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Volume 51 Issue No. 49

Anpetu Iyamni, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

Inside this Edition –

Chairman Hopkins weekly update to the Oyate

Exec memo: Tribal offices closed through Dec. 4

Tribal Council approves second round of COVID assistance

SWC, Tribal schools move to all remote/online classes

Elderly casino day next Tuesday at Dakota Magic

Community Health Education COVID-19 notice on back page

Reminder: Deadline for receiving copy is Friday noon

Weekly SWO Tribal Chairman's Update

Hau mitakuyapi, hello my relatives.

SWO Tribal offices will remain closed from November 30-December 4, 2020, because of the continued increase in Covid positives on the Lake Traverse Reservation and surrounding area. Essential staff will continue to make sure that the Tribe remains operational. The curfew from 6PM to 7AM remains in effect for all SWO communities. We appreciate your cooperation in doing all we can to try to get this outbreak under control.

At the recommendation of DNGE leadership, SWO Tribal Council moved to give casino employees hazard pay, effective in January, and lasting until the COVID-19 crisis is over. Frontline workers will receive the most hazard pay. I am very pleased with this decision because I have been advocating for casino workers to receive hazard pay during the pandemic since I was elected interim chairman. Council also approved holiday bonuses for DNGE employees. We haven't forgotten about employees working for other Tribal for-profit businesses, but we are working with limited resources and it takes time and planning to get it done.

We are losing a lot of Tribal members and my family is not immune from experiencing these tremendous personal losses. This past week, my father-n-law, Rev. Wilbert Robertson, succumbed to the coronavirus after fighting it for over a week. As a young man, he taught me a lot and helped me get my life straight and go to college. We are going to wait and have services for him in the spring, once the pandemic lets up and the weather is good.

This December, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate is going to decorate the Tek Park for Christmas, so people can drive thru and enjoy twinkling Christmas lights without leaving their vehicle. If you would like to help, or have your group, business, or organization represented there, please contact Jermaine Eastman at SWO Tribal headquarters.

The holiday season is upon us but remain vigilant in protecting yourself and your loved ones from Covid. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and stay home as much as possible.

Mitakuye Oyasin, Hupahumaza.

Shooting in downtown Sisseton apartment

Sisseton, SD – Nov. 27, 2020 – A shooting was reported in a downtown Sisseton apartment Friday afternoon, November 20.

Local city, county, and tribal officers responded, and a suspect was apprehended.

No official information has been released.

The SD Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Pierre, is in charge of the investigation.

Tribal Executive Committee memo

Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

To: All Tribal Employees

From: SWO Executive Committee

Re: Closure Continues November 30-December 4, 2020

Due to the continued increase of COVID-19 cases in the area and the workplace all Tribal offices will remain closed November 30-December 4, 2020. Administrative Leave will be granted during this time. Program Managers will continue their work scheduling arrangements for any business critical work/projects that must be completed.

Business hours for essential SWO for-profit businesses will be 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Also, curfew hours for SWO Communities will be in effect from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

This directive will be reassessed by the end of the week. The Executive Committee continues to monitor the status of the Pandemic and will do what is necessary to keep the workplace, employees, and families safe.

Pidaunniyapiye/do (We Thank You) for your cooperation and understanding during this time of uncertainty.

Signed: Delbert Hopkins Jr., Tribal Chairman; Eddie Johnson, Vice-Chairman; Myrna Thompson, Tribal Secretary.

SWO Emergency Management –

COVID-19 by the numbers

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 28, 2020 – COVID-19 statistics as of today:

SD Overall: 17,106 Active

(721 New + 98 probable)

ND Overall: 7,351 Active

(750 new)

Codington: 489 Active (23%)

Day: 121 Active (21%)

Grant: 165 Active (31%)

Marshall: 62 Active (26%)

Roberts: 163 Active (22%)

Richland: 133 Active

Sargent: 47 Active

Please stay home Oyate! If you have to be out Wear a mask, Watch your distance, and Wash your hands as much as possible. This time is crucial in stopping the spread, we need to do everything we can to do our part. Wopida!

SWO Elderly Appreciation Day scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 8

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 25, 2020 – SWO Tribal Chairman Roly Hopkins Jr. posted the following information on Facebook today:

SWO Elderly Appreciation Day, Dakota Magic Casino, Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Must have valid ID and Players Club Card.

If picking up for an Elder a doctors note and a note from the Elder are required.

Quarantined elders need DOH letter and note.

If on travel or medical, verification letter is needed along with note.

No exceptions.

Social distance and wear masks.

Be safe.

SWO DARE COVID-19 Response team announcement

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 24, 2020 – Being a good relative in these trying times is so important to our survival. Wearing a mask, watching our distance and paying attention to the germs we spread unknowingly is part of how we can take care of each other.

By washing our hands when we enter our homes and using hand sanitizer when in public we can do our best to stop from cross contaminating our home and belongings.

When visiting or helping elders in any capacity it's crucial to their wellbeing that we wear our masks to keep from bringing this virus to them.

When asymptomatic it's easy to pass on covid-19 and not even know, by practicing the 3w's you can help keep everyone safe.

Please Oyate, be a good relative. We are all in this together!



SWC, Tribal schools move to all remote/online classes

November 20, 2020

Sisseton Wahpeton College, Tiospa Zina Tribal School, and Enemy Swim Day School are now conducting all classes remotely online.

The classrooms are closed due to the COVID-19 community spread.

Remote learning is expected to continue into January 2021.

Watch for more information.

See the TZTS winter sports schedule update in this Sota.

SWO quarantine resources

Agency Village, SD – Oct. 20, 2020 – Quarantine resources:

IHS COVID hotline: (health related) 605.742.3735

CDP 605.698.7647 (health related)

COVID Financial Assistance:


SWO CARES COVID Hotline: 605-698-8249

24/7 support for quarantine resources

SWO Emergency Management –

Contacting SWO COVID Hotline

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 12, 2020 – If you are quarantined and need groceries, please call the SWO COVID Hotline (698-8249) before 11:00 a.m.

Due to the rise in the number of cases, the Hotline has been extraordinarily busy.

If it appears no one is answering, it means we are on the line with someone else.

Please call again and keep trying.

SWO COVID-19 construction projects update in photos

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 27, 2020 – Here are photos taken today showing the three SWO COVID-19 mitigation projects underway with Consolidated Construction, general contractor.

Ongoing progress reports show that the projects are on schedule to be substantially completed by the end of December 2020. U.S. Treasury Department guidelines allow for final inspection to take place up to ninety days into the new year.

SWO Tribal Council is scheduled to do a walk-through of the projects on Thursday, Dec. 3rd.

Tribal Council approves second round of COVID assistance

Agency Village, SD – October 31, 2020 – From the SWO DARE Response Team:

Applications can be found on the website on Monday 11/2 and either printed and mailed in or filled out electronically and emailed in by the Dec. 18th deadline.

Applications can also be picked up at the SWO Tribal Admin building from the Security Desk.

Application Drop Boxes will be available in the East entrance application center and at the Covid Emergency Assistance Office.

Once completed, applications can be sent by


Fax: 605.698.8442


Covid-19 Emergency Financial Assistance

P.O. Box 509

Agency Village, SD 57262

Note: This 2nd round of applications is for those who have received the first payment. New applicants must still complete the 1st full version of the application.

The deadline is December 18, 2020.

WWKMHCC response to COVID spread

Sisseton, SD – Nov. 19, 2020 – Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center put out the following statement today on KXSW and Facebook:

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Sisseton IHS clinic is implementing measures to ensure sick patients with symptoms can receive the care they need.

• Effective immediately, well-visits will be postponed and chronic care appointments will be limited.

• To make an appointment for sick care, please call the COVID-19 line at 742-3735 for advanced screening.

• Routine care appointments can be made by calling telephone number 742-3794, and you will be seen as time allows.

• Please contact the pharmacy at 742-3795 for medication needs if your appointment is delayed.

This will only take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during these challenging times.

Donations helping the SWO Tribe

Sioux Falls, SD – KELO-TV – Nov. 23, 2020 – The season of giving is here, and people living on the Lake Traverse Reservation near Sisseton, South Dakota have felt the kindness of others recently.

Yesterday, Carol Gokee of Wisconsin drove eight hours to bring winter clothes and food to Sisseton, South Dakota.

"It's a pleasure, it is, just to know that I can do anything to help these people, you know, because we all suffer in life one way or another. But because of COVID, we're all facing a lot of new challenges here," Gokee said.

Julia Fike of Sisseton helped organize Gokee's donation as well as other donations, which she says come from all over the country.

"We get help not only from the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, but we have Partners for Native Nations, it will be here next weekend. They've got two trailer fulls, two trailers full, two trucks full. They're bringing food, jackets, blankets, Christmas toys for the children. The response is just wonderful," Fike said.

Allison Renville works with the Tribe's COVID Response Team. She says donations like these are important for people in need.

"Our houseless relatives are kind of in a need of basic clothing, jackets," Renville said.

But it's not just food and clothes being donated to the Tribe.

"We have received over 14 thousand donations of cloth masks as well as procedural masks, probably, you know, it's hard to say. We've probably gotten like a hundred thousand of them so far, it's hard to really keep track they've come in so well," Allison Renville, public information officer for the SWO COVID Dare Response Team, said.

Renville says they can see the difference those donations make within the community.

"You see people out, driving around in a car with a mask on, you know, that comfortable and we really appreciate it. We have to do everything that we can to protect ourselves and our community," Renville said.

