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Care package distribution

Agency Village, SD – June 29, 2020 – Thomas "Sonny" LaBlanc, Aide to the Vice-Chairman, announced that care Packages are being distributed from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon at the Dakota Sioux Casino parking lot and the Dakota Magic Casino parking lot on Thursday, July 2, for off-reservation tribal members.

  Obituaries Editorials Editor's column Education
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Volume 51 Issue No. 27

Anpetu Iyamni, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Inside this Edition –

June 2020 General Council held last week

Highlights of Tiospa Zina Tribal School 2020 Graduation Ceremony

One-day Community Wacipi for local SWO members; Moccasin tournament at SWO Memorial Park

WWKMHCC to hold another mass COVID testing event July 18

Special Election for Tribal Chairperson is Tuesday, July 28

Unofficial list of SWO candidates

Reminder: Deadline for receiving copy is Friday noon

SWO Tribal Council statement against derogatory, insensitive language

Agency Village, SD – June 26, 2020 – Following today's general council meeting, Chairman Verlyn Beaudreau released the following statement on behalf of Tribal Council:

SWO Tribal Council completely opposes the use of any and all derogatory and/or racially insensitive language.

Tribal Council does not condone racism in any way, shape, or form.

Native Americans have been subject to discrimination, racism, injustices, and atrocities for centuries.

We need to be understanding and compassionate of the same struggles and difficulties that other minorities, races, and nationalities have been through.

We need to be respectful of others, if we expect others to be respectful of us.

SWO Memorial Park reopens

Agency Village, SD – June 26, 2020 – Tribal Council has authorized the reopening of SWO Memorial Park (former Tekakwitha grounds) at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 27.

Oyate are asked to maintain social distancing to avoid spreading COVID-19.

WWKMHCC to host another mass COVID testing event

Agency Village, SD – June 26, 2020 – Before conclusion of day two of the June general council, SWO Tribal Vice-Chairman Eddie Johnson announced that the Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center will host another mass COVID-19 testing event.

The next mass testing will be held in the local IHS parking lot on Saturday, July 18, 2020.

This is the second mass testing for WWKMHCC and the third held on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

There were 305 tests administered at Dakota Magic on May 21st; and 221 tests at the IHS parking lot on June 4th.

Watch for more information as it becomes available.

Dakota Magic, Dakota Sioux casinos reopen table games

Agency Village, SD – June 26, 2020 – Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise CEO Robert Mudd notified the Sota that table games will be reopening on Monday, June 29th.

Customers at both Dakota Magic and Dakota Sioux Casino can get back to the table games.

Please note that CDC COVID-19 guidelines will be followed.

From the desk of Geri Opsal, Tribal Veteran Service Officer

*SENATOR ROUNDS LETTER: See attached; we are extremely happy that he is advocating for our Veterans who utilize the NADL home loan for Veterans living on trust land. Thank you, Tyler Tordsen, Legilative Aide, who also advocates for the NA Veteran population! Good things are coming as a result of this! Very good news.

*All: Many of you may be aware that effective July 1st those purchasing resident small game or resident fishing licenses will now be required to purchase a habitat stamp in addition to the cost of the license. As many of you are also aware, certain veterans are eligible for reduced license fees. Those veterans adjudicated at least 40% service connected disabled, entitled to K award, has served on active duty or as a member of the Reserves/Guard and are 40% or more disabled Social Security for the purposes of receiving Social Security Benefits, was held as a Prisoner of War or has a total disability as defined by GF&P are entitled to reduced resident small game and resident fishing licenses. This statute is SDCL 41-6-10.2. Those who qualify for a reduced resident small game or resident fishing license are exempt from the requirement to purchase a habitat stamp. For more information on how veterans receive the reduced hunting/fishing licenses please see the GF&P's website. It is my understanding that veterans must apply through GF&P to receive these licenses.

*70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE KOREAN WAR JULY 2020: For many, the Korean War, a three-year fight against the spread of communism in Eastern Asia, is referred to as the "Forgotten War," but not in South Dakota. "Let us collectively remember and honor our Korean War heroes who gave their all to protect the freedoms that we hold dear," said Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. "They faced difficult circumstances and demonstrated incredible bravery and determination seemingly against all odds." The Korean War began June 25, 1950, when thousands of North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea. Fighting did not cease until July 27, 1953, when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, separating North and South Korea and allowing the return of prisoners. A peace treaty was never signed. The Forgotten War is believed to have been one of the most destructive modern conflicts, claiming about three million war fatalities. South Dakota deployed over 26,000 service members and 174 of them died in that effort. "Let us ensure that future generations remember and honor the pride and dedication of those who served, the legacy they continued, and the freedom they preserved."

*EDUCATION BENEFITS: Veterans in South Dakota will have access to improved education benefits beginning July 1 thanks to the passage of House Bill 1069 during the 2020 legislative session. "Many skills military service members acquire translate well into the technical trades," said Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. "HB 1069 helps veterans continue their education, tuition free, at one of South Dakota's technical colleges." Veterans wishing to use this benefit are encouraged to visit with the technical colleges school certifying officials.GI BILL HOTLINE: 1-888-442-4551, also you can call Shane Oliver 1-605-773-3648 or Ryan Fowler: 1-605-773-3565, leave a message and they will call you back- if you have any questions of interruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

*MEMORIAL BATAAN DEATH MARCH: We canceled the march due to the Covid 19 and we will resume the March next year. This march honors our POW/MIA Akicita who gave their all so that we continue to enjoy our freedoms.

*VETERANS: If at any time you lose your DD 214 discharge paperwork remember we can help you and send away for them for you. It's important to have those documents in your possession or in a safe place for your family to locate. Our office also maintains these records for you as well. You can call me at 698-3388 with questions anytime. Thank you.

*Again, please pray for our Veterans that are ill or fighting some sort of battle at this time. We have so many that are having health issues that need our prayers. And stay safe, stay at home unless it's for groceries or medical. Protect your family and friends from others.



*Kit Fox Society: Duane "Doc" Wanna 1-605-237-2168

*American Legion Post #314: Clayton Ellingson 1-605-924-1266

*Desert Era Veterans: Jesse Chanku 1-605-956-0197

*Gabe Fischer 1-605-419-1007

*Geri Opsal 268-0502

New laws to benefit SD Veterans

Pierre, SD – June 24, 2020 – Veterans in South Dakota will have access to improved education benefits beginning July 1 thanks to the passage of House Bill 1069 during the 2020 legislative session.

"Many skills military service members acquire translate well into the technical trades," said Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. "HB 1069 helps veterans continue their education, tuition free, at one of South Dakota's technical colleges."

Veterans wishing to use this benefit are encouraged to visit with the technical colleges school certifying officials.

Additional law changes include lowering the threshold requirements for disabled veterans' participation in special group pheasant hunts from 40% service-connected or higher to 20% service-connected and higher.

Also, as part of an ongoing red tape review, the South Dakota Veterans Commission was determined archaic and all statutes pertaining to the Commission were repealed.

"Now, more than ever, we need to keep our sleeves rolled up and work collectively to ensure our veterans have a successful journey as they transition into civilian life," said Whitlock. "South Dakota has a legacy of supporting those who have sacrificed and served our country. We are proud of this history and the partners that have shared in our success."

Whitlock encourages veterans to contact their local county or tribal veterans service officers or the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs office (605-773-3269) to learn more about these changes and their benefits.

Updates Coalition about progress increasing access to mortgages for Native American Veterans

Washington, DC – June 24, 2020 – Today, Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) provided an update letter to the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition on his reformation efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program. Although the NADL program is intended to provide mortgage financing for Native American veterans living in reservation communities, levels of participation have historically been very low.

Earlier this month, Rounds, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee (SVAC), along with SVAC Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT), called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the NADL program. The Senators requested the evaluation of the NADL program out of concern that it is not effectively serving Native American veterans. This request is a critical step towards programmatic improvements through legislative or other means.

"It's been a long-time coming but thanks to Senator Rounds' leadership, we are finally starting to see some progress with reforming the VA's Native American Direct Loan program," says Robert Dunsmore, Tribal Veteran Service Officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and also the Co-Chair of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition's Native Veterans Homeownership Committee.

Over the past several months, Rounds and his staff have met with VA officials and several tribal communities to gain a thorough understanding of the challenges within the NADL program. During this time, they have also worked collaboratively with the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition's Native Veterans Homeownership Committee to explore potential solutions that would result in higher rates of homeownership for Native American veterans.

"We appreciate the time Senator Rounds and his staff have taken to come here to the Lake Traverse Reservation to see the homes we have built and hear about our concerns. Our veterans deserve to be homeowners, especially after serving our country in higher numbers than any other ethnic group in America," says Geri Opsal, Tribal Veteran Service Officer for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and also Co-Chair of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition's Native Veterans Homeownership Committee.

A copy of the letter from Senator Rounds to the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition can be viewed here:

About the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition:

The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition was born out of a need to expand homeownership opportunities for Native Americans in the state of South Dakota. Created in 2013, the Coalition is a diverse group of agencies, institutions, and organizations that works to increase homeownership opportunities for South Dakota's Native people to build strong and healthy communities. Its growing group of members includes representatives of South Dakota's tribes, federal and state agencies, tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs), nonprofit organizations, housing developers, lenders, and community development financial institutions. The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition works to increase Native homeownership rates by strategically leveraging knowledge and resources among stakeholders and other key entities. More information about the Coalition can be found at

June 2020 SWO general council held last week

Agency Village, SD – June 27, 2020 – The first regular general council of the year was held Thursday and Friday, June 25 and 26.

Purpose of the June general council is for members to get updates on the financial condition of their Tribe; the December general council is set aside for program reports.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current SWO state of emergency, this general council was like none other.

Because the Tribal administration building was closed last week (it reopens this Monday, June 29), closed to all but essential employees, there was to be no public participation in the rotunda, no door prizes, no community meals catered by the casinos, no program exhibits, no vendors.

Instead, managers were called, one at a time, into Council chambers, to present their annual reports.

KXSW-FM Announcer Tom Wilson had planned to livestream the proceedings on the SWO Tribal Council YouTube Channel.

There were technical difficulties, however, and Tom streamed Thursday's event on Facebook Live instead.

Here is the link to Thursday's livestream:

Community Planner Crystal Owen announced on Facebook early Thursday morning that "there are a few tables set up in the rotunda and the big screens are down and ready so a few people can watch the meeting from there (as well as on Facebook)."

Tribal members who want access to the detailed financial reports are asked to contact their District representative or the office of Tribal Vice-Chairman.

Booklets are available upon request.

Excerpts from the verbal reports are being published here.

June 2020 General Council

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Desert Era Veterans honor guard posted the colors.

Noisy Bear was the drum group.

The Rev. Vern Donnell gave an opening prayer.

Chairman's welcome –

Chairman Verlyn Beaudreau gave opening remarks.

"Good morning, everybody. I want to welcome those here and those who are watching our Facebook broadcast to the 2020 Summer general council session."

"We're entering new territory as we're broadcasting this from Council chambers due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is still sweeping the nation."

"As the nation and the region slowly opens, we're still experiencing spikes in the Coronavirus positives."

"Council asks that everybody still continue to practice social distancing, follow CDC guidelines, and then shelter in place when you can."

"Typically, this general council is reserved for the Vice-Chairman's report and for gaming updates, but I'd like to just take a few minutes and touch on some of the construction projects that the tribe has on."

"One of the first ones would be the jail."

"As everyone knows, we don't have a jail."

"We are funded by BIA and we currently have 5.175 million secured to build a … detention center."

"That will begin in the spring of next year."

"That's just due to following the rules, regulations, and policies with the BIA for that funding and construction process."

"Another project that's coming down will be the COVID medical facility."

"That's going to be funded by Coronavirus relief funds."

"We have budgeted up to $7.1 million for that project, but as it stands, those funds need to be expended by December 30th of this year."

"Right now, the project had to be scaled back temporarily to include one wing, and then the center commons, which would ... cost roughly $4.4 million."

"That will begin, I believe, in the first week of July."

"That's going to have to be constructed quickly and completed quickly so that we comply with those guidelines for that funding."

"Another project that we hope will be coming to fruition will be the treatment center, which will be attached to the medical facility, which will all be constructed at the IHS campus."

"That will be roughly in the neighborhood of $5 million."

"We were hoping to use third party billing with that. But we'll know more about that as the feasibility study gets completed."

"Another project that will be funded through Coronavirus relief funds, we'll be constructing a new food pantry."

"I'll leave some of that, those details to the Vice-Chairman under his report."

"One of the funding issues that came with Coronavirus, and one of the things that I think a lot of people were hoping for, was another stimulus-type payment."

"But we received guidance from the Treasury Department, where the funds originated, and it was specific."

"I'll read what they say."

"They gave as an example … a per-capita payment to residents of a particular jurisdiction, without an assessment of individual need, would not be an appropriate use of payments from the fund."

"That is why we cannot be direct payments to tribal members, but we can pay assistance to heads of household."

"That program will be detailed more."

"We'll have those applications out probably within the next couple of weeks."

The Chairman thanked "… everybody for being here … for those who are tuning in, if you have any questions, we will be here."

BIA Superintendent report –

Chairman Beaudreau turned the microphone over to Sisseton BIA Superintendent Russell Hawkins.

"Good morning, Council and tribal members."

"I'd like to just start out a little bit about the Coronavirus that is affecting all of us."

"It's affecting the federal government, of course, and it's affecting BIA, our local office."

"Our local staff is teleworking."

"We're still performing our functions."

"We're still doing leases."

"We're doing lease compliances."

"We're visiting farmers out on the site."

"We're continuing with our Fee-to-Trust, et cetera."

"We are performing our duties."

"We're teleworking."

"The Bureau has now ordered laptop computers for everybody."

"No more tower computers."

"Everyone gets a laptop."

"Everyone takes your laptop home and should be able to perform the duties that we have been."

"When we do have to come in to sign leases, certainly we do."

Russell talked about his own experience with COVID-19.

"Maybe some of you heard, maybe you didn't, but I contracted that Coronavirus."

"I tested positive for it, and I had followed all the precautions."

"I wore the mask. I got a box of rubber gloves. I had the anti-disinfectant."

"We'd spray the offices down daily and the tables, and every two or three hours … we had it by the gallons."

"So I thought I was safe."

"And I'd go to our Tribal store, I'd put my mask on, I'd follow those little arrows and stay six feet apart from everybody."

"So I was very surprised that I contracted this virus, in spite of all the safety precautions that I had taken."

"The state of South Dakota contacted me on a daily basis."

"I quarantined at my house for 14 days."

"And the good news is that by taking the precautions, still sticking with them, the mask, the gloves, the anti-bacterial spray and disinfectant, none of my family members contracted it."

"My children, my grandchildren, nobody else did, and they tested."

"So my advice is, follow this."

"It's very serious, very serious."

"I talked to one family whose member had Coronavirus 19, tested positive."

"And he was supposed to go on a ventilator."

"The dangerous thing about this Coronavirus is you can do both from just a cough to all of a sudden you can't breathe."

"And you have to get on a ventilator."

"But what this particular individual did is kind of interesting … he didn't want to get on a ventilator."

"He looked at the statistics of the people who get on a ventilator, and about 80% of them in his area died, who got on a ventilator."

"And so as difficult as it was, as painful as it was, as miserable as it was, he did not want to get on a ventilator, because he thought his chances were better."

"Now, don't misunderstand me."

"I'm not giving medical advice here at all."

"I'm not saying don't go on a ventilator."

"I'm just sharing the seriousness of this COVID."

"And of course, he's telling me this, while I was tested positive … that you could go right from nothing, right into an emergency room, not being able to breathe."

"Actually, it was his niece who was talking to me about it…."

"The point is, it's very serious, very deadly."

"This morning … I check on the News Daily … we've had 81 die in South Dakota, as of this morning."

"In the United States, we've had 124,000 deaths. That's more than the Vietnam War and the Korean War combined."

"And Vietnam, of course, was 12 years."

"Korean War was three years."

"We're talking Coronavirus, 90 days."

"So it's very serious."

"Worldwide, 483,000 fatalities as of this morning."

"So it's very serious."

"The state had contacted me daily, and I said, "Well, now that I've had this virus and I'm okay, am I immune to it now?"

"And they said, 'Normally, we would say, yes you'd be immune for about two years with the other Corona viruses.' I didn't know there was a whole bunch of other Coronaviruses. But this one, this is different. And what the state said is this one was transferred from an animal to a person."

"Now, in the past, that Hantavirus, remember the mouse back a few years ago?"

"The only way you could get that Hantavirus is if you were in contact with the animal."

"You could not get it from another person who has contacted the animal."

"You had to contact the animal."

"But they said what is terrible about this virus is it mutates."

"A person got it from the animal, and now it goes person to person."

"You don't even have to be around the animal that had the virus in the first place."

"So the state said, 'We can't tell you, you're immune. You've got to continue being careful, all the precautions, until we know more about it.'"

"I just want to share that personal experience."

"Not the end of the world when you get it."

"It's never good news, but you can get through this thing."

"And I just want to share with you that I was a high-risk person because, I don't feel elderly, but technically I'm elderly."

"I've had two heart attacks. I've had a quadruple bypass."

"So I was like the high-risk person who should not get this thing."

"But I just want to encourage all of you. You can do it. You can get through this thing."

"I got through it. You can get through it, and hopefully you won't get (infected)."

"But meanwhile, be safe, be careful."

"It's very serious. It's not just something on the news. It comes right into your home."

