“Our elders and youth need to be assured that we care for them and all our Cheyenne people. We are battling an unseen enemy that enemy is covid-19. Prayers for all. May Maheo watch over all us in this time of uncertainty.” -- Paul Three Fingers. Courtesy photo

Native Sun News Today: Militants challenge Northern Cheyenne IRA Government

LAME DEER, Montana -- Though the Northern Cheyenne Reservation survived the coronavirus quarantine with no cases, actions taken during the pandemic quarantine have led to political controversy.

Specifically, on April 28, 2020, many (not all) members of the traditional military societies (Kit Fox, Elk Horn Scrapers and Crazy Dogs) forwarded a two-page unsigned letter to Tribal President Rynalea Pena which included a number of bold points and contentions. As excerpted from the letter, those included:

• Traditional military societies provided security services including checkpoints to enforce an 8:00 pm curfew to the Tribe for six weeks on a voluntary basis;

• The Tribal President and Tribal Council formally and traditionally requested such assistance, which the societies took as a call for action to implement traditional Cheyenne law;

• Hence, the societies assert that they have implemented traditional Cheyenne law (verbal) while serving a citizen security force during the pandemic, though they agree that the security agreement has now expired;

• The agreement (IRA constitution adopted in 1936 establishing the current form of tribal government) between traditional groups and that government has expired;

• Within traditional rights, the societies are excusing the Tribal President and three Council seats held by womenfolk, them to be placed on administrative leave without pay, pending future developments;

• Establishment of a society-driven Cultural Research Committee to include Tribal Members deemed fit to serve;

• Otherwise, the letter provides general criticism of the Tribal Council’s ability to deal with the drug, alcohol and poverty endemic on the reservation, asserting that it is time for the societies to do a better job.

Posted by Northern Cheyenne Incident Command Center on Sunday, March 22, 2020

While providing public security, the societies established a camp at the major intersection in Lame Deer where State Highway 212 and County Road 39 bisect, often stopping travelers, encouraging them to continue on, not pulling off major roads. This also included resident tribal members who risked a $500 fine and possible jail time for violating the curfew.

In addition, according to numerous reports from community members, at least four tribal members suspected of violating tribal drug, alcohol or other laws were physically apprehended and punished in the tradition of society “whip-carriers”. Currently, the reservation is staffed by only four BIA Law Enforcement officers and the Tribal Courts are also operating on a limited schedule.


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Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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