SWO DARE COVID-19 Response notice on donations

Agency Village, SD – Facebook – Nov. 21, 2020 – Submitted KELOland statement regarding donations:

Many individual members have made contributions towards the safety of our community throughout the last months and we appreciate the difference it's making here.

The Tribe has received over 14,000 plus cloth face masks as well as dozens of thousands of procedural masks, face shields and kn95s. Numerous forms of PPE have been donated from across the nation to help our efforts towards protecting all of our the community.

Each donation is accounted for and given a return credit from FEMA and put toward purchasing more equipment and relief here.

The Tribe has a stockpile available to the hospitals and Tribal programs, our businesses and schools in the local area. We also have it available to quarantine families through our response team and to those suffering from loss due to Covid-19. Forms are available on the Tribes website.

If you would like to contribute to the efforts on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Lake Traverse Reservation please follow the SWO DARE Covid-19 Response facebook page for details.


If you would like to donate PPE, the direct address is:

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate


12554 BIA 711

Sisseton SD, 57262

Update from Chairman Hopkins

Agency Village, SD – Facebook – Nov. 25, 2020 – A few people have asked for clarification about soliciting donations and fundraising.

We are not saying you cannot ask for donations or fundraise and disperse it. What we are saying is you have to do it in your own name, or the name of a non-profit organization you start, or operate. You cannot ask for donations or personally fundraise on behalf of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate as a Tribal entity because it could make the Tribe legally responsible for whatever activities you are doing, when the Tribe has not consented and doesn't have any oversight. It is a legal issue. You will see that other Native groups and individuals who fundraise and solicit donations do so under their own names, or the name of an organization/group they founded, or are in charge of. Only the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate as a legally recognized Tribal entity can raise money or solicit donations on behalf of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate as a Tribe. It's about accountability.

Also, if you are working hard collecting donations and giving them out, it's to your benefit and the benefit of those who donate to you to do it in your own name, for credit, and tax purposes.

SBA honors tribal entrepreneurs during Native American Heritage Month

By Shawn Pensoneau and Dan Nordberg

The rich and vibrant culture of Native Americans is deeply woven in the fabric of the United States, and the history of innovation and entrepreneurship remains rooted in tribal communities. To honor this storied legacy, President Donald Trump designated November as Native American Heritage Month, saying: "As business owners, artists, teachers, writers, courageous members of our Armed Forces, and so much more, their contributions to our society are cause for celebration and appreciation by all Americans. This month, as we honor the heritage of Native American Tribes and people, we resolve to support their legacy and communities for generations to come."

In the U.S. today, more than 54 percent of Native Americans live in rural areas and 273,000 businesses are Native-owned. In recent years, Native Americans have had an increased impact on national business development as operations owned by Native Americans grew by 15 percent between 2007 to 2012, according to the most recent data.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to the health and success of tribal entrepreneurial development and is working aggressively to increase access to funding and opportunities for rural Native American-owned small businesses.

Through free tailored technical assistance, the agency aims to promote business development for Native entrepreneurs and businesses on reservations. This no-cost technical assistance is available for a variety of business types and in several key areas including starting a business, business plan development, financial planning, computer literacy, marketing, human resources, government contracting, and financial management. More information about programs specific to tribal nations can be found at in the Native American-owned businesses resource section.

Traditional SBA lending programs can also support economic development for Native entrepreneurs. SBA's resources are geared to help provide capital to small businesses, such as 7(a) loans that can help provide working capital, purchase real estate, equipment, or inventory for a small business, or can be used to refinance business debt. The 504 Certified Development Company Loan is useful for purchasing heavy equipment or renovating real estate by providing competitive fixed-rate financing. Microloans allow eligible businesses to start or grow with working capital for supplies, equipment, furniture, and fixtures by borrowing $500 to $50,000 and accessing free business counseling from microlenders. Find more specifics on these programs at

Additionally, the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are part of the SBA's America's Seed Fund that provides over $4 billion to startups and small businesses each year. SBIR and STTR funds are strategically aimed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Through a competitive process, small businesses can submit proposals that address specific research and development needs with the potential for commercialization. Learn more about SBIR and STTR at

This November, the SBA is proud to honor the growing number of Native American entrepreneurs, a vitally important economic driver for advancement throughout rural communities around the country. As leaders within the agency, we will continue partnering with tribal and rural leaders as we seek to expand opportunities and promote small business growth.

Pensoneau is the SBA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Native American Affairs and is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. Nordberg serves as the SBA's National Director for Rural Affairs.

New Director for SD Housing Development Authority

Pierre, SD – Nov. 25, 2020 – Today, Governor Kristi Noem announced that Lorraine Polak will be appointed Executive Director of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), effective January 8, 2021. Polak will replace Mark Lauseng, who is retiring.

"Lorraine has a great understanding of SDHDA's programs and all the opportunities that they present," said Governor Noem. "She will be a dedicated leader and an invaluable partner as it relates to carrying out SDHDA's mission for the people of South Dakota."

Polak currently serves as the Director of Rental Housing Development with the Authority and began her employment with them in 1998. Previously, Polak was with the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

"I want to thank Governor Noem for this opportunity to continue to serve South Dakota's citizens. Working for the Authority has been extremely rewarding, and I am honored to accept this new role. The Authority's board of commissioners and staff along with the partner agencies we work with are dedicated to providing affordable and appropriate housing. I look forward to ensuring that dedication meets the housing needs of South Dakotans."

Polak was born in O'Neill, Nebraska and earned her bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. She and her husband, Mike, have three children, and she enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, gardening and outdoor activities.

New SD Secretary of Education named

Pierre, SD – Nov. 25, 2020 – Today, Governor Kristi Noem announced that she will appoint Tiffany Sanderson to be the next Secretary of Education. Sanderson currently serves as a senior policy advisor for Governor Noem. In that role, her portfolio includes K-12 education, higher education, and workforce development.

"Tiffany will be a great leader for the Department of Education, and a true champion for our students, educators, and schools," said Governor Noem.

Sanderson's career as an educator has focused on youth development; effective instruction, materials, and assessments; education policy; and workforce development. Prior to joining the Governor's Office in 2019, Sanderson led South Dakota's career and technical education system at the Department of Education, including the four technical colleges, and designed learning solutions for school systems and businesses across the country while working in the private sector.

"I'm extremely thankful to the Governor for this opportunity, and I'm excited to partner with educators as we set out to help our students in South Dakota," said Sanderson. "As a mom of a middle schooler, we can waste no time in strengthening our education system. It's the most important work we can do for our kids and communities."

Sanderson lives in Pierre with her husband and son. She graduated from Lemmon High School and earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural education from South Dakota State University, and master's degree in administration with an emphasis in human resource management from the University of South Dakota.

The Governor's appointment of Sanderson is effective December 9, 2020. Sanderson will succeed Dr. Ben Jones, who has been named the new executive director of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

We're in this together

By Sen. John Thune

Nov. 25, 2020

The Great Plains were homesteaded by men and women with a strong yearning for freedom and liberty – seeking an opportunity for their hard work and resourcefulness to cultivate enough prosperity to provide for their families, build some savings, and see the next generation do a little better than themselves. Many who followed in their footsteps and made South Dakota home, like my grandparents, were immigrants who sought the same freedom and opportunity. Enriched by the indigenous heritage of the state, these timeless ideals remain woven in the fabric of our communities to this day and continue to make our state a special place to live, work, raise families, and worship.

Within our deeply rooted sense of self-reliance and determination also lives an ingrained sense of community and civic duty. Our nation recently reflected on the military service of generations of men and women on Veterans Day. From the airmen at Ellsworth Air Force Base, to the strong participation in the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard from across the state, and through decades of service across the armed forces, patriotic South Dakotans have always demonstrated their sense of service.

This sense of civic duty is also evident from our larger cities to our smallest of towns. It's the thread that so tightly holds the fabric of our communities sewn together. We see it in our schools and churches, assisting an elderly neighbor, and sending over a meal to he??lp a family stay nourished through tough times. We see it in helping to pull a tractor out of a muddy field, sandbagging homes and businesses during a flood, and rebuilding after a storm. We see it in police officers keeping our neighborhoods safe and in volunteer firefighters responding to an alarm. We see it in supporting a family while a spouse is deployed, or pitching in during the harvest when a tragedy has struck a family.

This is the best of South Dakotans, and it happens every day in every town.

We now face a collective hardship, and there has never been a more important time to act on our sense of community. The coronavirus pandemic has upended the world and thrown our nation and state a multitude of health and economic challenges. Scientists and doctors are making great strides in understanding the virus and are seeing promising breakthroughs toward vaccines and therapeutics. There is great reason to be hopeful—but it is incumbent on us to do our part to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe until these treatments are authorized and can be widely distributed. There's plenty to be optimistic about, but we're not out of the woods yet.

There are no cure-alls, but there are simple, straightforward, and common-sense ways to limit the spread of COVID-19: Practice good hygiene by washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes. Stay socially distant and avoid crowds, especially indoors. When social distancing is not possible, please wear a mask. These are steps all of us can take out of the strong sense of civic duty that binds South Dakotans together. Remember, we're in this together.

Winters in South Dakota are notoriously tough, and I know I am not alone in recognizing that this winter may be tougher yet. Navigating this holiday season – a time of family, gratitude, and celebration – during a pandemic may challenge our traditions and test our resolve. And for those who have lost loved ones or are separated from those who are in recovery or are isolated by their risk category, you will especially be in my thoughts.

