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Oglala Sioux Face Federal Lawsuit at Tough Time

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is suing the Oglala Sioux Tribe, arguing that the tribe failed to live up to grant requirements.

A complaint filed Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court in South Dakota said the tribe received $4.7 million from the agency via two grants. The agency now wants to recover $482,090 of those funds, which officials said is due to non-compliance with terms of the grants.

The complaint said the request amounts to principal plus interest at the rate of 11.75 percent and 11.87 percent.

The grant dollars in question were awarded from 1999 to 2002. They were awarded by the agency’s Administration of Children and Families, Head Start Bureau and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Tribal officials did not respond to requests for comment in early December. A tribal official who answered a phone in the administrative office said the recent turnover in the presidential administration would make responding more difficult for the time being.

For weeks after the tribe’s early November elections, there had been turmoil over who voters elected president.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s court ended a three-week long election dispute in late-November, allowing John Yellow Bird Steele to be installed Dec. 7.

Outgoing OST President Theresa Two Bulls had been challenging the Nov. 2 election results, saying there had been several violations of the election process. The court said her arguments were not enough to force a new election.