A Different Voice Serving the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate


Nicolette Ringer

Nicolette Ringer has 31 articles published.

Mazopiye Market is LIVE!

in Economic Development/Mazopiye/Uncategorized by


Mazopiye Market is now LIVE and signing up vendors! The initial creation of Mazopiye Market is done, so now its about building a solid foundation of vendors. Once vendors get on board, and add their products, the site will really take off.  Features are limited until then. Since everything is new, let me tell you how this all started.

The Inspiration

I was hanging out at Tribal Council one day, back in February 2017 or so, and an Elder friend of mine told me that she liked what I was doing with HOTOKECA, but that she thought that I should also create an online marketplace, where she (and others) could sell handcrafted items. She thought that the ability to get online would really open up markets, and that there was a need for such a site.

I always listen to my Elders, and I never forgot her request. I did a lot of research throughout the entire project. The first thing I decided was that she was requesting a multi-vendor marketplace, similar to eBay or Etsy, where many vendors could have their own store-front and sell their products. This is not as easy to create as it sounds…

The Name

I thought about what to name this venture. I consulted another Elder who is fluent in the Dakota Sioux Language, and he helped me kick around a couple of options until I decided on “Mazopiye”. Mazopiye (pronounced mah-ZOE-pee-yay) is a Dakota Sioux word that can mean stores, market or marketplace. Fortunately that domain was open to purchase, and so the first thing I did was register the domain – www.mazopiye.com.

The Work

Deciding on the name was the easy part. I knew nothing about building a multi-vendor marketplace. I knew very little about WordPress, and even less about WooCommerce or any of the extensions like Dokan that I would later come to use.  The website is powered by the WordPress platform, and I purchased a “theme” made for multi-vendor marketplaces.  I got a good deal on Black Friday, so I got it for only $29, when it’s normally $59. I went through several different extensions like Magento, WooCommerce Vendors, WooCommerce Marketplace, and Dokan before I finally decided on one.

I read a lot of tutorials, and articles to create this site. I got stuck for three months on how to link PayPal so I could pay the vendors. I hope I have everything configured right. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road and things that I will get stuck on, but I know now that I will figure it out – one way or another.

The Cost

The cool thing is that other than my work and time, I spent less than $120 creating the site!

The Research

Initially, I thought that my marketplace would only serve my reservation. However, while doing the research and creating a business plan, I realized that the potential might be greater than just my local rez. One market research study stated that 30% of Native American households create and sell arts and crafts to supplement their household income. The same study also said that only 7% of artists have their own website, and that the need for online access is there. For these reasons, I decided to create a marketplace that is open to all Native Americans.

Indian Arts & Crafts Act

One of the first things I learned in my research was about the Federal Indian Arts & Crafts Act. This Act is meant to protect actual American Indian artisans and craftsmen/women from a multitude of fakes. I found myself really believing in the spirit of this Act. Other marketplaces such as eBay or Etsy fail Native American artisans by not enforcing this Act, because both Etsy and EBay allow fakes to overwhelm the true Native American craftsmen, causing both the vendor and the seller to be wary of buying anything. I decided that Mazopiye Market would require all vendors to be Native American, not only to comply with the Act, but to create a place exclusively for Native American Vendors, and to guarantee to buyers that their items are genuine “Indian Made”.

My Charity for Lost Feathers

I’ve designated 2% of earnings from Mazopiye Market to the charity that I am creating. This charity is called “Lost Feathers”. Lost Feathers are children that are lost to their tribe by being adopted out to non-Native families. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and even today, children were sold or otherwise “shipped out” to non-Native parents. While these adoptive parents no doubt love their adoptive child, the child has lost not only their biological parents, but their language, culture, and identity as a Native person. As these children grow older, they yearn to know their ancestry, and some try to “come home”, only to be met with hostility because they don’t fit in. We don’t fit in anywhere – we’re always on the outside looking in. The Lost Feathers charity seeks to have resources available for genealogy searches, a legal team to keep the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) strong, and a ceremonial aspect that “adopts” these Lost Feathers back into their Tribe.

