Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe suspends council member

The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk. All content © Native Sun News.

PINE RIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Oglala Sioux Tribal council voted to suspend Whiteclay District Representative Deb Rooks-Cook for 20 days without pay due to allegations of elder abuse.

The incident stems from a Jan. 25 regular meeting of the OST council where they were to select the Executive Committee. The council had moved to go into Executive Session because there was a lot of commotion going on outside the council chambers.

Because it was an Executive Session the meeting was closed to the public, Rooks-Cook said she told the candidates to “quit listening in and please close the door.”

“They wouldn’t listen to Abraham our Sergeant at Arms and Cecelia Martin said I was talking to her. I kept apologizing to her cause she was eight to ten feet away from the candidates,” Rooks Cook said.

However a complaint was filed against Rooks-Cook alleging elderly abuse.

She was never charged with elderly abuse but was charged instead with disorderly conduct and assault in the second degree for an altercation between her and Eagle Nest District Representative Ruth Brown.

The council voted 10-7 to suspend Rooks-Cook after an impeachment complaint was filed by Darlis Morrison-Crow who alleges that Rooks-Cook has a history of erratic behavior.

Tribal Council members voting against suspending Rooks-Cook were Elaine Martinez, Toby Big Boy, Paul Little, Robin Tapio, Jim Meeks, Beverly Tuttle and Kevin Yellow Bird Steele.

The tribal council is expected to schedule an impeachment hearing, but Rooks-Cook said Wednesday that she suspects one will never be held because the council prefers to let her suspension drag on indefinitely.

Rooks-Cook denies the elder abuse allegations, calling them false and politically motivated. “They impeached me illegally,” she said Wednesday. “I was not allowed to defend myself in any way.”

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at managingeditor@nsweekly.com)

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