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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe chooses a new president

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Incoming Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellowbird Steele.

Election results Steele wins OST Presidency
Poor Bear holds on to Vice
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

PINE RIDGE –– In an election that demonstrated a strong demand for change from voters incumbent, Bryan Brewer, was defeated by now seven time Oglala Sioux Tribal President John “Yellow Bird” Steele.

The election that ended up being a landslide in favor of Steele fell in line with other trends on the reservation that saw a huge turnover on the tribal council. No more than five tribal council incumbents from the past administration survived challenges in what was one of the largest votes in favor of reform in recent memory.

Although voting numbers were not spectacular on the reservation they were considered high for an election that was not held in line with a U.S. Presidential election.

Outgoing President Bryan Brewer. Photo from Facebook

At the end of the night the uncertified results showed a lead of 571 votes for Steele. Brewer garnered a respectable amount of votes totaling 1577 but not enough to stave off the challenge of the longtime politician who racked up 2138. Although there are a high number of challenge votes, if consistent with past results on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation they are likely to play out in a pattern consistent with votes already totaled.

The final quarter of Brewer’s two year presidency was marked by ebbs and flows and a consistent battle with a block of council members over accusations regarding violations of the tribe’s ethic code and a controversy surrounding the establishment of a tribal national park that was opposed by landowners near the south unit of the badlands where the park was planned to be built. Brewer did secure several victories for tribes during his two years in office including the successful passage of the Tribal General Welfare Act. A bill he and other plains leaders had lobbied tirelessly for. The bill that was hotlined through congress and signed by President Obama frees tribal programs and individual members from harassment by the IRS for services tribes doled out to its citizens.

Steele brings to office a history of aggressive lobbying on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in D.C. and a seasoned understanding of the political realities facing tribes across the country.

In the race for vice president incumbent Tom Poor Bear again ran a strong race securing victory of challenge William”Shorty” Brewer by a margin of 1836-1568.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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