Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution Reform Initiative
Currently, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution resembles an Indian Reorganization Act-era Constitution when federal policy essentially required Indian tribes to adopt boilerplate, European-style governing "constitutions" in order to be fully acknowledged as sovereign, legal entities by the United States government. In the past two decades, many Indian tribes have successfully undergone the extensive process to revise their Constitutions to better allow them to seek progressive solutions to problems, pursue economic stability and revitalize their cultures, languages, and traditions.
Over the past several years, in an effort to implement a consistent and collectively accepted foundation for the Oglala Sioux Tribal government to lead and serve, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has been researching options to revise the current Tribal Constitution to accurately reflect the values, customs, and priorities of the oyate and communities. In May 2017, the Tribal Council standing committee passed a resolution which approve the Constitutional Reform Initiative which directs Council Representatives: Jackie Siers and Valentina Merdanian to seek a formal relationship with the Native Governance Center and aggressively carry out the Initiative's action plan. One primary component of the action plan, developed in August 2017 called for the formation of Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution Reform Projects Task Force with the significant responsibility of recommending and drafting a revised Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution.
The work of this Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution Reform Initiative Task Force is not to advocate for a particular outcome, but to gather all information pertaining to specific areas, and make a determination as to the best option to include in the revised constitution.
Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution Reform Initiative Task Force
The Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution Reform Initiative Task Force (“Task Force”) will finalize research, information gathering, surveying and meeting with Community Members when it submits a Final Draft Revised Oglala Sioux Tribe Constitution to the Legislative Standing Committee. To reach this point, the Task Force will complete three rounds of surveys and presentations out in the districts, before various groups and organizations and develop a special webpage “Constitutional Reform” to hear from members living outside of reservation areas on issues relating to the revision of the Tribe’s Constitution.
The Final Draft will be presented in this special edition reflect hundreds of hours of research, writing draft language, and detailed review of the Community’s responses on constitutional reform and how Community Member’s think the OST government should be organized. This draft will be submitted to the Legislative Standing Committee in accordance with the Tribal Constitutional Reform Initiative Action Plan.
The Task Force envisioned the Final Draft to be submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) by November 2017, with a request for a Secretarial Election, it is possible that there may be changes made by the OST Council before submission. As well as possible changes suggested or encouraged by the BIA.