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Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe reaches law agreement

Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe reaches law agreement
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The following story was written and reported by Archie Beauvais. All content © Native Sun News.

ROSEBUD, SOUTH DAKOTA — A historic agreement was reached between U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe which allows the tribe to prosecute non-Indians who commit federal offenses on the Rosebud reservation in federal court.

Johnson of the U.S. Attorney’s office made a visit on Thursday to the Rosebud Sioux tribal council which was broadcast via the internet. He gave an update on several issues important to Lakota country and discussed some aspects of his “Community Prosecution Strategy” document which is a renewed commitment to public safety in Indian country.

The document contains a number of innovative and key points which were built around discussions held with tribal leaders over eight months.

Johnson stated, “Community members in Rosebud expressed concern to me that non-Indians who come to Rosebud and break the law are too often not held accountable. This agreement ensures that those individuals will be brought to justice by both the federal government and the Rosebud community.”

Johnson said he would like to take this program to other tribal communities who have tribal prosecutors who are law licensed attorneys.

Johnson initiated the event by saying that there was an effort to disestablish the Yankton reservation and said that his office has taken the position that the Yankton Sioux reservation should not disestablish.

“There is no legal basis for disestablishment of the reservation. And we won that case with the 8th circuit. We’ve been working closely with the Yankton tribe because our goal is for the Supreme Court not to hear that case," Johnson said. He went on to say that his office should hear in the next couple of months if the Supreme Court will hear the case.

He said that the U. S. Attorney’s office is also involved with Crow Creek. The Internal Revenue Service was after some back taxes and Johnson’s office was able to work with the Department of Justice tax division to get some of the penalties and interest reduced. He also explained that he is the Chairman of the Native American Issues Subcommittee.

Johnson was also very complimentary to the Rosebud reservation when he said, “No community has made more progress than Rosebud. There are seven prosecutors in Rosebud and that makes you the third largest in the state of South Dakota. No other tribe in the United States has had that type of growth in terms of their court system. That is a tribute to the people in this room, to the leadership and to Mato and to Matt.”

Rosebud Sioux Tribal Prosecutor Matthew L. Rappold is a tribal prosecutor and Special Assistant United States Attorney.

He noted that there is a tribal prosecutor’s association in the state. Rosebud will be the first to have tribal prosecutors who will become special assistant United States attorneys. The “tribal prosecutor will be cross-designated as an SAUSA. In this capacity, the SAUSA have the opportunity to try cases in federal court” according to the “Community Prosecution Strategy” document.

He also said that Rosebud is one of two communities in the United States to receive a Defending Childhood Initiative grant by Attorney General, Eric Holder. It started off with a couple hundred thousand dollars and now there is a million dollars coming to Rosebud for the program.

He said, “I tell folks if you want a model for how it’s done look at Rosebud …Rosebud is going to have more sovereignty and strength because we can keep more cases here in Rosebud, because you have done great work with your tribal court system. You should feel proud of what has been accomplished.”

He said since the cross designation there has already been two indictments in violence acts against women by non-Indians.

Johnson announced that on July 27 there will be a meeting in Rapid City. Johnson has invited 50 U.S. attorneys from across the nation and senior leadership from the BIA and Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder will be there.

Johnson was appointed by President Obama and stressed that now is the time to work together. “You guys are really getting it done” he said.

Rosebud has also been working with the University of South Dakota to update the tribal criminal code.

Johnson re-affirmed his commitment to working for tribal communities in South Dakota. He hosted the nation’s first state-wide Tribal Listening Conference last year that brought together more than 200 tribal members with state and federal law enforcement and political leaders.

A second Listening Conference will be held in Oacoma at the Cedar Shore Hotel on September 29 this year.

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