Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Eagle Butte

Letter to the Editor

No One should be above the law

Back in the day before the CRST Grazing Code became Ordinance 71, the Grazing Code is sent out to the communities for comments for 30 days and after the comment period, the tribal council reviewed all comments and then, a motion is made with a second and vote is taken to approve the CRST Grazing Code for a 5-year grazing period, for instance, 1988 to 1993, 1993 to 1998, 1998 to 2003.

By approving the Grazing Code through a motion form enacted by the tribal council which is within the constitutional law to give the tribal members to exercise their constitutional right to referendum the Grazing Code under Article VII-Referendum of the CRST Tribal Constitution if they so wish to referendum the Grazing Code. 

Also, there was always a protest period where the range unit operators were given an opportunity to be heard, better known as Due Process of Law, to hear their appeals by the tribal council for reconsideration for their range units.  Sometimes, it takes days to hear all the appeals, but nevertheless, the tribal council gave the protestors the opportunity to be heard and a decision was made, good or bad. 

Let’s look at the PREAMBLE of our tribal constitution and within this preamble, it says, “TO ESTABLISH JUSTICE,” what does that really means?  Our tribal constitution was approved back in 1935, in layman terms, it says, “To treat each other with respect and honor,” don’t put yourself above the law.

However, I was surprised to hear from several tribal members that the tribal council failed to carry out their Oath of Office by not approving the Ordinance 71 through a motion form to approve or disapprove the Ordinance 71, there is no tribal record at the Tribal Secretary indicating Ordinance 71 is approved by the tribal council since 2003 to present. 

Which means, the tribal council PUT THEMSELVES ABOVE THE LAW and yes, tribal members could use Article VII-Referendum to demand a referendum election using the “PROPOSE Ordinance or resolution.  But, since Ordinance 71 is only in a propose stages which is just a piece of paper and the tribal council could deny the referendum petition saying, “We haven’t approved the proposed Ordinance 71,” which means all the effort, time and money put in by tribal members to get signatures is a just waste of time.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is entrusted and ordered by the Department of the Interior to abide by the provisions of said constitution and by-laws, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Constitution and By-Laws, the BIA Land Operations failed in their trust responsibilities to enforce the provisions of our constitution.

Lastly, the point system that was used in range unit allocations is very much unconstitutional, its not in Ordinance 71 nor its not passed with a tribal resolution to become referendumable, this point system violates one man one vote concept in our tribal constitution. Under the present point system, each Council Representative has 55 votes in one motion, a total of 555 votes were cast on December 6 and 7, 2018 tribal council session.  Also, this point system is discriminatory in nature, unless certain criteria is established.

In closing, no one is above the law, every tribal member is equally protected under the tribal con-stitution and the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 including all elected officials on the reservation, I am requesting that the tribal council retrace their action on December 6 and 7, 2018 and start all over in approving Ordinance 71. 

Robert Chasing Hawk