OLN V1. Issue 4
Karin Eagle, OST Public Relations, Editor OLN News
The year 2018 has officially arrived and the hectic holiday season is behind us. For many people this year has begun with heavy hearts as we have lost so many relatives in recent weeks. Our prayers are with every family and the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST), as always, offers the assistance to those families during this very difficult time.
With the changing of the seasons, from fall into winter, we are looking at a couple more months of potentially hazardous weather. We came through one of the worst cold spells over the New Year’s weekend with many of our relatives facing dangerous conditions in unheated or under heated homes. The needs are present, and the help that is available is slow to trickle in.
The fact that the Oglala Sioux Tribe does in fact offer assistance for a variety of reasons has created a perception that it is the tribe’s responsibility to pay for individual’s utility bills continually, this should not be the case.
The fact is the Oglala Sioux Tribe is one of the very few tribal nations who pay this amount of assistance to the tribal members.
The assistance paid out last year was around 20% of the entire General Fund Budget. There is no other tribe(s) who pay out that amount of money, which is a blessing and a curse. There exists a sense of co-dependency that conflicts with the independence of the individual, which is unfair to those tribal members who do not rely on the tribe for this compassionate assistance. Jobs are scarce, but if the tribe were not able to pay the utility bills of its members, what would be the alternative resources? I think that to be a great tribal nation we need to look more into those alternative resources and find new ways to not only help ourselves but to help each other out. What would that look like? Co-ops that families can join and share resources? Community food banks run by and for their “own” communities? Which is something that each member and family should be thinking about as we head into the future.
The reason I feel that we need to stop depending on the tribe to pay our bills for us is twofold. I genuinely believe that the more than one million dollars in general fund spending that goes to assistance should be used to create more job opportunities and renewable energy sources.
The time and energy spent by the tribal council to shuffle the budget to cover more assistance needs should apply towards making these opportunities happen. Developing more jobs and more businesses. Spending our revenue in this direction equates to a better economy that can help our tribe grow and become more successful and financially stable.
The other reason I feel that it is necessary to end our dependency on the tribe is that we are slowly separating ourselves from our traditional ways of living and taking care of each other. We rightfully claim sovereignty but are we truly living it? Are we able to honestly say that we are using our traditions and our values to live life as fully as we can?
There are reliable ways for each of us, built into our own culture, to help not only our families but our communities as well. Those of us who are doing well need to start stepping up to help those amongst us who aren’t. It all comes full circle, just as it should.
In this issue, you are going to find a serious of graphs that show a comparison of the past several administrations and the budgets that were reported.
One of the budgets shows the Revenue brought in by that year’s Treasurer and the other is the Expenditures. It is very important to take note that the last administration brought in a reasonable amount of revenue yet overspent by OVER $3 million each year for 2015 and 2016.
The current administration began with the tribe at a deficit (shortage) of $8 million. The year 2017 was a busy and stressful fiscal year for Treasurer Mason Big Crow . However, he has managed to bring the 2017 general fund budget under budget by nearly $3 million ($2,707.923.58 to be exact).
It is absolutely imperative that the Oglala Sioux Tribal members understand that this was a "herculean" job that Mr. Big Crow tackled.
There are many factors that went into this success and many tribal employees who had played a vital role in pulling the tribe out of such an enormous financial crisis, which inevitably put the tribe at an economic advantage as we begin this 2018 New Year. This is imperative because the tribal membership should recognize that our own people achieved this success. Their hard work and commitment produced these results.
Our own people with the proper education and training and understanding are stepping forward and helping to fix problems that could have easily taken our tribe down a precarious and uncertain path.
We need to encourage each other and our youth to seek the education level necessary, provide the support and the resources necessary to bring our brightest and our most motivated home to continue this trend of change.
In conclusion, I want to comment on the cover of this issue. The Oglala Lakota Nation royalty are enjoying a very busy year of representing the OST at many powwows and events across the country. Their talents and skills are a great asset to our tribe, and it is with great pride that we present them here: Miss Oglala Lakota Nation, Elainna Red Shirt; Junior Miss Oglala Lakota Nation, Uriah Little Hoop; and Little Miss Oglala Lakota Nation, Shawntae Iron Horse. These three beautiful young women were together on New Years Day for a photo and to send a message of greetings to everyone for a prosperous 2018. Wopila, Ladies!
Please view the OLN News Letter by clicking on the cover photo.