South Dakotans are resilient, and we have overcome many challenges together. And it is together that we may get one step ahead of the coronavirus and buy additional time until vaccines can be delivered and our way of life begins to return to normal. This holiday season, I remain blessed to call South Dakota home, and know I am fortunate to live in a state that can unify behind this common challenge with a common set of tools to fight it.

Administration has honored Native cultures

By Tara Katuk Sweeney

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

Washington, DC – Nov. 24, 2020 – In 1891, Swedish archaeologists conducted excavations of cultural artifacts belonging to the tribes culturally connected to the Mesa Verde region, removing ancestral remains and funerary artifacts from their resting places in southwestern Colorado.

These sacred artifacts were on display in the National Museum of Finland for over a century, and for more than 70 years, the United States government attempted to negotiate the return of these items. However, it was only under President Donald Trump's leadership that the Interior and State Departments were able to successfully work alongside tribal governments to secure the return of these sacred remains and artifacts to their rightful resting place.

When Trump took office in 2017, he prioritized issues important to Indian Country and sought to build strong partnerships with tribal leaders across our nation.

The 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires museums and federal agencies to transfer human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony to descendants and tribes who request their return.

As part of fulfilling that commitment, in 2019, Trump and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland finalized an agreement to repatriate ancestral remains to the tribes historically and culturally connected to the Mesa Verde region; this agreement underscores the importance of the continued protection of the heritage and traditions of our Indian nations.

In September, a year of work by the Interior Department, State Department, and U.S. Ambassador to Finland Robert Pence came to a ceremonial culmination at the White House. Ambassador Mikko Hautala of Finland, representatives from the National Museum of Finland, Pence and Secretary David Bernhardt all joined Trump in the Oval Office to celebrate the long-awaited return of the tribal remains and funerary objects.

The president spoke about the importance of repatriating the remains and cultural artifacts for these tribal communities. Additionally, he has said that repatriation from foreign countries is just as important as repatriation within our country.

After nearly a year of careful planning and adherence to tribal protocol, the mission to return the remains to the United States has finally been achieved. In the days prior to the White House ceremony, members of the National Museum of Finland joined the tribes and their spiritual and ceremonial leaders associated with Mesa Verde to reinter the remains and artifacts in Mesa Verde National Park.

On behalf of the administration and all the staff that partnered together across federal agencies, we are humbled to help bring these tribal ancestors back to their original resting place. Culturally, American Indians and Alaska Natives hold the passing of our relatives and the caretaking of their remains in high regard. Many of us have our own unique customs and protocols associated with the funerary practice. That is why I am heartened that alongside our Finnish partners, the Interior and State Departments finally returned these remains to their proper resting place and closed this chapter of their journey in a respectful and honorable manner.

Repatriation is in important step we can take to partner with tribal nations and honor our ancestors as they should be honored. The Trump administration made a commitment to support and enhance tribal sovereignty and protect the forgotten American. I am proud that our administration — after decades of collective efforts — has honored that sacred commitment of repatriation and continues to maintain our commitment to the tribes and the American people.

US Department of Interior

The Department of the Interior conserves and manages the Nation's natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation's trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.

(Editor's note: Originally published by the Sante Fe New Mexican.)

Shop locally this holiday season

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

November 25, 2020

This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Small Business Saturday, the annual event that encourages customers to shop at local businesses during the holiday season.

South Dakota's small businesses play a critical role in our communities. In our state, 99 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. In total, that's nearly 90,000 small businesses in the state of South Dakota. Those businesses employ over 200,000 employees which make up about 60 percent of our state's workforce. When you support small businesses in South Dakota, you are actually supporting your friends and family. But remember, be courteous and wear a mask when shopping so that both you and your neighbors can be safe.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. That is especially true for many main street businesses in South Dakota who closed their doors to the public temporarily due to the pandemic. For those small businesses, this holiday shopping season will be especially important. The National Retail Federation estimates that nearly 20 percent of a business's sales come during the holiday season. With the pandemic taking its toll earlier this year, I anticipate that the support from holiday shopping will be more critical than ever before for many small businesses.

This year, I look forward to shopping at local small businesses in Pierre. While I can't spoil the surprise for my kids and grandkids by telling you what I'll be buying locally, I can tell you I will be shopping at one of our local jewelry stores. Jean has come to expect jewelry under the tree from me, as I buy her some every year. Creative, I know but at least I'm consistent. She knows it's coming, and she knows it's coming from a local store, but what's in the box is always a surprise. And I'm doing my part to shop locally.

This holiday season, I hope you consider shopping at small businesses in your local community. Regardless of what is on your Christmas list, there's a store in South Dakota that's got you covered.

Shop Local

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

November 24, 2020

Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season – although I think we all put our Christmas trees up a little earlier this year.

Although COVID-19 may put a damper on the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I know South Dakotans will make the best of things – we always do.

So as you start to think ahead to your Christmas shopping keep one thing in mind this year – shop local.

While most physical store sales across the country are down, online sales for big retailers are up. Online shopping through places like Amazon or Walmart can be convenient, but don't forget your local mom and pop shops up the street this Christmas.

There is a safe way to shop local even during a pandemic. Many of our stores have been forced to adapt with COVID-19, which means they now offer online sales or curbside pick-up options. I'd encourage all South Dakotans to wear masks when shopping in-store this year.

On Black Friday, rather than put my money in the pockets of one of the tech giants, my wife and I are heading to Chamberlain. Our friends are opening a kitchen goods store – supporting local business like these creates jobs, gives back to South Dakotans, and betters our communities.

A dollar spent in South Dakota is a dollar invested back into our own economy.

I'm looking forward to popping in and ordering online from some of my favorite small retail stores during the holidays – I hope you'll do the same and shop local.

Editorials –

Sota guest editorial –

Call for all to protect the sacred upon Mother Earth

Mitakuyape (relatives).

We are now up against dangerous decisions that are coming from the disease of the mind. As we walk into 2021, the Sacred places of the Gwich'in People, whom are protecting the Artic Caribou Birthing grounds, we see as Mother Earth's umbilical, are about to be drilled. Onto the Heart of All That Is, the Sacred Black Hills, constantly being destroyed. And the great sadness of the Amazon being burned down, leaving Grassroot Indigenous, Animal and plant Nations with no home or death. These atrocities and many other dangerous assaults towards Mother Earth's Sacred Sites will surely affect us all.

Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says: "States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them." We cannot afford to ignore decisions made in agreements. This also violates United States' own Treaties with our People. What has now been allowed to happen is a violation in the highest level of disrespect toward a Nation's Ancestors, where even Burials are wiped out to make way in the name of deadly progress. Where are their Keepers of their values in these Agreements that they themselves created?

The Hearts of All People's faiths must now unite in believing we can change the path we are now on. Already we have witnessed many Nations of life are now dying because of contamination, which we with a good heart and mind are to be responsible for those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, the plant Nation, and the four legged. The only break they have received had to be a deadly pandemic. What we are All faced with is a dark spirit of sickness that was brought about from a lack of respect and honoring of life.

All living things cannot afford the same mistakes to be made any longer. If we do not spiritually stand up as individual Leaders and do Creator's work in uniting our concerns, it will continue to be a domino affect that our Ancestors have warned about in the Prophecies.

This is not a competition of who will lead and who should follow, this is a very serious time we are in. I know in my heart there are millions of People that feel this is long overdue. It is time that all of us become Leaders to help protect the sacred upon Mother Earth - she is the source of life and not a resource.

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning.

Onipiktec'a (that we shall live), Nac'a Arvol Looking Horse.

19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.

Sota guest editorial –

Sick prisoner wrote 17 letters pleading to be freed; Covid silenced him

Waylon Young Bird is among at least seven inmates who have died this month amid an outbreak at a federal prison medical center in Missouri.

By Rich Schapiro

ABC News – Nov. 22, 2020 – Waylon Young Bird, a 52-year-old federal prisoner with severe kidney disease, did not give up after his request for a compassionate release because of COVID-19 risks was denied in June.

He wrote a letter to his judge that same week pleading for mercy. Then another a day or two later.

"I'm writing again because this morning, around 10 a.m., an inmate next to me said, 'It's here, Chief,'" wrote Young Bird, a Native American from South Dakota.

"It's official now, that the first case of coronavirus is here at Springfield, Mo., medical center."

Young Bird had been incarcerated at the facility since September 2019 on an 11-year sentence for distributing methamphetamine. The institution houses roughly 840 inmates with severe medical problems.

As the summer dragged on and the coronavirus rampaged across middle America, Young Bird kept writing to U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange.

On June 14, he wrote that he feared the virus will soon start spreading, he didn't want to die behind bars and he longed to see his disabled sister and his four kids "who need me."

On Aug. 7, he told the judge that he found out his "aunty mom," Joann Young Bird, had died and how he wished to attend her funeral.

And finally, in a letter dated Oct. 28, he wrote that dozens of inmates in his unit had tested positive but he was, so far, one of the lucky ones.

"I'm afraid I may be infected by the time you read this letter," he wrote. "Please as a compassionate judge, can you help me thru this situation."

Young Bird tested positive for the virus the next day. He died exactly a week later, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

"I find it very hard to comprehend," said one of his daughters, Casina Brewer, 26. "I just feel like he was ignored."

Three other inmates from the Springfield facility died on the same day as Young Bird. At least seven have succumbed to the virus this month alone, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Such an outbreak at a federal institution housing seriously ill inmates represents a nightmare scenario, experts say.

"We have very vulnerable people in one place, and my experience is prison medical centers do not operate with the same level of infection control that we find in community hospitals," said Dr. Homer Venters, former chief medical officer of the New York City jail system.

"There can be devastating consequences."

