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On Friday October 8, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s (SRST) Election Commission hosted a hearing to hear complaints of potential irregularities in the general election results that was held on September 29, 2021. The general election was held throughout the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to elect a new tribal chairperson, vice chair and other tribal council positions. 

The contest for chairperson is between Janet Alkire and Ira Taken Alive, the tribe’s current vice chair. 

On the morning of September 30, the SRST’s Facebook page posted preliminary results of the election that declared Ira Taken Alive was the winner by three votes, 759 to 756. 

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On October 4, the SRST’s Facebook page posted official results of the 2021 general election and declared that Janet Alkire was the winner by 67 votes, 829 to 762. 

The additional votes came from the Long Soldier district. On September 30, 517 total votes were counted for the Office of Vice Chairman with only 449 total votes counted for the Office of Chairperson; a difference of 68 votes. In other words, the additional votes counted came from one district, for one office—the Office of Chairperson--for one candidate, Alkire. 

In an email newsletter on October 4, the Lakota People’s Law Project said, “for the first time in more than 50 years, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have elected a woman to lead their tribal nation.” On October 5, KFYRTV reported that voters on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation elected Janet Alkire as the next chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The difference has many community members questioning unofficial and official results. Each election is supervised by an election supervisor and an election commission, staffed by poll workers. To date, there hasn’t been an official statement made by the election supervisor or the commission as to the large difference in votes tallied in the September 29 election. 

“Hopefully, we will get some answers on our election integrity tomorrow and clear up these questions on the results of Long Soldier,” said Director of Child Support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Jerl Thompson in a Facebook post. 

Several sources shared with Native News Online that eight people filed to contest the election citing various violations of rules including residency. Candidates must live within the exterior boundaries of the reservation for at least a year to qualify. If claims are proved, a candidate will be disqualified from the election ballot. 

In a letter written to Stephanie Yellow Hammer, SRST’s Election Supervisor Carol Standing Crow, on October 7, 2021 reads, “As Election Supervisor, it is my responsibility to determine whether this challenge meets the requirements of the Tribal Election Ordinance, Title XV, Section 15-24(a). Because this Challenge appears to meet those requirements it has been referred to the Tribe Election Commission for further action.” Stephanie Yellow Hammer was one of the eight people who filed to contest the election. 

“The very integrity of our election and our tribe is at stake,” said Alice Bird Horse, Candidate for the Office of Councilman from the Long Soldier District for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to Native News Online. 

The public hearing lasted nearly four hours on Friday, October 8 at the A.J. Agard Multi-Purpose center in Ft. Yates, N.D. Those contesting the results brought up various issues including residency of candidates and other technicalities. The burden of proof lies on the person(s) contesting the election results. The election commission has three business days to make a decision on Friday’s hearing. If tribal members are unsatisfied with the decisions of the commission, they have a right to contest in tribal court. 

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on Friday, October 8, the SRST Election Commission dismissed all files to contest the election, with no explanation to their decision. As of press time, the next chairperson for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will be Janet Alkire. She will become the first female to lead the tribe in over 50 years.

The chairperson would replace Mike Faith, who was elected in 2017, replacing then-Chairman Dave Archambault.

This is a developing story.

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About The Author
Author: Darren Thompson
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist and based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.