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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe awaits check from settlement

Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellowbird Steele speaks at the Ramah contract support costs settlement announcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on September 17, 2015. . Photo from Bureau of Indian Affairs / Twitter

Ramah funds not spent except for $2 million loan
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

PINE RIDGE –– Last week the Oglala Sioux Tribe Public Relations Office responded to concerns tribal members had over Ramah Settlement monies already being spent.

“We have not received the Ramah settlement monies yet and none of it is spent, except for the loan,” Kevin Steele, Oglala Sioux Tribal Public Relations Officer said.

On Monday June 20 the Tribal Council voted 8 to 7 to authorize OST President John Steele and OST Treasurer Melanie Two Eagle to obtain a $2 million loan from First National Bank of Gordon using Ramah Settlement monies to secure the loan.

A priority list, presented to the federal government on how the Oglala Sioux Tribe would spend the $12.9 million from the Ramah Settlement was compiled from concerns voiced by tribal members Kevin Steele said.

“These are the things that our tribal members were concerned about, the council listened to the people,” he said. “I believe what the council was trying to do is give it to the people.”

The priority list he said were suggestions on how to spend the money and the list isn’t set in stone.

“There is nothing set in stone. But if the tribe owes anything to the Department of Justice, they are going to take that right off the top,” he added stating that President Steele is working with DOJ to take care of that obligation before the money arrives.

However he said the tribe does not want to hand out per capita payments to the 45,000 plus tribal members because each member would receive very little. He also added there are 20,000 pending applicants for OST membership.

Council also learned from their recent experience with Salazar payments he said, which had been divided between the tribe’s nine distinct districts. Their concerns arose over what happened to one of the districts, Wakpamni, who were swindled out of their Salazar money by unscrupulous investors and not able to invest that money into their community.

Plans are to invest Ramah Settlement monies into projects that will benefit all tribal community members he said, “It is going to go back to the people.”

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