Venters, who now works as an expert consultant on health services in correctional settings, has inspected 18 state and federal prisons since the pandemic struck. The Springfield facility was not among them.

He said it's critical for prison medical facilities to be able to isolate infected patients and still provide them with a high level of care. Yet he's found that prisons often provide insufficient Covid-19 screening for inmates and staffers and fail to provide the proper training and personal protective equipment needed to ensure a safe environment.

"These are things that were on everyone's radar in community hospitals by April, but my experience is prison hospitals even today are not functioning with the high level of infection control and PPE they need to protect high-risk patients," added Venters, who is the president of Community Oriented Correctional Health Systems, a nonprofit that works to improve health care behind bars.

Attorney General William Barr ordered the federal prison system this spring to increase the use of home confinement and speed up the release of eligible high-risk inmates.

The Bureau of Prisons is supposed to prioritize inmates who have served half of their sentence or inmates with 18 months or less left and who served at least 25 percent of their time.

Since the start of the pandemic, the agency has released 17,530 inmates to home confinement.

Federal inmates can also get out of prison early through a compassionate release, which is authorized by a judge and amounts to a sentence reduction to time served. But prisoners must first file a request with the institution's warden. After a warden denies the request or 30 days pass with no response, the inmate can then petition their sentencing judge.

According to data compiled by the Marshall Project, federal prison wardens denied or ignored more than 98 percent of compassionate release requests.

"Most of the people who are high risk in prison are still in prison," Venters said.

Young Bird wasn't the only Springfield inmate to die from Covid-19 after being denied a request to be released from the virus-hit facility. At least two other inmates who were also suffering from kidney disease, Torrick Lyles and David Cross, also succumbed to the coronavirus after their bids were denied, according to court documents.

Comments by ND Representative Ruth Buffalo:

If your family member was denied compassionate release, please contact me. I want to learn more about this process. I also want to learn more about the role of the sentencing judge within a particular state, yet federal court, do they play a role in denying compassionate release requests?

My heart is with the mourners. A prison sentence should not be a death sentence.

Brief editorial comments from the editor's desk –

On and Off the Lake Traverse Reservation

Chairman Hopkins is providing an update weekly to help keep Tribal members informed about what leadership is doing on their behalf.

We support and encourage these updates being disseminated in the Sota and thank the Chairman for taking time to prepare them for us.

Along with SWO Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, Community Health, IHS, and other programs as needed, the Chairman will be holding briefings throughout the week via KXSW. Check KXSW Announcer Tom Wilson's Facebook page for updates.

Check out the SWO EMS Facebook page for official Tribal government information.

Remember too, KXSW/CNB TV is broadcasting Tribal Council meetings live on the SWO Tribal Council YouTube Channel:

The SWO DARE team has created a new Facebook page, "SWO DARE COVID-19 Response."

Public Information Officer Allison Renville is updating the Oyate here: "This is the informational hub for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate DARE Covid-19 Response team, our goal is the keep the public informed with accurate information regarding this pandemic and how it affects our community."

Besides Tom Wilson's Facebook page, there is now also a Dakota Radio Station KXSW 89.9 Fm page on Facebook.

Breaking news/updates are also available on the Sota website.

Watch for the link to our new site coming soon.


Everyone is encouraged to continue wearing face masks, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distance, and follow other COVID guidelines.

For assistance, call the Tribal and IHS COVID hotlines.

SWO 24-hour COVID-19 Hotline:


IHS COVID-19 Hotline (Symptoms Line):


Coteau des Prairies Symptoms Line:


Sanford Hospital - Webster:



The Sisseton Wahpeton College Dakota Studies department has created an excellent video, in Dakota-iyapi, explaining how to keep ourselves and our community safe from the spread of the coronavirus.

Here is the link:


Oyate, watch for official word about this year's December general council meeting.

The second regular annual general council meeting is set aside for program reports, while the June session is for financial reports. It is scheduled for Thursday and Friday before Christmas – Dec. 17 and 18 in 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's December session will not be open to the public; reports will be given in Council chambers and streamed over the SWO Tribal Council YouTube channel and Venture Channel 390.


It has been suggested that the Sota provide space for stories of how our Oyate veterans have served, a most worthwhile idea!

Veterans and their families are invited to submit accounts to the Sota.

We will be honored to publish them.

The idea may have come on Veterans Day, but honoring our veterans for their service is appropriate always.

Please contact us with first-person or family stories you would like to share with our readers.


If you want to watch a cool video, check out the time lapse of the SWO COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation facility project adjacent to the Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center in Sisseton.

Here is the link, provided by the general contractor, Consolidated Construction:


Elder's meditation:

"People say that crisis changes people and turns ordinary people into wiser or more responsible ones."

–Wilma Mankiller, CHEROKEE

There is a saying, conflict precedes clarity. The Medicine Wheel teachings say, in order for something to change it must first go through a struggle. When a crisis enters our lives, other powers are there to help us. We will learn some lessons. Will I honor and respect the next crisis?


Words to consider (or, perhaps not!):

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

The will to be stupid is a very powerful force, but there are always alternatives. - Lois McMaster Bujold, "Brothers in Arms"

There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on. - Robert Byrne

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch. - Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting. - Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994)


The Sota is always looking for news of the Oyate.

If you have information and/or photos of newsworthy happenings in your family or community, please consider sharing with your Sota staff.

For submission deadlines and other information, see below:

Except for holidays copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – is to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 12:00 noon on Friday.

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel and must be brief, ideally 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

Earlier receipt of copy is always appreciated. So, if you are aware of a date or message that needs to be publicized or advertised, please let us know about it in advance of the weekly deadline.

The preferred way to submit typed articles and ads, art and photos, is by e-mail.

The editor can be reached at the following e-mail address:

For more information, leave a message on the Sota production office voicemail (605) 938-4452, or send a fax to the 24-hour dedicated line (605) 938-4676.


Obituaries –

Frank Robertson

Funeral service for Franklin D. Robertson, Unajinpi, "Makes him stand," 77, of Sisseton, SD was held Wednesday afternoon, November 25, 2020 at St. Kateri Hall, Sisseton, SD with John Cloud III officiating.

Special music wase provided by Billy Kohl.

Burial was at Sisseton Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Mason Martin, Marshall Martin, Sheldon Martin, Melvin Robertson, Leon Gonsalves and Kevin Lafontaine Sr.

Honorary pallbearers were all Vietnam Vets, and all the Tiospa Zina Basketball players Past and Present.

An all-night wake was held Tuesday at St. Kateri Hall, with masks and social distancing.

Military rites were provided by the Kit Fox Society.

Franklin passed away at Prairie Lakes Hospital on November 20, 2020.

The Cahill Funeral Chapel, Sisseton, SD was in charge of funeral arrangements.

Franklin D. Robertson was born on May 31, 1943 in Veblen, SD to Melvin Robertson Sr. and Mamie Wanna Robertson.

Franklin attended school in Veblen and the Bishop Hare School on the Rosebud Reservation. He received his GED and moved to California to work, later he chose to join the Army.

Franklin was a commander of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Vietnam Veterans Association now called the Kit Fox Society.

Franklin was a sheet metal worker working in Brookings, Watertown, Sioux Falls, Mitchell and Minneapolis. He was a member of the Sheet Metal Workers National Association. He also was the Cafe Manager at the Sisseton Wahpeton Community College.

Franklin met the love of his life, Kathy Goodsell in 1981; from this union their daughter Renee was born in 1984.

Franklin was on many boards of the Tribe, also he was Veblen District treasurer, and he was on Tribal Council from 1989 until 1992.

Franklin retired in the mid 90's due to medical reasons. He stayed home and took care of his daughter.

He loved to travel all over to Pow-wows, many times with veterans; he even went to DC for the first repatriation as Commander of the Vets along with other tribal members to bring relatives remains home.

Franklin adored doing many things with family, traveling with his wife and daughter to Mall of America, going to the Minnesota State Fair and enjoying all the Fair food. He also enjoyed going to Valley Fair, listening to music, watching fireworks with his grandkids or being with them anytime he could; he loved being a Papa!

He enjoyed going out to eat, especially having a good steak.

Franklin also liked mowing lawn, reading books, crossword puzzles, cooking for Pow-wows, sitting on his deck, eating cherries and drinking diet Pepsi. He took delight in drinking coffee and watching birds, playing poker with his brothers and nephews at his brother Gilbert's place.

He cherished seeing his grandchildren and playing with them. He enjoyed watching his granddaughters play volleyball and basketball for the Redman. Franklin also attended all basketball games at TZ.

Franklin is survived by his wife Kathy of Sisseton, their daughter, Renee, also survived by children, Frank Robertson of Grove City, OH, Devlin Robertson of Brookings, SD, Justin German of Sisseton, SD and Dionne German of Eagle Butte, SD, and nine grandchildren, siblings Wallace Robertson of Olympia, WA, Melvin Robertson of Sisseton, Kevin Lafontaine Sr. of Peever, Mike Lafontaine of Sisseton, Brenda Jones, Sisseton, Jody Lafontaine of Sisseton, Terri Torgerson of Sisseton, Charlene Lafontaine of Old Agency, and Marsha Lafontaine of Sisseton.

Franklin was preceded in death by his parents Melvin and Mamie, maternal grandparents James and Nora (Greely) Wanna, Jane and Charles Robertson and 3 brothers Adam, Charles "Bitzy", and Gilbert Robertson.

For Franklin's obituary and online registry please visit

Services held for Ann German

Ann Louise German, 62 years old, was born in Sisseton, SD on September 20th, 1958 on a Saturday at 6:30 a.m., in Sisseton, SD. She came from a large family of twelve, and she is the 7th born to Gerald "Smoky" German and Lorraine (Ryan) German.

