 at the subsequent equalization hearing.
To read more about Fall River County and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit each community’s profile on the Black Hills Knowledge Network. You can read previous news articles about the Oglala Sioux Tribe at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.