A Different Voice Serving the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Tag archive


Flute’s Follies vs Servant Leadership

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

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.


SWO Politics by


SWO Tribal Vice-Chair Donovan White suspended pending Removal by a Chairman Flute-led Tribal Council

What heinous misdeed occurred to warrant such a drastic stomping on the Will of the Oyate? A staffer used a $3 flashdrive to analyze non-confidential budget information.


This solid middle finger to the voters just makes one wonder what Chairman Flute et al. are so desperate to hide. Chairman Flute’s own top political appointee, has a half-million dollar judgment against him from a settlement agreement where he allegedly “misused” Tribal funds. Another Tribal Member, twice-indicted for embezzlement, has been bragging about this removal for weeks (before a month of office was even complete!). Who’s really pulling the strings?

Our government will never serve the Entire Oyate as long as the honest, progressive Leaders (Like Donovan and former Chairman Bruce Renville,) elected by the Oyate are removed for such foolishness.

A $3 flashdrive. A poorly written IT Policy. A disgruntled employee stirring the political pot. Alleged monetary kickbacks, promised board appointments, housing purchases without following policy, Tribal attorneys (Senior Tribal Attorney is the Chairman’s sister) who twist the words of Policy and the Constitution, and a $30,000,000 loan done in secret and concealed from the People.

Is this what the Oyate wanted when they elected Donovan to bring accountability and transparency to the Tribe’s Finances?

Stay tuned to www.hotokeca.com for further updates and documents.

An IT Breach or an IT Failure?

SWO Politics by

As I was listening to the District Chairman’s Association, I was struck by how many came in to “Investigate the Vice-Chair’s Office and/or Political Appointees for an IT Breach of confidential information.”  Let’s review what happened.

Apparently, the Vice-Chairman and/or his political appointees wanted to review their budget.  Each office has the right to do that, and furthermore, since the Vice-Chairman’s office oversees all budgets, he has the Constitutional duty to examine all budgets.  They ran into a problem however, because the Information Technology (IT) Department had not yet set them up with computers and the equipment they needed to complete their job duties.  This is an failure on the IT Department, as they had plenty of notice that new persons would be coming on board.  The election was held in November 2016, after all, so that’s two months lead time.

I’m told they spoke with IT and IT gave them a portable jumpdrive to transfer documents to.  The budget specialist then gave them the budget matrix on that drive.  Sounds like a simple solution.

I imagine the political bruhaha started about now.


  1. The Vice-Chairman acted within his authority.  It is the duty of the Vice-Chairman to review and administer the financial affairs of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.  See the By-laws of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Article I – Duties of Officials, Section 3. Vice-Chairman, (f) The Vice-Chairman shall oversee all financial and business matters of the Tribe.
  2. Budgets are not confidential.  Tribal Governement spends our money and we have the right to know how our government spends it.  The budgets are held in a simple Excel spreadsheet with no security whatsoever and are freely shared.  In fact, current Chairman Dave Flute has shared the budget outside of the tribal email system in the past under the same policies in effect now, so I am not sure why anyone would fault the current Vice-Chairman for simply having the file.

I really don’t see the issue with the Vice-Chairman and his political appointees.  If there was a failure of duty, it would fall on the IT Department for not having the Vice-Chairman’s office set up with the equipment they needed to carry out their elected duties.


SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS!!  I’ve heard that people were concerned about the Social Security Numbers within that file.  Oh?  Why would that be?  Social Security numbers should be confidential information and held only by the HR Department.  Then my question is “Why would the budget specialist have social security numbers on her computer?”  Wouldn’t that be a violation of confidentiality on her part then?  Since she was installed with the previous Vice-Chairman, was she directed to keep SSNs on file or did she keep them at her own discretion?  For what purpose?

CHAIN OF COMMAND!!  The Vice-Chairman did follow the chain of command.  As previously established, he has the right to review budgets, he directed his political appointees to begin the process, and the Budget Office reports directly to the Vice-Chairman.

If there must be a call for an “Investigation”, logically the investigation should look at these two departments:

  • Budget Office and Budget Specialists – why do they have SSNs in their files?  For what purpose?  Since this was the previous administration, it would involve looking not only at one remaining budget specialist, but the other budget specialist, the political appointees – Laura Williams (currently working as Chairman Flute’s political appointee) and Viva DuBois, and the previous Vice-Chairman Garryl Rousseau.
  • IT Department – Why didn’t they have the Vice-Chair’s office set up and ready to go when they took office? Why did it take an entire week to accomplish?  The Information Technology department currently reports to Chairman Flute, although, up until December 2016, they reported to previous Vice-Chairman Garryl Rousseau.
Go to Top