Our beloved, Ann, began her journey back to our Creator on November 22nd, 2020 in Fargo, ND with her loving children holding her hands and many, many family members nearby.

An all-night wake service was held on Friday at St. Kateri's Hall, with masks and social distancing.

Funeral service was held on Saturday morning, November 27, 2020, at St. Kateri's Church, Sisseton, SD.

A family procession to the gravesite took place immediately following the service, with a meal afterwards. Mourners could stay and share the meal or take the meal home in to-go containers.

The family appreciates and thanks everyone who came, for their presence at the services.

The family limited the graveside service to clergy, family, pallbearers and honorary pallbearers to keep everyone as safe as possible from COVID spread.

Ann was born and raised in rural Peever, SD on a farm/ranch. She loved horses and the country living. She grew up working hard but also having fun riding horseback as the way of the country/ranch life goes. She never forgot her roots and family was important to her.

Anyone who knew Ann, knew that she had a strong spirit, she was a loyal relative and friend. She had a great sense of humor and could make you laugh to tears!

She believed in our Dakota way of being, loved the elders, loved her family, especially her children and grandchildren. She was a person of faith, she believed in God.

As all people do, she struggled through many trials in life because that is how life is, it isn't always fair but with her strength and faith, she rose above and kept on living and giving of herself for her loved ones. In the end, it's the ones that love you that matter the most.

Ann entered the U.S. Army National Guard and was honorably discharged.

After this stint, Ann always had a job; she lived and worked in Aberdeen at the Indian Health Service, and, upon returning home, she held various jobs over the years, such as in the Home Improvement Program (HIP); Ann was the SWO Tax Director for several years; and, Ann worked as the District Coordinator for many years always going the extra mile to help the elders in the district; she would clean their houses; single-handedly deliver the turkeys for Thanksgiving every year; assist them in whichever way she could to make things easier for them. She always kept the district center spotless, neat and inviting. She was a hard worker that always did more than was required of her in whatever job she held. Her work ethic was admirable.

Ann Louise German is survived by her children: Danny White (Jenna), Jerry (Jermaine) Eastman, Jason (Sapphire) Eastman, Kevin LaFontaine Jr., Britney LaFontaine, "hunka" son, Anthony Locke; and, eighteen (20) grandchildren: Ryder, Brianne & Ella White; Cante' RedWing, Jernee, Tasia, Jerry Jr. Eastman & Darian Shepherd; Jeremiah, Jason Jr., Dontae, Jairden, Jayce, & Jacob Eastman, Londyn & Tracy Morales; Isaiah & JayDee Horn and, Nicholas & Brice LaFontaine.

Ann is also survived by her Mother Lorraine German, brothers Wayne German Sr., Glenn (Carla) German Sr., John German Sr., Gerald (Kara) German; sisters Myrna (Jake) Thompson, Nadine Fredericks, Geri Opsal, Lita German, Deann (Rick) Huff, Aunts Rosella Heminger and Alta German, Uncle Owen Dean German and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Ann Louise German was preceded in death by her Father Gerald "Smoky" German, Sister Donna Marie German, brother Bruce L. German Sr., nephew Jake Larsen granddaughter Giselle Grace German, grandson Lawren J. Barse, nephew Conrad German, brother-in-law Troy Opsal, paternal grandparents Jack & Amelia German; maternal grandparents Tom & Lucy Ryan, Uncle Dwight & Aunt Marlene Ironheart, and, Uncle Francis "Punchie" Charging Cloud.

Our loved one will be greatly missed. Until we meet again.

For Ann's obituary and online registry please visit

Services for Earl Evans

Earl Enos Evans passed away November 22, 2020 at Strand Kjorsvig nursing home in Roslyn SD.

Earl was born August 21, 1932 in Milbank SD.

After high school Earl joined the army at 17 because his brother Obert was missing in action during the Korean war. Earl was awarded 3 purple hearts and 12 other medals while serving.

Earl met his first wife Agatha in Sisseton, SD and had three children. Mark January 3, 1966, Thomas July 10, 1968, and Eleanor March 1, 1972.

Earl loved playing chess, watching baseball and football, hanging out with his friends and family and playing with his little doggie Shaggy.

Earl is survived by his brother Jimmy, son Thomas, daughter Eleanor, 1 grandchild and 4 great grandchildren.

Earl was preceded in death by his 1st wife Agatha, second wife Kathy, brothers Obert and Thomas, and his son Mark.

The family would like to give special thanks to the staff at the nursing home for all that they do.

Memorial services will be held in the summer of 2021.

The Cahill Funeral Chapel of Sisseton, SD is serving the family.

For Earl's obituary and online registration please visit

Rev. Wilbert Robertson

Rev. Wilbert "Jiggs" Robertson, 86, of Waubay, SD passed away on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, at SK Living Center in Roslyn, SD.

Wilbert was born on March 21, 1934, to Jeremiah and Mabel Keeble Robertson in the old Indian hospital at Fort Totten, North Dakota. He was an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe through Toka Nuwan (Enemy Swim) District.

He was the youngest of seven children, and attended boarding school in Fort Totten, ND, which is now the Fort Totten State Historic Site. He graduated a year early. In 1952, he hitch-hiked to Grand Forks, ND, and enlisted in the Air Force. He became a fighter jet mechanic, and later, a crew chief. He was very active in basketball and volleyball wherever he was stationed. He served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In 1961, he married Judith Ray Robertson in Florida. They've been married for 59 years. They had three children: David Robertson (deceased June 2018), Linda (Scott) Miller of Waldorf, Md, and Ruth (Delbert Jr.) Hopkins of Sisseton, SD.

In 1972, after spending some time in Cambodia, he retired from the Air Force as a Tech Sargeant and moved to McLaughlin, SD on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. He was the Pastor at Standing Rock Bible Church. Wilbert had become a Christian when he was stationed in Thailand. Wilbert left McLaughlin to attend bible school in Cass Lake, MN, and then seminary in Kansas City, Mo. A missionary from South Dakota came to the seminary looking for a Native American Pastor to start a church in Sisseton, SD. Wilbert and Judy did that, starting in a mobile home. Today it is the First Baptist Church of Sisseton, SD on the Lake Traverse Reservation. From there, they went to Fort Totten, ND and started Dakota Baptist Church on the Spirit Lake Nation Reservation. In 1989, they moved back to South Dakota and started Bethany Baptist Church at Enemy Swim, SD, also on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

Wilbert also served the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate for a time as a Tribal Judge and District Chairman.

Due to age and health problems, Wilbert retired from the ministry 2018. Wilbert then entered care at Strand-Kjorsvig Nursing Home in Roslyn, SD.

Judy and their grandson Paul, who they've raised since he was an infant, live at their home in Waubay, SD. Wilbert and Judy have 6 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Wilbert is survived by 2 half-sisters, Brenda Azure and Barbara Robertson, both of the Spirit Lake Nation, ND.

There will be a cremation in the care of Fiksal's Funeral Home in Webster, SD, and Wilbert will be interred at the little cemetery in Fort Totten, ND, where most of his family has been laid to rest, in the Spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to First Nations Indian Baptist Fellowship of Churches, which Wilbert was one of the founders years ago. They provide an annual family camp. Gifts may also be given to Bethany Baptist Church, in Enemy Swim, SD, designated for the Indian Baptist Fellowship. Condolences can be sent to Judith Robertson, PO Box 422, Waubay, SD 57273.

Services for James Greeley Tuesday

James Leon Bender-Greeley, 66, passed away Friday, November 27, 2020 at the Faulkton Senior Living, Faulkton, SD.

A family service will be held Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at noon at Big Coulee Cemetery, Peever, SD with Gerald Heminger Jr. presiding.

James Leon Bender-Greeley was born December 9, 1953 to Ramona (Greeley) Bender and Pete Bender Sr. He grew up in the Wilmot, SD area, where he attended Wilmot School. While attending school, James played basketball when their team when to state in 1969, winning the State A Tournament.

James enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening, and nature, in his early days James was a trapper of small animals and used his money to supplement the family. He also worked for Archer Daniels Midland and drove semi hauling flax straw. He went to trade school in Bismarck, ND and earned a mechanic's certificate. He enjoyed working on vehicles. In 1970 James married Victoria Redwing, together they had one son, Robert Bender (Deceased). James was a member of the Ascension Presbyterian Church of Big Coulee.

James is survived by a grandson, Kenneth Bender of Sioux Falls; sisters: Edna Bender, Flandreau and Fena (Richard) Redwing, Summit; brother, Thomas Bender, Minneapolis; and his good friends: Harvey and Phyllis Quinn, Peever, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by both parents, son Robert Bender, and one brother, Pete Bender and Grandparents, Lucy and Silas Greeley.

Luce Funeral Home of Faulkton has been entrusted with James' arrangements. (

Notice of editorial policy

(Editor's note: The following comes from the editor's column and the Sota "deadlines and policies" statement published weekly in the Sota.)

Copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – are to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. FAX and e-mail submissions will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Friday (with the exception of letters to the editor/Open letter to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received no later than 10:00 a.m. Thursday).

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel or offensive language and should be brief, 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

KXSW livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube channel

KXSW-Radio is livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube.

Here is a link to the channel:

Subscribe and watch live or watch archives later.