Summing It Up

Whew! What an accomplishment considering that I started with just an idea, but no knowledge, no experience, and no money. I’m happy with what I’ve created. I hope my Elders are happy with it too.

Mazopiye Market – A Multi-Vendor Marketplace Venture

in Economic Development by

So I’ve been working on building this marketplace and am nearing an official launch. I now have my business license. I’ve purchased a domain – mazopiye.com – and have the site nearly complete, although there’s not much there right now. I’m still working on testing the payment functions, and writing policy.

But I get asked a lot – so what is it that you’re doing? You’re selling something?

I am building an online marketplace, which I own, that provides “Store Front” space to any vendor who wants to start their own small business. The most well known examples of multi-vendor marketplaces are Amazon, Ebay and Etsy. Mazopiye Market is essentially the same concept, but featuring only Native American Vendors and authentic Native American arts and crafts – anything from paintings, to quilts, regalia, and beadwork.

While any Native American can become aa vendor, and sell whatever products they choose, those vendors who are selling handcrafted, “Indian-made” items must comply with the Indian Arts & Crafts Act. This Federal Act helps ensure that Native arts and crafts are genuine, and the penalty for “fakes”, or items sold by non-Natives is quite steep.

This market has been underserved by Ebay, Amazon or Etsy because they are unwilling to weed out the “fake” Native American products. I’m trying to sign up American Indian/Native American vendors that currently work out of their home to supplement their household income, who want an easy, zero cost way to access the online market.

The vendors themselves receive the order and ship it to the customer. I have no involvement in handling the product at all. The seller chooses his/her store name, the products they are selling, and the price they are asking.

My market place handles the financial transactions and takes a commission percentage out of each sale. As the marketplace owner, I will also be rolling out strategies and market campaigns to attract customers who would be interested in buying guaranteed authentic Native American Arts & Crafts.

Here’s a graphic that might help… Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Image Source: https://www.mytechlogy.com/IT-blogs/13587/top-3-magento-multi-vendor-extensions/#.WnT5J2nwbIU


MAZOPIYE MARKET – Showcasing the talent of Native American, entrepreneurs, artisans and craftsmen/women.


Image Source: https://www.openpr.com/images/articles/Q/7/Q72842412_g.jpg

Donovan White’s Open Letter

in SWO Politics by

Hau Mitakuyapi,

It’s been just over a year since I took office as the Vice-Chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate after winning the election on a message of anti-corruption, and nearly as long since my Removal and lost appeal.  I have been involved with Tribal politics for a long time. I have served the People as Tiospa Zina School Board President, as a member of several boards, and as the Vice-Chair of Buffalo Lake District. Sadly, I have seen corruption on every level. I ran for Vice-Chair because I felt it was my duty as a citizen of the Oyate, and as Akicita. I ran knowing that I would lose my Admin Building Manager job of two and a half years, and knowing that I would most likely be removed. I get asked every day to run again for elected office, but unless the People demand changes to the Constitution, changes to the Legal Department, and changes to allow off-reservation member voting, the corruption will continue. I’m choosing to speak out again now because a new election season is nearly upon us, and I hope new candidates emerge that have education, experience and the strength to stand up and do what’s right for the People.

I remember on Inauguration Day, I was unexpectedly asked to speak. Right away I stood and spoke about the issues I campaigned about – stopping the corruption, and going back to the truly traditional Dakota values and ways of taking care of all the Oyate. Huge sums of money are going to inflated salaries, unsubstantiated bonuses, cashing in unearned leave, fake FICA payments, and many other scams that benefit only a few people and families. We are a very successful Tribe, and our People should not have to struggle as they do with finding housing, getting a good education, finding a decent-paying job and childcare, or getting help with addiction.

My political appointees and I tried to hit the ground running by requesting reports and access to the Tribe’s finances including all budgets. These requests and duties were reasonable and lawful given that they are the main duties granted to the Vice-Chair Office under the SWO Constitution. The obstruction began immediately, beginning with the Information Technology Department, previously under the Vice-Chairman, and now under Chairman Flute. IT failed to provide us with computers, phones or software access/log-ins, and all the computers belonging to the previous staff were wiped clean. While trying to find workarounds to the situation, the “Jump Drive Controversy” emerged.

