Oglala Sioux Tribe group seeks vote on constitution changes

PINE RIDGE (AP) – A task force is petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs to hold an election so that Oglala Sioux Tribe voters can weigh in on proposed changes to the tribal constitution.

The tribe's constitutional reform task force submitted the petitions to the bureau on Wednesday, the Rapid City Journal reported. The move follows the Pine Ridge tribal government's stalled efforts to hold a vote on a slate of 50 proposed constitutional amendments, including ones that would form an elder council and create term limits.

Other changes would impose educational requirements for tribal council members and form a new Rapid City-area district so that tribal citizens who live there could vote.

In order for the task force's motion to proceed, the Bureau of Indian Affairs would need to confirm that petitions from one-third of the reservation's eligible voters are valid, said Nakina Mills, a tribal representative and member of the task force.

If there are enough valid petitions, the bureau would then send a registration card to each person who signed one. The cards would need to be mailed back to the bureau if the individual wants to vote.

Mills said the group would prefer if the tribal council approved an election itself because it would mean members could vote on each amendment. Voters otherwise would have to accept or reject the entire slate of proposed amendments.

The tribal council voted last month to table a decision on holding the vote. It sent the issue back to the Law and Order Committee, which hasn't taken up the issue yet.


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