From the National Weather Service –

Northeast SD Weather Forecast

Nov. 23-Dec. 4, 2020

Monday: Sunny, with highs mainly in the middle 30s. South southwest wind between 10 and 13 mph.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with lows mainly in the upper teens. South wind between 10 and 13 mph.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with highs mostly in the upper 30s. South southeast wind 9 to 13 mph becoming west northwest.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with lows around 20. Northwest wind between 13 and 17 mph.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, with highs mostly in the lower 30s. North northwest wind between 12 and 18 mph.

Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with lows mainly in the upper teens.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with highs mostly in the lower 30s.

Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with lows mainly in the lower 20s.

Friday: Sunny, with highs mostly in the upper 30s.

Contest winner announced

Winner in the Youth and Family TREE and GEN-I program art contest is Saafire LaFromboise-Pratt!

Here are photos of Saafire's submissions to the contest, which was held in observance of Substance Awareness Month – "Culture and Drugs Don't Mix."

Congratulations, Saafire.

NWR features SWO runner

November 27, 2020

Native Women Running (NWR) featured SWO member Patricia Roth in the organization's "Feature Friday" online:

A beautiful story from our sister, @patriciaroth

Patricia from Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate on the Lake Traverse Reservation in Northeast South Dakota.

I'm going to be 42 years old next month (December). I ran my first mile when I was 26 years old to lose pregnancy weight. I got up to running 2 miles on a daily basis. Fast forward a few years later at the age of 33, I ran my first 5k. After that I was hooked on running 5k races. I'm not a fast runner but I simply love running.

Since then I've ran 5k, 10k, half marathons, full marathon, participated on a Ragnar team, and recently ran a 5 mile dash.

Hardest thing about running for me is running in the freezing cold temps during winter months, it take a lot of self motivation to get out there. I'm not a fan of the treadmill, I think it's been 3 years since I've been on a treadmill. One way or another, rain or shine, hot or cold weather, I get out there to stay conditioned.

I hope my running helps inspires the tired, lonely, uninspired, unmotivated, curious, anxiety and depressed people to try it, because running has helped me.

(See accompanying photos.)

Poems by Trinity Thompson

"When memories begin to fade"

I wonder sometimes…

on how or when I forgot,

maybe a lesson in life has been learned,

the precious tears have been cried

and our pain has been felt,

it's time that we slowly emerge

from a cold and lonely past.

"We cried .,. I remember the tears…"

so we took a long walk

and looked out into the peaceful night skies,

we sat for hours looking at all the shining stars,

in those moments we were free with no worries…

together we shared this happiness,

"We laughed … I remember your smiles…"

if you ever forget and memories begin to fade…

let them go so new ones can be made.


By Trinity L. Thompson


E-ternal Entertainment

"Corona 2020"

the invisible assassin…

unable to be felt by touch

and moves with no sympathy,

this virus is merciless…

bloodthirsty as it changes

lives in a matter of days,

this nation we continue to stand resilient

as we forever send these prayers,

in this moment at the crossroads we stand…

a tribute to the fallen for those who passed…

together let's breathe new life

revive the spirit in the wake of this aftermath,

this pain is universal feel the compassion…

focus all your attention on healing

that's all I'm asking.


By Trinity L. Thompson

Nov. 18, 2020

E-ternal Entertainment

Open letter to the Oyate

This year was full of strange crazy, weird and hard times. More than any other year in years in my opinion.

The world changed and adapted as well as our own country, Indian country--- however not so much. At least not this particular Reservation.

But hey they (The Council) paid our lights or rent but never gave us help in any other way.

And we gotta be grateful and smile and say thank you like some kiss ass that works for the Tribe.

But the Casino workers let's just point out that the DMC is the only thing keeping the tribe afloat have to even under new leadership struggle to get to work, work strenuous hours,

And worry about losing their jobs taboot.

All so the Council can still get paid and the tribal programs workers that barely do anything when they do have to report to work couple days a week.

See, my point is if you are a ordinary normal every day tribal member like me you don't get any kick backs or hand outs because you know we ain't got no family or ties on council.

Oh yea, no district days money for its members this year but somehow the district's offices employees still go to work, answer phones, etc get paid?

Wake up, Natives. Stand up. Speak up.

P.S. Other tribes are literally helping their members with Covid Relief but not this "Oyate".

A Real Native, Johnny Ringo (Renville).

Hospitalized twice and reeling from PTSD, 39-year-old SD mother stays on oxygen after COVID-19

By Morgan Matzen

Rapid City Journal – Nov 28, 2020 – "Ithought about how scary it would be to have COVID-19, especially as a single parent and sole provider. My worst-case scenario was ending up in the hospital, and that's exactly what happened to me."

Candi Brings Plenty, 39, a single mother of two teenage girls, tested positive for COVID-19 in late September. Her children and multiple other family members also contracted the virus, including her grandmother who died from it.

Candi was living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in a cabin when the pandemic hit South Dakota in March. The cabin they were living in got sold to the tribe, so Candi and her two children, now 17 and 15, moved to Rapid City.

"I was very comfortable living out in the middle of nowhere during this pandemic, but once I came into Rapid City, I knew (we) were in a pod of exposure," Candi said.

She and her children were always cautious to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands. They had been working to sew masks for people and helped deliver meals and supplies for Meals for Relatives.

"I was always on board with masking up and protecting our Oyate, our people, and especially the elders and the vulnerable and myself," Candi said. "I have pre-existing conditions. I have diabetes and I have asthma. Being a single parent and being their sole provider, I knew it was very important for me to keep myself safe."


Candi said that when her family moved to Rapid City, they felt their prayers were answered because they were able to find a beautiful new home. By the time she moved, she saw a need to help cook for Meals for Relatives.

"In our culture, it's called Wopila, 'to give back.' I told (my children) this is what we're going to do for our Wopila, we're going to give back and we're going to cook for these COVID-19 families," Candi said.

Every week from May until the time she contracted COVID-19, Candi and her children took a night to cook for Indigenous families who have COVID-19 and would deliver the meals to their homes with no contact, eliminating any chance of transmission.

One day, Candi delivered food to an elder's home, and the elder invited her inside.

"I contracted COVID-19 because for one moment, I forgot," Candi said. "I didn't wear my mask when I went to visit an elder. I went into their home because they offered me coffee and wanted to visit. We're supposed to protect our elders and keep our distance from our elders, and I had a meal with them for over 20 minutes until I noticed they were coughing."

Once Candi realized the elders were coughing and kept their heater on despite the warm weather due to chills, another COVID-19 symptom, she got up to leave and asked that they all get tested for COVID-19 the next day.

The elders were positive, and Candi tested positive within days.

Family infections

Candi made sure to stay home and quarantine after exposure and continued to isolate at home after her test came back positive. Despite her best efforts, several of her relatives became sick with COVID-19 in a matter of days.

"I had some relatives living with me at the time who were temporarily staying with me, and I am so shocked at how quick I infected five other people almost all in one day because they stopped in at my house," Candi said.

Her brother, sister, niece, two daughters and a person who had entered Candi's home without her consent all tested positive for COVID-19 in a short time.

"I just watched it spread like wildfire," Candi said. "To this day, I still feel horrible watching how it impacted my relatives and how they had to take time off from work and how they lost paychecks, and all the effort that I worked towards" in staying safe from COVID-19.

Symptoms strike

Candi's symptom onset began when she was sleeping and woke up at 5 a.m. freezing with the "worst cold I've ever felt." She put on blankets, sweatpants and a hoodie and couldn't stay warm.

"I knew at that moment, something was wrong. I could feel it in my bones," Candi said.

She took a hot shower and began to feel nauseous. After the shower, she laid down and felt the body aches, all sure signs of COVID-19.

"It was just like it all came on at once," Candi said. "For me, they weren't body aches. They felt like someone was stabbing me. It was just horrible. Later it felt as if it was like lightning strikes. Now that I think about it, I feel like it was nerve pain. I've had muscle aches, but this was horrendous."

Soon she felt a fever. The next day, she felt coughing and shortness of breath. She suffered the symptoms at home for nearly a week before she was hospitalized.

Candi said she had a "strong network" of friends, family and neighbors who sent care packages to her home and supported her and her two children while they were sick.

"My worst case scenario was I was in the hospital fighting for my life and my two children were at home, COVID-19 positive and quarantining, and they were scared," Candi said.

Fighting for breath

Candi said she thanks the Meals for Relatives group again because without a care package that contained a pulse oximeter, she might not have known the warning signs for hospitalization.

"I didn't know what readings were normal, or what readings were devastating," Candi said.

Her oxygen level was at 85% for a few days, she said. Normal readings are at least 95%. She became lethargic, and described her mental health as "delirious" from the lack of oxygen.

"At the time, I didn't know I was passing out but I couldn't stay awake," Candi said. "There was a time when I slept for 18 hours straight and I just kept falling asleep and telling myself that if I sleep, I will wake up in a few days and I'll be better. My body will heal itself, and my body wants to sleep."

Her dog, Tika, kept coming into her room and barking at her. Candi said she's glad she let Tika in because she kept licking Candi's face to wake her up.

Candi noticed her feet and palms began to turn white and her mouth was turning blue. Candi texted her daughter and told her she needs to go to the emergency room. Her daughter asked if she should call an ambulance.

"There was a moment where I didn't want to wake up," Candi said. "I didn't want to call an ambulance because I didn't want to traumatize my daughters. I didn't feel I needed an ambulance, but it took me seven hours to get out of bed. I kept falling back asleep and dreaming that I went to the emergency room."

When she eventually made it to the emergency room without the help of an ambulance, Candi was admitted right away after caregivers checked her vitals.

