Note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments.
The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk . All
content © Native Sun
PINE RIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA –– In spite of formal complaints filed by the outgoing Two Bulls administration, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Election Commission has certified the 2010 General Election results, including certification of John Yellowbird-Steele as President.
Amid ongoing controversy, Francis Pumpkin Seed, OST Election Commission Chairman said the commission is moving ahead with election protocol.
Letters have been sent out to winning candidates notifying them of their certification and the newly elected tribal officials will be sworn into office on Dec. 7, 2010.
“The Election Commission will continue to move forward in a respectful manner until such time the Commission is allowed due process or the new Yellowbird-Steele/Poor Bear Administration is sworn in. The OST Election Commission wishes each winning candidate good luck with their future endeavors and thanks to each and every person involved with this successful election and smooth transition to electronic voting,” the commission released in a statement.
In a last ditch effort to regain control of the Oglala Sioux Nation, Theresa Two Bulls and the Executive Committee filed a formal complaint alleging violations of election guidelines.
Last week, the outgoing Two Bull administration comprised of President Teresa Two Bulls, Vice President Shorty Brewer, Treasurer Dean Patton, Secretary Rhonda Two Eagle and Fifth Member Myron Pourier, filed the complaint citing: the Election Committee leaked information to the media prejudicing voters prior to elections; the chairman of the election commission is not old enough to serve on the election commission; and election results were released to the media without affording the candidates time to request recounts.
They have asked for: Removal of the OST Election Commission Chairman Francis Pumpkin Seed, Illa Lone Hill and Sandra Old Horse and its attorney Steve Hawk; and that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Election Commission invalidate the Oglala Sioux Tribe General Election.
According to figures released by the Office of Secretary Rhonda Two Eagle on Nov. 8, 2010 for the office of Presidency John Yellowbird Steele (1849) defeated incumbent Teresa Two Bulls (1773). For the office of Vice-Presidency Thomas Poor Bear (2111) defeated Myron Pourier (1508).
The OSN Supreme Court heard complaints filed against the election commission on Saturday Nov. 20 but their decision will not be available until Wednesday, Nov. 24.
Pumpkin Seed said he and the other commissioners including their legal advisor have not received any complaints or been served any formal notice of action from the Executive Board so they are conducting business as usual.
“The statement about a new election released by the President’s office has not been considered by the OST Election Commission based upon statements or allegations of persons who have lost in their reelection bid. The Supreme Court of the Oglala Nation had held and heard testimony from Teresa Two Bulls and a decision will be rendered Wednesday November 24, 2010 those orders will be respected and followed by the Election Commission. As to any complaints filed against the OST Election Commission including Francis Pumpkinseed, Illa Lone Hill, Sandra Old Horse and Steve Hawk the OST Election Commission of this time and date have not received any complaints and or subsequent actions of the OST Executive Board, the Election Commission is entitled to due process as mandated by Tribal and Federal Law,” the press release from the OST Election Commission stated.
“The election is pretty much done. We have pretty much moved ahead with everything. People who lost their election bid are trying to get the whole election overturned. There is no possible way that the tribe has $30,000 to conduct a new election,” Pumpkin Seed said.
To date he said the election has cost the Oglala Sioux Tribe a total of $160,000.
“To add on more cost to that is just not feasible. It’s not those who are asking for a new election that are going to suffer, it’s the people of the tribe that are going to be suffering,” he said.
Winters are harsh in South Dakota and reservation residents sometimes are hit the hardest Pumpkin Seed said and money spent on a new election could be better spent on helping people with emergency assistance.
(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org)