Kathleen Wooden Knife, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Soldier Creek Council Representative, speaks at a meeting at Mother Butler Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, on December 17, 2018. Photo by Ernestine Chasing Hawk / Native Sun News Today

Native Sun News Today: Tribes won't manage troubled Indian Health Service hospital

Sioux San to remain under IHS control
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today Staff Writer

RAPID CITY – The takeover of management of historic Sioux San Hospital by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, which was touted as a done deal, was upended when the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council voted to rescind their support.

On December 20, the Indian Health Service issued the following statement, “Today, the Indian Health Service informed the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board that we are ceasing negotiations on contract proposals regarding the Rapid City Service Unit in South Dakota. The Indian Health Service respects tribal sovereignty and is committed to tribal self-governance and self-determination. This action is the result of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe rescinding its authorization for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board to enter into agreements with IHS on its behalf."

"Therefore, IHS will continue to operate the Rapid City Service Unit and will move forward with plans to construct a replacement facility," the statement continued. "We value our partnership with the tribes we serve and look forward to continuing to work together to provide access to comprehensive, high quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the Great Plains Area.”

The Unified Health Board made up of members from the Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Oglala Lakota Nations were given statutory oversight of the Rapid City Indian Health Facility on the Sioux San campus through a series of resolutions passed by the three tribes and the Pennington County Commissioners.

The Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, will remain under control of the Indian Health Service after the Rosebud Sioux Tribe withdrew from an effort that it had started with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

The three tribes, also through resolutions passed last spring, in turn gave the GPTCHB authority to take control of the hospital via a PL 93- 638 Indian Self-Determination contract and move forward with plans to relocate services to land donated by local developer Hani Shafei. According to the GPTCHB, the land, located east of Rapid City, would better suit the needs of the Indian community.

An ad hoc committee from Rapid City called the Mni Luzahan Wicozani Advisory Committee met on regular basis with the Unified Health Board and the GPTCHB and became the decision making body in regard to the future of Sioux San.

In June of last year the GPCTHB intervened in the ongoing process of IHS building a new facility by submitting a proposal to run the hospital via a 638 contract which stopped IHS from moving forward in building the new multimillion dollar facility on the Sioux San Campus.

According to IHS, Sioux San was approved for a new facility in 2002. In 2016, Congress appropriated $117 million to build a new facility on the Sioux San Campus with plans to demolish many of the existing buildings. A design contract was awarded in 2017 and by June, Indian Health Service had completed 80 percent of the architectural design at a cost of over one million dollars.

However many in the Rapid City Indian community maintained that they did not have a voice in the consultation process by which Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board attempted to take over control of Sioux San.

Several community meetings were held at the Mother Butler Center sponsored by Rapid City Concerned Indian Community Members which include Charmaine White Face, Mark Lone Hill, Theresa Spry, Jeannie Ashley, Dr. Art Zimiga and Dr. Pat Lee.

At those meetings many voiced concern because Rapid City Indians not allowed a vote in tribal elections, and are essentially denied equal representation, a right guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. The issue of voting in tribal elections has been a source of contention between tribes and tribal members living off the reservation for decades.


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Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at staffwriter@nativesunnews.today)

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