"The doctor came in and told me if you went to sleep, you would have been one of the COVID-19 victims who fell asleep and didn't wake up," Candi said.

Impressed by care

Candi said she was "very impressed" by the doctors and caregivers who took care of her at Monument Health while she was sick with COVID-19.

"They were very warm and comforting," Candi said. "I would think that our health care workers would kind of have this fear in them for being so close, but they were so comforting."

While she was hospitalized, Candi left the TV in her hospital room at a high volume and barely slept.

"I didn't sleep because in my window, I would see the nurses, even my nurse, go running. Sometimes they would be walking and then take off running," Candi said. "If I didn't have the TV on, I could hear all the different alarms and I would hear horrible things."

At one point, Candi could hear that the person in the room adjacent to hers had "coded," or went into cardiac arrest.

"That was really hard to comprehend while you're there fighting for your own life," she said. "I watched (the staff) being overworked."

The South Dakota Department of Health called to check Candi's symptoms 10 days from their onset while she was in the hospital.

"They asked, when did your symptoms start? People could say anything because they don't want to be in quarantine," she said. "I felt like they weren't a strong resource for the community. I had other relatives who said (their) 10 days are up and the DOH released (them from isolation), but they're still coughing and have symptoms. I feel like this is part of the reason we're spreading COVID-19 the way we are."

'I still have nightmares'

Candi said she feels her illness was longer than two weeks because she's on oxygen right now and may have to stay on oxygen for the rest of her life.

"I feel like I'm still impacted by it," Candi said. "I have lung damage because I waited so long, and because my oxygen levels were so low for so long. I didn't realize I was causing myself organ damage."

She was hospitalized a second time during her COVID-19 journey due to a lung infection. She still wears her oxygen tank. Candi still hasn't regained her taste and smell, and said she has PTSD from her illness.

"I still have bad dreams or nightmares about not being able to wake up that night," Candi said. "It was horrible to know that I almost allowed myself to be another COVID-19 death."

Candi said as someone who survived COVID-19, she's upset that not enough of the CARES Act money went to people who were directly impacted by the pandemic and instead went to businesses.

"There's millions of dollars out there, and it's the people who need it the most," Candi said. "It's not even about the people, it's about the economy. That really upsets me."

While Native Americans have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19, Candi said she sees the pandemic as a "biochemical warfare weapon."

"Elders who have no fighting chance against COVID-19 are leaving us way too soon," Candi said. "We've lost so many elders, so many prominent wisdom keepers and medicine people. Our youth are struggling so much."

Candi lost her grandmother, Florence Ten Fingers, to COVID-19. Traditionally death ceremonies are four days long, Candi noted, but her grandmother's ceremony was two hours long.

Candi said ultimately, she believes the tribal lockdowns were the best response and that the state was attacking the tribes by attempting to dismantle sovereign border patrol that was taking care of the Oyate.

"We knew what was going to happen. What's happening now is what we were trying to prevent," she said. "Now we're at a rate where I'm witnessing two to three relatives dying from COVID-19 each day."

(Editor's note: We appreciate Candi sharing her story, which is especially important for our Oyate, and the Rapid City Journal for publishing it.)

Sisseton man sentenced to 26 months in federal prison for Transfer of Obscene Material to a Minor

Sioux Falls, SD – Nov. 22, 2020 – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Sisseton, South Dakota, man was sentenced in federal court on November 12, 2020, for transferring obscene material to a minor. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol.

Aydan Sam Kirk, age 23, was sentenced to 26 months of imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Kirk was also ordered to pay $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

According to court documents, on or about September 26, 2019, Kirk knowingly used a computer connected to the internet and a mobile phone to transfer and attempt to transfer obscene matter to another individual who was 15 years old. Kirk utilized Facebook and transferred obscene videos and messages to a minor. At the time of the transfer, Kirk knew the general nature of the contents of the material, specifically discussing sexual acts that he wanted to preform on the minor, and he knew that the minor was 15 years old.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.

Kirk was remanded to custody to serve his sentence.

Prairie Doc® Perspectives –

Gratitude for Grandparents

By Joanie Holm, R.N., C.N.P.

A three-pound baby entered the world in recent days. This precious child was born after his Mom spent seven weeks in the hospital on bedrest. At home, Dad and two siblings were working, going to school, and worrying. Surrounding the family were two sets of grandparents who ensured that the pieces all fell into place. From meals and lawn care, to virtual school, from evening shifts and overnights to early mornings, these grandparents were there every step of the way. They will continue to offer support while the baby remains hospitalized and growing, and after he comes home, because that is what grandparents do, if they are able.

Grandparenting can be an awesome stage in life, benefitting the grandchildren, the parents, and of course the grandparents in significant ways. Grandparents are known to influence values and behaviors and provide valuable life experiences. A child who has a connection with grandparents may have increased self-esteem, with better emotional and social skills. A relationship with a grandparent can give a child strength and comfort into adulthood.

In an article titled "Why Grandparents are VIPs," social researcher, educator and author, Susan V. Bosak writes, "The special kind of love you get from a grandparent is a love you can't get anywhere else. It is an important kind of love - in fact, a very important kind of love. Parents have to worry about who children will become in the future; their role is to be providers and disciplinarians. Grandparents can just enjoy children for who they are in the moment. The love of a grandparent is often freer, more unconditional, and far less psychologically complex than a parent's love. The love of a parent and the love of a grandparent are different, second in emotional importance only to the parent/child relationship."

In a world of many dual-career families, the benefits of active grandparents can be lifesaving for parents. Often grandparents fill in the gap between school and the time parents get off work, driving kids to different events or helping them with homework.

Lastly, active grandparents report less depression and a higher degree of life satisfaction and a hopeful feeling for the future.

Margaret Mead, a well-known American cultural anthropologist, said the connection between generations was "essential for the mental health and stability of a nation."

This Thanksgiving, may we celebrate the grandparent-grandchild relationship with gratitude.


Joanie S. Holm, R.N., C.N.P. is co-founder and president of Healing Words Foundation, a 501c3 which funds Prairie Doc® programs. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc® library, visit and follow Prairie Doc® on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show streaming on Facebook and broadcast on SDPB most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.

Youth, school activities highlights –

Education watch on the Lake Traverse Reservation

TZTS meals during Nov. 23-Jan. 15

Agency Village, SD – Nov. 16, 2020 – Group A Students and Families will utilize the Drive Thru on November 23rd, November 30th, December 7th, December 14th, January 4th, and January 11th. They will pick up meals for 2 days.

Group B Students and Families will utilize the Drive Thru on December 3rd, December 10th, December 17th, January 7th, and January 14th. They will pick up meals for 2 days.

The Bus drivers will continue their Regular Food Delivery during Remote Learning.

The Drive Thru will be located in the back of the school where we had our Spring Drive Thru.

Parents are required to wear masks during the Drive Thru.

Any questions please call Gabe Kampeska or your child's principal.

ESDS resumes food service program due to closure

Enemy Swim – Nov. 23, 2020 – The Enemy Swim Day School announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program (Unexpected Closure).

Breakfast and lunch will be delivered to currently enrolled FACE Pre-K thru 8th grade students ONLY.

Site Name: Enemy Swim Day School

13525 446th Ave.

Waubay, SD 57273-5715

Dates of Operation: November 23, 2020 thru January 9, 2021

*days that students are attending remote classes plus 11/23 &11/24

Delivery Days: Nov. 23, 24, 30, 2020

Dec. 1st-4th, 7th-11th, 14th-18th, 21st & 22nd, 2020

Jan. 4th-8th, 2021

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights,1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) Email:

For more information, please contact Carolyn Soles or Barbara Danley at (605) 947-4605

Visit our website at

Suggested by SWO Community Health Education –

Public Health vs. Clinical Health Professions: What's the Difference?

ALPHA/American Public Health Association

I've been immersed in the public health world for so long, sometimes I forget that many people don't know the answer to this question. It's a common lament among public health professionals that nobody understands what we do until something goes wrong. If we're doing our jobs right, the water is clean, the air is breathable, the factories and the food supply are safe. But then along comes a disease outbreak, and suddenly everybody wants to talk to us!

The easiest way to explain public health is that it deals with health from the perspective of populations, not individuals. The clinical health care provider — your doctor, nurse, or dentist — helps you with your own personal healthcare issues. Let's say you have asthma. It's the clinical care provider who listens to you describe your symptoms. He or she does the necessary tests, makes the diagnosis, and prescribes the right medicines. You go home breathing better.

The public health approach is different. Public health takes a look at the whole neighborhood (or city, county, state, etc.) and figures out how many people have asthma and what's putting them at risk. Then, public health professionals get to work figuring out how to reduce those exposures and cut down on the number of new asthma cases. Public health is also concerned with whether the people with asthma have access to doctors and are getting good care. If the folks on our side do their jobs right, the whole neighborhood breathes easier.

If you want to know some of the other things that public health professionals think about, you'll find a wealth of information at

Careers in Public Health is designed to answer your public health career questions.

The health care system and public health

Careers in Public Health has received many questions about the health care system in the United States. The authors of "The Health Care Handbook," Elisabeth Askin, Nathan Moore and Vikram Shankar, give us some insight.

Q: What's your prediction of future health care reform directions?

Elisabeth: People will like having easier access to insurance and care, so that will stay, politically. Big changes will have to be made in terms of cost. The professions will largely self-regulate in terms of quality.

Nathan: Paying for health outcomes rather than for services delivered – this is already happening in Massachusetts.

Vikram: In the long term, progressive expansion of public health insurance to rein in costs.

Q: For someone with very little background in the subject, how would you explain health insurance/economics and the U.S. health care system?

