Lakota Elders, Warrior Societies, Now Occupy Porcupine Elderly Meals Center
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or
March 4, 2011 Contact: Duane Martin Sr. 605-517-1547 or 605-454-0449
Porcupine Elderly Meals Building, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD – After four years of abuses and calls for remedy from the Bureau of Indian Affairs(BIA) Oglala Tribal Government, Lakota elders with support from the Strong Heart Warrior Society, United Urban Warrior Society, and Rapid City AIM- Grassroots have peacefully taken over, and now occupy, the Elderly Meals Building in the Porcupine Community of Pine Ridge Reservation.
The occupation occurred as a result of human rights and civil rights abuses, including physical assault, of Lakota elders at the center, the illegal selling of drugs and alcohol from the building by center staff, refusal of Oglala tribal government officials to take action, and the use of the tribal judicial office to attack and penalize elders and advocates who spoke out against abuse, graft, and corruption occurring in the elderly meals program and throughout complicit tribal government officials.
The elders and warrior societies are demanding the removal of all current center staff, the construction of a new, sanitary building, restoration of healthy meals, expansion of elderly meals to those home-bound, and an investigation into the graft and corruption in the program and those complicit tribal officials.
Respected Lakota elders including Lorraine White Face Eagle Elk, Cecilia Martin, Elizabeth Young Bear, and Enoch Brings Plenty issued the following statement:
“The former president and the cook have discriminated against the elders at the Porcupine Elderly Meals Center. Elders are demanding them to be removed immediately.
“The Elders will be leading this occupation with the support and protection of three warrior societies – the Strong Heart Warrior Society, United Urban Warrior Society, and Grassroots AIM.
“I, Enoch Brings Plenty, as president of the Meals for the Elderly Program at Porcupine, will try my best to please the Elders in my district as best as I can -to bring back honesty, trust and integrity. This is why these three warrior societies are here with us. They are going to teach our children how to protect and remain free with the elders of our oyate. Hoka hey!”
In support of the elder’s statement, the Strong Heart Warrior Society said, “The elders have exhausted all legal remedies that they possibly can and now they face the critical mass. So it is now their urgency to request these warrior societies to step up and give them that opportunity to regain control for what is rightfully theirs.”
The Oglala Tribal Council, which has been at the center of controversy for years over graft and corruption in their ranks, continues to publicly state there is no problem with Pine Ridge Reservation elders. Activists have noted numerous incidents of retaliation and dirty tricks in order to penalize elders and advocates from speaking out and making these abuses public.
The occupation is planned until the demands are met. While State and Federal officials have been slow to respond to this crisis, the South Dakota Governor’s Office is now aware of the situation, as is the U.S. Justice Department.
The Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota is the size of the state of Connecticut. Due to decades of abuse, corruption and colonial enforcement, Pine Ridge faces epidemic rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, elder abuse, and poverty. Life expectancy for Lakota men is below 40 years of age. Nearly ¾ of the Lakota people have lost their language, and the traditional language is on the verge of extinction in Pine Ridge. The reservation has one of the highest rates of unsolved murders. These unsolved deaths are widely attributed to violent retaliation against those seeking an end to corruption and assertion of traditional Lakota sovereignty.
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. www.lakotaoyate.net “Lakota Oyate” on Facebook