A tower in Fort Yates, North Dakota, the headquarters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Photo: Keith Ewing
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Teton Times: Standing Rock citizens secure injunction in constitutional dispute

Injunction filed to stop Constitution Revision at Standing Rock

By Avis Little Eagle
Teton Times

FORT YATES, N.D. – Citing the tribe’s traditions and customs, Chief Judge Michael Swallow granted an Injunction filed by the Long Soldier District to stop proposed Constitution revision because the Standing Rock Tribal Council failed to inform the people.

“The Tribe had six of the amendments before them in April of 2017. They had been approved by the Judicial Committee and were waiting for the Tribal Council to get 13 members to a tribal council meeting.

“For five months the Tribal Council had those amendments and did not share them with the people or even inform the people that six constitutional amendments were pending.

“While their action met the requirements of Article VIII, they did not meet the requirements of article XI, Sect. 13, the court holds that as a matter of right, the people must be informed and participate when their Constitution is going through the amendment process.”

The hearing on the injunction was held on Sept. 22. Chase Iron Eyes represented the Long Soldier District and Dean DuPountis represented the Tribe, Tribal Council and the Chairman.

The injunction was filed to stop the government from placing seven constitutional amendments on the ballot for the 2017 General Election.

The Long Soldier District argued that the Standing Rock Tribal Council approved the constitution revision without any input from the people, and that this was a violation of tribal traditions and customs.

Respected elder Verna Bailey, of the Long Soldier District, testified about her knowledge of traditional laws and customs of the tribe with regard to providing notice to the people.

Mrs. Bailey testified that in the past, the people and districts had Eyapahas who would go through the villages and spread the news about the tribe and events to the people.

The people would always be informed prior to events happening and if matters were important, the people were asked to come and participate prior to any actions. She spoke about how laws are passed now where the people are given an opportunity to provide input into the language of proposed laws. This was used as an example of how traditions and customs are incorporated into our lives. It was also used as an example of how our tradition of informing the people was not followed with the passage of the amendments.

Testimony from Steve Sitting Bear, Chairman of a Constitution Reform Commission that was formed following the submission of petitions by Chase Iron Eyes to amend the tribe’s constitution, revealed that the commission also made the recommendation to suggest that the constitution be changed to reflect a general neutral designation (Amendment 3).

Mr. Sitting Bear provided documentation that each District was invited to select one member from the District to participate on the Commission.

Rock Creek’s representative did not participate on the commission. Diane Gates, was appointed from Long Soldier District, but she testified she did not participate because no one ever informed her about meetings.

Support Native media and read the rest of the story at Native Sun News Today: Injunction filed to stop Constitution Revision at Standing Rock

Contact Avis Little Eagle at avislittleeagle@yahoo.com

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