So within the very first week of taking office, the wheel of corruption went into motion, and the following push for Removal was fabricated based on nothing but lies and the use of a $3 jump drive. In March, without a request or approval of the majority of the seven Districts, I and my staff were suspended pending removal on nine charges with two more charges added a couple of weeks later. Remember, too, this Council refused to release the charges against me to the public, because they were trying to keep the voters in the dark.

First off, I filed an injunction against the Removal. One reason was that Council was not following Election Code and affording me due process, but the main reason for the injunction request was to point out a conflict of interest involving two members of Council – Chairman Flute and Long Hollow Councilman Justin Canku, who previously served as political appointee to Chairman Flute. My office was investigating nearly a half-million dollars of unapproved expenditures by the Tribal Chairman’s Office. In a normal court of law, due to their self-interest in my removal, they would have not been allowed to vote on my Removal.  Judge BJ Jones denied the injunction, allowing the Removal to move forward.

Despite all the flaws in the charges and procedure, in a tie vote broken by the Chairman, Council voted to remove me from office. I immediately filed an appeal to the Tribal Supreme Court. The SWO Supreme Court is made up of three judges. Unexpectedly, one of the judges resigned, and incredibly Tribal Attorney Deb Flute and/or the Legal department selected and hired the replacement judge. The very judge who would hear Attorney Deb Flute two weeks later give her argument against me. This, too, was a violation of Tribal Law, which grants the Judicial Committee the authority to search for and select the candidates for the Supreme Court, which they then present to the Council for the final hiring decision.

Not surprisingly, my appeal was denied. Our Constitution and the Election Code are actually so poorly written that they conflict with one another. The Appeals Court should have ruled that the Constitution trumps the Election Code. Unfortunately for the people who voted for me, the SWO Supreme Court failed to uphold our Constitution. My loss of my elected position became “just another” special election costing the Oyate upwards of $100,000 each. Just add this to the long list of “Special Elections” due to the corruption of our Laws and Constitution – Special Election for Secretary (Crystal Owen in 2015), Special Election for Chairman (Bruce Renville Removal 2015), Special Election for Lake Traverse Councilman (Dave Flute elected interim Chairman), Special Election for Vice Chair (me) and now this month a Special Election for Secretary (Crystal Heminger 2018 after her abrupt resignation in December 2017). All of this money could be spent on programs to benefit the Oyate.

The very first thing that must be done is to immediately remove the current Tribal Attorneys and restructure the Legal Department to create one that acts in the interest of the entire Oyate. Shortly after Chairman Flute took office, his sister Deb Flute was appointed “Tribal Attorney”, a position long-held by Attorney Shaun Eastman. The attorneys are in no way impartial, but play politics by twisting the meaning of our Constitution, Tribal Laws, and Tribal policies to meet political goals. Prior to taking office, most of the newly elected Council members agreed to a plan to create a Legal Department that was more transparent and ethical. Once taking office though, the support for this plan fell through, and we are still in the same mess – nothing has changed, and nothing will change until this major problem is addressed.

I am angered every week when I read the Chairman’s Corner filled with misleading information and outright lies. The grocery store, Dakota Crossings, was never a viable business project, and a well-written and researched business plan would have made this clear to anyone. This venture has put us deeply into debt for generations, and inevitably other funds such as gaming and settlement funds will likely be used to keep the store afloat. With declining revenues at our Casinos, there is no way all of this debt is sustainable.

As a final insult, without consulting the Elders of our Tribe, Council decided to change the Elder Gift Card program. Off-reservation Elders still get their Wal-Mart gift card, but on-reservation Elders are forced to use a Gift Card good only at the Dakota Crossings grocery store. They can no longer purchase the non-grocery items they need, and their buying power for groceries is reduced as well. This is discriminatory because the on-reservation Elders are being treated differently than the off-reservation Elders. The true Dakota way is to honor our Elders and their wishes, but to make this change without even consulting them far from honors them.

