Thursday, March 03, 2011


Last week marked the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Wounded Knee.  Some things have changed since then.  Too many things have not.  The struggle continues.  

The first article below which provides background for the second comes from The Speed of Dreams.  The second is from Censored News.

Strong Heart Warrior Society: Oglala Tribal Council Snubs Elders Again

Posted: February 25, 2011 by Rowland Túpac Keshena in Struggles: Indigenous
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or
MEDIA RELEASE Feb 13, 2011
PINE RIDGE, South Dakota – The ongoing effort to get accountability for a series of physical and psychological abuses against Lakota elders on Pine Ridge continues to be stalled by Oglala tribal officials who fear investigations into years of graft and corruption within tribal government.
Following the most recent revelation of elder abuse in the Porcupine Elderly Meals Program, elders have met regularly with the traditional Strong Heart Warrior Society in order to explore ways to get accountability. Even tribal officials that have voiced support for the elders are now back tracking, likely out of fear of retaliation by corrupt families and officials.
Porcupine District President Virgil Bush and Porcupine Representative Scott Weston announced a hearing for the elders on February 21st - but the hearing never happened even though elders had gathered to attend. The meeting has reportedly been delayed to February 28th though activists are skeptical.
“Tribal government has always eroded its position,’’ explained Strong Heart Warrior headsman Duane Martin Sr.. “You cannot tell community members you are upholding policies and procedures but then deny elders due process.”
The truth depth of corruption within the Oglala Tribal Council, as well as its cultural separation from traditional elders and the Lakota people, is becoming clear to those even outside of Pine Ridge.
“So we have become our own worst enemies, we don’t listen to what our elders have to teach us,” added Martin.
Pine Ridge elders, many of whom count Lakota as their primary language, have made complaints and filed grievances to the best of their ability. But the tribal council is playing a cat and mouse game of delay and denial, saying the elders fate lies solely at their discretion. Elders and activists point out that Council member Deborah Rooks-Cook still remains in her council position despite her admission she pushed and threatened elders with a gun at a secret council meeting.
The Strong Heart Warrior Society points out the corruption in the tribal government is a reflection of the distrust, dishonesty, and cultural genocide that has been brought to Pine Ridge and other reservations by white colonization and Christianity. Nearly ¾ of the Lakota people have lost their language, and the traditional language is on the verge of extinction in Pine Ridge. Few bother listening to the traditional elders – which is part of the cultural system that keeps elders healthy, engaged, and valued.
“We never take the opportunity to listen to the elders anymore – to hear them,” Martin said. “They get upset and angry – into stress modes  – then they get sick, some of them die.”
The Strong Heart Warrior Society is calling upon all people who support Lakota elders, Lakota sovereignty, and accountability to send letters to tribal council officials as well as to the U.S. Department of Justice and President Obama demanding a full-fledged investigation into the corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs supported Oglala Tribal Government.
“The laws of the Oglala Tribal Council don’t belong to our people, but to White America. Only by taking on traditional Lakota customary law can our people be truly sovereign and free.”

Porcupine Occupation: Lakota elders, warrior societies, to take over elderly meals program

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye - Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or

Last night Red Society grandmother Wilma Thin Elk was evicted from tribal housing by tribal council member Kathy Janis and tribal police under bogus charges of child abuse. This morning, the road to the home of grandfather Enoch Brings Plenty, has been cut so that he cannot get out to help lead the protest occupation.
Last night tribal police visited Strong Heart headsman Duane Martin Sr.'s home until he asked them to leave.
We need you to act now. We need you to bear witness. We need you to understand the truth and to not believe the lies of the corrupt tribal government officials who are perpetuating these injustices. The Strong Heart Warrior Society is asking all people to help us spread the news about what is happening right now.

Elders, Warrior Societies, Oyate to Take-Over Elderly Meals Program in

Porcupine Community, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD – Mere hours after
dozens had gathered for the “Liberation Day” celebration of the 1973
Occupation of Wounded Knee, traditional elders and the Strong Heart
Warrior Society announced a new occupation is planned for 1 pm Friday
when a group of elders, warriors, activists and concerned citizens
will take over the Elderly Meals Program building in Porcupine

The planned elder-led march and occupation will be supported by the
Strong Heart Warrior Society as well as the Urban Warrior Society from
Rapid City and various chapters of the American Indian Movement (AIM)
including representatives of the AIM Governing Council.

The occupation is the direct result of a failure of Porcupine District
and tribal government officials to meet with the Elders and their
advocates to discuss a wide range of elder abuse complaints at the
program and to begin to implement much needed changes.

