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The 34-day occupation of the Porcupine elderly meals building by Lakota activists ended Wednesday. The occupation was launched in response to unaddressed complaints of elder abuse, neglect and fraud. .PORCUPINE — The occupation of the Porcupine elderly meals building by Lakota activists ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning when Oglala Sioux Tribe police removed several young protesters from the building without struggle. Less than 12 hours later in Pine Ridge, jailed activist Duane Martin Sr., whose Strong Heart Warrior Society launched the occupation 34 days earlier over complaints of elder abuse, neglect and fraud , was released on a $500 cash bond. As a condition of his release, Martin must remain off the Pine Ridge Reservation pending trial. He still faces seven charges related to the occupation, said OST Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl. His trial is set for May 11. The 2 a.m. raid involved 12 police officers who executed a court order to vacate the building. There were no elders present overnight, but several young adults and several small children were on the premises. “It went pretty peacefully,” said Red Owl. There was one arrest for disorderly conduct of a person across the street from the occupied building, and four other young males in a vehicle who were identified as part of the occupation were arrested for intoxication. Occupation supporters said the evacuation should have been done during daytime hours, when physically removing elders would have constituted elder abuse under tribal laws. Like so many things on the reservation, the occupation was also about family ties and tribal politics. The community feud it has fostered in the small village of Porcupine revolves around accusations of abuse of power and financial corruption, but also around the personal relationship of two cousins from the White Face clan: Winifred Janis and Lorraine Eagle Elk. The two women accuse each other of intimidation tactics that range from personal insults to physical violence. The charges that fly among their family members, friends and followers are even more extreme: arson, bootlegging, drug use, embezzlement. Eagle Elk was among a small group of Lakota elders who occupied the building as a way to draw attention to their demands for better management of the Porcupine elderly meals program. On Wednesday, she had “stepped away from the building for a short time, and when she tried to re-enter was told she would be arrested,” according to a Strong Heart Warriors Society spokesman. Despite the end of the occupation, Eagle Elk still has a long list of complaints, many of them directed at Janis, and Eagle Elk pledged to continue her fight against the alleged abuse of elders. Janis is the former president of the senior program’s board. Her daughter, Geneva Quiver, was employed as the cook at the Porcupine elderly meals site for nearly three years. Quiver recently quit her job, citing the stress of the situation and harassment from the occupiers. Janis counters that the illegal occupation represented a tiny percentage of the Porcupine District’s elders and that its charges are false, personally motivated, and a threat to her and her family and to public safety in Porcupine. “I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights ever since this occupation started,” Janis said. Sorting out the legitimate complaints from the personal attacks was the job of Pat Mills, the new interim chief of police for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, when he stopped by the occupation on April 1. “I want to resolve this thing,” Mills told a group of elders and other occupiers that day. “I’m here to help you resolve this, because I don’t want to come back here with an order to remove you people.” OST President John Yellow Bird Steele had taken a hands-off approach to the occupation, preferring to let the local district council handle it. “I was told the district was going to take care of it,” Steele said Monday. The court order to vacate the premises was issued, Red Owl said, at the request of the Porcupine District council. District officials passed a resolution on March 31 asking the tribe’s Department of Public Safety to vacate the building because of reports of violence, intoxication and truancy. The occupiers called those reports fabrications by their opponents and said their peaceful sit-in was not a protest, but a prayer vigil complete with traditional Lakota ceremonies, including the sacred canupa pipe and a Seven Generation fire that was kept burning continuously outside since the occupation began March 4. Yellow Bird Steele faced criticism from both sides, including threats of impeachment from Janis, who said the occupation dragged on too long and hurt most of the town’s elders who no longer had access to the senior center. The occupiers are also unhappy with Yellow Bird Steele, based on his family ties to Fern Apple, an elderly meals program administrator. “I don’t know how many sides of this there are, and I don’t want to become another side,” Yellow Bird Steele said. “I don’t want to be a party to it. I just want to try to take care of it so that everyone is satisfied.” That’s not likely, Red Owl acknowledged Wednesday. She has met with the occupying elders several times and knows they are still not satisfied, even though “we pretty much met all the demands,” including the ouster of Quiver. “I was the cook they’re complaining about,” said