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Sinte Gleska president reinstated

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ROSEBUD, S.D. - Sinte Gleska University President Lionel Bordeaux was reinstated and the board that oversaw operation of the university was dissolved.

After nearly two months of fighting between the university's then-Board of Regents, the university's president and tribal councilman Bordeaux, fired in late May, was reinstated.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council approved a resolution for the reinstatement and the dissolution of the SGU Board July 11on a vote of 9 to 2 with four council members abstaining and five absent. Bordeaux, who represents Antelope District on the council, did not vote.

Council members also voted to dissolve the university Board of Regents, a nine-member panel composed of tribal members voted into their positions by tribal members.

The council, which had dissolved a housing board earlier this year, appointed an interim Board of Regents to include Todd County School Superintendent Richard Bordeaux, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Head Start Director Cheryl Prue, Marla Bull Bear who is executive director of the Native American Advocacy Project and tribal elders Ollie Pretty Bird and Julie Lambert.

A council resolution also established a Council of Elders. Named to the advisory committee were Nellie Menard, Mary Hunger, Harry Blue Thunder and Christine Blue Horse.

A similar action abolishing the Board of Regents took place in the early years of development of the tribal university. A tribal council, reluctant to support that development, dissolved its charter. When a new board was formed Lionel Bordeaux went to work as the tribal institution's president.

Lionel Bordeaux, who hadn't been politically active at the time, said he decided to run for council to ensure that it would continue to support the college. Former regents and some tribal elders who helped found the university called his political involvement a conflict of interest.

The university was founded in 1971. Bordeaux had been president since 1973. In May, the regents fired him, citing lack of accountability to the board, saying he was not attending board meetings or reporting to the board on financial matters.

Last month, the council voted to suspend the university's nine-member board, reinstate Bordeaux and directed Bordeaux and the board to meet and resolve their issues by July 1. SGU board members said a June 27 meeting ended without resolution.

When the former regents approached the council concerning the Bordeaux's failure to resolve issues with the board, councilmen dismissed the board representatives, former regent Rose Cordier said.

Cordier said six council members left a July 2 meeting where a report concerning the status of negotiations between the board and Bordeaux was to be presented, breaking a quorum. She interpreted the tribal council's failure to act as lifting the board's suspension, returning its authority and reaffirming the board's move to fire the university president.

"I thank the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council for a tough call. Without their courage and help, Sinte Gleska University may very well have continued on a path toward a 'meltdown,'" Bordeaux said after the vote.

A news release said Sinte Gleska University is a chartered organization of the tribe, which means the tribal council ultimately is responsible for it and can intervene in its operation.