Russell brought up another topic … "something that some of you may be aware of, some of you may not be aware of."

"Today is June 25th."

"That was when the Korean War started."

"That's when North Koreans marched right into South Korea with their tanks, attacked unprovoked."

"And that's when the Korean War started."

"And of course, we all know the story of Woodrow Keeble, Medal of Honor, Korean War."

He explained how this impacts the tribes, including SWO.

"The Korean government put 750,000 masks on an airplane and shipped them off, and they're going to be distributed to the Native American veterans."

According to the VA, he said, "This is just for Native Americans."

Russell ended by saying, "Congratulations, Chairman … I have confidence in this Council and our future."

"No matter what trials and tribulations we go through, I know we're going to come out on top."

Vice-Chairman's report –

SWO Vice-Chairman Eddie Johnson gave his annual report to general council next.

"I wanted to answer some questions that have been coming up," he began.

"I've been getting phone calls and emails … the biggest one I would have to say would be the hazard pay … people are talking about with our employees."

"The conception is that everybody's getting $10 an hour."

"That's not true."

"Ten dollars an hour only goes to our frontline employees, which is your police department, health workers, and EMS."

"With the rest it's 25% of their hourly rate."

"On top of that, it's hard because everybody isn't getting this hazard pay."

"We have to follow guidelines."

"Within (the) guidelines, you have to be a responder or mitigating COVID-19."

"It's been a very long task that my office has been working on to try and figure out this hazard pay."

"There (are) some employees that don't qualify and it's hard because I know the conception is I'm working and I can get … COVID-19."

"Well, in the guidelines that we got for the funding, that isn't one of the guidelines that we could use to offer or give hazard."

"Then, our food distribution, that's still going on."

"We are looking into working with the food pantry as the Chairman stated that the food pantry is ... (doesn't) have the capabilities or the resources … how small the food pantry is."

"That was one of the reasons why we came up with putting in for a new food pantry so that we can, if we have cases of COVID-19 or how long this may go on, we will be more prepared and able to disperse more towards tribal communities."

"Next thing would be the membership off reservation on how they can get the funding for what the resolutions that we passed yesterday for utility, not loans, but utilities, mortgages, rent, daily bills that people need help with."

"I talked with the executives earlier this morning, we will be getting together next week to have an executive meeting."

"We're going to try and get some staff hired through the COVID-19 so that they'll be the ones that will be administering the applications for the membership."

"People (were) asking, 'Where can I get applications for these positions?' We'll be running it through our HR department."

"If you're interested in helping with the application process and administering for the membership that we'll be applying for, the help that they can receive, you can get applications."

"I believe we keep them up by the security at the front entrance."

"I also wanted to say, if there's anybody out there you know yet, because I'm still getting phone calls, don't get any food distribution."

"It's not that you've been being picked on or we're skipping you on purpose."

"It's just that we don't have you anywhere in our system or documented where you're living."

"I just wanted to reiterate, please call the COVID number at 698-8249."

"Also, COVID is not done."

"It's starting to rise and if there's a person with COVID, please just go home and call that number and we will take care of you as best we can."

"Just call and tell us what you need for anything from your home, from food to medicine, whatever you need if you've been tested positive."

"You could even call it and just get a certain input on a food distribution or which programs are helping mitigate or response to the COVID pandemic."

Eddie apologized "that we could not open fully … but there (are) seats out there (in the rotunda)."

"We just want to stick to the CDC guidelines for the COVID," he said.

"But if you have any questions, you can put them in the Facebook live feed."

"We'll get to them as much as we can."

"You can also, if you're here out in the rotunda, you could come into the council chambers and ask your questions...."

Budget Office report –

Lexi Fancher spoke next.

"Good morning, everyone."

"I'm the budget audit compliance specialist for the tribe."

She acknowledged "…Jermaine Eastman, who is the budget and contracts specialist."

Lexi went through information in the general council booklet, providing "numbers for both fiscal years, 2019 and 2020."

The first page, she said, "shows our different funding sources for fiscal 2019."

"At the beginning of the year, our gaming funds had overstated all of our other funding sources, but by the end of the year, our federal and state awards was our highest funding source."

"And our lowest support comes from lease income, as you can see in the booklet."

"We also started to see a pattern…."  

The next page "shows the same kind of graph, but for fiscal year 2020."

"These numbers were projected for the whole year, at the beginning of the year, but due to the events these past few months, our lease income gaming and tax funds were put on hold starting April 1st."

"As of right now, there (are) no gaming funds coming in for the tribe, our lease income has not been affected while our tax will not be bringing in as much as we projected at the beginning of the year."

The following page "shows our different programs that receive support from gaming, tax, lease income, and building fund. It displays each amount the programs were budgeted and what they expended for fiscal year 2019."

"Our fiscal year runs from October 1st to September 30th."

"It's basically a quick look into which program received support from the tribe."

"The following pages show the spreadsheet again, but for fiscal 2020 year."

"You can see what was budgeted at the beginning of the year and what they spent since June 8th."

"The following two graphs is in regards of our tax funds."

"The tax ordinance was drafted in 1980 with the intent to create tax revenue to fund specific services within the tribe and budget each service by percentage."

"In recent years though, the tax revenue was eventually merged into one funding source and funds limited programs."

"For examples, our Veteran Services office, our Education program, our law enforcement, our Sota."

"When reducing or waiving taxes, these are the programs that will be affected."

"And as you can see on the booklet, it shows all of the programs underneath the tax."

"The next two graphs show the three programs supported, three programs that are supported by lease income."

"Lease income is generated off of 100% tribally owned land leases."

"This revenue was intended to fund land purchases, land improvements, our realty department, buffalo farm, and our natural resources."

"The following two graphs on the next page shows Section 7, economic development expenditures for fiscal year 2019 and fiscal 20."

"Economic development is derived from at least 10% of our gaming operations."

"It should be used towards long-term benefits and improvements of the tribe and our members."

"It is currently split between our Planning and our Realty department."

The next page shows what we expended for our elderly in fiscal year 2019."

"These funds come from different funding sources."

"Some of our programs, for example, our elderly affairs is funded through tax funds, while our elderly nutrition is funded through both gaming and mostly federal and state awards."

"And then for example, elderly cards and our elderly days are funded through our gaming funds."

The last page, she said, "shows the different funds coming into our tribe regarding COVID-19."

"On the top graph, it shows the list of programs who received grant awards."

"For example, Dakotah Pride, Child Protection, our Planning Department, and our Elderly Nutrition."

"The last line called state of emergency was actually created by our tribe's own funds approved by Council, which is funded through youth funds, detention set aside, and a donation that was made ... resolutions that were made."

"For example, food costs, casino, safety equipment, medical treatment facility, and a justice facility."

"But like I said, as yesterday, new projects were added, which will be modifying and increasing the budget."

"We will be passing a copy of the new budget as soon as we can."

"Some of the items that are going to be added (were) explained earlier … the radio station tower, school wifi, student relief, district funds, and medical equipment."

"The last graph shows the aid to tribal government budget that will go towards programs underneath the ATG contract and to assist with our tribal election, which is only approved for a certain amount, which we are still waiting for approval from the BIA."

"If you have any questions regarding any of these numbers, my office door is always open, which is located in the vice chairman suite."

Chairman Beaudreau answered a question about COVID hazard pay.

The question: "Can payments from the fund be used to cover across the board hazard pay for employees working during the state of emergency?"

The Chairman's answer: "No, guidance came that funding may be used to meet payroll expenses for public safety, health care, human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 state of emergency."

"Hazard pay is a form of payroll expense and is subject to this limitation."

"So payments can only be used to cover hazard pay."

Next to speak from the Budget Office was CFO Greg Benidt.

He began by putting dollar figures to the Tribe's debt.

"The Administration Building, the building that I'm standing in right now, we have a principal balance of $24,797,000, close to $25,000,000, that was originally (to be) paid off in 2015."

"And right now it's scheduled out to be paid off in September 21st of 2044."

"I don't know if I'll be here that day. Probably not. Some of you maybe will."

"The Dakota Magic expansion ... right now, they're paying $300,000 a month … I can give you more details on this tomorrow."

"That balance is 26,383,000 and change."

"We also have a loan at Dacotah Bank for the grocery store. That loan is at $2,684,000 and change."

He said he had talked to DNGE CFO Weston Quinn and reported, "There won't be a distribution from Gaming for June, which we normally get in July."

"But hopefully July will be a fantastic month and we'll get a good distribution in August."

"We're just getting out and starting again and I think things are going relatively well, but of course not to the numbers that we'd had before the virus hit."

He referred to the district distributions in the printed report and said, "I don't know what will happen with the final three months."

"We do have a motion to suspend, which everyone I think pretty much knows about, but again, hopefully something for August."

"I have a graph chart in the book here on district distributions."

"That's for fiscal year 19, by district, and includes distributions as well as other payments for elderly, youth, pow-wow if they had one, economic development for certain districts that were approved, home repairs...."

Greg reported that before the COVID pandemic hit, gaming distributions had been stable, "Since 2014, they've been $26 million."

"So hopefully for 2021 fiscal year they'll be able to come close at least to the $26 million."

He spoke about federal Coronavirus relief funding.

"We've received in excess of $25 million per my report," he said.

"Since then, we've received an additional $2,250,000."

"So we are at approximately slightly over $27,500,000 in COVID-19 funding, and likely there'll be more."

"To me, that's the good news side of all this … getting the support from the federal government in that dollar amount is really quite outstanding."

"Now we just have to make sure we follow all the rules."

"Verlyn was talking about that … so that we don't have to pay the money back, which would be a terrible burden on the tribe, especially with our reduced casino and tax monies."

HKG Architects report –

The agenda was ahead of schedule, which allowed an opportunity for Dean Marske, representing HKG Architects of Aberdeen, to give an update on construction projects.

"Our team is Consolidated Contractors out of Bismarck," he began.

He said they are developing "… a temporary housing project for the COVID-19 … the food pantry … and daycare, all to be funded with COVID-19 monies."

"We are though, limited … to December 30th ... to be done this year."

"We are moving forward with the contract."

"We got a letter of intent, I think it has been submitted to the Council, to move forward, to do the wing, the southern wing in the commons area, and hopefully get a ruling from Department of Treasury to extend and complete the eastern wing."

"In order to make that happen, we're limited to what we can do under contract…."

"We have submitted a contract for $4.4 million to finish phase one."

"And then an additional $2.7 to finish phase two."

"Those are budget numbers."

"The challenge for us and everybody that's on this team, is to produce these projects on schedule and under budget."

"So the $4.4 is a budget number."

"Various parts of that will be bid."

"And those numbers we share with the council."

"Any savings goes to the new system locked in on that."

"That's what we're looking at doing."

"... Construction will start, probably not the 1st because we had a little bit of a delay, but we're looking at that 6th of July … starting scraping the site and start moving in, footings and foundation."

Dean said the team is working with TERO "to employ as many of the tribal people as we can in different companies working in … in partnership with other firms."

"Obviously a bigger (firm)."

"For instance, HVAC is a pretty big contract, over a million dollars."

"Companies like Fuel Inc. could do a portion of that if they're interested."

"We're looking at all of those things."

"And that's what we're really doing in the next week, 10 days … getting all those things, contracts, written and done."

"And we'll be presenting to Council when that happens."

There were questions.

"I heard … 'How many rooms?'"

"The first phase is 16 … 14 single bedrooms and two, two-bedrooms."

"And then the commons has … obviously there's testing for people coming in, there's counseling, there's meeting rooms, a full kitchen, and boiler and all that has to be built for the first part."

He described the first phase as "16,000 square feet of the 28,000."

"The second phase would be the other way, in which there would be another 16 units…."

"Phase two would be roughly 12,000 square feet … if there is additional funding … within 90 days."

Big Coulee District Councilwoman Lisa Jackson had a question about the coronavirus being airborne.

"How is our air system in this facility?" she asked.

"Each unit will have, and we have a room in there that will control that, so that it will be all negative as far as there's more air leaving each apartment … than is coming in," said Dean.

"There's no air being exhausted back."

He talked about the former elderly village complex project HKG had designed.

"Originally, we had air that you'd pipe back."

"That cannot happen with the COVID requirements."

"So we got what's called a bulldog system … every unit is self-contained."

He speculated, "In the future, if we go either to behavioral health halfway or something, those fans … (have) two speeds."

"(They) could be changed to lower speed because obviously if anybody's been in an apartment that is exhausting a lot of air, it's cooler."

"It's harder to keep it warm."

"And then it exceeds all the requirements."

"Right now we exceed any of the replacement air of a normal apartment because we're exhausting it out."

"So say three years from now, or four years from now, the Tribal Council would not have to go in and spend money to review those systems."

"This matter is just switching the fan."

"The unit works the same and it's an efficient unit."

The Tribe's for-profits reports were next on the agenda.

Dakota Western report –

Robert Huff, GM of Dakota Western, was next to give the annual report to general council.

"Dakota Western last year in fiscal year, 2019 (had) sales of $10.7 million, with 10.7 million pounds produced."

"These numbers are pretty consistent with the year prior."

Robert said, "The year didn't end well, we did show a $90,000 loss."

"There are a couple of factors that contributed to the loss."

"One of them being about a $200,000 corporate allocation."

"And then we were also overstaffed a little bit, gearing up for a project that ended up getting delayed on us."

He said they "were probably the two main contributing factors."

"Moving forward to the first six months of 2020, we have $5.1 million in sales and about 4.6 million pounds produced."

"We are currently showing about a $545,000 profit for the year."

"Comparing the first six months of last year, and the first six months of this year, we're a little bit down in sales, about $300,000 and about 880 pounds produced."

"There's good news."

"We've recently submitted a bid with our largest customer. This bid includes approximately 14 million pounds."

"We've submitted pricing in two different ways here pricing for 9.6 million pounds and pricing on 6.8 million pounds of the 14 million that they included in this bid."

"The pounds submitted were chosen by the customer. It wasn't a number that we pulled out of the air."

"It's based on a percentage of the 14 million. Neither of the pounds that we've bid on include products that they sole-source from us. And if successful, because either amount submitted, it will increase our sales to this customer."

"This is a three-year agreement that they have put in place."

He said a decision is expected "fairly quickly."

"I should note in there that we should (be) 'hopeful.'"

"They want to get it rolled out by the end of July."

Robert mentioned other projects:

"New technology for the compostable bags, the fabric bags."

"That bag is geared towards replacing paper bags."

"We have the machine in place and we're ready."

He said it should be in operation by next spring.

"We've also produced bags with up to 10% hemp.

He said production will increase as demand increases as it has "slowed due to mainly restaurants closing,"

"We're still in need of updating equipment."

"We continue to replace equipment when available or when we're able.

He gave a "recap … profit

On a recap … "$90,000 loss for 2019 with the factors mentioned; and year to date, our first six months, $545,000 profit."

"Last year, 2019, the tribal donations were about $29,000 and our community goodwill about $13,000."

"Current employees: we have 33 employees … 28 are tribal members."

Fuels Inc., Agency Village C-Store reports –

James Bird, general manager, gave the Fuels Inc. and Agency Village C-Store annual reports.

Fuels Inc., he said, "… made it through another tough winter."

"We had a number of cold and snowy days, but we were able to remain open most days, only calling back our drivers in HVAC when there were no travel advisories posted with our law enforcement."

"We also had a few breakdowns with our older propane trucks."

"We had a full staff throughout the winter months."

"One HVAC tech resigned to start a solo business."

"One of our fuel propane drivers was seasonal and after the heating season, he decided to move home or move back out of state to be closer with his family."

"We currently have three drivers, including myself, one HVAC tech with one of the drivers, and our operations manager assisting him."

"As the temperatures rise, our HVAC gets busy with air conditioning services and installations."

"We are still installing furnaces and are contracted with SWHA to set propane tanks this summer at the Barker Hill and Long Hollow projects."

"We have one driver and in the semi hauling gas and diesel."

"With this COVID-19 pandemic going on the gas sales are way down … and then with the casinos closing...."

"We're hoping to pick back up here again, as they start to open."

We're able to stay open to the public for billing questions, open orders, et cetera."

"We're also working with RCC for our online customer service. With this service, our customers would be able to check their balances on their accounts where appropriate and pay their bills all online using a home computer or their mobile cell phones, eliminating the need to leave their homes."

"The service will be available by the end of June."

"Office staff is working on policies during the summer with the new heating season coming up."

"We welcome input from our customers."

"We are also getting the final billing statements out and prepared for our summer fill orders and the first week of August, and also for our propane contracts the first week in September."

"We will advertise in our local papers and radio station when their summer fills start and the price per gallon."

"Through this whole time we'll also be making repairs to our propane trucks and semi's; most of it will be preventative maintenance and will be done in house."

James turned attention to the C-Store.

"Our Agency C-store has remained open … during this Covid pandemic."

"We did make a decision to close the deli during the pandemic and lay off one of the workers."

"We kept the store open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a minimum … staff of three."

"We are now in the process of working back up to a full staff, the deli is open again for call-in orders Monday through Friday."

"We've hired two more part-time cashiers and the store will be staying open until 10:00 p.m."

"As always our C-Store staff will practice safe distancing and wearing gloves and mask, and we'll also have gloves and masks available to our customers, if they want…."

There was a brief discussion about implementing plans for a tribal energy assistance program this fall.

Oyate, watch for more information about eligibility and how to apply for heating assistance.

Dakota Crossing report –

Next was the annual Dakota Crossing report.

Todd O'Riley introduced himself.