Vikram: A third party - the health insurance plan - makes payments on behalf of the patient for most health care services. To make things more complicated, physicians and hospitals charge different amounts for the same service depending on the insurance plan.

Elisabeth: Health care is rarely equivalent to the other goods and services to which it gets compared. For instance, the idea of insurance is borne out of an uncertainty about the timing and size of one's need for resources. However, with health insurance: (1) many health costs are expected yet still covered by insurance, and (2) people don't choose their health status, the way they might choose to buy a house in a flood plain, (3) costs are rarely known until after the fact.

Nathan: Imagine visiting a car mechanic after your Check Engine light comes on. The mechanic determines that your alternator is not working and installs a new one after several hours of work. You leave with a newly functional car. However, neither you nor the mechanic knows the cost of the parts, or the total price for the repair. Sounds crazy, but that's how health care works.

Q: If you are going to categorize health care users, which categories would you use?

Nathan: By insurance status. The type of insurance someone has (i.e., private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, no insurance, etc.) plays a role in determining where and how they get care–as well as how good that care is.

Elisabeth: By health status. In the U.S., the sickest 5 percent of the population accounts for half of total health care spending, while the healthiest 50 percent of the population only accounts for 3 percent of health care spending.

Q: What do you think is an effective way to tackle the primary care shortage problem?

Elisabeth: There are many efforts which are likely to have at least some success. One thing we can't forget is that just paying people more isn't enough – we ignore the "hassle factor" of primary care at our peril.

Vikram: Changing scope of practice laws so that nurse practitioners and physician assistants can take on more primary care responsibilities.

Nathan: Promoting the primary care medical home so that primary care physicians are truly in charge of their patients' care.

So, How'd You Get Your Job?

I often talk with people who are beginning the job hunt — and wondering how on earth they're going to find someone to hire them. Does anyone actually get a job by applying to those online listings? Do you have to have connections? Can networking really help?

The answers are yes… no… and absolutely! For this issue of the newsletter, I gathered real-world stories of the job hunt from public health professionals who have jobs they're passionate about, and they agreed to share how they got there.

Nanette Yandell is involved in research that will improve the safety and efficiency of emergency medical care for kids. She just finished her MPH this past August, and it only took her a month to find a great public health job. How'd she do it? Nanette had been gathering work experience since she was an undergrad.

"As an undergrad, I worked for the California Center for Rural Policy, conducting multiple research projects, talking to policy officials and key community leaders, analyzing data and writing reports." Later, while pursuing my MPH, I worked as a graduate research assistant for my school's department of global health, where I was able to utilize and enhance my basic statistical skills. I learned that many people are afraid to do statistics, so this experience gave me an edge. During this time, I helped professors write, edit, and publish several research papers. In my final semester, I completed a graduate student internship with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch. They place students all over the U.S. I was sent to Kentucky as an Epidemiology Intern. My internship gave me direct experience working for a health department, utilizing advanced statistical software, and creating a report that was beneficial for health policies across the state.

While I was still at my internship, I found my current job. This wasn't easy and it took a lot of time, about 20 hours a week on top of my fulltime internship. I knew my background was more in research than in applied public health, so I focused on jobs at universities and state health departments. I applied to at least 8 different places before I began hearing back. A few places told me that I did not have the length and depth of experience required. There were other places that I never heard from. Then OHSU called. They did an initial interview over the phone and then asked me to fly out to Oregon for a final interview. I paid my own way, which was taking a risk, but I didn't think I would have been invited if they weren't serious! It probably took me a month from starting the search to finding this job, which I think was pretty fast. I've noticed that students who didn't work during school have had a more difficult time finding jobs. People seem to think that they should wait until they have the degree to enter the field. I've learned that if there is a direction you want to head, it's a good idea to start as soon as possible.

Nanette Yandell, MPH

Project Coordinator, Children's Safety Initiative

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon


Catherine Kroll is an epidemiologist who tracks disease outbreaks, helps plan for prevention and keeps an eye on quality measures for a county health department. She says it's just the right job for her interests and skills. How did she find such a good match — and just as she was finishing her public health training? Sometimes, networking is the key.

"I went straight from earning a bachelor's degree in microbiology to graduate school for an MPH." While I was in grad school, I used their job connection service (which listed jobs available to students) to get involved with some national projects at the CDC. Through that experience, I discovered I was more interested in working at the local level. Later on, through my MPH program, I had the opportunity to go to Florida and work on a project with a local health department. While I was there, I made the effort to talk with people who could advise me on my career. One of the people I met was in the Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service, which is a fellowship program modeled on a national program at the CDC. It sounded like a good opportunity, and I decided to apply. I also had a good discussion with the health department's Director of Epidemiology. She ended up writing one of my letters of recommendation, which I think really helped me get accepted. In the Florida EIS program, I did local work, such as investigating disease outbreaks, and I also spent one day a week at the state health department.

For my first long-term job, I wanted to be at a local health department that had strong leadership and ties to the national level. Near the end of my fellowship, I was at the annual APHA meeting, and a colleague told me, "You would be great for this job in Washington!" She had heard that a local health department was looking for an epidemiologist, and it turned out that the job was just what I was looking for. I sent off some emails, thinking it was a long shot. But they called me! They interviewed me over the phone on a Tuesday, and that Friday they offered me the job.

Catherine Kroll, MPH

Communicable Disease Epidemiologist and Program Lead

Clark County Public Health, Vancouver, Wash.

Did You Know?

The largest growing public health concern in the world is diabetes. In 2006, according to the World Health Organization, at least 171 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. It's increasing rapidly, and it is estimated that by the year 2030, this number will double.



Request for Proposals for a Feasibility Study

October 30, 2020


The intent of this feasibility study is to evaluate SWO's need and the feasibility of an ASUDTC. The intent of this feasibility study is also to ensure the following statutory conditions are met in order for the Director of IHS to make a determination as to whether to authorize a demonstration project for the construction of an ASATC: (1) a need for a new facility, (2) a significant number of Indians will be served, (3) the potential to deliver services in an efficient and effective manner, (4) economic viability, (5) the Tribe has the administrative and financial capability to administer the project, and (6) the project is integrated with providers of related health or social services and is coordinated with, and avoids duplication of, existing services in order to expand.

In addition, this feasibility study will estimate the construction cost and corresponding operating budget for an ASUDTC. This feasibility study will identify multiple alternatives to meeting the need for such center. Some of the multiple alternatives will include a no action option identifying the continued use of existing facilities both on and off the Lake Traverse Reservation with existing operating budgets. All possible authorized funding for operations will be identified in the feasibility study, including all funds the Tribe intends to utilize to operate an ASATC on an ongoing basis.

Design, surveying, and construction will not be part of this feasibility study.


The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Tribe or SWO) in recent years has been experiencing critical levels of substance abuse in their immediate service area. The Tribe has specifically found an urgent need for comprehensive programs for detoxification, treatment and rehabilitation for opioid and methamphetamine substance use disorders and poly-substance use. The Tribe desires to seek funding to construct a new Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center (ASUDTC) to address the growing need for expanded local treatment capacity. The Tribe currently operates a residential treatment center, Dakotah Pride Center, under their current PL 93-638 Title I Master Health Contract and has fifty years of experience in the field. The existing program is a 12-bed facility. The Tribe offers both residential and outpatient treatment, as well as recovery support, aftercare and housing. The Tribe feels that the existing facility and program does not adequately meet community need. The Indian Health Service (IHS) has determined that it will allocate private insurance from the Woodrow Wilson Keeble Memorial Health Care Center to fund a feasibility study to evaluate funding and constructing a replacement facility. The Tribe will complete the feasibility study to determine if constructing a new facility is physically possible and affordable.


Firm Information; Provide firm's name, address, website, and telephone number. Include name, title and email address of the individual who will serve as firm's primary contact. Include a brief description and history of your firm.

Experience and references: Proposals should include a list of 3-5 references from similar projects that your firm has completed.

Project Approach: Please explain your project approach, style, and process.

Schedule and Timeline: Proposals should include the proposed work schedule, timeline, and deliverables resulting from the feasibility study.

Cost: Proposals must include the estimated cost for all work related to tasks and deliverables outlined in the Schedule and Timeline.

Provide biographies of Key Staff: Please include a summary of experience of all key staff.

Contact the SWO Procurement Office for Specifications: lenniebp@SWO-NSN.GOV


SWO Procurement Office

Attn: Lennie Bernard-Peters

PO Box 509

Agency Village, SD 57262

By 4:00 pm on December 21, 2020

All interested parties acknowledge that any Agreement executed and performed with the Tribe's exclusive jurisdiction is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tribal Court of Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. All interested parties acknowledge that they must comply with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Ordinances: TERO Chapter 59 Requirements, Wage Rates & Compliance Plan; Business License Ordinance Chapter 53; Tax Ordinance Chapter 67, and Chapter 75 Sex Offender Registration.


Trading Post ads

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate is seeking to fill the following position(s):

Budget, Audit and Compliance Specialist, Budget Office

Protective Service Worker, Child Protection

Closing Date: December 4th, 2020 @ 12:00PM (Noon)

Teacher Aide, Enemy Swim Head Start

Project Director, TREE

Parole Officer, Department of Parole

In-House Attorney, Tribal Executive Committee

Positions Open Until Filled

Application & supporting documents can be emailed to ArnoldW@SWO-NSN.GOV or DeniseH@SWO-NSN.GOV. Contact Arnold Williams 698-8238 or Denise Hill 698-8251 with questions. (Tribal preference will apply).



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