Donovan White,
Akicita, USMC Combat Vet

[Editor Note: This Open Letter was submitted and printed in the Sota in the Jan 22, 2018 edition.]

Keep Reading

The Cloud

in Digital Universe by

People often ask me, “What is the Cloud?” It’s kind of hard to define, but here are two aspects – Data Storage and Computing.

Data Storage

One aspect of The Cloud is for storing and accessing data.

For example, in the “Olden Days”, I would buy movies at a store or rent them from a place like Blockbuster. I had the movie in my possession as a physical thing – a VCR cassette or DVD.

Now I can buy or rent a movie from an Internet site like Amazon. While I have purchased the movie, the data that makes up that movie is stored on an Amazon server somewhere. I can access my movie anywhere and anytime, as long as I have Internet access.  My movie is “in the Cloud” and not physically stored in my living room.

The Cloud consists of digital data created by anyone from individuals, companies, hospitals, and governments, just to name a few.


Cloud Computing is another aspect that includes not only data, but software as well. The software and data are running off a computer and server at a physical location like a data center. I don’t have to install the software on my home PC, i just login via the Internet.

Remember back in the day, this Internet company called “America On Line” or AOL, and they sent out millions of CDs with AOL software on them. The software had to be installed on a computer to access the Internet, email, and chatrooms. Back then, everything had an installation disk to run a program off your personal computer.

Contrast that with the email provider, Gmail. Nobody has to “install Gmail software”, everyone just logs in at www.gmail.com, and views their email. All of your Gmail emails, SPAM, and documents aren’t on your computer (unless you save them), instead they reside in a data center somewhere.

The Cloud = Data and/or Software accessed via the Internet.

The Future is Digital.


Flute’s Follies vs Servant Leadership

in SWO Politics by

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world

The Servant Leader philosophy fits in very well with traditional Dakotah Values. This kind of Leadership isn’t about gathering as much wealth to a privileged few.  Servant Leaders create systems and develop practices that benefit as many people as possible.  They coach others, and ensure their employees have the tools and skills needed to succeed.

This is the kind of Leadership that is badly needed at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and is why the Removal of Vice-Chair Donovan White and the forced Resignation of Secretary Crystal Heminger can be viewed as failures of Chairman Flute’s Leadership style. Worst, he fails the entire Oyate of voters who elected White and Heminger.


It’s not realistic to expect newly elected officials to know everything their is about their positions. It takes any new employee about 100 days to really understand everything that’s going on.  During that time, there should be an Orientation process, where staff learns about the policies and procedures. Mistakes will be made, but good leaders make allowances for this, and coach new staff through this phase.

Basic IT Tools

The Information Technology Department under Chairman Flute seemed to deliberately prevent the Vice-Chairman’s staff from doing their Constitutional duties. They failed to provide basic tools like computers, access to data/information, and even phones. Then the Vice-Chair’s office was blamed for finding work-arounds. Worst of all, the IT department “wiped clean” the computers that belonged to previous Vice-Chair staff. (See previous article:  An IT Breach or IT Failure?)

Flute’s Follies?

Chairman Flute’s Administration seems to be shaping up to be the worst in Tribal history – with these removals/resignations of elected officials costing upwards of $75,000 each, the loss of a $713,000 Barker Hill grant, the  purchases of homes at twice their value, and a multi-million dollar grocery store.  And that’s just in his first year! Aye-yi-yi!


Keep Reading

SWO Secretary Crystal Heminger Resigns

in SWO Politics by

Secretary Crystal Heminger resigned her elected position effective December 8, 2017. No official statement has been made as to why, although the geyapi is that Chairman Flute had a number of charges as basis for Removal if she didn’t resign. Although the charges don’t matter <cough> JUMP DRIVE<cough>, it would have been nice to see what lunacy the Chairman came up with as a basis for Removal.