Complaints include unsanitary conditions, inedible food, physical and
psychological abuse of elders, refusal of meals to certain elders, the
mismanagement of program funds and resources, law enforcement abuse,
and the illegal selling of drugs and alcohol by Porcupine center staff
while Elders are present.

“They never treat us good when we go to the Elderly Meals,” said 91-
year-old Cecilia Martin, who is one of two surviving American Indian
Movement Grandmothers from the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation. “For
over five months I haven’t gone there because the food is no good.”

The current elderly meals staff led by Winifred Janis has taken
numerous retaliatory measures against elders and others speaking out
about abusive and illegal activities. Elmer White Face, 71, was
arrested in February for allegedly“verbally assaulting” Janis at the
center despite the fact he was born mute! Three members of the Janis/
Quiver family physically beat Wilson Coleman Jr., an employee of the
center, after he spoke out about illegal activities including alcohol
bootlegging and the selling of drugs in the Elder Center.

For weeks the Strong Heart Warrior Society, at the request of their
elders, has increased pressure on tribal government by informing the
media and asking concerned people to contact tribal council and meals
program officials to investigate the Porcupine elderly meals program.
Despite numerous calls to tribal, state and federal officials no
action has been undertaken.

Even as late as yesterday, Oglala Tribal Government Vice President
Thomas Poor Bear said, “We don’t have a problem with our Elders.”

“The people are behind us - we are going to walk in and takeover that
place,” said 67 year-old Enoch Brings Plenty, whose wife has been
denied meals by the current meals center staff. He added, “We are
going to do all these things for the elders, so they can have peace.”

Changes to Elderly Meals Program including the construction of a
newer, cleaner building have been rebuffed, delayed, and denied time
and again by officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supported
Oglala Tribal Council which has said the elder’s fate lies solely in
their hands.

“They (tribal council officials) are totally in it in it for
themselves – they are totally for themselves,” explained Brings

“All of these demands have been met with a certain resistance because
they (tribal officials) are not taking the elders very seriously,
“added Duane Martin Sr., leader of the Strong Heart Warrior Society.
“They are living in denial because the poor people, the elders, the
children are left without.”

Elders and activists say the abuse and corruption in the Elderly Meals
Program is a microcosm of abuse and corruption present in many of the
tribal government programs and within the Tribal Government itself.
Corrupt officials and their families work together to threaten and
punish those who seek accountability while at the same time soliciting
additional Federal, State and local funding as well as so-called
“heart donations” from concerned people around the world.

Concerned elders, and others who have stood up to this corruption have
been the targets of violence, verbal threats, and the denial of tribal
government services such as housing and winter heating fuel. These are
the same conditions that led to the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee as
well as two previous takeovers of the Red Cloud Building – one in
2009, and a nine-month long occupation in 2000.

“I thank everyone for everything so that this works out good, and I
hope so too,” shared Grandmother Cecilia Martin. “But right now we
need a lot of help.”

Elders and warrior society members have appealed outside of the tribe
for investigations into widespread graft and corruption but some
government agencies are claiming their hands are tied. They said they
are unable to work directly with community activists and traditional
groups because they must work through the corrupted BIA system of
tribal government to implement changes.

Duane Martin Sr. explained further why the occupation was necessary,
"The tribal court system, along with the tribal government, doesn’t
really administer the change in procedures that would create a healthy
system. They are all unhealthy – the police department is unhealthy,
the tribal government is unhealthy, the BIA is unhealthy, and now the
Meals for the Elderly is unhealthy!”

The Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is the size
of the state of Connecticut. Due to decades of abuse, corruption and
colonial enforcement, Pine Ridge faces epidemic rates of suicide,
alcohol and drug abuse, elder abuse, and poverty. Life expectancy for
Lakota men is below 40 years old. Nearly ¾ of the Lakota people have
lost their language, and the traditional language is on the verge of
extinction in Pine Ridge. The reservation has one of the highest rates
of unsolved murders that are widely attributed to violent retaliation
against those seeking an end to corruption and an assertion of Lakota


Cante Tenza Okolakiciye also known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society
of the Lakota Nation is an ancient Lakota warrior society as well as a
broad-based civil rights movement that works to protect, enforce and
restore treaty rights, civil rights, and sovereignty of Native people
and their communities across Turtle Island. In addition to activist
efforts to protect the land and people, each year Cante Tenza collects
and freely distributes shoes, winter coats, school supplies, food, and
other support to Oglala Lakota elders, children and families.
"Lakota Oyate" on Facebook. @CanteTenza on

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