On September 21, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs Cheyenne River Agency and its Acting Superintendent Gina Douville for failure to maintain BIA facilities and failing to act in the best interest of the Tribe.
The lawsuit alleges “the facilities the Bureau of Indian Affairs are obligated to provide and maintain have serious deficiencies that expose occupants to the outside elements. The Bureau of Indian Affairs have moved their offices to a new facility without consideration to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Government or its members. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe prays the court to seek relief from unsatisfactory conditions and provide facilities to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe as stipulated in previous agreements from the United States of America.”
According to the chairman, the lawsuit was prompted after he received numerous reports of leaking ceilings from various offices, including the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School.
A tribal reported dated September 20, by CRST Building Inspector Art Rave, states that a walk through inspection of the tribal jail was conducted and resulted in the identification of seven major leaks.
“It is my recommendation that an environmental study be conducted for indoor air quality and all necessary repairs to be completed on roof for leaks,” wrote Rave.
That same day, Rave conducted another walk through inspection of the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School and reports, “I confirmed that over twenty class rooms have current leaks or previous water damage to the learning areas of our children in all grade levels in the CEB School.”
Rave requested that a full environmental study be conducted to “verify damage and the potential for mold growth” and to “inspect for possible friable asbestos due to the water damage to the ceiling tiles located throughout the building.”
According to the chairman, further prompting the lawsuit was an incident that occurred the same day of Rave’s inspection and reports- a portion of the ceiling in the chairman’s office collapsed, sending wet debris onto the office copy machine and surround area. More alarming, was that the debris just missed landing on District 3 Council Representative Ed Widow, who is 86 years old.
Photos taken from the scene of the ceiling collapse show a 6-foot radius of splattered ceiling panels saturated in filthy water. A mop bucket was placed beneath the leaking hole in the ceiling as water continuously dripped into it. A portion of the chair where Widow sat was observed to be covered in debris. It is unknown if Widow was injured from the ceiling collapse.
On Friday, September 21, an executive resolution was released regarding the lawsuit.
“The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is committed to ensuring the health and welfare of its membership; and the Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has repeatedly documented and informed the Bureau of Indian Affairs of deficiencies with facilities provided with no relief from those conditions; and the construction of a new and safe Tribal Administration building with the capacity to house all Tribal Programs, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and all other federal programs to improve delivery of services to Tribal Members making such a building a necessity; now therefore be it resolved, that the Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is authorized to submit a complaint in Tribal Court to seek relief for poor facilities and sue for a new state of the art facility for providing services to our members.