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Friday, August 22 2014 @ 08:35 PM CDT

Porcupine Elders Outraged at News Article "Pine Ridge Opens Center for Elderly Residents"

Indigenous

The Strong Heart Warrior Society in association with traditional elders in the Porcupine District of Pine Ridge Reservation publicly denounce the December 2012 article “Pine Ridge Opens Center for Elderly Residents” as insulting fiction told by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Government. This misleading article is a purposeful attempt to hide the ongoing abuse of traditional and grassroots elders in the Porcupine District and the culture of corruption on Pine Ridge Reservation that allows money intended for elder services to be misdirected for other uses and stolen for personal gain. To say the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building is an example of cooperation between Porcupine Elders and the OST is a lie.

Porcupine Elders Outraged at News Article "Pine Ridge Opens Center for Elderly Residents"

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye - Strong Heart Warrior Society

Free & Independent Lakota Nation

Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 | 605-517-1547
Facebook “Lakota Oyate”

A statement by the traditional Lakota Strong Heart Warrior Society and Porcupine Elders in response to the December 13, 2012 article entitled “Pine Ridge Opens Center for Elderly Residents” that ran in KOTA News, Rapid City Journal and picked up by the AP Wire

The Strong Heart Warrior Society in association with traditional elders in the Porcupine District of Pine Ridge Reservation publicly denounce the December 2012 article “Pine Ridge Opens Center for Elderly Residents” as insulting fiction told by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Government.

This misleading article is a purposeful attempt to hide the ongoing abuse of traditional and grassroots elders in the Porcupine District and the culture of corruption on Pine Ridge Reservation that allows money intended for elder services to be misdirected for other uses and stolen for personal gain. To say the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building is an example of cooperation between Porcupine Elders and the OST is a lie.

In addition, the article is neither fair, accurate, nor balanced. The reporter failed to interview elders whose 34-day occupation of the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building finally brought to public light more than four years of abuse, neglect, and retaliation at the hands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Government and Porcupine Elderly Meals staff. Because the article is so one-sided, it perpetuates the abuse elders have faced over the years by ignoring their needs and silencing their voices. To now portray the OST as some sort of hero in this saga is outrageous!

Porcupine Elders and the Strong Heart Warrior Society bring to your attention:

The Porcupine Elderly Meals Building has been condemned four times! The building has been riddled with black mold and contaminated by a backed-up septic system making it a permanent health hazard to the elderly and infirm. Superficial renovations do not fix this problem. Why is this building continuing to be used in any condition?

Elders familiar with construction question whether the renovations truly add up to $100,000 – money that belongs to the elderly. Many of the materials and labor was donated free. Where is a line item accounting of each dollar?

The $100,000 used to fix-up a condemned building was not additional money, but taken from its original purpose of funding other elderly programs and needs. How will those services be paid for or will the elders continue to suffer?

Elders in the community of Oglala are currently in the fourth month of occupying their district office over the misappropriation and theft of the $100,000 intended for elderly services there. Overwhelming evidence indicates this corruption and abuse is not just in one district, but symptomatic of a failed Tribal Government system. When will the real Lakota people finally be represented?

In closing, Porcupine Elders who have fought to be free of abuse and neglect within the Elderly Meals Program and other OST programs do not approve of the new building. Only when elders get a brand new building that’s acceptable to their standards will we be satisfied.

Porcupine Elderly Meals Building Summary

In March of 2011, after more than four years of appealing to Porcupine District representatives, Oglala Sioux Tribal Government, and the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council for help, a brave group of traditional grassroots Lakota elders in the Porcupine District of Pine Ridge Reservation asked the Strong Heart Warrior Society to take them into a peaceful prayer vigil of the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building. This ongoing occupation allowed elders to gather, talk, and pray for relief from years of being abused, neglected, ignored, and blacklisted from services necessary for life by the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST), Porcupine District representatives, and Porcupine Elderly Meals staff.

Despite OST threats of police violence, arrest, banishment, and continuous slander from OST Tribal Council members, a group of brave elders, warrior society members, and supporters occupied the Porcupine Elderly Meals Building for 34 days.

Attempting to silence and remove these brave elders, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Government falsely arrested warrior leader Duane Martin Sr. on trumped up charges and imprisoned him for 24 days in violation of his rights. Grandmother Lorraine White Face was threatened with violence and arrest, and OST officials continued to deny the allegations of abuse neglect, rotten food, and unsanitary conditions in the Porcupine program in clear violation of the tribe’s own laws against Elder Abuse, conditions set forth in U.S. 638 contract monies to the tribe, and the 1965 Older American Act.

During the 34-day prayer vigil, overwhelming evidence emerged that every one of the elder’s complaints were true. Indian Health Services (IHS) discovered a storeroom of rotten and insect laden food that was being fed to the elders and believed to have resulted in the food poisoning of multiple elders leading to the death of at least one grandfather.

The center itself was a safety hazard. The septic system had been neglected and backed up into the building with urine and feces. Black mold was found in the ceiling and walls. Some electrical outlets were missing covers exposing live wires.

Office computer files and documents revealed the theft and misappropriation of funds and elderly meals property including vehicles needed for elder and handicapped transportation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services became involved seeking answers from the OST. The Elderly Meals Building was condemned for the fourth time!

Through it all, these stalwart elders and their supporters used donated food from the outside to feed district elders despite claims by the OST that people were going unfed. By their actions and love of their people, they demonstrated who were the true leaders of the Lakota.

The OST continued to deny, threaten, and manipulate in order to hide the truth. After midnight in the 34th day, the OST sent police in to raid the building and remove the elders in the final attempt to make the problem go away.

All of these facts must be restated, because it is the compulsion of the abuser to hide the truth of those they abuse. In any other city or town in the United States, this conspiracy of abuse, negligence, theft, and retaliation by the Oglala Sioux Tribe would have resulted in a criminal investigation and become frontpage news. But not on Pine Ridge, and not for the traditional, grassroots Lakota elders.

The time has come when these brave Lakota elders must receive justice and be allowed to share the love in their hearts for their people and live to their highest aspiration within the Lakota Oyate. That day is today! Hoka Hey!

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