The administration building of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in Lower Brule, South Dakota. Photo: Rolf Blauer
Environment | National

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays $54K to address federal audit

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has agreed to repay $54,190 to the Bureau of Reclamation to resolve issues raised by a federal audit.

An investigation by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of the Interior uncovered $1.4 million in questionable costs. The tribe had received the funds in connection with a water delivery project overseen by Reclamation.

"The tribe and Reclamation worked cooperatively to reach the final number from the auditors questioned costs of over $1.4 million," Chairman Boyd Gourneau said in a press release. "This reflects well on the partnership between the tribe and Reclamation in supporting our project."

The federal audit occurred after an investigation by Human Rights Watch accused tribal leaders of hiding financial information from their own citizens and failing to account for their spending. In a February 2017 letter, Gourneau said the group's 2015 report was based on "fabricated" information.

"These false claims directly affected the basic services on which many tribal members rely," Gorneau wrote. "In fact, the HWR report is a large factor in why our tribe had a non functioning government throughout the prior administration."

Gourneau succeeded the late Michael Jandreau, who led the tribe for 36 years before his death in April 2015.

Read More on the Story:
Lower Brule tribe has to repay feds $54,190 (AP 5/17)

Inspector General Report:
Audit of Cooperative Agreement No. R95AV60020 Between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (December 2016)

Human Rights Watch Report:
Secret and Unaccountable: The Tribal Council at Lower Brule and Its Impact on Human Rights (January 2015)