Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe approves FEMA contract

The following article was written and reported by Tom Crash, Lakota Country Times Correspondent. For more news, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times today. All content © Lakota Country Times.

The Pine Ridge Reservation went through severe storms throughout the month of May. Tribal members saw snowfall late as May 20. Photo from Lakota Country Times / Facebook

OST Council approves historic contract with FEMA
Sets parameters on Ramah, IHS settlements
By Tom Crash
LCT Correspondent

PINE RIDGE – Tuesday, Aug. 25 in Pine Ridge in the council chambers, the tribal council voted 19-0 to approve an historic contract between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agreement will provide direct payments from FEMA to both individual tribal members and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

“This is a pilot project that a lot of people are watching to see how it works,” said both Del Brewer, tribal disaster recovery coordinator, and Gary Stanley, FEMA’s regional disaster recovery coordinator. "Until now, FEMA payments would go through the state and then to the tribe, this project is designed to provide direct funding from FEMA to tribal nations.”

After some concern and debate, the council voted 10-5 to require a plan for spending either the Ramah or second Indian Health Service settlement to be approved by a unanimous vote of all of the tribal council representatives present for the meeting. Although the Ramah lawsuit has basically been settled, no settlement total has been released and funds won’t be distributed until 2016. The first IHS settlement was $4.5 million which has already been distributed, a second settlement for $3 million has yet to be released.

“This is a good move, for both of these settlements,” said President John Yellow Bird Steele who had added the IHS settlement by amendment to the original action. "This puts some structure to the settlements and will require both transparency and consensus to distribute or spend either settlement.”

The council voted 14-0-1 to put restricted funds status on bond monies and settlements to head off paying deficiencies from the Cangleska collapse from either of those two sources and to continue seeking a write off of the deficiency debts; voted 15-0-1 to approve the 2015 FY Indirect Cost Fund budget and voted 13-1-2 to approve amending the General Fund Budget for 2015.

With a vote of 13-1-1, the council abolished the early check release process with the OST and voted to establish short term and long term loan policies and procedures for the OST.

Because of unacceptable language in the resolution passed by the council following the council’s hearing on OLC, the council voted 13-0 to rescind 15-149 and send it back to the education committee for rewriting and a return to the full council.

Voting 16-0, the council moved a total of $1,013,311 into the tribe’s general fund - $250,000 from the IHS settlement, $16,390 from the Land Buy Back program and $746,911 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Lease Account.

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