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New Oglala Tribal Council says it will move forward

RAPID CITY, S.D. ñ Members of the newly elected Oglala Sioux Tribal Council are determined to take the oath of office as scheduled and take charge of the affairs of the tribal government despite attempts by the current president to declare a new election.

Newly elected and re-elected tribal council members claim that President Alex White Plume, who attempted to declare the Nov. 7 election void and hold a new election, does not have the authority.

Phillip Good Crow, re-elected member of the tribal council, said White Plume does not have the constitutional authority to declare a new election while extending the current tribal council term beyond the two years as specified in the tribal constitution.

At the Nov. 21 tribal council meeting, White Plume declared the Nov. 7 election void, an action that was not approved by the tribal council as required. A vote was never taken at that meeting, Good Crow said.

ìWhite Plume exceeded his authority when he attempted to call a new election in his individual capacity. Election procedures are to be determined by tribal council ordinances and the presidentís authorities are limited to presiding over meetings and carrying out orders of the tribal council,î said Vice President-elect William ìShortyî Brewer.

Five representatives of the new OST administration and tribal council said they had the support of a majority of the new council and of the newly elected president, John Steele, to move forward and take the oath of office in order to create a stable government.

The tribal council certified the Nov. 7 election, which did not contain White Plumeís name. White Plume was the top vote-getter in the Oct. 3 primary election, but the results of a background check revealed White Plume was convicted of a felony in the 1980s and according to the tribal constitution could not continue as a candidate. White Plume was elected vice president in 2004 and was moved into the presidentís position when former President Cecelia Fire Thunder was impeached earlier this year.

The tribal election board removed his name six days prior to the general election, based on a background check ordered by the tribal council.

White Plumeís argument is based on the tribal election board of appealís decision to hold an entirely new election. The tribal council, however, moved to continue the election process.

ìThe judge will swear us in on December fifth,î Good Crow said.

Brewer added that White Plume does not have any authority after his two-year term is up, under the constitution, and that the current councilís term cannot be extended beyond that period, according to how that body read the constitution.

Fire Thunder organized the press conference and was acting as a constituent concerned about the future of the OST. She said White Plume needed to honor the 4,200 votes cast in the election.

ìThis new council needs to be seated to maintain stability and to deal with the issues. The people have spoken.

ìWhite Plume needs to be a gentleman and step down, clear his name and run again in two years,î Fire Thunder said.

Brewer said that because of the confusion some government programs were not signed off on and some families may feel the adverse impact of no assistance. The council members said, however, that the government was functioning.

Brewer and Good Crow said the immediate agenda for the new council will be to rewrite the election code to be more defined and also to take possible action to rewrite the tribal constitution.

ìCertain powers are not defined,î Good Crow said.

Newly elected councilman Cora Whiting said this confusion is not fair to the people who voted.

ìThere is an issue with the election, a new election code needs to be written, there is a jail that needs to be completed and opened, there is health care, law enforcement and housing issues; who is working on the other issues?î Whiting said.

Those present at the press conference agreed that White Plume acted on his own when he declared the election void and ordered a new election take place.

White Plume also did not present documents to the elections board or the tribal council that indicated his felony conviction was expunged or vacated. White Plume earlier said that he was under the assumption that because he pleaded to a lesser charge it was a misdemeanor and would, after his probation, be removed. Under current federal law the charge he is accused of would be a misdemeanor.

The usual background check involves tribal, judicial and state checks, but the tribal council in this case ordered a complete background check that extended to federal cases. Each candidate is also required to sign an affidavit to declare any past violations.

The tribal council members said they donít believe help from tribal or federal courts are needed in this case if the constitution is followed.

ìThe people want this to end. We have to grow up. Itís about letting go. Some people who didnít win the election have said they would work with the new council, 18 people canít fix Pine Ridge. White Plume has a black cloud over his head and he is now stopping the process,î Fire Thunder said.

White Plume could not be reached for comment.

RAPID CITY, S.D. ñ Members of the newly elected Oglala Sioux Tribal Council are determined to take the oath of office as scheduled and take charge of the affairs of the tribal government despite attempts by the current president to declare a new election.Newly elected and re-elected tribal council members claim that President Alex White Plume, who attempted to declare the Nov. 7 election void and hold a new election, does not have the authority.Phillip Good Crow, re-elected member of the tribal council, said White Plume does not have the constitutional authority to declare a new election while extending the current tribal council term beyond the two years as specified in the tribal constitution.At the Nov. 21 tribal council meeting, White Plume declared the Nov. 7 election void, an action that was not approved by the tribal council as required. A vote was never taken at that meeting, Good Crow said.ìWhite Plume exceeded his authority when he attempted to call a new election in his individual capacity. Election procedures are to be determined by tribal council ordinances and the presidentís authorities are limited to presiding over meetings and carrying out orders of the tribal council,î said Vice President-elect William ìShortyî Brewer.Five representatives of the new OST administration and tribal council said they had the support of a majority of the new council and of the newly elected president, John Steele, to move forward and take the oath of office in order to create a stable government.The tribal council certified the Nov. 7 election, which did not contain White Plumeís name. White Plume was the top vote-getter in the Oct. 3 primary election, but the results of a background check revealed White Plume was convicted of a felony in the 1980s and according to the tribal constitution could not continue as a candidate. White Plume was elected vice president in 2004 and was moved into the presidentís position when former President Cecelia Fire Thunder was impeached earlier this year.The tribal election board removed his name six days prior to the general election, based on a background check ordered by the tribal council.White Plumeís argument is based on the tribal election board of appealís decision to hold an entirely new election. The tribal council, however, moved to continue the election process.ìThe judge will swear us in on December fifth,î Good Crow said.Brewer added that White Plume does not have any authority after his two-year term is up, under the constitution, and that the current councilís term cannot be extended beyond that period, according to how that body read the constitution.Fire Thunder organized the press conference and was acting as a constituent concerned about the future of the OST. She said White Plume needed to honor the 4,200 votes cast in the election.ìThis new council needs to be seated to maintain stability and to deal with the issues. The people have spoken.ìWhite Plume needs to be a gentleman and step down, clear his name and run again in two years,î Fire Thunder said.Brewer said that because of the confusion some government programs were not signed off on and some families may feel the adverse impact of no assistance. The council members said, however, that the government was functioning.Brewer and Good Crow said the immediate agenda for the new council will be to rewrite the election code to be more defined and also to take possible action to rewrite the tribal constitution.ìCertain powers are not defined,î Good Crow said.Newly elected councilman Cora Whiting said this confusion is not fair to the people who voted. ìThere is an issue with the election, a new election code needs to be written, there is a jail that needs to be completed and opened, there is health care, law enforcement and housing issues; who is working on the other issues?î Whiting said.Those present at the press conference agreed that White Plume acted on his own when he declared the election void and ordered a new election take place.White Plume also did not present documents to the elections board or the tribal council that indicated his felony conviction was expunged or vacated. White Plume earlier said that he was under the assumption that because he pleaded to a lesser charge it was a misdemeanor and would, after his probation, be removed. Under current federal law the charge he is accused of would be a misdemeanor.The usual background check involves tribal, judicial and state checks, but the tribal council in this case ordered a complete background check that extended to federal cases. Each candidate is also required to sign an affidavit to declare any past violations.The tribal council members said they donít believe help from tribal or federal courts are needed in this case if the constitution is followed.ìThe people want this to end. We have to grow up. Itís about letting go. Some people who didnít win the election have said they would work with the new council, 18 people canít fix Pine Ridge. White Plume has a black cloud over his head and he is now stopping the process,î Fire Thunder said.White Plume could not be reached for comment.