Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux vice president was arrested

The following story was written and reported by Jeffrey Whalen and appears in the latest issue of The Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.

Tom Poor Bear

PINE RIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA –– Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Tom Poor Bear was arrested over the weekend for public intoxication.

After a police search for old warrants came up positive, Poor Bear had to sit in jail with no bond. He arrived at the Pine Ridge courthouse in an orange-and-white inmate jumpsuit, after being transported there by the inmate bus.

Poor Bear is a first-time vice president for the OST. He has served several terms as a council member from the Eagle Nest District, eventually winning the vice presidency in a landslide victory over Myron Pourier. There is no doubt that Tom is a darn good guy, but he struggles with a problem that a majority of our membership also struggles to keep under control: the evils of alcohol consumption.

It’s ironic because Tom has been on more than several marches against the alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Neb., mostly because of the deaths of his two brothers, Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart. During those marches, the general public focuses on alcohol being sold so close to the reservation, the reasons why it continues to consume the livelihood of our residents and how it causes numerous other problems.

It’s also ironic for our tribal vice president to be put in jail during a national holiday weekend, but he has an excuse: he must have been celebrating Presidents’ Day.

For several years in past administrations, the tribal council was mandated by the tribal Constitution to pass a law that addresses the council ethics. They reluctantly worked on it for several years. Now that the task is finally done, they are apparently refusing to recognize the revised ethics laws, much less implement them.

In the OST Constitution, under Article IV- Powers of the Council, Sec. 1-Enumerated Powers, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council shall exercise the following powers, “(u) To adopt ordinances regulating the procedure of the council itself and of other elected officials of the reservation through a comprehensive code of ethics and removal procedures.”

(Contact Jeffrey Whalen at jeffrey.whalen2@gmail.com)

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