"I've been at the General Manager position for Dakota Crossing for six to seven months. I started about the first part of fiscal year '20."

"I come from about 35 years of food service background in Indian gaming."

"My goal, when I got into Dakota Crossing, was to figure out how, ways to save monies, look for anything and everything to, as council put it, make $1. That was my goal."

"There's been a lot of different things going on, especially the COVID-19."

"With the pandemic going on, it's greatly affected Dakota Crossing."

"The number of patrons between February 1st of 2019 through June 30th is 112,000."

"This year's numbers show that, just as of today, we're only at 78,000."

"So in that span, we've lost 33,000 visitors."

"That's a great deal of revenue."

"And we're trying to figure out ways to create that."

"Speaking of the COVID-19 and the pandemic, Dakota Crossing believes that it goes above and beyond in sanitizing and keeping frontline employees, as well as our customers, safe."

"We do daily cleaning, sanitizing, along with all things."

"Such as employees, when they clock in, they take their temperatures."

"Anything above 99 degrees, we alert South Dakota Department of Health, we alert EMS, and we send them onto the ways that are directed to us by those people."

Todd spoke about "several new things."

"One is our new coffee island."

Another is "Shoes for Crews."

The casinos, he explained, had sold their products.

"Dakota Crossing," he said, "is a regional distributor … for Shoes for Crews out of California, to do discounted pricing."

"Anybody that wants shoes, our pricing is better than what you used to get inside the casino world."

"On top of that, we've also increased upwards of 72 pages of different types of shoes: New Balance, Avia … safety shoes, which I didn't know about, but that's the new thing."

"We have a larger ethnic selection."

"And our goal is to introduce buffalo."

Todd told the Oyate to expect "buffalo quarters … steaks, roast, bones … mid to late July."

Plans are then to expand the buffalo meat sales to the casinos.

"When the pandemic hit," he said, "there was a lot of worry about shortages, such as ground beef, pork -- all those things."

"I believe that since the Dakota Crossing utilizes fresh meat processing, where we have our own butcher; and I myself know how to cut as well; we were able to grind meat and bring it in at cheaper prices than what areas are seeing."

"An example would be that, during the times when Walmart's shelves were empty of ground beef, we had ground beef."

He talked about "new upgrades."

"We are moving the entire facility to Windows 10."

"Unbeknownst to me, the entire facility has been operating underneath Windows 7."

"And due to that fact, when you have more than one person checking out at two different, three different tills, you can actually cause the registers to freeze and lock up, just because they're being so overloaded."

"So that is going to happen within the next two to four weeks from our Retail Data Systems, which operates out of Nebraska and has central office in Sioux Falls."

He said the changeover will not require a shut down, calling it "a background thing done behind the scenes."

Another upgrade will be "moving to smartphones for our invoices."

"So all of our invoices will be processed through the system quicker, faster, and better accountability on inventory."

"Speaking of inventory, in the six to seven months that I've been inside Dakota Crossing … I'm old school when it comes to inventory, I was always taught by Weston Quinn that you start with whatever you have left at this month, add up what you spent…."

"What do you (have) left over?"

"That's your food cost."

"In looking through the files inside Dakota Crossing, it's never been done."

"They don't have a hardline number that says, 'This is what you have in every nook and cranny.'"

"They have had, I guess I take that back."

"They have had what they called a marginalized shelf index inventory."

"Which means that they're telling us that if we're selling a can of beans at 25% margin, this is what your profit is and this is what you got, based on that world."

"Well, as we all know, retail has 25,000 SKUs and 25,000 different margins."

"So to me, I'd rather have a simple old … this is how much you got."

Todd reported contracting with a Texas company RGIS, "…operating a crew out of Sioux Falls."

"They'll be coming … before fiscal year's final quarter starts…."

Then "we'll have more of a real number to say, 'This is real, valid numbers of what you have in property, on your shelves. This is what we paid at the dock. This is what we have.'"

"And it'll help."

"I'm not an accountant. But to me, it gives you an idea that you can get a better P&L."

"Because now, you have real numbers."

"One of the problems I first discovered when I came to Dakota Crossing was: beautiful store, beautiful layout, beautiful location. The only thing that I had a problem with was it was too big for its own self."

"I believe that it's about two to four aisles too big to where the people that do the ordering have a tendency to figure, they just got to spin, spin, spin, to fill the aisles."

"Make it look full."

"Well, what we're going to do the week of July 13th is, we're actually going to rip up a lot of the aisles that you see there now."

"And we're going to redesign it to where I'm going to get my three aisles that I want removed."

"We are also going to open up a small … relationship with an in-town of Sisseton community member to start bringing in things that are non-food such as crock-pots, socks, children's clothes, T-shirts, underwear, Levis, boots, slacks, pants, coats, jackets."

"We're going to try and bring in those type of things as well as the things that, when your young one says, 'I have to do a science fair project,' you don't have to drive all the way to Watertown to get that pegboard."

"So we're going to try and encompass a little bit of what Shopko was, but more grocery than what Shopko was."

"And we're hoping that that will help us on our margins."

"And we're hoping that that gives the customers a better selection to where they do more local shopping."

"Some of the other items that we're working on is, we're also bringing in a process whereby the elderly cards, once they start up down the road … we will have the ability to load your Straight Talk phone right off of your elderly card."

"You don't have to drive all the way to Watertown to get them loaded."

"We'll do the Straight Talks right there."

"That way, all phones that have minutes to be loaded will be able to be handled and processed right there at customer service … everything from Verizon to Straight Talk to Sprint to Virgin Mobile…."

"And then, finally, as everyone always knows, everybody always watches, is staffing and wages."

"As I sat there for the first six to seven months, I tried to figure everybody out, tried to see what people, look for those people that were go-getters – 'I'm going to go get this done because it needs to be done.'"

"What I discovered is about 90% were. "

"The other 10%?"

"I've slowly … removed some of them."

"Some of them know who they are. Some of them, I've had discussions with for the past three months to where they know that they have a certain timeframe to achieve or we'll either reposition them or just have to let them go."

"Because the grocery store needs to make revenue."

"If I encumber too much debt based on wage without product matching it, it's a lost cause."

"And unfortunately, the world of the bakery is top of the list."

"I have several companies that have come to me to where they can slack that ... apparently slack means I can thaw the whole thing out or bring it in fresh from this town, right to my store, and sell it."

"Now, granted, you lose that personal touch."

"But at this point, I am thinking of making the cakes, since we have some really good cake decorators."

"That'll stay as a personal touch."

"But the world of controlled volume will be back over here with that outside force."

"Because that makes my inventory lower, that makes my payroll lower, that makes my yield higher."

"And that's part of it."

"The other part, we've tried opening up the drive-thru for customer drive-up service, with the pandemic, with roadside."

"We've opened up with cheeseburgers and buckets of chicken and pizza that you can order right through the drive-up window."

"We're trying it. We're trying to open up a new area."

"So those are the things we're doing at Dakota Crossing."

There was a question about gas pricing.

"Gas prices?"

"What we try to do is, when (SWO Fuels Inc.) drops the gas to me, I try to live with the margin that Coffee Cup does."

"I try to stay close to them, since they're the biggest dog out there."

"But I don't try and start a war inside Sisseton."


Vice-Chairman Johnson commented after the last report on the agenda had concluded.

"In Council," he said, "I've been trying to keep up on Facebook … there was a question of how do we get copies of the reports."

"There were a ton done."

"We're looking for … means to distribute."

"And now that we're taking suggestions, one is a PDF on the Tribe's website; email the PDF."

"They wanted it a month before, but … because of the COVID-19, it was hard to get the report done, because DLI was closed … and we needed expenditures from the spending freeze…."

"The question was asked, 'How come off-reservation members can't get to the same amount as on-reservation members?'"

"… Numbers are based on an old reservation census by the Treasury and I still wanted help as much as possible."

"They want to relay the variance in numbers."

"The Tribe's Enrollment office has all the statistics you need."

"This is outright unfair, inequitable period."

"I just wanted to say the Enrollment office didn't have (anything) to do with these numbers."

"These were numbers that the Treasury pulled from, I don't know which federal programs they pulled them from."

"But all we got was a round number, I believe 4,500, am I correct in that? Of the membership that they used for the funding?"


"How's the funding there, old census, so it wasn't our Enrollment that did it."

"… We shared the same frustrations that you have."

"We did try to fight that number because we know very well that 4,500 is probably only a third of what our membership is."

"And we tried to help the membership as much as we could with what we got."

"And that's why it was based more towards on-rez."

"But we wanted to help off-rez too, with what we could."

Another topic Eddie found on Facebook was school supplies.

"Didn't we have something going on for school supplies? No?"

"One suggestion is school supplies would be good for the youth."

He invited listeners/viewers to "keep asking questions."

"If we didn't get to them today, we'll try and address them tomorrow or even at a different time."

"I know it's a hard time for everybody to get together as we usually do for general council, but we will keep trying to keep you informed with what we got going on."

Lisa Jackson, Big Coulee District Councilwoman spoke:

"If we can just talk maybe a little bit more about the difference between on and off reservation with assistance…."

"When we held these discussions, these past couple days, we originally budgeted, as Council originally had budgeted $3 million to help our membership."

"And our Vice Chairman just shared, those numbers didn't include off reservation at all."

"We did not get the amount of funding that we anticipated, we hoped for."

"What we did get, we were trying to find a place where we can assist the most people."

"We're not able to hand out per capita individual monies to individual people, but we are able to help by household."

"This is how we began to guide our discussions and our disbursement of this money, allocated for membership."

"We're working with doing the best that we can, to reach as many households as we can with what we have. So Council decided to increase the $3 million to $4 million and to spread it out to as many households as we can both on and off."

"DCA was invited to the table and we did have discussion with them," she said.

"They shared their input and opinion, and we all discussed it together."

"And by the end of our discussion, we were comfortable with what we came up with, to my understanding."

Chairman Beaudreau commented, "To clarify the funding we got for CRF, it was based off the 2010 census for on-reservation members."

"That's where that number came from, and that's what we got funded for."

"And I can attest to, when Chairman White was here, he and myself and Gladys Renville stayed late one night and sent in and all this information required for this."

"We sent in our Tribal Enrollment as of January 1st."

"We sent in the … 14,000-plus numbers."

"But Treasury, whoever made that decision …  according to Steve (Gunn), they used the 2010 census."

"It was all on-reservation numbers."

"Just so everybody knows, there was no intent to exclude off-reservation."

"That's just what the federal government did."

June General Council

Friday, June 26, 2020

Technical difficulties were overcome and KXSW livestreamed Friday's session on the SWO Tribal Council YouTube channel.

Here is a link to the channel, where the video is archived:

The Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial American Legion Post 314 honor guard carried in the colors.

Drum group was Red Storm.

Old Agency District Councilman Milton "Nippy" Owen gave an opening prayer.

The day was set aside to go over gaming reports.

DNGE corporate report –

DNGE CFO Weston Quinn began, informing the Oyate that CEO Robert Mudd had a prior obligation and that he would be giving the CEO's report to Council.

"I'm going to present what we have in our general council report for fiscal year 2019."

Weston said there were "hard copies here at council and at the tribe … some available for tribal membership if you want to come to the tribal office building."

He pointed out that there are "…. certain things I can, and can't, talk about – especially if this video is going to be over the internet."

"So I'm just going to be general in some things, specifically about gross revenues and net income."

"But there are other things that I can talk about."

He asked Council to open the booklet as he would "start talking about tribal distributions from the Dakota Nation Game Enterprises."

"In years past, prior to 2005, we've always had fluctuating tribal distributions based upon what was ever in our account."

"In 2005, we did go to a flat rate, and that flat rate was at $12 million for the first three years, from 2005-2007."

"From there, we did grow from 2008 to 2011."

"We jumped our distributions to $15 million in 2012."

"We jumped it to $17 million in 2013."

"We did jump it to $24 million, and then that leads us to the 2014 to 2019, and we're currently at $26 million that Dakota Nation distributes back to the tribe."

"However … looking forward."

"The 2020 year, because of the COVID-19, these numbers that we're showing right now are probably not sustainable in the future, just because of customer habits and things … So it's something that we'll have to look at, and in my CEO's report, Mr. Robert Mudd, he does touch on that subject."

"Moving to the next page for the fiscal year 2019 contributions report."

"I'll go over the numbers, but I'll start rounding numbers instead of giving specific ones."

"For the first section of this, talking about district days."

"District days is what we give to the tribal membership once a year."

"For this year, we did give out $100 to our tribal membership."

"And we did have it at two different locations, one at Dakota Magic, one at Dakota Sioux."

"The casino's portion for Dakota Magic was $419,000 and Dakota Sioux was $128,000, for a total of $546,000."

"The districts have an option of matching, or exceeding, our dollar amounts. And a lot of them did exceed our $100 per tribal membership."

"The districts portion for Dakota Magic was $828,000; Dakota Sioux's was $385,000."

"And the total for districts was $1.2 million."

"In total, we gave out $1.7 million to the tribal membership for the 2019 year."

"Moving on to taxes."

"We have various taxes for various items."

"For example, our hotel taxes in that 8%; Dakota Magic did $141,000; Dakota Sioux contributed $64,000 – for a total of $205,000."


"Tourism tax is at 4%, which basically just covers our RV parks. Because of the low volume, it was pretty insignificant."

"Our tourism tax dollars in total was $515."

"Liquor tax."

"We're sitting at 20% for Dakota Magic. We contributed $358,000; Dakota Sioux contributed $98,000; and Dakota Connection contributed $56,000 – for a total of $513,000."

"Meal tax."

"We're sitting at 5%. Dakota Magic did $87,000; Dakota Sioux did $16,000; and Connection $31,000 – for a total of $135,000 for meal tax."

"And tribal sales tax is at 5-1/2 percent. Magic did $244,000; Dakota Sioux did $26,000; and Dakota Connection did $48,000 – for a total of almost $319,000."

"Cigarette tax."

"In my report, I do have they're not available because we have a tax agreement with South Dakota."

"For Dakota Sioux and Dakota Connection, I wasn't able to retain those numbers, or obtain those numbers, because that tax is given directly to the state."

"However, Dakota Magic doesn't have a tax agreement with North Dakota as of yet."

"So I was able to obtain this report, and Dakota Magic gave out $984,000 in cigarette tax to the tribe."

"The next section is talking about the South Dakota state tax."

"Dakota Sioux did $25,000 to the state; Dakota Connection did almost $19,000 – for a total of $44,000."

"The total taxes that we gave for Dakota Magic is $1.8 million; for Dakota Sioux, the total tax was almost $232,000; and Dakota Connection was $155,000 – for a total of $2.2 million that was given out in taxes of various forms."

"The next section," he said is for "miscellaneous expenses."

"And I only have two."

"One is for Elderly Days."

"Elderly Days is always done at Dakota Magic. We have done it four times a year."

"And for the 2019 year, we gave out $871,000 for tribal elderly that did attend that event."

"Gas discounts."

"We give a 10% discount to our tribal membership, if they go to the c-stores and present a card, their tribal identification card."

Weston reported that at Dakota Magic, $1,500 was given out in gas discounts; at Dakota Sioux was almost $1,400; and Dakota Connection $4,700 – for a total of $7,600 in gas discounts."

He gave a "grand total for District Days, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses,"

"Dakota Magic gave out almost $4 million worth of various expenses; Dakota Sioux gave out $747,000; and Dakota Connection gave out $160,000 – for a total of $4.8 million in various taxes and District Days and miscellaneous expenses."

The Chairman asked Weston to clarify the tax on gas:

"Ten cents a gallon," was the answer.

"Just to let tribal membership know, and anybody watching this, we did have various forms of this gas discounts, but because of the gas prices falling, and finally right now, we're at a 10% discount."

The CFO said he would get into the DNGE FY 2019 net income percentages next.

(Editor's note: Audio was cut from video feed due to nature of finances discussed ... this included CEO Robert Mudd's report as presented by Weston.)

Audio resumed with Weston talking about COVID screening … "At 100.4 Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius or more, they'll be logged, and the employee will be sent to home and advised to contact their healthcare provider. The employee will not be allowed to return to work until a doctor's note is provided stating they are able to return to work."

He said that "personal protective equipment, or PPE, is required, and will be worn by all employees."


"Training on how to properly use and dispose of all PPE will be mandatory."

"Every employee entering the casino will be provided a mask and required to wear that mask while on property."

"Gloves will be provided to the employee whose responsibilities require them as determined."

"For example, housekeeping, public area, attendance, and security officers in direct contact with guests."

"Employees smoking."

"There will be no employee smoking inside the building, including the smoking employee dining room."

"There are designated smoking areas outside."

"Employees must dispose of their cigarette butts. Failure to do so results in outside smoking areas being off-limits to all employees."

"Employee responsibilities."

"DNGE employees are vital to the effective health and sanitation program. Employees will be reminded to not touch their face, and to practice social distancing by standing at least six feet away from their guests and other employees when possible."


"If an employee does not follow these guidelines that are established, disciplinary action may be warranted."

"Additionally, DNGE put plexiglass between slot machines, and on the counters that (are) between the customer and the employees."

"Table games, poker, bingo, and the buffet were all kept closed due to the close proximity, and the use of common items that could potentially spread the virus."

"Before DNGE shut down due to COVID-19, the customer counts and revenue continued to decline in the buffets."

"The decision to permanently close the buffet was difficult to make for the employees, but it was a decision that needed to be made in order to move forward with a more profitable establishment."

"Dakota Magic Casino is in the final stages of beginning sports betting on property."

