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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season

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

Bryan Brewer. Photo from Facebook

Big turn over at OST
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

PINE RIDGE –– The Oglala Sioux Tribe is set for some major turnover on the tribal council if the results of last week’s primary election are any indication.

The council that will be leaving office after this term had a mediocre record of producing legislation and was often bogged down by political infighting and several ethics hearings concerning the conduct of council members and Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer. After initially promising to remove President Brewer from office the council reversed direction and reinstated him after a short suspension.

Eight of the nine districts on the reservation are entitled by the tribe’s constitution to two seats on the council. Pine Ridge, the reservations largest voting district, has three. In most years all districts except Pine Ridge send four candidates to the general election ballot and Pine Ridge sends six, however two ties in this year’s primary will mandate that Pine Ridge will have seven names on the ballot and Eagle Nest will have five.

Voters across the reservation who seemingly grew tired of the political infighting and lack of any significant development that plagued tribal government this past term sent a strong message for reform by putting many incumbents on notice and smack dab in the middle of highly competitive races.

Two districts will have entirely new representatives on the council. Wounded Knee district and Porcupine district each had one current council representative choose to not seek reelection and each voted to replace their second current sitting council member.

Neither incumbent Dani Lebeau from Porcupine District, nor Wounded Knee representative Kevin Steele, was successful in their bid to advance to the general election. Garfield Steele, Wounded Knee’s other rep on council, and Scott Weston of Porcupine district, both announced early on that they would not seek reelection due to personal reasons. David Pourier and Patrick Ross finished as the top vote getters in the district. In Wounded Knee Ramona White Plume led all voters and in a close second was long time policy maker and former councilman Mike Her Many Horses.

In the reservation’s second largest voting district, Wakpamni, voters chose to replace council representative Dan Rodriguez. Incumbent Jaqueline Siers ran a strong second to former council representative Sonia Little Hawk-Weston.

In what may be one of the more interesting council races to watch the reservation’s largest voting district Pine Ridge, showed support for a political new comer and longtime law dog Richard “Sica” Greenwald. In his first attempt at political office Greenwald dominated the primary run off by receiving approximately fifty more votes than his closest challenger incumbent Ella John Carlow. All three of Pine Ridge’s current council members moved on to the general election and will be joined by right-winger Bruce Whalen and Gerald “Jump” Big Crow on the ballot. They received the same amount of votes in the primary forcing an additional name to be printed on the ballot.

Oglala may be the other district seeing a complete turnover in their representation on council. Paul Little who sat on the council this past term as a representative from Oglala chose to not seek an additional term. In last week’s election incumbent Barb Dull Knife squeezed by in to the general election behind three others including Ellen Fills the Pipe, Valerie Janis, and Floyd Brings Plenty.

In primary results that bucked the trend of bringing in new faces to the November ballot, Pass Creek district and Eagle Nest, stood behind their two incumbents as Jim Meeks and Ruth Brown finished first and second in Eagle Nest, and Jim Cross and Lydia Bear Killer won in Eagle Nest.

In the Oglala Sioux Tribal Presidential race former six term president John Steele nearly secured a majority of the votes. A simple majority would have eliminated the need for a general election but incumbent Bryan Brewer survived and is set to face Steele in a matchup of the 2012 OST presidential race.

The general election will be held Nov 4, 2014.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com0

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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