Community members from Iron Lightning, Thunder Butte, Isabel, Bear Creek, Green Grass and Dupree met in the multi-purpose building in Dupree the week of April 16 to elect members of the District 1 cooperative.
The cooperative aims to create a communal ranch to grow the economic base of District 1 communities and the reservation as a whole, and to create an emergency hub that could more quickly serve District 1 residents before, during and after natural threats, such as blizzards and tornadoes.
President of the cooperative, Bryce In the Woods, facilitated the meeting attended by over twenty CRST District 1 community members.
Elected to each district were:
Iron Lightning: Dean Little Hawk and Wiyaka Chasing Hawk;
Thunder Butte: Arnold Clown Jr. and Codi High Elk;
Isabel: George Eagle Chasing and Christy Chasing Hawk;
Bear Creek: Randee Red Fox and Juan;
Dupree: Art Rave and Bryce In the Woods.
In the Woods was elected to remain president of the cooperative, and Mike Frazier to remain vice president.
Red Fox was nominated and elected to be the secretary, and Monique Tavai-Fiatoa was elected treasurer.
In other business, the cooperative discussed proposals to the tribal council and grant requests from the TECA program that would help the cooperative get the ranch going, the issue the group has had in the past obtaining land and start-up funds for their plan, and strategies to improve their chances of obtaining the funding and support needed to get the idea of the ground.
In the Woods distributed ordinances, and shared with those present the detailed budget for the project. He encouraged all newly elected board members to read and be sure to understand each ordinance to ensure everyone has the same understanding of their rights and the
guiding laws pertaining to the cooperative, land, and treaty rights.
Many attendees expressed feelings of being ostracized from the benefits allotted tribal members under the treaty and tribal laws.
Frazier said that in the group’s efforts, when the time comes to address council, “let’s not say we’re going to do it and back out at the last minute.”
“There is a mindset we have to put ourselves into. Let’s all show up. Be a force,” Frazier said. His words were received with a round of applause.
While there was debate about who should or should not be considered tribal members, raised by several elders in the cooperative, the consensus was that the cooperative wants to develop a ranch on which youth can be taught by retired elders and ranchers how to care for the land and animals, how to operate farm equipment, drive trucks, among other things.
The group believes that the ranch would be a way to pass on traditions to youth, keep them busy and prevent addictions from developing and reduce suicide rates.
The cooperative ranch would also share profits in the tribe’s general fund.