"We are confident the new betting platform will be a popular attraction."

"Sports betting should be up and running September 2020."

"At the time this report was printed, we were hoping for an August start date."

"However, my continued discussions with IGT, who's going to be our sports betting provider, we're shooting for a September 2020 date."

"This was a collaborative effort amongst all the Indian Gaming Casinos in the state of North Dakota."

"Dakota Magic is one of three casinos in North Dakota that will be having sports betting on their property."

"The Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprises is hopeful that the state of South Dakota will also offer Indian Gaming Casinos to offer sports betting at Dakota Sioux and Dakota Connection Casino."

"Some issues that compounded our efforts during the closures were the lack of cash for property."

"Due to this, we were essentially cash strapped at the end, and ended up using $1.5 million that was earmarked for capital improvements."

"With permission from Shakopee, DNGE pays all of its net income to the tribe, and there was no money set aside for capital projects, or savings, in the case of emergencies."

"We recommended that all casino payoffs net income to the tribe to be at least 85%, and the 15% remainder to be set up in a corporate capital reserve account."

"The account, once set up, would need approval from Council for all uses."

"As set aside from above, Dakota Sioux Casino and Dakota Connection are in dire need of capital improvements."

"Dakota Sioux needs to have a lot of work done on our HVAC systems, and Dakota Connection needs a lot of work on their structures, parking lots and pumps."

"In closing, the fiscal year, 2019 year, was overall a good year for DNGE."

"However, as COVID-19 impacted our community, it has caused significant decreases in the revenue for Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprises."

"We remain hopeful and confident we'll be able to get back started soon to normal business operations."

Weston announced, "We are planning to open up our table games."

"We do have some significant procedures and protective gear that need to be required before we can open these things up, like use of face masks, plexiglass between for customers, and also face screens for the customers also."

"We are looking at opening up operations across, like Mr. Mudd said (in his written report), hopefully 'getting back to normal.'"

"But as of right now, we are doing what we can to protect the employees and the customers from COVID-19."

DNGE EAP report –

"Good morning everybody. My name's Brenda Uses Arrow, the Employee Assistance Provider for the three casinos."

She said that her written report is included in the gaming booklet.

"The program was established to provide counseling, referral education and other assistance to employees that are seeking to improve their lives."

"This program, offers a broad array of services intended to help employees accomplish their goals."

"What I do is I travel to all three casinos on different days."

"I'm at Dakota Sioux two days, Magic two days, and at the Connection for one day, every week."

"I do the DPE classes, which stands for Developing Productive Employees."

"I have that every three weeks."

"It's a two-day program offering soft skills and hopefully some skills that people can use as they go enter back into the workforce."

"I see maybe 15, 20 employees every week."

"I provide life coaching, so I became a certified life coach and so I provide life coaching, which is about meeting with people with work-life balance issues, challenges that they face."

"Having a job is a lot of work and so that's how I teach people in DPE."

"There's a lot of challenges that come up."

"Babysitting, travel, and all these different things, so with my life coaching, I offer services to help people to face challenges that come."

"Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to, different."

"So I do life coaching and that's keeping me pretty busy."

"We collaborate with treatment centers like Keystone, Deep (?), Dakotah Pride, one's in Fargo … Sioux Falls, just to help maybe do evals and help people if they are seeking treatment…."

"And I provide aftercare services."

"A lot of times people, once they're good done with treatment, it's hard to leave work and every week to go for aftercare."

"So they can come to me for aftercare."

"Also, maybe people that are on probation or something like that, they have to meet … for an aftercare program every week."

"So they'll contact me and then we'll set up a time when they meet with me each week."

"So I do that."

"Our goal then in the coming years is to continue to provide counseling and coaching services, to all the DNGE employees and provide trainings, DPE trainings."

"We did a training this year for employees just on personal development and soft skills training at Dakota Sioux, which went really good, had a really good turnout."

Brenda described it as "an eight week program and every week over 50 employees attended."

"I was really happy about that."

Topics, she said included "… time management and communication skills and dealing with conflict or challenges in your life."

She said the program "… got some really good feedback that it was really helpful…."

"Our plan is to maybe have one for supervisors. Maybe supervisors, managers on just some more skills, on coaching skills for maybe time and attendance, coaching skills, different things like that. So that is one of our plans."

"We have done quite a bit of training this year …. the program that we do in the casinos, we started doing, we're setting up budgeting training, budgeting coaching."

"Employees will be able to come and have money management or budgeting help."

"We'll set up a budget, stay on a budget, maybe save, learn how to save some money for money management, coaching, training, we're setting up…."

"Our mission is to just help people learn how to manage money better."

"Our vision statement is like, we all learned how to, 'We learned how to spend money and we got really good at it. Now we've got to learn how to say when.'"

"That's … what we're using as our vision statement and helping people to learn how to set up a budget, live on a budget, and maybe even save some money."

"If you learn how to save a little money, everything isn't such a crisis…."

"If you have a flat tire, it's not a crisis."

"If you have a little bit of money saved … you can get a tire…."

"That's our goal for that."

"But this COVID … we have been sending out information, letting managers and people know that we're here because it's a lot of changes."

"Change is hard for people."

"And so we're there for people to come in if they're having a lot of stress…."

"We're just giving out information."

"We made some flyers to give out on how to deal with stress … different, simple ways you can deal with stress."

"Self-care … drink water, do some stretching, maybe go for a walk, just some things to do to take care of ourselves during this stressful time of going through this COVID …  the new normal at work."

"We've got to wear masks, social distancing…."

"We're there just to help if people need to come in and want to visit and talk."

"When we were gone, I was gone for two and a half weeks … people were still contacting me by Messenger or phone…."

"They had concerns or wanted to do know about different things."

"I tried to help in that way."

"We're still going to be there for the employees as we go through this change, to help them as the new, all the changes that are coming up and maybe fears about this virus."

"People have fears about this virus."

"Some don't."

"Some do."

"Some act like it's nothing."

"Some are very concerned about it."

"So we're there for people if they are, with their concerns … that's what we're doing right now."

She said her report lists training she has done: "… customer service trainings, life skills trainings…."

"I started in December … taking online classes."

"I'm going to become a professional recovery coach."

"I should be completing that and graduating from that program in August."

"And with that, I'll be able to offer more services and stuff for substance abuse and the topic, the main focus I picked on my recovery coaching is family issues."

"Most of my recovery coaching now, a lot of it has to do with addressing family issues … because that's a big part of it in the workforce."

Brenda said the written report offers more detailed information about what a certified professional recovery coach "is and what they can do…."

"A lot of that is relapse prevention also … and more aftercare."

"Goals for the upcoming year," she said, are "to continue providing the coaching and counseling services to our employees, evaluate our DPE program for effectiveness."

She said, "We have a plan … a plan in my head … DPE continuation program."

"Once they're done with DPE, we'll invite them to continue seeing me for work-life balance coaching."

"And we'll just keep track of them for a few months."

"Contact them, 'How's it going? What challenges are you facing?'"

"Starting a new job is like I said, it's a lot of work, and maybe we can help them with challenges right away in all of this so that, help them work, so work becomes easier and maybe they'll retain, that retention, help with the retention and the turnover rates."

"We can contact them and let them know we're here, we care about them, we want them to be successful in their jobs and just follow up with them."

Enemy Swim District Councilwoman Cheryl Owen commented, "Brenda, I've wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your report."

"It's very detailed and you can tell by the way you're talking, you're really passionate about what you're doing."

"And that's good and I'm thankful that you're part of the team at DNGE to help our employees get through a lot of things."

"What you do is awesome … on the team building skills and things, and you have goals."

"You have goals that you're setting."

"I just wanted to thank you for doing such an awesome report and an awesome job for our employees."

Dakota Magic Casino & Hotel report –

Wanda Varnes, Interim GM, gave the annual report for Dakota Magic Casino and Hotel.

She began by saying, "2019 was one of our best years financially since 2015."

"This was the year that we were in the casino after construction was completed."

"All department managers monitored and stayed within their budget."

"This was very important because of some of the big payments to finalize our construction."

"The Marketing Department promotions were very successful."

"Every other month."

"We had a giveaway of gifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

"With this promotion, it brought in customers into the casino."

"The Slot Department count has been reduced and the layouts have been modified to allow more spacing due to the budget restrictions for fiscal 2019."

"Only 11 new machines were purchased."

"Another thing that I write in my report, when we looked at the Slot Department, we had quite a few participation and progressive machines from slot companies."

"And by looking at that, we paid way over a lot of money to these companies."

"So we took a look and contacted the slot companies and negotiated some of our contracts."

"Instead of doing a percentage, we went into a fee, which brought that cost way down, so that helped us in our 2019."

"Dakota Magic is working on sports betting to be up and running in August 2020."

"We were close to getting it in place, however since COVID-19 came in March the process was slightly delayed, but everything is back on track."

"Dakota Magic Casino reopened the casino floor on June 6, 2020."

"A lot of safety precautions were implemented to protect our team members and customers."

"Table games are temporarily closed and unfortunately the difficult decision was made to permanently close the buffet."

"Financially, the buffet was in a decline for a number of years and now with the precautions of the COVID-19, it would have been difficult to ensure and maintain a good infection control that requires customers to use common utensils or dispensers."

"For 2020, Dakota Magic will continue to actively push the marketing promotions to drive the customers to visit our property."

"And we do still have our weekly meetings."

"We do more sanitizing and different things like this."

"We're only 24 hours on the weekends, Friday and Saturday."

"From Monday to Thursday, we close at two and that's due to doing some deep cleaning throughout the casino and that's to protect our customers and our employees."

"I think we've done very well with that, with our team."

Weston Quinn added a comment here: "One of the things in Wanda's report that we didn't really bring up, but Tribal Council did allow us to look into using that space that we shut down for the buffet, to turn it into a food court area."

"So we are exploring that concept, getting bids…."

Dakota Sioux Casino

& Hotel report –

Dean Price, Interim GM, gave the annual report.

"We're opening, we're excited to be there."

"I was listening to Wanda's remarks."

"We're doing a lot of the same things that Dakota Magic was doing as far as deep cleaning and things of that nature."

"We're excited to get table games opened the 29th, I believe."

"We're opening one blackjack table and one carnival game."

"But the staff, they are still excited."

"They're still loyal and they're ready to go to work."

Dean had put together some numbers: "On the first 17 days that we opened from the COVID shut down, the cost of doing business on the slot floor has (gone) down."

"The minimum free play hits the slot machines, and the actual net win increases."

"More money, actual gambling dollars is being played and going to the drop."

"In turn, our money has been taken to the banks."

"Hours of operation are ten o'clock until 3:00 a.m., that is seven days a week."

"I really don't know what else to say other than when we do close at three o'clock, as the general manager from Magic said (when) we do the deep cleaning."

"Customer and employee safety is our priority at Dakota Sioux."

"Promotions going forward…."

"One thing that we are looking forward to is the Prince Experience concert on the outside."

"We will be practicing social distancing for that as well."

"And we are looking forward to reopening 24/7, 365 again."

Dakota Connection Casino

report –

Chris Seaboy, Interim GM, gave the annual report.

"Fiscal year 2019, I wasn't the general manager of Dakota Connection."

"I came there in October of 2019."

"Right now, Dakota Connection has 186 gaming machines, employs 96 employees, mostly consisting of the tribal membership."

"Since coming to the property, I've been able to enable the staff to update the casino."

He invited the Oyate who have not seen, to come to the Connection and see how "… we updated it, opened it up a little bit more, made it more user friendly."

He said he supervised training employees "in internal controls … policy and procedure with DENGE."

Also, "While I've been there, (we've) been able to switch the floor plan from the old bingo hall to the casino floor …  open it up a lot more."

"Then COVID-19 hit."

"So, we were on a good track to get that moving and … had to pause for a while."

"We've been up and running now since the beginning of early June."

"It seems like it's working pretty well."

He described it as "hit and miss."

"We got maybe … 85, 90% of our staff to come back."

Chris said some wanted to "stay at home … unemployment … instead of coming back."

"But (now) everybody that we have offered has come back so far."

"As far as the fiscal year of 2019, it looks like Dakota Connection were somewhat profitable."

"They were able to give the tribe a disbursement of $900,000."

"In December, they gave them $400,000 … and in February they gave a $500,000 disbursement to the tribe."

He said what he is doing now is … "play it by ear, see how COVID pushes through."

"We put preventative measures up by sanitizing, cleaning, and also barriers."

"And that's all three casinos straight across the board."

"We all work together with everybody just to get that moving to the right direction."

"Right now we're going to try to make sure we provide that safe and secure environment for the casino and its staff and its patrons as well."


Chairman Beaudreau remarked that the general council reports were done.

He called for questions or comments.

"If there's any questions that anybody has … please be respectful for any issues or any questions about net income or gross revenues or any personnel issues."

"This is for the internet and it is not just for our tribal membership."

The Vice-Chairman had a question for Weston about the tourism tax.

Weston: "That's a 4% tax on our RV Park."

"Dakota Magic doesn't have one."

"So that's why Dakota Sioux is the only one that's been reporting it."

"We did shut down our RV park because of the expansion that we had."

"And then when we did open it up, we'd come to find out we had some issues with the water lines and things like that because of damage and freezing."

"And we had a lot of construction on top of the pads."

"We ended up breaking some lines."

"They are currently getting fixed right now and hopefully by spring of next year, we'll have it up and running."

Vice-Chairman Johnson said he had gotten "… calls yesterday about the COVID coordinator and the help that we're going to need to help get the membership applications."

"We are having Executive meetings to go over restrictions and hopefully will have something in the paper next week."

The assistance will help with rent and/or mortgage payments for member households whose income has been impacted by COVID-19.

There was discussion about opening bingo, when and how.

Weston Quinn announced that table games would be opening at Dakota Magic and Dakota Sioux "next week (this week, on Monday, June 29)."

There was discussion about how the casinos will enforce COVID-19 guidelines for the well-being of employees and customers.

That discussion included putting the employee shuttles service back into service.

Since the state of emergency has been declared, the shuttles have not been available for casino employees.

Questions, comments –

Terry Renville brought a series of complaints and requests for change to Council.

It was a lengthy discussion, with some comments and questions inaudible on the video.

There was also language used that prompted Chairman Beaudreau to submit a special statement to the Sota on behalf of Tribal Council (see page one).

Here are some main points Terry made:

"What is your contingency plan?"

The Chairman asked what he meant, if it had to do with "another pandemic."

"No … gaming."

"If that (gaming) doesn't work you must have another plan…."

He talked about removal of leaders, treaty rights, policies and procedures, and said, "I think we need to have … a special general council discussion of this organization for the future of our people."

"You guys aren't looking out for the future of our people."

"White people control us…."

He accused Council of operating "against the constitution."

"I think … this organization needs to be restructured."

"Nobody's fighting for the right or the very existence of our takojas/people."

"You certainly aren't."

"You guys are all crooks."

"Everybody knows that."

"We need to stop this."

"It needs to be stopped immediately."

"All this money going down the drain," he said, "we've been getting $26 million a year."

"Where is it going?"

"I've got your guys' budget here."

"It doesn't add up to what the budget you guys are portraying."

"Why are you putting all this money into these programs that are already federally funding … that don't produce anything at all."

"The gaming funds aren't doing (anything) for our people, other than this little circle here."

"These (monies) could be used to generate your contingency plan," he said.

"You need to make a motion to have a special general council, another one … dissolving of this here, reconstruction of it."

"You guys have had a bunch of secrets in here, everybody trying to get rid of each other."

"You're corrupt."

"You know what I mean?"

"What good does that do to our people?"

"And what do you bring to the table that's going to benefit our people."

"We need a way to dissolve this."

"All the districts are corrupt, so no representative should be coming from a district … should be elected at large."

"No vice-chairman, no secretary, no treasurer…."

"We don't need that."

"Something that should be discussed, restructuring everything."

"This isn't working."

"Giving money to the district increased their corruption."

"All of your people … going to prison, that isn't the answer."

Big Coulee District Councilwoman Lisa Jackson spoke.

"I want to thank you for your concerns that you're bringing up to the table."

"We've talked and I know you're not the only person that has stated that this structure doesn't work."

"In the very beginning, (we did) have a nonprofit come in that could help take a look at and restructure tribal government."

"They've done it in other places."

"We've reached out and we've got a nonprofit that's going to come in and help do community engagement for economic development, for community development. "

"And, we've said this amongst ourselves … that it would be nice to have that third component where we have a nonprofit come in and help us with our governance review."

"So I think we've got two in motion, but the third one is the one that you just brought to our attention and you've stressed, is the review of our tribal government structure, and I think that's important."

"If that's something that we could explore, I'd be willing to do that…."

Terry took offense to "bringing outside entities in here … to tell us what to do."

"We don't need anybody from the outside to come in here to tell us how to live our lives or how to govern our people. You understand?"

"I don't need any of your nonprofits or somebody else coming in, 'Well, this is how we do it.'"

"Our people that live here should say how we want to live."

"You guys, obviously, want to bring out, what? All sorts … a lot of these programs."

"You're not taking advantage of the actual knowledge that our people have."

Lisa interjected, "We can engage our community on governance review. We can do that. I think it's a good thing that we're talking about this and that we want to do that."

Other issues came into the discussion, including industry, for-profit business, land, hunting rights, and education.

Tribal Secretary Myrna Thompson spoke.

"Thank you for coming forward with your comments, Terry."

"I'm from the same generation so I relate to a lot of what you're saying as far as the colonized thinking."

