A Different Voice Serving the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

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Flute’s Follies vs Servant Leadership

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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

Official Charges Against Vice-Chair

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The Official Charges PLUS Two Bonus Charges



Click VCDW_Removal_Charges_10Mar2017 to review the entire 78-page document including “exhibits”.  I received this copy a while back but was asked not to post them because (a) Council had not seen them yet (how did they vote to suspend/remove then, is what I wonder), and (b) Council had allegedly told the Vice-Chair that he is not allowed to talk about his charges to the media including Social Media (Facebook) – essentially a gag-order on him.

No Authority to Act

Also below is an analysis by Michael Roberts, MBA, JD, of the District Motions that Council is basing their authority. There is no unified call for Removal, and no petitions for Removal brought forth.  So why is Council disrespecting the “Will of the People” (by ignoring the election votes) and doing this?

Credit: Michael Roberts


The Vice-Chair Responds with Allegations of Chairman Flute Wrongdoing

Suspended Vice-Chair Donovan White published the following Open Letter to the Oyate in the March 15, 2017 edition of the Sota. The letter is well-written, well-reasoned, and provides details to support their counter-claim (although check #s and accounts drawn from would have been nice.


Here is a spreadsheet of all the Motions related to the project:

Tribal Police served additional charges, including #9, as a consequence of his communication with the Oyate:

Uhhh, what?  Did Council read a different Open Letter?  This doesn’t make me question the Integrity of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.  It does make me question the integrity of our Chairman and the reading and comprehension skills of Lead Attorney Deb Flute (sister to Chairman Dave Flute, and presumedly the author – or at the very least, a reviewer – of the charges), because this doesn’t make sense.  First of all, there are zero allegations or implications in the Open Letter that “three of the homeowners” committed wrong-doing.  In fact, the letter states that the homeowners will have to pay back the Tribe those funds (with interest) spent by Chairman Flute – in essence the three homeowners are victims.

This seems an amateur attempt of grasping at any straw to remove the VC because it clearly has no basis in fact and indeed it provides no facts absolving the Chairman – for example they could have provided Motions by Council that do authorize the Chairman’s expenditures thus proving the Open Letter false.  That would have been simple to do… if they could.

In reviewing all the charges, they all seem petty and lack proof beyond a reasonable doubt – nothing to warrant a Removal.  So the question remains – What is the real motivation behind this removal so early in the term?  Are these payments just the tip of an iceberg?

Lack of Transparency and Consequences

Our elected leaders had plenty of time to do the right thing and explain their actions, yet they choose to keep the Oyate in the dark. If we are going to move forward then we all need to be informed of the basics at least.  In the Sota the reason given for not informing the Public was to protect the Vice-Chair’s “right to due process.”. That statement, my friends is utter bullshit.  They threw “due process” out the window a long time ago and are now violating ALL OF OUR rights.

We are a NATION.  Removing a rightfully elected Executive is a big decision, and we, the voters who put him in office deserve to be informed.  These removals disrupt and destabilize the functioning of our government, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you better believe this turmoil is noticed by other entities – other Tribal Nations, federal government, state government, banks, etc.  It tells the world that the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate can’t handle its affairs, and makes them all wary of doing business with us, affecting services offered, credit-worthiness, and economic development.

So what do we have?

  • no authority for this action in the first place.
  • Retaliation and a de facto gag order on Vice-Chair Donovan White
  • Charges with no basis in provable fact.
  • Secrecy by refusing to release the charges to the Oyate, so we remain in the dark while this is railroaded through. How disrespectful.

So what can we do?  Ummm…??  Suggestions?


SWO’s Computer Use Policy

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I have copied Section 4.8 – Network Security for Portable Devices for your review.  I’ve read this section a million times.  I have stopped strangers on the street and read it to them and then asked, “So, would this policy apply to a flashdrive?”  Every Single Person has answered “no, it would not – because flashdrives don’t have personal firewalls or anti-virus protection”.  There are links below that will bring up the “Computer Use Policy” in its entirety and the SWO Personnel Policy Manual.


4.8 Network Security for Portable Devices


Portable devices offer staff the ability to be more productive while on the move. They offer greater flexibility in where and when staff can work and access information, including information on our network. However, network-enabled portable devices also pose the risk of data theft and unauthorized access to our network. Any device that can access the network must be considered part of that network and therefore subject to policies intended to protect the network from harm. Any portable device that is proposed for network connection must be approved and certified by the IT department.

Protecting the Portable Device

In order to qualify for access to the Tribal network, the portable device must meet the following conditions:

  1. Network settings, including settings for VPN, must be reviewed and approved by IT support personnel.
  1. A personal firewall must be installed on the device and must always be active. Recommended firewall software is Zone Labs’ ZoneAlarm, Norton Internet security and Windows Firewall.
  1. Anti-virus software must be installed. Software must have active scanning and be kept up-to-date. Recommended anti-virus software is Norton Antivirus, AVG Antivirus, and, TrendMicro.

Portable Device User’s Responsibilities

  1. The user of the portable device is responsible for network security of the device whether they are onsite, at home, or on the road.

2. The user of the portable device is responsible for keeping their anti-virus scanning software up-to-date at all times. It is strongly recommended that they update their anti-virus software before going on the road.


SWO Computer Use Policy


2015 SWO Personnel Policies with Revisions





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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.

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