Cheyenne RIver Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier
Published May 29, 2018
FT. PIERRE, S.D. – Harold Fraizer, the Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, serving as the chairman of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association hosted the Secretary of Interior and senior staff at Wakpa Sica building. Representatives from 10 American Indian tribes from the Great Plains were present at the meeting.
Chairman Frazier greeted the Secretary as he was escorted by veterans carrying the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Veteran staff. Councilman Yellow Hawk from Rosebud Sioux Tribe offered prayer to begin the meeting and introductions were then given to the Secretary and everyone in attendance.
After introducing himself Secretary Ryan Zinke (whose Assiniboine name is Seal Leader) explained his view of tribal sovereignty and reorganization of the Department of Interior. The Secretary stated that Tribal Sovereignty does not mean a thing if the Tribes are not free to exercise sovereignty. The Secretary also went on to ask the Tribes to participate in the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Special Trustee which are not currently part of the Department of Interior reorganization. Secretary Zinke said, “The BIA is the only federal agency that deals directly with people.”
Tribal leaders then spoke to the Secretary about issues that directly affect their individual tribes. Chairman Boyd Gorneau and Chairman (crow creek) both expounded on issues affecting law enforcement shortages while Councilman CJ Clifford (Wounded Knee District-OST) talked about education and the value of treaties with the United States.
Winnebago Chairman White informed Secretary Zinke the Department has been in a constant state change and this reorganization is not a new concept but Tribes had to constantly adapt to the different agency and department changes.
Chairman Michael Wolfe of the Omaha Tribe thanked the Secretary for visiting. Chairman Wolfe emphasized that the Tribes have survived the onslaught of the American government and growing because we learned American ways and adapted. Chairman Wolfe stated that tribal members are treated worse than any other demographic in terms of health care and education. Chairman Wolfe said, “We have survived and the US can no longer say a good indian is a dead indian because we have learned the American ways. We are still here and not going away.”
Issues that the Tribal leaders discussed ranged to many topics including: Education, Emergency hospital service, Law Enforcement, School Resource officers in schools, Corrections facilities, Transportation, Infrastructure, BIA organization, Judicial systems and support, Forest Service Land, AUM on grazing leases, Indian Land Consolidation funds, Opiate and methamphetamine addiction and rehab, BIA funding, Federal Health Benefits for teachers in tribal schools, Education standards developed by Tribes, Land Buy Back, diabetes, Elder care facilities, suicide and oil pipelines.
Chairman Frazier stated, “I have been an elected official for many years and this is the first time I have ever seen a Secretary of Interior on our trust land talking with us. If this Federal administration is serious about economic development then develop it on the reservations.”