Oglala Sioux Tribe needs more funding for law enforcement

Federal judge agrees with OST that federal funding is needed
Oglala Sioux Tribe says the federal government fails to fund reservation law enforcement.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:55 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A Federal Judge ruled in favor of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and affirms that there is a treaty-based duty to help fund law enforcement for the reservation. This means the United States government should help fund police officers.

“The leadership is basically frustrated, and we need something done. So, this is why we took the action of going after the United States government,” said Frank Star Comes Out, Oglala Sioux Tribe president.

The judge required the United States to talk with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to figure out what the treaty-based level of funding required is.

“We are at an all-time low in law enforcement, our crime is huge, around drugs, alcohol, meth, and a lot of deaths,” said Star Comes Out.

If both parties do not come to an agreement, then the case will go to trial. The judge did not issue a specific time frame to come to an agreement but just that it be done as expeditiously as possible.

“There have been more drug-related crimes, increases in firearms-related crimes, increases in other violent crimes because of the escalating drug epidemic which has gotten worse in the last several years,” said Rebecca Kidder, a partner in Peebles Kidder Bergin & Robinson LLP.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has requested a total of 112 uniformed police officers. The tribe currently only has enough funds to hire 33.

“In 1878, Congres granted appropriations for 50 law enforcement officers when there were only 8,000 people,” said Kidder.

Today, the estimated population of the Pine Ridge Reservation is 40,000.

The motion to dismiss the hearing happened in early February, and the judge issued his order on May 23.