"And being able to govern ourselves, because one thing I realized after getting on council is that you can't really affect change if you don't have the support."

"I've brought it up to the US attorney when he was here that we have inherent rights as tribal nations to govern our own people in our own tribal court."

"He agreed."

"But then there was opposition to what I said, so then it just went away."

"But we are not exerting our sovereign authority, and so therefore we diminish our own sovereignty by not doing that."

"And there is so much lateral violence on the reservation."

"And people that speak out with a lot of misinformation are causing a lot of the dissension."

"And there's a lot of misinformation out there right now in relation to the money that we got from the government called Coronavirus Relief Funds."

"There's so much misinformation out there that is being spread."

"Therefore, people are looking at us as being corrupt, like we're after this money."

"But there's so many regulations attached to that money."

"And so many rules are changing as we go along."

"But I totally agree with you."

"I believe that our constitution is modeled after the IRA, after the US government, and we're a treaty tribe."

"We're one of the few treaty tribes left."

Myrna talked about a former tribal attorney who told the Tribe, "'We need to look to our treaty and model our constitution after our treaty.'"

"'Just look at our treaty and stand on our treaty.'"

"'Otherwise it goes away.'"

Myrna said, "And the US government already believes that treaties don't exist any longer."

"But yet they do."

"We have to stand on our treaty and we have to exert our sovereign authority as a tribal nation."

"And we don't do that."

"We don't."

"We're always looking to the white man, or looking outside our own capabilities."

"Every time we want to solve a problem, we want to reach out and contract with the non-Indian to come in and save us."

"That is one thing I don't agree with because we have a lot of educated Native people in our own tribe that we can reach out to."

"We have a lot of capability within our own nation that we can look to, to help us if we don't have that ourselves."

"So, I just want to say I appreciate your comments and a true general council meeting would be to hear from the people…."

Terry asked, "This is not a true general council meeting?"

Myrna: "This is just for reporting, but a general council meeting."

There was a discussion of water rights on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

Finally, the discussion ended with Terry saying he has "more information" to share at "a special meeting."

Pte Cante Win, Kit Fox –

Final item brought to the general council Friday, June 26, came from Dianne DesRosiers and Tamara St. John, from THPO, representing the Pte Cante Win and Kit Fox societies.

Dianne began, "I wanted to inform everybody, just because I knew you would be in session today, that the Pte Cante Win and the Kit Fox Akicitas will be hosting, or conducting, a repatriation ceremony, which will begin on the sixth. Monday, July 6th, and will go through July 9th, and that will be the day of the burial."

She said the plan came up quickly.

"The research center, the museum (Rapid City), was willing to release the remains."

"And so the Kit Fox said, 'We're going then.'"

"The elders and both of the societies had agreed that as soon as they will release them, we want them back because we've been waiting."

"We will be conducting that ceremony."

She reported that the bundles had arrived "… but the ceremonies won't begin until the sixth."

"I just wanted to inform everybody so that you know that those ceremonies will be taking place."

"The Kit Fox and the Pte Cante asked me if I would ask the executives, but since I'm standing up here, I felt it important that all of council should know, so that you can take it back to your constituents should they want to attend the ceremonies or would like to bring some food up."

"Because they will be camped up there for four days until we bury the remains."

"A lot of people have stepped up already."

"It's really good to see and hear and I want to commend everybody that is helping to make this happen at such a short notice."

"But I do commend the Kit Foxes and Pte Cante Win because they really pushed this, and I was kind of hesitant because of everything that's going on."

"And I'm a member of the Pte Cante and I was kind of unsure, but then we brought them back last night and we put them away late last night and it was just really a moving ceremony."

"And then I thought, wow, this is going to happen."

"I'm really happy."

"It made me feel good to know that we're doing good for our ancestors and that there (were) some young people there ... participating, watching and helping."

"And it really made my heart feel good because there are good things happening here."

"And with the elders that were present to mentor and show the young people and set that example, it was really moving."

"It was pitch dark and the fireflies were just lit up all around. It was just a real amazing feeling."

"And the wind was blowing."

"It was something to experience…."

She brought a letter from Kit Fox asking if admin leave could "be granted to those employees that want to attend those ceremonies."

Dianne added that over the years, "There's not a whole bunch of people knocking down the doors to come up and help."

"We always have a very minimal amount."

She did not anticipate many from the casinos or the tribe.

There was a discussion of fundraising efforts and how the Tribe might assist with burial expense.

Tribal Secretary Myrna Thompson asked where the remains had come from.

It was explained that these ten remains are "relatives" who had been found during road construction on Highway 10 west of Red Iron and at another site northeast of Fort Sisseton.

Anyone wanting more information about the repatriation ceremonies may contact Dianne or Tamara at THPO, or other members of Pte Cante Win or the Kit Fox Society.

Revisiting on-rez, off-rez relief –

Before adjourning general council, Big Coulee District Councilwoman Lisa Jackson revisited Thursday's discussion of COVID funding for on-reservation and off-reservation rent and mortgage relief.

"I've been getting a lot of concerns," she said, "on the difference as to why on and off are getting that different amount."

"So I wanted to just re-talk about that today."

"As a Council, I mean, there was discussions whether this would be something that we would support … off-reservation if they would even receive any funding."

"That was discussed … that they wouldn't get funding or assistance."

"But we as a Council decided that we would try to help as many of our members as possible."

"We did know, for sure, that we have up to 1,500 homes on reservation, so that was our starting point."

"The reason why there's more on-reservation versus off-reservation is because the headcount on-reservation was used and also the economic difference where there's more economic opportunity off-reservation than on,"

Lisa pointed to "different deciding factors."

"If we were to give an off-reservation more, then we would've been able to help less households."

"By coming up with that amount, we were able to help up to 5,000 households…."

"I just want to make sure that we re-talk about that, because it sounds like there was an issue yesterday and some misunderstanding, so I'm hoping that answers those questions."

Retreat of colors took place just before 12:00 noon.


Editor's note: To learn more about what was reported, and comments, watch the videos online.

Here is the link to Thursday's livestream:

Here is the link to the SWO Tribal Council YouTube channel (where Friday's general council livestream is archived):

Special Election for Tribal Chairperson July 28

The Reservation Election Board (REB) has scheduled a special election Tuesday, July 28, 2020, to fill Chairman White's unexpired term.

Polls will be open on July 28 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with voting at each of the seven District centers.

Following closing of the polls, ballots will be counted at the SWO admin building.

Unofficial list of candidates who have filed: Delbert Hopkins Jr., Kenneth Johnson Sr., Floyd Kirk Jr., Jesse Larsen, Ella Robertson, and Lorraine Rousseau.

For more information, contact members of REB:

Angie Johnson 605-467-9737

Sonny LaBlanc 605-268-3141

Dustin Opsal 605-924-0662

Josie Bertsch 605-237-4067 (work 698-8236)

Vanessa Carlson 605-742-4035

Marjory Bissonette 605-467-1539 (work 698-8275)

(See the official notice elsewhere in the Sota.)

Unofficial list of SWO candidates

Deadline for candidates to file letters of intent for the 2020 SWO election was May 8, 2020.

Here is the unofficial list of candidates.

The Reservation Election Board (REB) is responsible for background checks and determining eligibility and will release an official list once the certification process is complete.

Executive Offices

Candidates for Tribal Chairperson: Delbert Hopkins Jr., John Kampeska, Jesse Larsen, Ella Robertson, LeeAnn TallBear, Donovan White (incumbent).

Candidates for Tribal Vice-Chair: Lisa Jackson, Eddie Johnson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

Candidates for Tribal Secretary: Winfield Rondell Jr., Myrna Thompson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

District Offices

Big Coulee District: Danielle DeCoteau, Lydia Riveria, Norma Perko.

Buffalo Lake District: Louis Johnson (incumbent), Lorraine Rousseau, Arnold White Jr.

Enemy Swim District: Cheryl Owen (incumbent), Dallas Owen, Brice Roberts.

Heipa District: Bryan Akipa, Branden LaBatte, Charlene LaFontaine, Merlin Jay Renville, Gypsy Wanna.

Lake Traverse District: Dionne Lake, Michael Selvage Jr., Shannon White.

Long Hollow District: Curtis Bissonette (incumbent), Janel Cook, Gretta Lavergne, Darrell Quinn Jr.

Old Agency District: Brandon Adams, Floyd Kirk Jr., Milton "Nippy" Owen (incumbent), Gladys Renville, Martha Renville.

(Editor's note: According to the SWO Election Code, the REB is to complete certification of candidates for both Executive and Council positions by the last Friday of August [August 28, 2020]. Also, according to the Election Code, Tribal members must be on their District voting roster by August in order to vote in the primary and general elections.)

SWO annual Fourth of July Wacipi update

Agency Village, SD – June 26, 2020 – The Pow Wow Committee announced that the 153rd Pow Wow will be a community wacipi.

Singers, dancers, and spectators from out of town will be not be allowed to participate.

Only local SWO Tribal members will be allowed to participate.

Covid-19 precautions will be taken.

Honorariums for dancers/singers.

Wacipi will be Saturday, July 4th, 1-5 pm.

Categories will 0-10, 11-17, 18 and over.

No specials, no drum hopping,

Must bring your own chairs.

Co-ed softball tournament will start Saturday evening and men's tourney on Sunday.

Concession stands will not be utilized, all venders must be local tribal members.

Venders must contact Jerry Eastman at Tribal office.

No camping, no outside food or craft venders.

SWO Powwow Committee will be staff, MC, AD, Registration, and Security.

Current royalty serve another year.

Today, the Sota was notified that Tribal Council had approved a moccasin tournament for local teams only.

The tournament will be held Saturday, July 4th, at the SWO Tekakwitha Memorial Park at Sisseton.

COVID-19 guidelines will be followed.

Registration is from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Prize money: $500, $300, and $200.

For information, contact Felix Renville Jr. at 604-419-1833.

SWO Tribal Law Enforcement Facebook post

Agency Village, SD – June 22, 2020 – Comments by Sergeant Bill Owens:

I'd like to think that at some point in each officer's career, there have been moments when we ask ourselves "Why the h*** do I do this job."

Today while patrolling, this precious young tribal member insisted that I have her coffee cake.

Her name is Ariana Goodsell, and I was reminded why I chose to put this uniform on every day for the past 20 years.

I want to thank you from the very depths of my heart lil Ms. Ariana, thank you for your generosity and for making this old cop's eyes tear up.

DARE positions are closed

Agency Village, SD – June 23, 2020 – Thomas "Sonny" LaBlanc, Aide to the Tribal Vice-Chairman, announced today that the DARE positions have been filled.

Grateful for Compassionate Colorado

By Allison Renville

Agency Village, SD – June 24, 2020 – Nina Wopida Tanka Compassionate Colorado for coming to meet with us, our SWO DARE Team, and Tribal Council.

Thank you so much for the donations and what you're doing, we are so excited for what's to come.

Mental health safety for our people is a priority for me and I'm so grateful for your help and interest in proactively preparing our people.

About Compassionate Colorado

Mission Statement: Compassionate Colorado helps individuals, families, and neighboring communities wherever and whenever there is a need. We believe that no need is too small or too big, and that no distance is too far. No judgment and no questions asked period. Whether it is delivering food to a neighborhood elder, or helping a community in another state, we believe that everyone deserves compassion.

Tag line: "Colorado Delivers Compassion"

Vision: To Create a Global Compassionate Community

Values: Compassion, Collaboration, Community

Our Story: We are a Denver community-based group called Compassionate Colorado that began to organize aid for the Navajo Nation on April 23, 2020. We are everyday people who were moved to action after seeing a video of a Navajo elder crying for his community. After our first delivery to the Eastern Agency of Navajo Nation, New Mexico, we realized that the need is much greater than one emergency aid delivery.

Not on My Watch

By Governor Kristi Noem

June 26, 2020

For weeks now, we have been witnessing a troubling turning point in our nation's history. We moved from calls for reform to violent riots and looting. Now, we're witnessing a radical movement committed to undoing our nation's history. Make no mistake, this movement has nothing to do with equality or justice.

In real time, we are watching an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation's founding and many other points in our history. Rather than looking to the past to help improve our future, the lessons of history - lessons that we should be teaching our children and our grandchildren – are instead being wiped away. This approach focuses exclusively on a person's flaws and fails to capitalize on the opportunity to learn from the virtues that person represents. This is being done deliberately to discredit America's founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them, so that America can be remade in a very different political image.

America is the nation that it is because of the ideals that it was built on: "All men are created equal," they have "certain unalienable rights," and that government's purpose is "to secure these rights." Thomas Jefferson, unquestionably a flawed man, gave us this extraordinary statement of purpose. Today, instead of focusing our attention on Jefferson's flaws, as a nation, we should be focusing on what this remarkable statement means.

In recent days, we have seen threats to memorials that honor some of America's greatest leaders. Some vandals have gone so far as to attack statues of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, the very leaders who brought the Union through the Civil War and ushered in the end of slavery in our country. These are the same men who turned Jefferson's ideal into reality.

Now we're seeing threats to Mount Rushmore. To those who would threaten America's Shrine of Democracy, I have one simple message for you: Not on my watch.

Mount Rushmore is a National Monument, and I am partnering with the federal government and offering the resources of South Dakota to make sure that proper security measures are in place. We will do everything in our power to make sure that Mount Rushmore remains as majestic and inspiring as it is today.

President Trump is visiting Mount Rushmore in just a few days, and it is such an honor to have the President of the United States visit South Dakota, especially to celebrate America's birthday. Security measures will be in full force for the event, but we know that threats to Mount Rushmore may continue after the President leaves. We'll stay diligent about protecting it.

I want to make one thing clear: the men honored on Mount Rushmore weren't perfect; nobody is. They all had flaws. But they all had tremendous virtues as well, and they did incredible things for our country. Today, America is the greatest nation in the history of the world, and that is in no small part thanks to each president memorialized on Mount Rushmore. We can learn from their successes, and we can also learn from their mistakes. And in doing so, we must continue to fight for the American ideal that each of them spent their lives striving for: "All men are created equal."

On America's Birthday, we celebrate the incredible, flawed men and women who shaped it

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

June 26, 2020

I'll never forget the first time we brought our youngest son, Johnny, to see Mt. Rushmore. He was two at the time, and we were on a family road trip. We pulled up to Mt. Rushmore in the evening, after a long day of driving. As we walked up the hill, the older siblings were enthralled at the great faces ahead of them. Johnny, on the other hand, seemed happy just to be out of the car, and unhappy everyone was focused on Mt. Rushmore instead of him.

When we finally got to the top, Johnny stopped in his tracks and stared at the monument. After a long pause, he finally turned to me and asked, "who are those guys?" As a toddler, Johnny didn't see a shrine honoring the many accomplishments of the great leaders that came before us, he simply saw the faces of four men.

Too often, we forget that the men and women that have come together to make our country what it is today were humans. And, like every single one of us, they were not perfect. They made mistakes. But, they also did incredible things to make our country what it is today. They sacrificed their lives, led us through war, fought against slavery, and wrote our Constitution to allow for equality and justice for all Americans. If not for their hard work and sacrifices, we wouldn't have a country to celebrate this Fourth of July. And because of this, we honor them – in statues, monuments, memorials and even mountain carvings – despite their imperfections.

During these difficult times, when some are trying to destroy our sacred symbols of freedom and democracy, we must remember that there are a lot of good people in our history who may not have been perfect, but they did remarkable things in order to create a more perfect union. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. We shouldn't take that away from them because of their flaws. That is not to say no monument or statue should ever be removed. I believe that there are certain circumstances, when done properly, in which it may be appropriate to rename or remove an entity. But the vast majority of our country's leaders deserve to be honored for their roles in creating the greatest, freest, most prosperous country in the world. If we only had monuments of people who are perfect, we would only ever have monuments of statues of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

That doesn't mean we redefine our history. It means we celebrate it for what it is, and learn from it moving forward. Just 15 miles from Mt. Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial. The spectacular carving recognizes Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota leader who gave his life defending his people's land. He was a warrior who stood up for what he believed was right. We must continue to honor leaders like Crazy Horse as we learn from our history and work together to make our country even better than it is today.

As Americans, we have so much to be proud of throughout our history. While our country isn't perfect today, it is the most perfect system of government that has yet existed. As we strive to make improvements to our country, succeeding generations will find that even our most sincere efforts to make our country better will fall short. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, just as those four guys on the mountain tried to do, and just as Crazy Horse tried to do. Everything we have today, we owe to the men and women, including those in uniform, who came before us. Despite their imperfections, we will continue to honor the individuals enshrined on these mountains that tell the story of our country. This is especially important as we celebrate our freedoms and liberties this Independence Day.

Governor Noem signs two Executive Orders

Pierre, SD – June 26, 2020 – Today, Governor Kristi Noem signed two executive orders to give flexibility as South Dakota continues to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Executive Order 2020-28 suspends the implementation of SB 113, which changes statutes related to minor driver's permits. This bill was set to go into effect on July 1, 2020. This suspension will help relieve the backlog on driver's license offices across the state.

Executive Order 2020-29 extends the deadline for the compilation of a report by the South Dakota Commission on Child Support to December 31, 2021.