Whatever the reason for her resignation, the loss of two Executives – the Vice-Chair and the Secretary – in less than a year after the election, points to a serious lack of Leadership by Chairman Dave Flute. These two executives were voted in by the Oyate via General Election, and we expect the Chairman to work well with the team he’s given.

Jeez, this is getting downright embarrassing. We’re a Nation, not a junior high school. While this is a “Resignation”, and not a “Removal”, this is the third Executive Loss that Chairman Flute has been involved in – Chairman Bruce Renville (Nov 2015), Vice-Chair White (March 2017), and now Secretary Heminger.

Weird, huh?

Stay tuned as the story unfolds.

Banishment – Still a Terrible Idea

in Courts & Crime/Health/SWO Politics by

Chairman Dave Flute of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe with Headquarters located in Agency Village, South Dakota published a Press Release1  announcing new Tribal Code passed by Council that includes “Banishment” of Tribal Members who “contribute” to the methamphetamine problem on the Lake Traverse Reservation.  Here is an excerpt from Chairman Flute’s Press Release:

This new law will give SWST Tribal Justice Department the ability to execute sentences from six months up to three years depending on the offense, and require mandatory treatment for those that continue to manufacture, distribute, possess and ingest hard drugs.

Also, on a third offense of possession, distribution, manufacturing or ingestion Tribal members will be excluded from all Tribal properties. Third offenses carry a minimum three-year jail sentence, a fine of $15,000, mandatory one-year treatment, 320 hours of community service and exclusion from the Tribe and all Tribal property.

However, upon completion of serving time, completion of treatment, completion of community service hours and all fines paid in full the Tribal member will be given an opportunity to be accepted back into the Tribal community and allowed on Tribal properties.

Still a Terrible Idea as Public Policy

The United States has spent considerable time and money on harsh sentences, prisons, and police with zero results, other than having the highest prison population in the world. We’re Number One!

The Atlantic: A Chart That Says the War on Drugs Isn’t Working

First of all the rhetoric used like “an aggressive approach” simply mirrors that of the failed U.S. “War on Drugs”.  It’s only resulted in negative consequences to U.S. Citizens including the highest incarceration in the world, more violence, the creation of a militarized police force, and the systemic disenfranchisement of a significant number of U.S. Citizens. Furthermore, the “War on Drugs” disproportionally affects Minority populations, by giving them a criminal record that affects their ability to get educational funding, housing, and jobs – resulting in more poverty.

This isn’t an Exercise of our Sovereignty

Given the facts that harsher consequences don’t work – Why on Earth would we, the Oyate, enact a similar “harsh consequences” type of public policy? For realz, this policy once again shows that Council doesn’t understand simple concepts like “facts” and “evidence” when making decisions, unless they’re keeping their decision-making skills a secret. Simply mirroring a failed policy is not an exercise of our sovereignty as a Tribal Nation. A true exercise in sovereignty would be implementing innovative and effective solutions that support our Dakotah People – don’t just throw people away like beer cans because they have an addiction.

[The following is an excerpt from my previous article – “Is Banishment Really the Answer?” originally published in April, because it’s still relevant]

Banishment as Public Policy

Before allowing Council to vote “Yes”, the entire Oyate needs to be well-informed about the details of this policy and how it will be applied fairly to all.  Banishment may be the current fad amongst tribes battling meth and other drugs, but there is no evidence as of yet that it would be effective in curbing methamphetamine usage and abuse.  Currently the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Allakaket Tribe, and the Cheyenne River Tribe have all boarded the Banishment Train specific to meth.  Tribal Council singles out methamphetamine for banishment without including other destructive or addictive behaviors like embezzling, gambling, alcohol, nicotine use, other drug abuse, or deviant sexual behaviors like child molestation and rape.

If the Oyate wishes to go forward with banishment, we should do it in a careful, studious way to determine if it really impacts methamphetamine use.  We have many resources to do this including our own Research Office (with an established Institutional Review Board to ensure the rights of the participants), Law Enforcement, Community Health practitioners, and other clinical and ancillary providers in our community. If done properly, a research-based approach would inform all Tribal Leaders on just how effective banishment is, because right now, there is no data to support this action.

