Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION The failure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services to produce and provide the unmet needs assessment, as promised, has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of the Tribe to adequately provide the necessary services to protect and serve the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
BIA mismanagement is preventing relief for overworked
law enforcement officers and overburdened Tribal programs
The BIA Office of Justice Services entered the sovereign territory of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in July of 2011 to assess the Tribe's law enforcement and judicial services. On August 20, 2011, Deputy Director Darren Cruzan presented an incomplete draft of the unmet needs assessment to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Law and Order Committee of the Tribal Council (formerly, the Judiciary Committee), promising a final copy would be provided to the Committee a few days later.
One year later, the Law and Order Committee is still waiting on the report.
“The appalling level of unmet needs on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation continues to result in an unnecessarily high rate of crime, overworked law enforcement officers, and overburdened Tribal programs-all at the expense of the Lakota Oyate people,”
said James "Toby" Big Boy, Chairman of the Law and Order Committee.
“The withholding of information about the true levels of unmet needs has crippled the Tribe's ability to negotiate for adequate resources to remedy this situation and will worsen the serious funding shortfall.”
On June 2, 2012, nearly a year after the assessments were conducted, BIA Office of Justice Services released the community program assessment conducted by its Division of Professional Standards. Upon review of that document, the Committee promptly rejected it due to the report's
failure to comply with minimal professional standards.
“The report was not only riddled with typos and void of analytical substance, but was also an apparent 'copy and paste job' created from documents tailored not for the Oglala Sioux Tribe but for other Indian tribes,”
said Jennifer Baker, attorney representing the Law and Order Committee.
“We have concluded that it is now evident that the federal government seeks to impose a one-size-fits-all fix for what it sees as 'cookie cutter' Indian tribes.”
Chairman Big Boy explained,
“We as the Oglala Lakota Nation have a unique history, unique challenges in law enforcement, and a unique relationship with the United States government. That relationship has been, and must continue to be, a government to government relationship in which the United States recognizes the inherent sovereignty of our Nation and affords us the same respect and professionalism it shows others in the international community.”
The Tribal President and the Committee Chairman expressed their dissatisfaction through a letter on July 2, demanding a meeting with the BIA Office of Justice Services and an explanation for the withholding of the crucial unmet needs assessment.
Receiving no satisfactory response, Chairman Big Boy sent a follow-up letter to Deputy Director Cruzan on September 5, reminding him that Tribe will be re-negotiating the terms of its law enforcement and courts contracts before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Chairman Big Boy demanded that BIA Office of Justice Services provide the Committee with a copy of the unmet needs assessment immediately so that both Tribal and federal agencies are aware of the actual levels of unmet needs during the contracting process.
posted September 6, 2012 7:30 am edt