To learn more about executive orders to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit

Tribes, labor, and environmental advocates file lawsuit as the Trump administration finalizes WOTUS

Wetlands and ephemeral streams get dropped from protection, opened to pollution

Washington, DC – June 22, 2020 – Today millions of streams and wetlands across the country lost protections as Trump's Navigable Waters Protection Rule officially went into effect. This new rule dramatically decreases the waterways protected under the Clean Water Act. Waterbodies and waterways such as wetlands, streams, and groundwater will no longer be protected from pollution. In response, Earthjustice filed challenges on behalf of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Quinault Indian Nation of Washington state, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa of Minnesota, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the Tohono O'odham Tribe of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Idaho Conservation League, and the Sierra Club.

"Millions of Americans depend on water now under threat from this administration's commitment to pro-polluter agendas and cronyism, for drinking, for subsistence, for recreation, and for their livelihoods", said Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice attorney. "Earthjustice, our clients, and partners will continue to fight for the full protection of all our nation's waters."

To demonstrate the significant impacts from the Trump Dirty Water Rule, Earthjustice mapped five different watersheds as illustrations of what is at risk. Each watershed is important in its own way. Waters losing protection will not only devastate specific waterways within a watershed, but also waterways that connect downstream and the people and communities who rely on them.

Arizona Map:

Colorado Map:

Oregon Map:

Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Map:

New Mexico Map:

"The widespread damage the Dirty Water Rule is poised to cause is clear evidence that the Trump administration is disinterested in protecting our water from polluting corporations," said the coalition of groups suing Trump's Environmental Protection Agency. "Despite much improvement over the years, more than half of the country's streams and rivers remain unfit for swimming, drinking, or fishing. We must rescind and replace Trump's Dirty Water Rule."

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own science advisors have said Trump's rule threatens to weaken protection of the nation's waters by disregarding the established connectivity of groundwaters. Trump's Dirty Water Rule fails to protect ephemeral streams and wetlands that connect to navigable waters below the surface. Science advisors to Trump's EPA emphasized that these changes are proposed without a supportable scientific basis, while potentially introducing substantial new risks to human and environmental health.

Quotes from our clients:

"The Pascua Yaqui Tribe will be joining other Tribes in the fight against the current administration's attempt to roll back the protections of the Clean Water Act. Should these rollbacks occur, the vast majority of Arizona's waterways will become unprotected from pollution and degradation. It is our responsibility not only to protect our tribal lands but our ancestral homeland," said Chairman Peter S. Yucupicio, Pascua Yaqui Tribe. "Water is a gift from our Creator, it brings life to all things. Water is a blessing and we must do everything we can to protect it."

"For centuries, we've been stewards to the land, forest, and water, fighting corporation, like the timber barons and mining companies, to stop them from using our natural environment and waterways as sewers," said Joan Delabreau, tribal chair of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. "We are confident the courts will agree with us that Trump's Dirty Water Rule must be stopped."

Hector Sanchez Barba, CEO and executive director Mi Familia Vota said: "On June 22, the Dirty Water Rule will take effect, replacing the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which protects from the dumping of waste and pollution into important water bodies. The widespread negative community impacts of the Dirty Water Rule are another demonstration that Trumps' Environmental Protection Agency is not interested in protecting scientifically-critical sources of water in our neighborhoods, communities, and states from polluting corporations. All Americans, as well as iconic landscapes and wildlife, stand to lose their most important resource: clean water, which we all need to live to thrive and survive. Latinos are directly impacted by this disastrous new rule. That is why Mi Familia Vota vigorously opposes the Dirty Water Rule."

"The science and the need for clean water cannot be ignored, nor can the consequences of doing so. Sierra Club is committed to defending the Clean Water Act and other vital environmental protections as we work to keep communities healthy," said Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club deputy legislative director.

Marie Callaway Kellner, the Idaho Conservation League's program manager said, "The new Trump EPA definition ignores, for the most part, the science of hydrology which tells us that there is a connection between surface water and groundwater, including most of our drinking water. The Idaho Conservation League and our partners are standing together to push back against these changes for the sake of public health and safe access to recreation for everyone."

"The EPA has been systematically dismantling our environmental regulations for the past three and a half years," said Puget Soundkeeper and Executive Director, Chris Rilling. "The EPA's own Science Advisory Board commented that the Dirty Water Rule departs from "EPA's recognized science." This Dirty Water Rule is an egregious example of putting profits over people. Industrial polluters could potentially be given free rein to dump toxic pollution into nearly 2 million miles of the nation's streams and 20 million acres of wetlands for which protections would be removed. This must not be allowed to happen."


Trump's rule replaces the 2015 Clean Water Rule which means currently protected waterways will be opened up to pollution and destructive development. In 2019 and 2020, the Trump administration rescinded and replaced the 2015 rule, which protected many waters under the Clean Water Act. Trump's new rule, dubbed the 'Dirty Water Rule by clean water advocates, cuts many water bodies out of the protections by redefining them as not "waters of the U.S.". This major rollback will make the destruction and pollution of those waters easier. When waters have no Clean Water Act protections, industries can dump uncontrolled discharges of toxic, radiologic, and pathogenic pollution, harming drinking water supplies, recreational waters, wildlife, animals, and people.

Hy-Vee to present check to Feeding South Dakota

Sioux Falls, SD – June 22, 2020 – Hy-Vee, Inc. will present a check for more than $69,000 in food and supplies to Feeding South Dakota at the food bank's facilities in Sioux Falls on Tuesday, June 23. The check ceremony will be held at 10 a.m.

The check is part of the more than $1 million that was raised during Hy-Vee's companywide campaign to help restock local food banks' shelves amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From March 23 to May 31, Hy-Vee customers within the food bank's region were encouraged to donate $1 or more at checkout or via Hy-Vee Aisles Online. Hy-Vee matched donations dollar for dollar up to $500,000 from the Hy-Vee One Step program, which is funded by proceeds from sales of select Hy-Vee products to assist those in need.

Since the start of the campaign, Feeding South Dakota has been able to use the funds raised on a weekly basis to purchase food and supplies from Hy-Vee at-cost price to help support its nearly 350 partner agencies across 66 South Dakota counties.

(Editor's note: The SWO is one of the beneficiaries of Feeding South Dakota.)

Families set to receive food assistance due to COVID-19

Pierre, SD – June 22, 2020 – The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) in collaboration with the Department of Education will be providing additional assistance with food costs to families who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals in response to COVID-19 related school closures.

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) will provide families with a one-time benefit of $285 per eligible child. The benefit is issued through an Electronic Benefit Transaction (EBT) card. The card can be used to purchase food items at participating retailers.

"All South Dakota families with school-aged children who qualified for free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program during the 2019-2020 school year are eligible for P-EBT," said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. "This will be incredibly helpful to families as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic."

Families who received free or reduced-price school meals and who are already eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will automatically have the benefit added to their existing EBT account on June 29. Those who currently receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be automatically enrolled in the P-EBT program and a card will be mailed with activation and use instructions. Benefits will be available July 1.

All other households who received reduced-price school meals will be sent a letter with a link to an online application. Once submitted, a P-EBT card will be mailed to them with activation and use instructions.

"This program will provide extra help buying groceries for the families of more than 46,000 South Dakota children," Gill said.

To learn more about assistance programs, please visit For questions about P-EBT, please call 1.877.999.5612.


The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening and supporting individuals and families by promoting cost effective and comprehensive services in connection with our partners that foster independent and healthy families. For more information, please visit

Editorials –

Sota guest editorial –

Native Americans protesting Trump trip to Mount Rushmore

Sioux Falls, SD – Associated Press – June 27, 2020 – President Donald Trump's plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore have angered Native Americans, who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to Indigenous people.

Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump's July 3 visit, part of Trump's "comeback" campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and, recently, social unrest. The event is slated to include fighter jets thundering over the 79-year-old stone monument in South Dakota's Black Hills and the first fireworks display at the site since 2009.

But it comes amid a national reckoning over racism and a reconsideration of the symbolism of monuments around the globe. Many Native American activists say the Rushmore memorial is as reprehensible as the many Confederate monuments being toppled around the nation.

"Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that's still alive and well in society today," said Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective. "It's an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people's land, then carve the white faces of the colonizers who committed genocide."

While some activists, like Tilsen, want to see the monument removed and the Black Hills returned to the Lakota, others have called for a share in the economic benefits from the region.

Trump has long shown a fascination with Mount Rushmore. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in 2018 that he once told her straight-faced that it was his dream to have his face carved into the monument. He later joked at a campaign rally about getting enshrined alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. And while it was Noem, a Republican, who pushed for a return of fireworks on the eve of Independence Day, Trump committed to visiting South Dakota for the celebration.

Some wildfire experts have raised concerns the pyrotechnics could spark fires, especially because the region has seen dry weather this year. Firefighters called in crews from two other states to help Thursday as a blaze consumed approximately 150 acres (61 hectares) about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of the monument.

The four faces, carved into the mountain with dynamite and drills, are known as the "shrine to democracy." The presidents were chosen by sculptor Gutzon Borglum for their leadership during four phases of American development: Washington led the birth of the nation; Jefferson sparked its westward expansion; Lincoln preserved the union and emancipated slaves; Roosevelt championed industrial innovation.

And yet, for many Native American people, including the Lakota, Cheyenne, Omaha, Arapaho, Kiowa and Kiowa-Apache, the monument is a desecration to the Black Hills, which they consider sacred. Lakota people know the area as Paha Sapa — "the heart of everything that is."

As monuments to Confederate and Colonial leaders have been removed nationwide, some conservatives have expressed fear that Mount Rushmore could be next. Commentator Ben Shapiro this week suggested that the "woke historical revisionist priesthood" wanted to blow up the monument. Noem responded by tweeting, "Not on my watch."

The governor told Fox News on Wednesday, "These men have flaws, obviously every leader has flaws, but we're missing the opportunity we have in this discussion to talk about the virtues and what they brought to this country, and the fact that this is the foundation that we're built on and the heritage we should be carrying forward."

Tim Giago, a journalist who is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, said he doesn't see four great American leaders when he looks at the monument; he sees four white men who either made racist remarks or initiated actions that removed Native Americans from their land. Washington and Jefferson held slaves. Lincoln, though he led the abolition of slavery, approved the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Minnesota after a violent conflict with white settlers there. Roosevelt is reported to have said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are ..."

The monument has long been a "Rorschach test," said John Taliaferro, author of "Great White Fathers," a history of the monument. "All sorts of people can go there and see it in different ways."

The monument often starts conversations on the paradox of American democracy — that a republic that promoted the ideals of freedom, determination and innovation also enslaved people and drove others from their land, he said.

"If we're having this discussion today about what American democracy is, Mount Rushmore is really serving its purpose because that conversation goes on there," he said. "Is it fragile? Is it permanent? Is it cracking somewhat?"

The monument was conceived in the 1920s as a tourist draw for the new fad in vacationing called the road trip. South Dakota historian Doane Robinson recruited Borglum to abandon his work creating the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial in Georgia, which was to feature Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.

Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Mount Rushmore historian and writer Tom Griffith. Borglum joined the Klan to raise money for the Confederate memorial, and Griffith argues his allegiance was more practical than ideological.

Native American activists have long staged protests at the site to raise awareness of the history of the Black Hills, which were seized despite treaties with the United States protecting the land. Fifty years ago, a group of activists associated with an organization called United Native Americans climbed to the top of the monument and occupied it.

Quanah Brightman, who now runs United Native Americans, said the activism in the 1970s grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He hopes a similar movement for Native Americans comes from the Black Lives Matter movement.

"What people find here is the story of America — it's multidimensional, it's complex," Griffith said. "It's important to understand it was people just trying to do right as best they knew it then."

The White House declined to comment.

Sota guest editorial –

Supreme Court will not review decision on Klamath Basin Tribes' water rights

Victory for tribal water rights

Washington, DC – On June 22, 2020, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the Klamath Project irrigators' Fifth Amendment water rights takings case Baley v. United States. This is a tremendous victory for the Klamath Tribes (represented by the Native American Rights Fund) as well as for the other Klamath Basin tribes, the United States, and environmental groups. In this case the Klamath Tribes' treaty water rights were confirmed once again as the most senior water rights in the Basin; rights which are critical to protect the Tribes' fisheries and traditional way of life for future generations.

Klamath Project irrigators sought nearly $30 million in compensation from the United States government for the Bureau of Reclamation's curtailment of water deliveries during a severe drought in 2001. The water restrictions were made to meet Endangered Species Act requirements and fulfill tribal trust responsibilities. Although the decision hinged on recognition of the senior tribal water rights, the case technically was between the irrigators and the United States. The Klamath Tribes participated as amicus curiae (friends of the court) to assure that the courts did not ignore the role of tribal water rights.

In 2017, the US Court of Claims confirmed that the Klamath Tribes and downriver Klamath Basin tribes have senior water rights that take priority over those of the Project irrigators. Thus, the irrigators were not entitled to receive any Project water in 2001 under the western water law system of "first in time, first in right." In 2019, the US Court of Appeals affirmed that decision and went on to declare that the Klamath Tribes' water rights include Upper Klamath Lake waters and that, in 2001, the Klamath Basin tribes were entitled to—at the least—the amount of water required to meet Endangered Species Act requirements. With the Supreme Court's refusal to review the lower court's decision, the case is closed, and the decisions from the lower courts stand.

Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry stated, "We're pleased to have this case put to rest and the seniority of the Klamath Tribes' water rights recognized and reinforced. The courts in this case were correct about our treaty rights, which include protecting and sustaining the endangered C'wam and Koptu in Klamath Lake. We look forward to healing and restoring our tribal fisheries."

NARF Executive Director John Echohawk praised the outcome, "We were proud to represent the Klamath Tribes throughout this 19-year-long litigation. The law is very clear about the Klamath Tribes' senior water rights in the region. The courts have been very clear as well. We are glad the courts reached the right outcome in this case and that tribal rights and sovereignty have been affirmed."

(Editor's note: One of the lessons to take away from the Klamath Basin Tribes experience is that victory depends upon persistence. In that regard efforts to assert sovereignty over water rights on the Lake Traverse Reservation have suffered from failure to maintain focus, to maintain momentum.)

Brief editorial comments from the editor's desk –

On and Off the Lake Traverse Reservation

The first general council of the year was held last Thursday and Friday, June 25-26, and was unlike any other we have experienced.

Thank you to Tom Wilson and KXSW for livestreaming the verbal reports.

Due to technical difficulties Thursday, the day's events were on Facebook Live instead of being posted to the SWO Tribal Council YouTube Channel.

Here is a link:

Here is the link to Thursday's livestream:

The technology worked on Friday, however, and here is where Friday's general council video is available on YouTube:

Tribal members who want access to the financial reports are asked to contact their District representative or the office of Tribal Vice-Chairman.

Due to Tribal executive policy, financial information is not to be published in the Sota.


Everyone is encouraged to continue wearing face masks, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distance, and follow other COVID guidelines.

For assistance, call the Tribal and IHS COVID hotlines.

SWO 24-hour COVID-19 Hotline:


IHS COVID-19 Hotline:



Check out SWO Emergency Management's updated Facebook page, KXSW Radio, and the Sota website for updates as they become available.

To keep up with current changes in the COVID-19 cases across the state/region and worldwide, check out our SWO GIS online maps:

Regional Map COVID-19:

Worldwide Map COVID-19:

Our thanks to GIS Program Manager Mike LaBatte for sharing with the Oyate.

Link to the Sota website:

Direct link to the Sota news page:


The Tribal admin building opens on Monday, SWO Memorial Park opened on Saturday, but we need to be mindful of the CDC guidelines if we are to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Please heed what we are being advised by health officials, let's keep COVID out.

Even though the Tribe is opening offices and businesses and parks, there is no assurance we won't be hit by a wave of positive coronavirus cases if we let up on following the guidelines.

Also, we encourage local residents to plan to come to the Sisseton IHS second mass COVID testing on Saturday, July 18.

Watch for more information as it becomes available.


Congratulations to the 2020 graduates of Tiospa Zina Tribal School, who celebrated the occasion outdoors at the Wambdi football field Saturday, June 20th!

Please read our report and see John Heminger's photo highlights of the occasion elsewhere in this edition of your Sota.


Elder's meditation:

What could be greater than to be Wakan-Tanka's mind, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, legs, and feet here on Earth?"

–Fools Crow, LAKOTA

In order for the Creator to do His work on this earth, He needs the human being to do it. How He guides us is through our eyes, ears, hands, nose, mouth, arms legs and feet. We are instruments of the Creator. We are His keepers of the Earth. We are the keepers of our brothers. We are to teach His children. We are to respect the things He has made. We are to take care of ourselves and treat our bodies and our minds with respect. We are to do respectful things. We are to walk the Sacred Path. We should have good thoughts. We should do only things that we think the Creator would have us do. What an honor to be a human being. What an honor that He would talk to us and guide us to perform His wonders.


Words to consider (or, perhaps not!):

To say that a man is made up of certain chemical elements is a satisfactory description only for those who intend to use him as a fertilizer. - Herbert J. Muller

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget. - Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973) "Personal Conduct"

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies. - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at. - Carlos A. Urbizo

I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves. - Bruce Grocott (1940 - )

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. - Alvin Toffler

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. - Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)


The Sota is always looking for news of the Oyate.

If you have information and/or photos of newsworthy happenings in your family or community, please consider sharing with your Sota staff.

For submission deadlines and other information, see below:

Except for holidays copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – is to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. FAX and e-mail submissions will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Friday (with the exception of letters to the editor/open letters to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received by 10:00 a.m. Thursday).

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel and must be brief, ideally 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

Earlier receipt of copy is always appreciated. So, if you are aware of a date or message that needs to be publicized or advertised, please let us know about it in advance of the weekly deadline.