Some say banishment is just another way of disenfranchising Tribal Members.  Donna Ellis3 goes so far to state that

Banishment is another form of cultural genocide and an example of internalized oppression

Prior to leaping to banishment, in addition to current efforts, we should try evidence-based approaches to prevention, harm-reduction, treatment, and recovery. Options include increasing funding for youth activities, harm-reduction strategies like needle exchanges, and evidence-based recovery models like SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training).


Banishment was originally brought forth as a “Traditional Consequence” by the Elderly Board. I can’t comment on the cultural aspects because that’s not my forte, so while I respect their viewpoint, policies affecting so many people and families should be created around facts and data.  The facts are that harsh consequences don’t affect addiction rates, and Banishment has no data to support its effectiveness yet at all – I assume someone will keep stats?? Drug addiction should be a matter of healthcare and treatment options. The rez isn’t full of big-time drug dealers – those guys live in cities like Minneapolis or Albuquerque (Hey I’ve seen Breaking Bad). I don’t have any data (maybe the aforementioned Research Office does.), but I’m guessing that most “dealers” that get caught will be small-time with little effect on overall consumption rates.

And as a final note, given our recent “Vice-Chair Removal” fiasco, how can we, the Oyate, ensure that the Code is enacted fairly and equally?  Our Council, Tribal Attorneys and Court Systems have already proven themselves incapable of gathering and presenting factual evidence, and reviewing that evidence to hand down a fair and impartial judgment. Do you really think they are capable of enacting Banishment in a fair and equal manner?


Flute, “Press Release”, Sota Iya Ye Yapi, 9 August 2017, Accessed on 7 August 2017. [Time travel is just one of my many skills.]

“World Prison Populations”, BBC News.  Accessed on 7 August 2017.

Ellis, “The High Cost of Tribal Banishment”, Indian Country Today, 7 October 2014.  Accessed on 25 April 2017.


Natural High – A Preventive Strategy for Reducing Substance Abuse

in Health by

Addiction, substance abuse, and suicide are serious issues that afflict many families including the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. For a number of years now, there have been grassroots efforts at tackling the rates of substance abuse, including methamphetamine, but nothing of substance as arisen from these efforts. Twenty years ago, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Iceland faced a high rate of teen substance abuse, and they decided something must be done to reduce usage rates and prevent addiction.

Step one was to measure by asking teens about their usage via anonymous questionnaires.  The results were alarming, and government officials decided to address it through an unconventional method and prevention model developed by Psychology Professor Harvey Milkman, PhD, (now a Professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver) and Gudberg Jónsson, a psychologist from Iceland. Iceland invested in their youth and committed to a long-term longitudinal study named “Project Self-Discovery”. This evidence-based, preventive program was aimed at teens 14-16 years of age, and it focused on identifying a person’s preferred coping mechanism for stress based on their brain chemistry, and on satisfying that coping mechanism through healthy means instead of drugs and/or alcohol – via a natural high.

Factors that Protect Against Teen Substance Abuse

Project Self-Discovery began in 1992 with students, ages 14-16, filling out anonymous questionnaires asking about substance usage and relationships with the community, and their family. Not only did they establish baseline data, but analysis of the questionnaires revealed “strong protective factors” that kept teens from using:

  • Participation in organized activities three to four times a week – especially sports
  • Total quality (not necessarily quantity) time spent with parents within a week
  • Feeling cared about at school,
  • And not being outdoors in the late evening

Preferred Coping Mechanism and Behavioral Addiction


The questionnaires also revealed each teen’s preferred coping mechanism, which is how they prefer to deal with the ups and downs of daily life.  Each individual’s coping mechanism reflects his or her individual brain chemistry, which in turn influences the types of usage.  Some people prefer sedation to cope, and this preference correlates with use and abuse of drugs like alcohol or marijuana.  Other people’s brains want a rush, and that group gravitates toward stimulants like methamphetamine, stealing, and other risky behaviors.

