Strong Heart Warrior Society: Lakota Elders Assaulted at Secret Council Meeting

From the Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society.

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye also known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota Nation is an ancient Lakota warrior society as well as a broad-based civil rights movement that works to protect, enforce and restore treaty rights, civil rights, and sovereignty of Native people and their communities across Turtle Island. In addition to activist efforts to protect the land and people, each year Cante Tenza collects and freely distributes shoes, winter coats, school supplies, food, and other support to Oglala Lakota elders, children and families.


  • Oglala Lakota Tribal Council Representative Deborah Rooks-Cook brandishes gun, assaults traditional Elders outside closed, secret council meeting on Tuesday
  • Elders demand immediate removal of Representative Rooks-Cook, Cante Tenza Warrior Society seeks banishment under traditional Flotter Law
  • Tribal Police, Council take no action against Rooks-Cook
  • Former Council President Theresa Two-Bulls’ attorney Mario Gonzalez calls tribal police, asks them to stand down on Councilwoman Rooks-Cook
  • Concerns mount that Tuesday’s secret meeting sought to reinstate Two-Bulls in council, allow cover-up of graft and corruption in her administration including the attempted false arrest of traditional Elders in October 2010 for “inciting a riot”

Pine Ridge Reservation, SD – The decades long tinderbox of tenuous relations between the poor, full-blooded and traditional Lakota peopleand the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supported Oglala Tribal Council that claims to represent them is set to explode as traditional Elders stumble upon a secret tribal council meeting and are assaulted bycouncilwoman Deborah Rooks-Cook.

On Tuesday, outside a secret meeting of the Oglala Tribal Council, a group of Elders were physically assaulted and threatened with a gun by Deborah Rooks-Cook, council representative from the Oglala District.

Respected Lakota Elders, including Chief Oliver Red Cloud, 89 year old Marie Randall, Loraine White Face (69), and 1973 Wounded Knee participant Cecilia Martin, were visiting the tribal offices to request a new building for the elderly in the Porcupine community of Pine Ridge, but grew confused when they were barred from the secret meeting.

As they sat outside the meeting, waiting to be told what was being discussed, Oglala District Representative Rooks-Cook (pictured at right) stormed outside shaking her fist and verbally chastised them, turning to Chief Red Cloud and asking, “What the fuck is going on?”

“She should have respect for the Elderly people,” said Cecilia Martin, who turns 91 on Sunday and uses a wheelchair to get around. “We don’t say, not one word. We don’t even know what’s going on!”

Cecilia’s son, Melvin Martin, a 68 year old veteran of the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee explained, “Elder’s should be able to express themselves in Council. Instead, Elders stay outside, knocking on the door. Why is the door closed? Why is this a closed session? Why do they keep the Elders out? That I can’t understand.”

As Rooks-Cook became more agitated she began to physically push the Elders in their chests. As warriors and others arrived to defend the Elders, Rooks-Cook brandished a gun and retreated to the judicial office to call in the tribal police.

Though Oglala tribal police were called in, Rooks-Cook was not arrested for pushing the Elders or brandishing a gun at them. Later, reports surfaced that Mario Gonzalez, attorney for ousted President Theresa Two Bulls, contacted tribal police and intervened on Rooks-Cook’s behalf. Two-Bulls attempted to arrest many of these same Elders under the false charge of “inciting a riot” after the Elders refused to be silenced at an October 2010 council meeting.

Cante Tenza: the traditional Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Lakota Oyate (people) intervened to protect the Elders at Tuesday’s incident and has been speaking with groups of traditional Grandmothers and Treaty Council Grandfathers to discuss what action is needed in the wake of this latest injustice.

Due to slow action by the Tribal Council, Elders are now speaking out for the immediate removal of Deborah Rooks-Cook while Strong Heart will seek banishment of Rooks-Cook and her family under the traditional Flotter (pronounced “Floater”) Law that is supported by the “Bad Man Clause” of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the Lakota and the United States.

“We don’t want that woman there,” Cecilia Martin shared. “She might hit us again!”

This winter has also seen more injustices against Elders and traditional people who have been denied propane heating assistance at the expense of those with family connections or who exchange illegal drugs and alcohol to ensure receipt of tribal government benefits.

“In Lakota Country, there is no law for the Lakota people,” Martin explained. “We have to be careful.”

On Monday, respected Grandmother Wilma Thin Elk (69 years old) was illegally evicted from her home in the dead of winter, and her attempts to get housing from Tribal Housing have been rebuffed because they refuse to accept her Lakota tribal identification and are demanding South Dakota state ID.

“We are the Oyate (people) who put them in there to get us help, but we don’t get any help,” shared Cecilia Martin. “This is Indian Country, it belongs to the Oyate, but they (tribal officials) have no respect for us.”

Strong Heart Warrior headsman Duane Martin Sr. explained, “When tribal officials violate the human rights of the Elders and the people using tax payer dollars to abuse them – that’s not right!”

Many Lakota who have watched for decades while the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supported Oglala Tribal Government has squandered or stolen millions of dollars in U.S. support while alienating and even attacking full-blooded and traditional Lakota people while dismissing traditional Lakota governance called customary law.

“We are taking our government back,” said Duane Martin Sr. “We’ve had enough!”

“I’m Lakota. No one is going to step on me and tell me what to do,” Cecilia Martin said.

Strong Heart with support from the Urban Warrior Society/Black Hills AIM (American Indian Movement) and Autonomous AIM of Rapid City will be working to support the will of the Elders and bring justice back to Pine Ridge and the Lakota oyate (people).


Posted on January 28, 2011, in Indigenous Struggles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Strong Heart Warrior Society: Lakota Elders Assaulted at Secret Council Meeting.

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