The preferred way to submit typed articles and ads, art and photos, is by e-mail.

The editor can be reached at the following e-mail address:

For more information, leave a message on the Sota production office voicemail (605) 938-4452, or send a fax to the 24-hour dedicated line (605) 938-4676.


Obituaries –

Notice of passing: Lance L. LaCroix

Lance L. LaCroix (born April 21, 1977) passed away on June 12, 2020 at Brookings, SD.

Memorial services are pending with Cahill Funeral Chapel, Sisseton, SD.

Services held for Terrie "Pixie" Eastman

Graveside service for Terrie Wileen "Pixie" Eastman, 28 of Minneapolis, MN was held on Monday afternoon, June 22, 2020 at St. Matthew's Cemetery, Veblen, SD with Pastor Teresa Eastman officiating.

Pallbearers were Edward St. John, Wambli Benjamin, Nokomis Johns, Dillon DuMarce, Wade Lambkin, Kwsind Johns and Andrew Jeffers.

Honorary pallbearers were all of Terrie's friends and relatives, Justin Eastman, Carlos Regalvo, Robert Chevez, and Josiah Eastman.

Special music was provided by Wambli Benjamin.

Interment is in the St. Matthew's Cemetery, Veblen, South Dakota.

Visitation was held at the Cahill Funeral Chapel prior to the service, with COVID-19 guidelines followed.

The Cahill Funeral Chapel, Sisseton, SD was in charge of funeral arrangements.

Terrie passed away on June 17, 2020.

Terrie is survived by her mother, Marietta Eastman of Minneapolis, MN; five children, Josiah Eastman of Minneapolis, MN, Gianni Ray Eastman of Dayton, MN, Joseph Rodney Eastman of Dayton, MN, Joaz Rocket Eastman of Dayton, MN and Juelz Grey Eastman of Dayton, MN; five brothers, Edward St. John of Minneapolis, MN. Justin Eastman of Minneapolis, MN, Wambli Benjamin of Minneapolis, MN, Wayne DuMarce of Sisseton, SD and Dillon DuMarce of Sisseton, SD; four sisters. Natasha Benjamin of Minneapolis, MN, Darlena DuMarce of Watertown, SD, Juanita DuMarce of Sisseton, SD and Calli DuMarce of Sisseton, SD.

Terrie was preceded in death by her father, Keith DuMarce; one brother Billy Ray DuMarce; paternal grandparents, Connie and Floyd Demarrias and maternal Grandparents, Catherine Black Bear and Andrew Adam Eastman.

For Terrie's obituary and on-line registry please visit

Services held for Vernice Feather

Vernice Eleanor Feather, age 79, of Sisseton, SD journeyed to the Spirit World on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at the Tekakwitha Living Center in Sisseton, SD.

She was born on September, 17, 1940 in Sisseton, SD., the daughter of Clifford Feather Sr., and Fannie Flute.

Vernice enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, playing Bingo and visiting with her grandchildren.

Vernice enjoyed, and was very good at, making cinnamon rolls and Fry Bread.

One of her favorite past times was taking rides to get a cheeseburger and an ice cream cone.

Vernice is survived by her children: Vernon Renville Sr., Dawn Renville, V. Kaye Renville and Jay D. Renville; fifteen grandchildren; thirty-one great-grandchildren and 1 great great-grandchild; sisters: Denise "Sandy" Keeble and Ruan Murphy.

Preceded in death by her parents Clifford and Fannie; brothers Bobby, Sonny and Wendell Kevin; sisters Phyllis and Janice; three grandchildren Javery, Raina and Vernon Renville Jr.

An all-night wake was held Thursday at the Big Coulee District Center in Peever, South Dakota.

A funeral service was held on Friday morning, June 26, 2020 at the Big Coulee District Center, with Junior Heminger officiating.

Honorary Casket Bearers were Sharon Feather, Kathy White, Mary "Marti" Renville, Jackie Lowe, Darrell Renville, Joyce Crantz, Lois Jackson, Chyrel DeCoteau, Roberta Trevino.

Casket Bearers were Galan Renville, Robert Renville, Spirit Renville, Jace Renville, Harvey Keeble, Nathan Renville, Jimma Kier, Leslie "Gummer" DeCoteau.

Interment is at the Ascension Presbyterian Cemetery in Big Coulee, South Dakota.

The Chilson Funeral Home assisted the family with funeral arrangements.

On-line condolences can be directed to

Services for Jonah Blue

Jonah Samuel Blue, age 35, of Belcourt, North Dakota journeyed to the Spirit World on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at his residence.

He was born on September 16, 1984 in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the son of John Hopkins and Michelle Blue.

Jonah enjoyed spending time and playing with his nieces and nephews.

He liked hanging out with his friends, listening to music and talking on the phone with his sisters.

Family was very important to him!

Jonah is survived by his daughter Kaliya; mother Michelle Blue; sisters: Gabrielle Sanchez, Delia Garcia, Sharon Hare, and Daisy Hare; maternal grandmother Sylvia Blue; aunts Leslie Antelope and Hazel Middle Tent; girlfriend Miranda Dunham; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Preceded in death by his father John Hopkins; uncle William Blue Jr.; aunt Danielle Middle Tent; maternal grandpa William Blue Sr.

All-night visitation was held Friday, June 26, at Eagles Wing Church, Agency Village, SD.

Funeral service was held Saturday afternoon, at Eagles Wing Church.

Interment is in the Eagles Wing Cemetery, Agency Village, SD.

Notice of editorial policy

(Editor's note: The following comes from the editor's column and the Sota "deadlines and policies" statement published weekly in the Sota.)

Copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – are to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. FAX and e-mail submissions will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Friday (with the exception of letters to the editor/Open letter to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received no later than 10:00 a.m. Thursday).

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel or offensive language and should be brief, 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

KXSW livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube channel

KXSW-Radio is livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube.

Here is a link to the channel:

Subscribe and watch live or watch archives later.

Open letter to the Oyate

For years Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate holds tribal elections, council positions are filled and months later the executives decide to remove a member from office based on their idea of wrongdoing. Big Coulee District Councilwoman Lisa Jackson moved to investigate other council members, do not stop there; investigate all council members.

It is long past due for the election board to act responsibly and set standards that will help allow only the educated, knowledgeable, above reproach candidates to campaign for offices on the tribal council. The following are my suggestions:

· Conduct criminal background checks on all candidates (this will eliminate the constant waste of time and money on relieving council members of their positions after being elected)

· Background checks of candidate last employment and why they left their last position.

· Verify education by obtaining proof of college degrees when candidates say they have a degree

· Obtain statements from candidates as to why they are running for office and what qualifies them to hold the office they are seeking.

· What will they do to make improvements once in office?

· Allow off reservation tribal members to vote by absentee ballot and treat us as part of the Tribe.

I feel if these suggestions are implemented; only those qualified will be able to concentrate on improving the lives of the tribal members by working on the homelessness, poor housing, lack of adequate housing, alcoholism and drug abuse, missing tribal members, unemployment, tribe going broke, Dakota Crossing losing money, a much needed hospital and Covid 19.

I wrote to each council member asking why they voted against the absentee ballot and only Myrna Thompson and the vice chair responded to me. The council members who did not respond demonstrate their lack of respect for a tribal member they represent, do not care or have no knowledge of professional etiquette.

Karen Ramirez, Savage MN.

Open letter to the Oyate

Does John Derby really want Donovan White or any chairman to murder or those other crimes just so he can be removed from tribal office?

How was his removal that political?

Does he suggest a tribal member sent their 16 yr old daughter and told her to make or persuade him so strongly to act like that?

I don't care what anyone says I'm not voting for Donovan White.

If they reinstated him, I'd start a petition because I know the damage that women feel after being used and it can last a lifetime of feeling less than worthy as a mother as a woman!

Lisa LaBelle.

Five drugmakers recall Metformin after FDA warning

By Maia Anderson

Becker's Healthcare – June 16th, 2020 – Since the FDA said in late May that it found unacceptable levels of a caricinogen in metformin — the generic name for a drug commonly used to control blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes patients — five drugmakers have issued recalls of their metformin products.

The carcinogen, N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, was originally found by online pharmacy Valisure in early March.

The five drugmakers that have recalled their metformin products:

Lupin Pharmaceuticals recalled one lot of its metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets.

Teva Pharmaceuticals recalled 14 lots of its metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets, including the 500 mg and 750 mg bottles.

Marksans Pharma Limited recalled one lot of its extended-release metformin tablet.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals recalled all lots of its metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets.

Apotex recalled all lots of its metformin extended-release tablets.

(Editor's note: Oyate, please check with your IHS Pharmacy about replacing any Metformin you have that are affected by the recall.)

DSS launches crisis counseling, outreach program

Pierre, SD – June 26, 2020 – The Department of Social Services (DSS) launched 605 Strong, a new crisis counseling program, dedicated to helping people struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many individuals have been isolated from their families, have lost jobs or their businesses – the pandemic has impacted so many and we want to find a way to support them," said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. "The 605 Strong program will help connect South Dakotans with basic needs, financial assistance opportunities, government information, and mental health and family resources."

The program was created to promote COVID-19 related resources and support, including crisis intervention and access to the COVID-19 Call Center.

Additionally, the grant dollars will support outreach to individuals impacted by COVID-19. The outreach includes a follow-up program for individuals in acute distress and those in need of supportive contacts, stress management skills, or connection to additional services.

Targeted outreach will also be provided by Lutheran Social Services to support refugees and their families working at affected employers in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Huron.

"As this program moves forward, the goal is to help as many people as possible, lifting up South Dakota so that businesses, families and individuals can move toward a stronger, brighter future," Gill said.

The State of South Dakota received $210,723 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the first of a two-part Crisis Counseling Program grant. DSS plans to apply for the second part of the Crisis Counseling Program grant this month, which will provide funding for continued outreach and supportive services for an additional nine months.

To learn more, go to


The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening and supporting individuals and families by promoting cost effective and comprehensive services in connection with our partners that foster independent and healthy families. For more information, please visit

Prairie Doc® Perspectives –

The Native American Medicine Wheel

By Richard P. Holm, MD

In recent years, I've learned of wonderful aspects of Native American culture, especially the sacred medicine wheel or hoop of life with variations in colors and meanings according to each tribe and nation. The circle is a universal spiritual symbol, but the Native American medicine wheel has complexity and power for me, a person who has cared for the elderly throughout my lifetime on the prairie.

For centuries, the Native American medicine wheel has given bearing, a sense of position, an objective and simultaneous understanding of both the infinitude and the limitation of life. The wheel brings a conscious spirituality that recognizes and accepts all things. For me, it closes the gap between the cynical scientific part of me and the inclusive spiritual part. By spiritual, I mean that part of our soul that savors music, art, poetry and the divine; the part that grows to love all things living and nonliving.

In the following verse, I've taken the liberty to express my interpretation of the sacred circle:

First we get down on our knees and feel the soil, sacred Mother Earth, the world around us, the animals, plants, prairies, lakes, mountains, the environment of our planet from where all food and sustenance comes; earth is foundation.

Then we stand and raise our arms to sacred Father Sky, the sun, stars, clouds, rain, wind, air and breath of life, light and dark; from where all energy flows and ebbs; sky is infinity.

Then we turn and bow east, symbolized by the color red, the rising sun, springtime, birth, the very young, a sense of innocence and hope for the future.

Then we bow south, symbolized by the color yellow, the full sun, summer, early adulthood, a sense of unconquerable power and the courage to fight for justice.

Then we bow west, symbolized by the color black, the setting sun, autumn, mature adulthood, a sense of gravity to protect freedom and face vulnerability with honest eyes.

Finally we bow north, symbolized by the color white, nighttime, winter, old age, wisdom to savor friendship, family and the circle of life, release from fear of change and death, and a sense of empathy from having walked in another's moccasins.

We pray in harmony as love consoles. O sacred hoop of life, please touch our souls.


This essay is a composite of works written by the late Richard P. Holm, M.D. who died in March 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was founder of The Prairie Doc® and author of "Life's Final Season, A Guide for Aging and Dying with Grace" available on Amazon. Dr. Holm's legacy lives on through his Prairie Doc® organization. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc® library, visit and follow Prairie Doc® on Facebook, featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show streaming on Facebook and broadcast on SDPB most Thursdays at 7 p.m. Central.

Youth, school activities highlights –

Education watch on the Lake Traverse Reservation

TZTS 2020 High School graduation highlights

Photos by John Heminger Photography

Agency Village, SD – Saturday, June 20, 2020 – Tiospa Zina Tribal School held its 2020 high school graduation today at the Wambdi football field at noon.

Social distancing guidelines were in place due to the COVID pandemic.

The ceremony was livestreamed on Facebook.

The video is archived here:

Class flower: White Rose dipped in blue.

Class Colors: Blue, Silver and White.

Class Song: "*I'll Always Remember You" by Miley Cyrus.

Class Motto: "Be willing to sacrifice everything, but compromise nothing in your quest to be the best." – Kobe Bryant.

TZTS 2020 graduates are:

Jocelyn Bagola

Brendalyn Barse (Salutatorian)

Katelyn Beaudreau

Dianna Brown

Riley Brown

Shalaine Brown

Kaleb Brushbreaker

Alaina Cloud (Valedictorian)

Makasitomni DuMarce

Elijah Eastman

Jace Eastman

John German III

Payton Halseide

Philip Jackson

April Kongi

Winter Laughter

Dyami Many Lightenings

Glenisha Miller

Jevon Neilan

Kayla Nelson

Nyton Owen

Lannie Paul

Jamison Pratt

TyRay Redday

Hagen Robertson

Tate St. John

Josiah Standfast

Caleb White

Devin White

Jaden White

Jordan White

The Desert Era Veterans honor guard led the procession.

Curtis Bissonette, School Board ex-officio, gave a welcome address.

Here are highlights:

"Graduates, what a way to end a year huh?"

"It probably wasn't how you imagined your senior year, but one thing's for sure, it was a memorable one."

"A state tournament."

"A global pandemic."

He remarked how the class "made history."

He commended them for making "it here today."

"Look around you,' he said, "today is all about you."

"We are all celebrating you."

Curtis spoke about having the "privilege of watching all of you guys grow."

"And I even got to coach a few of you guys in middle school basketball."

"So, let's talk about basketball."

"Show of hands, who thinks LeBron James is the greatest basketball player?"

"Raise your hand. All one of you, huh? Sheesh."

"Hey, raise your hand if you think Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player."

"Now if you raised your hand for LeBron James I'm sorry to tell you, you're not getting a diploma today, you guys still have a lot to learn."

After some laughter, he said he wanted to share some quotes "from  the great Michael Jordan."

"One of them is 'If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up, figure out how to climb it.'"

"The other one is 'I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can't accept not trying.'"

"Those are the two quotes that really stuck with me…."

"Some of you have your life planned out and that's amazing."

"I also know some of you are not sure what the future holds yet, and I want you to know that's okay too."

"Whatever path you choose, make it a successful one."

"And remember it's okay to fail, I've learned just as much from my failures from as I did with my success."

"The day I graduated high school, I never imagined 24 years later I'd be speaking in front of the class of 2020, but here I am."

"Believe in yourself, like we all believe in you guys."

"Congratulations and keep making history."

First guest speaker was Gordie Robertson. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

"It's kind of hard for me to give this kind of talk, speech, or whatever."

"Because in a sense I'm kind of emotional and get shy a little bit."

"I know you're saying, 'Gee, he could announce at LNI and DOC and everything.'"

"But yeah, I get emotional and so bear with me."

Gordie said it seems like "all you guys are like … my own."

"I've known some of you since your sixth grade year, most of you through your junior high years, now through your high school years."

He talked about birth and the "part where you learn how to prepare for things."

"You got your moms, your dads, your grandpas, grandmas, uncles, aunties, and cousins, to look after you, watch over you and nurture you."

He had the graduates "stand up, turn around, give your mom and dad and everybody a wave and a clap because it'll be your last time as a high school senior."

"You got to thank them."

"Come on, guys. Get up one more time. There you go."

"Thank you."

"You wouldn't have made it this far … this is where you learn how to walk, talk, eat, and the values to go on in life."

"My generation," he recalled, "was difficult, was different."

"As the moms and grandmas, everybody, they looked after us."

"They taught us how to do the little things in life."

"Then our dads, my dad and uncles and everybody took over."

"Taught me how to w"ork and take care of and prepare for life."

Gordie brought up what Curtis had said about 2020 being "a tough year for you guys."

"My generation … we survived the Vietnam War."

"We survived the Middle East wars."

"And now we've survived the pandemic."

"We each go through hardships in our lives in some way."

"Keep going."

"Don't give up."

"You are a history making class."

"You've lived through a lot."

"You guys are all right."

He called them "mentors."

"Believe it or not, but you are mentors."

"There are little kids that look up to you guys."

"When you see them and if they come up to you and say, hi, give them a hi."

"Tell them to hang in there."

"That's what they need."

Gordie pointed out that that had been done for "all of you guys."

"Now it's your turn."

He told them they "do not have to be the best athlete or scholar or anything, but your kids look up to you guys."

"When you see them, be nice to them. Hang in there with them."

Gordie pointed to his wife, "Grandma Pam," and said they both are "with you guys and where you go in your next chapter."

"Do not be scared," he said."

"Keep going, ask for help."

"That's what educators are there for … your education."

"Don't be scared of them.

"If you need some help, you need somebody to talk to or whatever, let your Grandma Pam or I know."

"We'll help you."

"We want you to stay on track."