Aside from the results, the implications of this study are significant, because it puts less focus on the actual “drug of choice” in AA parlance.  The drug of choice is not what is being abused – the actual addictive behavior is the abuse of one’s preferred coping mechanism.   If you can swap out harmful substances with a healthy activity that provides the natural high the brain chemistry prefers, the rates of usage and subsequent addictions fall.  An important unanticipated side effect was a reduction in suicide attempts.  The following quote shows the results Iceland achieved:

The percentage of 15- and 16-year-old teens who had been drunk in the previous month dropped from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage of cannabis users has even dropped from 17% to 7%, and those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to 3%.

SOURCE:  “Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse but The Rest of The World Isn’t Listening“, accessed on 3 May 2017.

A Common Sense Approach

A first step in addressing substance abuse, after identifying the problem is prevention.  Iceland reversed their rates in just one generation – twenty years, by putting into place sensible measures like curfews for teens, and by providing life skills training to develop coping skills.  Parental commitment was also important, and guidance and education was given to parents to encourage them to spend quality time with their children, and to know their activities and who their kid(s) hang out with. The overall goals were to strengthen family, school and community bonds. Most importantly, Iceland committed additional resources and funding for non-school activities to give teens a natural high through participating in sports of all kinds, music, art, dance, and clubs that satisfied their coping mechanism and brain chemistry without substance use/abuse.

Beyond Iceland

Other municipalities and regions are attempting to duplicate these results, and so far this program has been rolled out in 35 communities in 17 countries.  The original researchers still actively participate and assist communities by tailoring the program to their unique needs and situation.  A Community Center may have an Olympic-sized pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts, racquetball courts; dance, music and art studios, and provide space for clubs of all kinds to fit different interests including cultural/traditional activities. It is not outlandish to think that our Tribe could create our own program with goals and strategies tailored to our own situation.

This evidence-based, preventive program has been proven to work – can we make it work for us?


Behavioral Addiction Graphic: “Behavioral Addiction Defined“, accessed 3 May 2017.
Community Engagement Cloud Graphic: Community Engagement Funding Resources, accessed 3 May 2017.

Corruption on a Grand Scale

in Courts & Crime/SWO Politics by
High in the Coteau des Prairie hills – “God’s Country” as he often calls it — Former Vice-Chairman Donovan White moves sand and gravel to the beach areas in preparation for the summer season, while his youngest son plays outside on this cool, but sunny spring day. It’s been nearly three weeks since Tribal Council removed him from office, declaring him “guilty” on all nine charges in a tie-vote, 4-4, that was broke by Chairman Flute, 5-4.  Since that time, Donovan published one Open Letter in the tribal newspaper Sota Iya Yapi alleging “lies on a grand scale”, and urging tribal members to demand to see the evidence from their Council person. Unfortunately, their problem is that there is no evidence.