Quiver, who believes she was a victim of Eagle Elk’s “slander campaign” against her mother. “She wants control of the senior center,” Quiver said. “She only wants to feed Lakota elders.” Quiver said that Eagle Elk repeatedly asked her to deny free meals to non-Native Americans or even half-blood Lakotas. “I told her that would be discrimination for me to refuse to feed someone based on their race,” she said. Eagle Elks denies that accusation and wants Janis and Quiver to be investigated with a financial audit of the center’s finances, including a search for grant funds awarded for building renovations that she said never happened and new kitchen equipment that was never purchased. Quiver’s resignation addresses one of the occupiers’ chief demands: Removal of the program’s cook. Among their other demands are: y addressing what they call a pattern of systemic elder abuse at the center; y recognition of a newly elected governing board for the center; y addressing conditions at the dilapidated building that they say are unsafe or unsanitary. The senior center has been secured against further entry and another elderly meals site will be opened in Porcupine, Red Owl said. “Another site has been selected, and they’re in the process of getting that ready for services.” The Porcupine elderly meals program has 76 participants, most of whom get their meals delivered to their homes. Twenty-five pick up meals at the center and seven regularly eat at the center, according to records. The occupiers added another demand after March 11: Martin’s release from jail. The three counts of elder abuse Martin faces stem from allegations made by Janis, 72, and two of her supporters: Marie LaMonte, who declined to give her age, and Eleanor Weston, 83. The women say they were harassed by the driver of a vehicle that matched the description of a van owned by Martin. Both sides agree on one thing: Janis and Martin have never met and don’t know each other. LaMonte and Weston said complaints against Janis and the allegations of spoiled and unsanitary food being served are false. “All false,” said LaMonte, who ate at the senior center every day. “That house was spic and span. It was good food. I’m a very picky eater, but I enjoyed every meal.” She insists that the majority of the elders in the community were against the occupation. Martin’s supporters say the charges against him were trumped up and served as a diversion tactic by a tribal government that doesn’t want to deal with their allegations of corruption on center property, including the bootlegging of alcohol, which is illegal on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Last week, the occupation was a revolving cast of supporters and visitors who came and went throughout the day. Outside, teenage boys, small children and others stood around a Seventh Generation fire that burned in front of the center since the occupation began. Inside, Wilma Thin Elk ate a late breakfast of rice and beans and bread while Edward Eagle Elk napped on an inflatable mattress nearby. One of its supporters is Joe Brings Plenty, the former chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. “To understand this occupation, you have to go four or five years back,” said Brings Plenty, who grew up in the Porcupine District. Brings Plenty participated in the occupation because he believes the complaints of poor treatment of many elders have gone unheard and unheeded for too long. He also wants the OST tribal council to order a complete financial audit of all of the elderly meals program funding sources.
Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2011 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Duwane Martin Sr is an AIM member, many of the protesters were baby AIMsters, & Joseph Brings Plenty is the very corrupt former Cheyenne River Tribal Chairman, who made off with thousands upon thousands of dollars in tribal monies, refusing to give accountability to Cheyenne River Elders, members or anyone, of where the money went. These were the protesters who were hauled away by the Tribal Police!
Also, donations for Lakota Elders, children & Cheyenne River tribal members affected by the Ice Storm were misappropriated by Joseph Brings Plenty & some of his staff members. While the Ice Storm raged Brings Plenty was in a Rapid City motel, not looking after Elders or the people needing help.
Afterwards, Brings Plenty did not return to his office, (eyewitness reports) but he still was collecting his weekly pay check as tribal chairman, but not leaving his home. Brings Plenty refused to give accountability for these donation monies somewhere in the neighborhood of 900,000 dollars.
Maybe that is why he is no longer the Cheyenne River Tribal Chairmanm and is protesting with the AIMsters, his behavior is the same as theirs.
Read something is Fishy at Cheyenne River by Robert Chasing Hawk at www.lookingbackwoman.ca for more on that story.
AIM, & Arvol Looking Horse are not the only crooks working it, it seems by all the stories in the local South Dakota newspapers, this is common behavior among the Lakota people who are suppose to be looking out after the welfare of their own Lakota tribal memebers.
The corrupt tribal elected are stealing from the tribal coffers, donations for the Lakota Elderly & children, & anywhere they can lay their hands on donations or tribal funding-money earmarked for whom they are suppose to be representing.
When you steal from your own Lakota people as the Oglala say He Wicasa Sni Yelo, you are no man at all!!