"Live your life, become successful."

"Now with that, I'm out of here, you guys."

After speaking, on behalf of the class of 2020 Darrell DeCoteau and Mabel Picotte presented him with a star quilt.

Second guest speaker was Tom Wilson. Here excerpts from Tom's remarks:

"My speech comes from my heart."

Tom graduated in the Tiospa Zina class of 1987.

"Anybody else here from '87?" he asked.

"There were six of us, and that was the first drum group."

He said he was needed to sing, because there were five others … but "my job was to drive them around, make sure they made it home.

"So, that's basically what I did my senior year."

"Our class motto in 1987 was, 'This is not the end, it is just the beginning.'"

"What's going on now, 2020, is something you will remember forever."

He spoke about his high school class learning of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (January 1986).

"I can remember that," he said.

"You, graduates, see all the trouble, the government, world, education … and fix it."

"It's up to you."

Tom spoke about having covered Wambdi basketball for many years, leaving, then coming back.

About this past year, he said, "I really enjoyed the season, the boys basketball season, and the girls."

"The girls tried hard, tried really hard and they were, I could see it in their eyes, they had the determination."

"You might not have had a winning season, but you did play hard."

"Determination, what gets you the win, you won every game."

"And the boys."

He called for applause for both boys and girls teams for the year.

"We dedicated this year's broadcasts to the memory of TJ Max."

"Last year, we dedicated to Orsen Bernard, because he was one of the people that would watch here and there, every game, he'd watch it on a laptop, watch it on his phone, watch it on his TV at home."

"And we're going to give the award to the girls basketball player of the year and the boys player of the year."

"A monetary gift and a blanket."

"For the girls this year (the award) goes to Brendalyn Barse."

"For the boys player of the year, KXSW, goes to Jamison Pratt."

"Also, in memory of Orsen Bernard … Orsen first saw this group of boys play together … on the C team, 9th and 10th grade."

"Orsen passed away on July 28, 2018."

"He said, if they stayed together until they are seniors then they will make it to state … and they did."

Tom called up three other boys to be recognized: "Caleb White, Payton Halseide and Johnny German."

"Before he passed away, (Orsen) said that he'd be watching them."

"And he would be sitting on a cloud, swinging his leg."

Tom recalled the Wambdi boys earning a spot in the state championship last fall – a first for Tiospa Zina … watching the game "on TV or YouTube or on our livestream when they played Pine Ridge … man was I emotional."

"Finally, after a lot of years, we were going to state championships."

"The team this year went to state in my eyes."

"By the way, the class of 1987, we went out and killed this buffalo so you could have this for future use, true story."

Class Salutatorian Brendaleyn Barse spoke next.

"I want to thank all my friends and family that came out here today to watch us go on our next chapter of life and get our diploma," she said.

"I feel respect all of the love and support everyone has gave us to get where we're at right now."

"Coming to school here for my third year was something to remember, because I remember transferring from a boarding school to this school, not sure if it was the right thing."

"But this school taught me so much about respecting others and being there for each other."

"I became so close to a lot of people from here that made me the person I am today."

"The people in the school became like a family to me, and that's something I will forever love about Tiospa Zina and my class, because sadly our year was cut short."

But she said, "We all accomplished so much this year."

"It was hard for most of us, but we got through it."

"Our basketball boys made history for us, gave us a chance to go to state, and we're all incredibly proud of each and every one of you guys."

"My class, overall, always (has) been there for each other."

"I never saw any of us bring each other down."

"We always helped each other out, and that's what makes us family."

"I know every one of us here (is) going to go so far in life."

"Some of us may not know what we want to do with our lives after high school."

"Some of us may know what we want to do with our lives after high school."

"And some of us don't know."

"I don't know, but for sure I'm always going to lift each and every one you guys up when you're having a bad time, because I'm not that type of person to watch my people fall down."

"We are family."

"And to all the teachers, I want to give you guys a big 'thank you' for understanding so much."

"You guys are so caring about the kids and that's what makes you guys family to me, too."

"So, thank you to all the support and motivation everyone has given us."

"Class of 2020, out."

The 2020 Valedictorian was recognized: Alaina Cloud.

Gordie Robertson gave recognition to the two All-State basketball players: Caleb White and Jamison Pratt.

Principal Mabel Picotte commented how different it has been not having classes at school.

She called it "a bummer … not getting to see all of you every day."

She described it as "lonely … the halls are empty … lonesome without everybody."

"So," she said, "it's really great to see you today."

Travis Albers presented the Rick Albers Leadership Award in memory of his father.

"I would first like to congratulate all the graduates."

"This is really an amazing accomplishment for all of you."

"On behalf of my family, it's an honor to be here, to present this award in honor of my father."

"The recipient of this award is a Tiospa Zina student of good standing in academics and consistent attendance. The recipient openly shows compassion for his fellow students and teachers, gives time generously, shows understanding and respect for his tribal community. Most importantly, the recipient has displayed outstanding personal academic growth throughout their high school years."

"I'd also like to add two of the greatest lessons I learned from my father growing up."

"The first one, be a person of your word."

"If you say you're going to do something, try your best to make sure you do it and get it done."

"Because people remember that … that's your character."

"That's who you are."

"The second one, be a good person."

"Be good to people around you."

"A lot of you have done great things already on the basketball floor, in the community, in the classroom, but how you treat people is what most people are going to remember about you."

"The people, the younger kids, our elders, the people in your community, they're going to remember the handshakes, the high fives, the hugs."

"That's exactly who you are and that's what being a leader is."

"And that's the qualities my dad portrayed as a father and as a superintendent."

Travis called it an "honor" to present the award to Philip Jackson.

To the boys basketball team, he said: "You guys are champs in my book. "

"Not only for how you carry yourself on the court, but most importantly off."

"You guys are true leaders to me."

"So thank you guys. Love you guys."

Mabel Picotte presented the Rollin Ryan award.

"The class of 1988," she read, "established the Rollin Ryan Memorial Award for an outstanding senior who best exemplifies the values, spirituality, and character of the Native American people. The award sets high standards, things they say about Rollin Ryan, a beloved teacher and friend."

"In this small way, the class of '88 hope to help keep Rollin Ryan's memory alive at Tiospa Zina while continuing the things Roland did for the students and his people."

"Feeling that his spirit still guides us, it was their hope that this award would encourage the development of traditional and spiritual values along with recognizing the courage it takes to remain alcohol and drug free."

"The award is a brass plaque. It's engraved with the winner's name and year, and is displayed in the Tiospa Zina trophy case."

"This year, the Rollin Ryan Memorial Award goes to Kaleb Brushbreaker," she said.

Next, Mabel presented the Blue Jean Scholarship.

"The Tiospa Zina Tribal School high school staff and the middle school staff paid at the beginning of the year to wear jeans every Friday," she explained.

"The money that they paid goes into a scholarship, which is called the Blue Jeans Scholarship."

"In order to receive this scholarship, the recipient must be enrolled and ready to attend a post-secondary education in the fall and have to have completed that first semester and enrolled in the spring semester."

"The recipient then receives the scholarship award for books and whatever needs that they need during college or during school."

"This award is being presented to John German, III."

Superintendent Gabe Kameska presented the Morley Kirk Memorial Scholarship.

I'm very honored, very honored and privileged that the family has asked me to present this Morley Kirk Memorial Scholarship Award," he said.

"This is the second year that the family has honored a Tiospa Zina graduate and the graduating valedictorian."

"Morley was a graduate in the graduating class of 2014, and unfortunately Morley passed away May 28th, 2018."

"This is part of Morley's speech when he was the valedictorian when he graduated in 2014."

"The family has asked me to read this short part of his speech to the graduating class and to the families."

From Morley Kirk's graduation speech:

"I urge 'you to ascend on the right course of action and achieve many heights in your life. You will one day look back and you'll be satisfied by doing this with a big smile. Challenge and meet your challenges, gain novel insight into yourself and the world before you. And live a life. One might (say) carpe diem, which means seize the day."

On behalf of Morley's family, Superintendent Kampeska presented the award to the 2020 Valedictorian Alaina Cloud.

Diplomas were presented by Kenneth Johnson Sr., School Board Chairperson.

Following the ceremony, there was a parade along Veterans Memorial Drive at Agency Village.

See photo highlights provided by John Heminger Photography.


Note –

There are no legal notices in this edition of the Sota.

Trading Post ads

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Parole Officer, Department of Parole

In-House Attorney, Tribal Executive Committee

Positions Open Until Filled

Application can be emailed to ArnoldW@SWO-NSN.GOV or DeniseH@SWO-NSN.GOV. Contact can also be at Arnold Williams 698-8238 or Denise Hill 698-8251 with questions.

(Tribal preference will apply).


Sisseton Wahpeton College

Has the following job openings:

Dean of Academics

Sisseton Wahpeton College has an opening for a full-time Dean of Academics. This position is responsible for: the academic curriculum, assessment and evaluation of the curriculum; for providing leadership to the faculty and managing the processes through which teaching is conducted and administered; and for overseeing the development and implementation of the instructional programs of SWC while maintaining a collegial environment. Candidate must be able to develop and evaluate comprehensive plans to satisfy present and future college and community needs; and communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Visit our website for a complete job description and application or contact the HR office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position open until Friday, July 10, 2020.

Culinary Arts Instructor

There is an opening for a full-time Culinary Art Instructor at SWC. Requirements are: Bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Food Service Management, or related field. Two-years full-time, or equivalent part-time, teaching or training experience in Culinary Arts. Significant professional experience in food service operations, including substantial responsibilities in purchasing and inventory management. Able to instruct all levels of baking or cooking, sanitation and management in a lab or lecture setting. Instruct courses specifically in baking, pastry, culinary arts, restaurant management lab classes and lecture classes. Visit our website for a complete job description and application or contact the HR office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position open until Friday, July 10, 2020.


Sisseton Wahpeton College has two (2) openings for a part-time position for a Security/Custodian in our Facilities Department. This position provides security duties which include performing patrols of the college campus to monitor behavior, securing buildings and property, watching for and reporting irregularities, and performing other miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned. This position will also assist with janitorial and/or maintenance duties to ensure a safe, clean, comfortable, and secure environment. Requirements are: A High School Diploma or GED. Previous security experience preferred. Previous janitorial and/or maintenance experience is preferred. Visit our website for a complete job description and application, or contact the HR Office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position closes on Friday, July 10, 2020.


Tiospa Zina Tribal School

Job Openings

Special Education: Two Special Education teachers (Elementary & Secondary) - $3,000 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Elementary School: Three Classroom teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Middle School: Math/Science teacher - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

High School: Math and Social Studies teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Two General Education Paraprofessionals

School Counselor Position

Facilities: Bus Driver

Coaching: (Please run until 6/15)

Head Cross Country

Football Cheer

Head Girls Basketball

Basketball Cheer

Head Volleyball

Assistant Girls Basketball

Assistant Track

Assistant Volleyball

Jr. High/Assistant Wrestling

Please contact Jennifer Williams, Human Resources Director by email at for more information.

Tiospa Zina Tribal School

PO Box 719

#2 Tiospa Zina Dr.

Agency Village, SD 57262

Phone: (605) 698-3953 Ext. 208

Fax: (605) 698-7686


Enemy Swim Day School

Job Openings


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a bus driver for the 2020-2021 school year. This is a 6 hour per day position. Applicant must have a valid CDL driver's license with passenger endorsement. ESDS will assist driver in obtaining a CDL if needed. Must be able to pass a background check. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. Health and vision insurance is included as well as retirement benefits and paid leave. Wage is dependent upon experience. If interested please pick up an application from the business office or visit our website: Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Ed Johnson for details. Indian preference policies apply. Open until filled.


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a Para Educator for the 2020-2021 school year. This position will assist with elementary Dakota Language Immersion in the classroom. Dakotah Language competency is required. Must have post-secondary education, an AA degree or equivalent or successfully passing the ParaPro Assessment. ESDS can assist with ParaPro Assessment preparation, if needed. Must be able to pass a background check. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. Wage is dependent upon experience. This position includes benefits. Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Dr. Eastman to inquire about the position or email If interested please pick up an application from the business office or visit our website: Indian Preference policies apply. Position is open until filled.


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a Behavior Technician for the 2020-2021 school year. Must have post-secondary education, an AA degree or equivalent. Willing to train. Wage is dependent upon experience. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. This position includes benefits. Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Dr. Eastman to inquire about the position or email Applications may also be picked up in the administration office or online at Indian Preference policies apply. Open until filled.



Browns Valley School

Job Openings

Dakota Language/Culture Teacher, Home School Liaison (1.0 FTE)

Browns Valley School is seeing a full-time Dakota Language/Culture Teacher and Home School Liaison. Applicants must have or be eligible for MN teaching license in K-8 Dakota Language and/or Native American Studies or be enrolled in a program that will result in a valid Minnesota Teaching License.

Application Process: Application forms may be requested from the district office, 320-695-2103 or downloaded from

Send cover letter, three letters of recommendation, resume, copy of transcripts and current Minnesota teaching license to:

Denise Pikarksi

Browns Valley School

Box N 118 Church Street

Browns Valley, MN 56219

Open until filled.



Dakota Magic Casino

Job Openings

Administration Department:

Receptionist (Full-Time) Day, Swing-rotating weekends

Cage Department:

Cashier (Full-Time) Graveyard

Shift Supervisor (Full-Time) Graveyard

Hotel Department:

Room/Laundry Attendant (8 Full-Time) 8:00 am to finish

Security Department:

Officer (10 Full-Time) Rotating

Surveillance Department:

Observer (4 Full-Time Seasonal) Day, Swing, Graveyard

Uniforms Department:

Attendant (Full-Time) where needed

Closing Date: July 3, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Starting Wage: D.O.E.

High School Diploma or GED required for most positions. Two identifications documents required upon hire.

If interested please submit application to Human Resources Department, 16849 102nd Street SE Hankinson ND 58041.

For complete Job Description contact James Neconish 701-634-3000 ext. 2582

Indian Preference will apply / EEO (Please Provide Tribal Enrollment).

Must be licensable by the SWO Gaming Commission.


Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel

Job Openings

Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel is seeking to fill the following position(s):



STARTING WAGE $11.50 plus excellent benefits package!

GENERAL FUNCTION: Under supervision, performs clerical tasks involving typing, filing, answering switchboard and other work as required or directed.

REQUIREMENTS: Must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Knowledge of Basic English

usage, spelling, and math. Experience in public relations/customer service preferred. Experience and/or training in the use of a switchboard preferred. Knowledge and understanding of computers and Microsoft Office programs. Ability to understand and carry out oral and written directions. Knowledge of office methods, practices, machines, and procedures. Able to sit for long periods of time as well as preform repetitious computer work. Able to lift up to 50 lbs. Must be 21 years old. Must obtain a Non-Gaming License upon hire.

This position will close on July 1, 2020 at 4pm.

Indian Preference will apply / EEO

Contact the Human Resources Department for complete job descriptions at 1-800-658-4717 Ex. 1652.

Two forms of ID are REQUIRED upon hire.

If interested please fill out an application and submit to: Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel, Human Resources Department, 16415 Sioux Conifer Road, Watertown, SD 57201.


Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel

Job Openings

Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel is seeking to fill the following position(s):


*TEAM MEMBER ( 1 Full-Time)

STARTING WAGE $12.50 plus excellent benefits package!

GENERAL FUNCTION: Responsible for the inventory of Cage/Casino coin and chip assets. Assist in providing an accurate count for daily service drops. Work in accordance with all applicable policies and procedures as stated in the Dakota Sioux Casino Cage Employee Manual.

REQUIREMENTS: High school diploma or GED equivalent. Accounting background, the ability to work well with numbers and computer knowledge is required as well as willingness to be trained in these areas. Detail orientated, self-starter with ability to work well with others. Ability to lift 100 lbs. or more. Must have a telephone. Heavy lifting, moving, bending, stretching, and standing for long periods of time. Weekends are mandatory. Must obtain a Key Gaming License upon hire.

This position will close on July 2, 2020 at 4pm.

Indian Preference will apply / EEO

Contact the Human Resources Department for complete job descriptions at 1-800-658-4717 Ex. 1652.

Two forms of ID are REQUIRED upon hire.

If interested please fill out an application and submit to: Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel, Human Resources Department, 16415 Sioux Conifer Road, Watertown, SD 57201.


Dakota Connection Casino

Job Openings

Security Department:

Officer (1) full-time, rotating shifts, day, swing, graveyard, weekends & holidays. Mobility throughout the facility 45% percent of time; will be stooping, bending, walking for long periods of time, able to lift up to 40 pounds, computer skills required for report writing. Will be exposed to noise and tobacco smoke. Appropriate dress code. Must be at least 21 years old. Must have High School Diploma/G.E.D. Must be able to obtain a Key License.

Opening Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020

Closing Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2020 @ 4:00 p.m.

Surveillance Department:

Agent (5) full-time, rotating shifts, day, swing, graveyard, weekends & holidays. Must have excellent written & verbal communication skills, motivational & mechanical skills. Knowledgeable of Tribal, State, and Federal gaming regulations. Knowledgeable in the operation of Microsoft Word. 1 year previous experience preferred. Must be at least 21 years old. Must have a High School diploma or GED. Must be able to obtain a Key License.

Opening Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020

Closing Date: Open until filled

Indian preference will apply/EEO Employer

Apply with Human Resources Department, call or write for job description.

Submit application and credentials to:

Human Resources Department

Dakota Connection Casino

46102 SD Hwy 10

Sisseton, SD 57262

(605) 698-4273



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