The Timeline

In November, White beat his opponent, incumbent Garryl Rousseau Sr., on a platform of addressing the corruption that afflicts our Tribal Government. He organized a “March Against Corruption”, when Chairman Renville was removed.
There was contention even before White was sworn in, and he was hindered at every turn. The following steps were taken to remove him.
  • Prior to taking office, the lame-duck Council moved all of the key departments from the Vice-Chairman’s office to the Chairman’s office, but Chairman Flute refused to release the new Organizational Chart. HOTOKECA News requested the new org chart in early February, but staff could not release it, stating that Chairman Flute wanted to explain why it was changed.
  • In December, Chairman Flute and Donovan, who was still the Building Manager reporting to the Chairman, have a heated exchange of words that almost came to fisticuffs, with Chairman Flute accusing Donovan of holding secret meetings with the new Council behind his back.
  • The IT Department, now overseen by the Chairman’s Office, failed to set up the incoming Vice-Chairman’s office with basic necessities like computers and phones or logins, and all the former Vice-Chair’s computers were wiped clean of data. It was during this timeframe that political appointee; Michael Roberts requested and received data from Lexi Fancher, the remaining budget office employee, on a jump drive found in the Vice-Chair’s suite. This is normally an acceptable work-around, and the Tribe’s IT Policy doesn’t say anything about jump-drive usage. To make things even stranger, Fancher did not give Michael the documents he requested, which was the Vice-Chairman’s Budget. She downloaded to the drive a spreadsheet containing the Chairman’s Office budget and another spreadsheet that had all three Executives operating budgets on it. Fancher claimed later that she was coerced by Vice-Chairman White into releasing the budget, stating that she didn’t want to because it had confidential information on it. The trouble with her claim is this – The Vice-Chairman not only has the right to see the budget just as every Tribal Member does, he has the Constitutional duty to view and manage the budgets. Fancher’s hindering of the Vice-Chair’s ability to perform their duties is insubordination on her part since she reports directly to the Vice-Chairman.
  • Council jumps on this “misuse of a flashdrive” charge as a reason for the Vice-Chair’s removal, even though he was not involved in the “flashdrive” transaction.
  • Seven people at the Old Agency District Meeting make a motion that passed to remove the Vice-Chairman. The motion was made by Jerome Renville, Sr. who now holds the position of Building Manager, Donovan’s old job. No other Districts make the same motion, but somehow Council interprets this to warrant a Removal Hearing.
  • A Council Roundtable about a pending deadline for Barker Hill was scheduled. Chairman Flute was in Washington DC on travel.  According to Donovan, a couple of Councilmen ask to meet in Council Chambers because they didn’t like meeting in Council Suite.  While in Council Chambers, Big Coulee Councilman Alvah Quinn, Sr., makes a motion to go into a Special Session and the motion passed.  The Vice-Chair oversees the session per the Constitution.  When the Chairman returns, he questions each Council Member if they requested a Council Session and all say “no”.  Later during the hearing Mr. Quinn retracts his “no”, stating that he does now remember making that motion.
  • The Vice-Chairman and staff are removed pending a hearing. Council refuses to release the charges to the public.
  • The Vice-Chairman files an injunction against the Removal Hearing for several reasons, with the main reason being to ask that the Chairman and Long Hollow Councilman Justin Chanku be recused from voting in the Hearing because of their direct involvement in the Vice-Chair’s allegations of the Chairman overspending his authority without Council approval. Injunction denied by Judge Jones.
  • The Vice-Chairman is removed, despite no wrong-doing and despite Council providing no evidence or cause to the People who voted him in.
  • Donovan files an appeal, but as of today, the appeal has not been addressed, and the deadline for their response is days overdue.  Just another example of our Tribal Law not being followed.


Nothing in this fiasco has been legal according to our codes, policies, and past history. There was no widespread outrage over “misuse of a jump drive”, and the only evidence brought forth was that which exposed the depth and breadth of the organized crime and entitled arrogance that exists within our Tribal government.
Even so, Donovan remains committed to his mantra of “Anything for the People” as he awaits a response on his appeal. Early on during this removal, one twice-indicted Tribal Member offered a steak dinner on a bet that the Vice-Chairman was going to be removed.
The Oyate lost out on more than just a steak dinner.

Addressing HIV/AIDS: 3 New Cases in Quarter One

in Health by

According to the recently released “South Dakota Health and Disease Summary”, The Northeast Region of SD had only 3 new HIV cases in the first quarter of January-March 2017, and the number of cases in Roberts, Marshall, Day, and Grant were five (5) or less for each county.  Codington County has 8 cases of HIV/AIDS.  All health care practitioners and entities are required to report new cases of HIV/AIDS to the Department of Health within 3 days, so the data on the DOH website is current.

If you have concerns about your status, Get Tested! Twenty-five percent (25%) of people do not know they have the HIV virus, and can unknowingly pass it on via sexual encounters or sharing needles.  Along with preventing new HIV Cases, early diagnosis leads to early treatment and better outcomes over the course of the patient’s life. So Get Tested!




Sources:  South Dakota Department of Health:  https://doh.sd.gov/statistics/hiv-aids.aspx

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT:  http://ugandajournalistsresourcecentre.com/uganda-hivaids-country-progress-report-201516/

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