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Oglala Council orders Red Cloud occupiers out

KYLE, S.D.- After seven months, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has taken action to remove the occupiers of the Red Cloud Building.

Tribal council resolution 00-77 directs that the "Oglala Sioux Department of Public Safety immediately remove the occupants of the Red Cloud Building."

Though the resolution says immediate, it further directs the tribal police force, BIA criminal investigators and "other law enforcement entities to remove the occupants within" 10 working days.

The council action passed 9 to 3 with one abstention July 17. It provides a limited amnesty to some of the occupiers. "No charges will be filed against individuals that occupy the Red Cloud Building once they leave the building except for those identified as the leaders, who will be held liable for any missing or stolen items, damaged or destroyed property," states the resolution.

The resolution further states: "Those identified as the leaders will be held liable for any and all costs associated with the telephone, fax and other utilities used in the Red Cloud Building."

The following day, Grass Roots Oyate leader Floyd Hand said his group met and decided to respond by filing an injunction to halt the resolution in tribal court. "We had two separate meetings this morning. At one of them, we decided to get an injunction to hold it off for 10 days because the tribal council did not meet one (of our) criteria. That was to have Chuck Jacobs removed."

Hand said attorney Verdell Red Cloud filed the injunction. An employee at the clerk of courts said that as of July 20 no injunction had been filed.

The Grass Roots Oyate leader also said there was evidence that law enforcement officials, both tribal and non-tribal, were gathering to prepare to take the building.

"When they're going to ask for support, they're going to bring in the FBI and marshals."

Hand went on to say that OST Public Safety Director Everett Little White Man told him the tribal police were "not going to do anything."

Hand said he believes tribal councilmen Manuel Fool Head and Gerald Big Crow and Tribal Attorney General Richard Erie are behind this latest council move.

The council action took place a day after the date on which Hand assured BIA Superintendent Bob Ecoffey and Little White Man that he and his followers would vacate the building they've occupied since Jan. 16.

Hand said that at the Sunday meeting "most of the people elected to be here."

Ecoffey said "There is nothing" to Hand's statement that law enforcement officials were preparing to take the building. He added that he could not take a position on the tribal resolution because "that is basically internal to the tribe. But it is something they need to resolve one way or another."

Asked how important it was for tribal government to move back into the Red Cloud Building, Ecoffey said, "Logistically it is very important in terms of privacy and the security of their financial documents. I think that's very important. It's one of the main findings of the CPA."

He said Hand did tell him the Grassroots Oyate were considering walking out of the building and turning it over to the BIA. "I told him, 'Well, come on out, we'll gladly walk over and take it over.'"

Little White Man said he was aware of the council resolution but no immediate action would be taken. "As far as I'm concerned, nothing is going to happen until the chief of police and the captain, who are both on travel, come back. I talked to (Grass Roots Oyate spokesman) Dale Looks Twice and I told him I'm going to encourage a peaceful solution rather than a forceful eviction that's going to have possible confrontations.

"Both sides are going to have to negotiate," Little White Man said. "I don't think anybody wants any bloodshed or any violence.

Referring to the injunction, the Public Safety director said, "If we have a hearing, I agree with that. That's a good process."

Tribal council members have long complained that Public Safety has not been enforcing existing law concerning the Red Cloud Building takeover. Asked about these concerns, Little White Man said, "A council resolution or a council ordinance is an ordinance. It must be complied with.

"If (the Grassroots Oyate) filed an injunction I am very interested in finding out what the court rules on that," Little White Man said. "My interest would be in a peaceful solution. There's no sense in turning the clock back to the 1970s.

Little White Man said he met privately with Hand at the latter's residence July 13 and the Grass Roots Oyate leader made some promises.

"Floyd assured us that they were walking out on Sunday or Monday, but they haven't done that. He said that they had accomplished their mission and that they were prepared to walk out. He made the same commitment to the superintendent - that they were ready to walk out.

"My position would be: Responsible people have to do responsible things for the good of the people. Forcing a confrontation would not be responsible."