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|Thursday, 28 August, 2014|
Tribal officer fired over stun gun incident
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — An Oglala Sioux police officer has been fired for improperly using a stun gun, and the police chief's job might also be in jeopardy.
Cpl. Becki Sotherland was fired Thursday for an Aug. 15 incident in which she used a Taser several times on a man lying on the ground in Manderson, Tribal Councilman Garfield Steele told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1oYwR73). A passer-by shot video and posted it online, drawing attention to the incident.
Sotherland is being investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Neither federal agency is commenting. A telephone listing for Sotherland couldn't be found and it wasn't immediately clear Friday if she has an attorney.
Sotherland had a good record with no disciplinary actions in her 21/2 years with the department, according to Chief Ron Duke. He said her good record was one of the reasons she was promoted to corporal about a month ago.
The Tribal Council's law and order committee is recommending Duke be fired for lack of leadership, according to Steele. The council and the tribe's Department of Public Safety both would have to agree.
Duke said it would be unfair for him to be fired “because somebody made a bad decision,'' and that he will fight any effort to remove him.
The man who was shot with the stun gun, 32-year-old Jeffrey Eagle Bull, was not seriously hurt. He posted bond Monday on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer. A phone listing for him could not be found.
Oglala Sioux leader Gerald One Feather dies
OGLALA, S.D. (AP) — Gerald One Feather, the legendary Oglala Sioux leader, former tribal president and tireless advocate for educational opportunities, has died. He was 76.
Longtime friend Tom Katus told The Associated Press that One Feather died Thursday at a Rapid City hospital. Katus said One Feather had a massive stroke while on dialysis in Pine Ridge before being taken to the hospital.
One Feather was born in 1938 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one of the poorest places in America, but rose to become a respected tribal leader in and outside of the reservation. He met with U.S. presidents, spoke on behalf of indigenous people before a United Nations group and helped Native Americans enter higher education.
“He was a visionary,'' Katus said. “But unlike a lot of folks who are visionaries and never accomplish anything, he was very pragmatic and accomplished a great deal.''
One Feather was elected Oglala Lakota Tribal President in 1970, making him the youngest to hold that position in tribal history.
One Feather enrolled at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell in 1956. He left home with $20 and became a linebacker on the football team to secure free room and board.
That fall, he was one of the drivers who took Democrat George McGovern around the state during his run for a U.S. House seat.
“On election eve, I drove McGovern to a television station in Sioux Falls where he made a final appeal ...'' One Feather wrote a decade ago in a brief autobiography. ``His door-to-door campaigning in virtually every town in South Dakota brought him through with a `squeaker' win.''
One Feather also wrote that he had three pillars in his life: spiritual, political and academic.
He spent years in tribal government before becoming president, and was heavily criticized during his tenure as tribal councilman for banning the sale of alcohol on the reservation.
“He was ridiculed by some who wanted alcohol to be legalized,'' One Feather's daughter, Sandra, told the Rapid City Journal. ``But it's one of those things that were underlying, that people didn't talk about much publicly. You don't want to admit you're an alcoholic or that your people have that problem.''
The ban remained in effect until residents voted to overturn it last August.
One Feather also was an advocate for education, helping start the Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota, and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, based in Alexandria, Virginia.
Last year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Colorado-Boulder before a standing ovation of a crowd of 40,000.
One Feather also helped establish the National Tribal Chairman's Association with support from other tribal chairmen in the U.S. and Canada, as well as served as vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, the American Friends Service Committee and the South Dakota Indian Affairs Committee.
“I've worked for many presidential candidates ... (Walter) Mondale, (George) McGovern, (Michael) Dukakis, all relatively impressive people,'' Katus said. ``None of them could touch Gerald.''
Navajo president fails to make it through primary
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona (AP) — Navajo President Ben Shelly's hopes for a second term were dashed Tuesday when he failed to make it through the tribe's primary election.
Navajo voters chose to send former President Joe Shirley Jr. and one-time Arizona Rep. Chris Deschene to the November general election. They were among 17 candidates vying for the top elected post on the country's largest American Indian reservation.
Rounding out the top five were Navajo lawmaker Russell Begaye; Donald Benally, the third-place finisher in the 2010 primary; and Navajo lawmaker Kenneth Maryboy. Shelly placed seventh. The results are unofficial until certified by the tribe's elections office.
Shirley, of Chinle, sought a third consecutive term in 2010 but was barred by tribal law that states Navajo presidents are limited to two back-to-back terms. He entered this year's race intent on getting another chance to overhaul the tribal government. Shirley spearheaded the tribe's first successful ballot initiative to reduce the Navajo Nation Council from 88 to 24 members and secure a presidential line-item veto.
"One of the things we've said is we're looking for honest leadership, leadership with integrity and people who can get things done," Shirley said. "I think that had a big bearing on our win."
The latter part of his tenure was marked by a tumultuous relationship with the Tribal Council over the ballot initiative, a set of traditional Navajo laws and the tribe's business dealings with two companies that operated on the reservation.
Deschene, of LeChee, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has worked as an engineer and lawyer, and served one term in the Arizona House. In 2010, he won the Democratic nomination for Arizona secretary of state but lost to Republican Ken Bennett.
Deschene has said he would work to defend the Navajo way of life, and protect the environment and the tribe's natural resources. But he said it's a shared responsibility.
"Tonight is a representation of our nation wanting to go another direction," he told Navajo radio station KTNN.
Shelly had said a vote for him would ensure continuity in the tribal government. During his tenure, the tribe fully passed federal reviews for its Head Start program for the first time in two decades, received a roughly $1 billion settlement to clean up uranium contaminated sites and began producing tribal identification cards.
But Shelly's staff was plagued by turnover and his speaking gaffes. The same things he counted as successes, including the purchase of a coal mine and a water rights agreement that failed to pass the Tribal Council, were highly criticized.
"It's disappointing to see that the accomplishments were not the overriding reason that people voted," said Shelly's campaign manager, Deswood Tome.
Whoever becomes the next president will oversee 12 executive branch directors, about two dozen staff members, and the majority of the tribal budget. The president earns $55,000 a year, and wields important influence in Indian Country.
Other tribes have looked at the Navajo Nation as a model for incorporating traditional laws into the court system and for securing regulatory authority over air and water from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The president represents the tribe to state, county and federal agencies. However, the post generally is seen as less powerful than the Tribal Council.
Candidates do not run on party lines and can receive campaign contributions from Navajos only once they file for the office. Candidates spent long hours campaigning on the 27,000 square-mile reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and ran political advertisements mostly on the radio.
Some of the presidential debates were conducted in Navajo, making it important for candidates to be fluent in the language to capture voters.