Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION In a terse letter addressed to US Attorney General Eric J. Holder and US Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, signed by President John Yellow Bird Steele, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and James "Toby" Big Boy, chairman, Law and Order Committee, Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Tribe formally rejected the "Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Community Program Assessment" that was received one month earlier on June 2.
Over Worked Pine Ridge Police Force on the Job.
The letter obtained by the Native News Network is dated July 2.
The letter indicates the Tribe's Law and Order Committee voted to reject the Community Program Assessment for "failure to comply with minimal professional standards." The Assessment was prepared, ironically, by the BIA Office of Justice Services Division of Professional Standards.
The assessment was sent to the Tribe after a one day site visit on July 11, 2011 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs "under the guise of conducting an on-site overall community needs assessment,"which consisted of a Community Programs Assessment, Tribal Court Review and Unmet Needs Assessment.
The following paragraph from the July 2 letter provides why the Community Program Assessment was formally rejected by the Tribe:
"The product supplied to the Oglala Sioux Tribe by the Office of Justice Services is unacceptable. Not only do the pervasive grammatical and typographical errors make the document difficult to read, but significant portions of the report have clearly been extracted, 'copy and paste' style, from separate documents prepared for different Tribes and simply inserted into the OST report. On the second page of the report, the document states the assessment â€˜'identified 24 programs that provide direct services to the communities on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation' before listing the 41 programs that provide services on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In the Assessment Summary of the report, which included 'implementation strategies,' the BIA recommended that law enforcement partner with service providers to develop strategies that will 'address the quality of life issues that impact crime occurring on the Wind River Reservation.'
Proper information on the unmet needs is important to all Tribes when attempting to secure proper funding levels on tribal lands, particularly from Congress.
Last August several members of the US House Committee on Appropriations made a visit to Pine Ridge and met with Tribal leadership. The Tribe had hoped to provide them with a comprehensive statement regarding the unmet needs of Tribal justice programs, including public safety and the courts, based largely on findings of the Office of Justice Services assessment."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 Oyatepeople,"
reads another portion of the four-page letter.
The letter demands a face-to-face meeting within 30 days for the BIA-Office of Justice Services to disclose its final unmet needs assessment.
posted July 16, 2012 8:10 am edt