Native community votes in a council of representatives
RAPID CITY, S.D. – With an ongoing battle over Sioux San Hospital, the Native Community joined together to make sure their voices were heard.
Members of the Native American community held a meeting to vote on a Council of Representatives on Wednesday. A group of 57 people made a unanimous decision to create three committee boards. They will put together health, education and police liaison boards, creating one large council.
All of this began when the community felt that decisions for Sioux San Hospital were being made by organizations that are not deeply rooted in the Native community.
“The tribes, we are totally ignored so we definitely want our voice heard and we hope this [health] board will be recognized,” said Mark Lone Hill the meeting coordinator.
The council was created and the next step will be to present it to the federal government. One of the members will bring forward documentation, proving that the community voted on board members. If the government accepts the documentation, they can approve or deny it. The government has the power to recognize these boards as legitimate organizations.
If the council of reps becomes a federally recognized organization, they will have a say in major community decisions.
Not only did they vote on representatives, but they also voted on the constitution in which those reps will follow. That constitution was created by Patrick Lee, who holds a law degree. Community members voted on the rules and regulations within the constitution and even made suggestions.
“All the people here are members of the Indian community and they cast votes for people they want representing them,” said Lone Hill.
The main concern as of right now is the health board. Many tribal members are not able to afford the copays currently in place at Sioux San and are unable to access health care. Having a health board will give them the opportunity to make their health care affordable.
If the board makes it to the federal level, it can completely change the future for Native American Indians in the Black Hills area.