sota on-line masthead


Picture Picks of the Week

Don't miss out -- Click here
View the best pictures from this week's Sota
In full color!

Link to KXSW Reznet videos here.

SWO GIS Online

Regional COVID-19 Map

Worldwide COVID-19 Map

  Obituaries Editorials Editor's column Education
Trading post



Volume 51 Issue No. 32

Anpetu Iyamni, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020

Inside this Edition –

Executives close tribal offices week of Aug. 10-15

Update: COVID-19 construction projects, new groundbreakings scheduled

SWO jail project: Chairmen leads delegation to meet BIA officials in Aberdeen

Unofficial list of SWO candidates for 2020 Primary, General Elections

SWO Emergency Financial Assistance program; Applications available

Requirements to receive education internet access

Sisseton IHS COVID testing ongoing at Sisseton IHS, Districts

Reminder: Deadline for receiving copy is Friday noon

Executives close tribal offices

Tribal offices closed August 10-15, 2020

Agency Village, SD – August 7, 2020 – The SWO Executive Committee released the following memo today addressed to all Tribal employees:

Due to the increase of positive COVID-19 cases in the area and in the workplace, all Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Offices will be closed August 10-15, 2020 for thorough cleaning and sanitization.

Administrative leave will be granted during this time.

Work will resume as normal on Monday, August 17, 2020.

In addition, a work remote from home order is being directed for essential duties and services.

Exceptions to this directive will only be for duties considered business critical and cannot be completed outside of the workplace; these programs are to follow previously developed work remote schedules.

Again, please take responsibility to keep your families safe and sheltered in place during this time.

Employees who choose to travel out of the area anytime during the week forfeit their administrative leave and must get tested for the Coronavirus and quarantine for 14-days if needed.

Personal leave may be utilized.

The only exception to travel will be to visit area essential businesses, such as, health care facilities, grocery stores, gas stations, and/or banks; please ensure you and your family wear face masks when in public.

The Executive Committee continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will do what is necessary to keep the workplace, employees, and their 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.

Rollover, search for driver at Enemy Swim

Agency Village, SD – SWO EMS – August 7, 2020 – Law Enforcement officers and SWO Emergency Management officials were on the scene this morning responding to a vehicle rollover on BIA Highway 500 and Gill Road along Enemy Swim Lake.

An airboat has been brought in, and rescue dogs are expected later today to assist in the search/recover of the driver.

Watch for updates.

Chairman Hopkins leads BIA meeting on jail project

Aberdeen, SD – August 3, 2020 – Chairman Hopkins led a delegation to meet with Area BIA officials today to discuss how to move forward with the SWO jail project.

Participating with the Chairman were Vice-Chairman Eddie Johnson, Long Hollow District Councilman Curtis Bissonette, Big Coulee District Councilwoman Lisa Jackson, Enemy Swim District Councilwoman Cheryl Owen, Old Agency District Councilman Milton "Nippy" Owen, Tribal Police Chief Gary Gaikowski, SWO Planning Dept. Director Michael Roberts, and Consultant Bruce Jones.

Michael Roberts and Bruce Jones arranged the meeting with BIA Great Plains Regional Director Tim LaPointe and Self-Determination Specialist Ken Locke.


Agency Village, SD – August 5, 2020 – There was a lengthy discussion in Council chambers today (Wednesday) about how the jail project has been underfunded and stalled by the BIA over the past four years.

Council scheduled a roundtable meeting for Wednesday, August 19, to continue the discussion.

Update: COVID-19 construction projects

Agency Village, SD – August 7, 2020 – Foundation was completed this week for the SWO COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Facility, located adjacent to the Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center (WWKMHCC).

Tribal Council was informed in chambers Wednesday that the foundation was complete and in-ground plumbing is being installed.

"Walls should be going up by end of the month," according to Consultant Bruce Jones.

Bruce said the project is "moving along well."

Tribal Council approved two more COVID-19 mitigation projects this week: a new day care center, and food pantry. Both will be located at Agency Village.

Site for the day care center is the lot between the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) building and Dakota Western, on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

The current food pantry, located in the former Agency Village Community Post Office building, will be demolished while the new facility is being constructed.

The pantry will temporarily be housed in the Tribe's Food Commodities building, which operates the USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides supplemental food to all income-eligible persons.

Groundbreaking for both projects is planned for Monday, August 24.

Demolition of the food pantry and on-site mobilization for the two projects is tentatively set for Thursday, August 27.

All three of these COVID-19 projects are design-and-build, with HKG, Aberdeen, architects, and Consolidated Construction, Bismarck, ND, general contractor.

According to funding guidelines, the CARES Act funding (CRF) must be used to mitigate impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and projects are to be completed by December 30, 2020.

SWO has also applied for CRF support to expand the Barker Hill wastewater lagoon to accommodate new housing units at the Barker Hill II housing site. Also included are two new lift stations – one for Barker Hill, the other for Veblen Housing.

Barker Hill II housing project

Agency Village, SD – August 7, 2020 – Curb and gutter, and paving has been completed at the Barker Hill II housing site.

Next steps will be putting in foundations and bringing in 20 ready-built SD Governor Houses.

Also, updates are planned for the wastewater lagoon and lift stations. (One lift station is for Barker Hill, the other for Veblen Housing.)

The former Dakota Nation Development Corp. (DNDC) project is being managed by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Housing Authority.

SWO 2020 Primary, General Elections

Here is the unofficial list of candidates for the 2020 SWO primary and general elections, which are held on the first Tuesday in October (Oct. 6, 2020) and November (Nov. 3, 2020).

The Reservation Election Board (REB) is responsible for background checks and determining eligibility and will release an official list once the certification process is complete.

Executive Offices

Candidates for Tribal Chairperson: Delbert Hopkins Jr., John Kampeska, Jesse Larsen, Ella Robertson, LeeAnn TallBear, Donovan White.

Candidates for Tribal Vice-Chair: Lisa Jackson, Eddie Johnson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

Candidates for Tribal Secretary: Winfield Rondell Jr., Myrna Thompson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

District Offices

Big Coulee District: Danielle DeCoteau, Lydia Riveria, Norma Perko.

Buffalo Lake District: Louis Johnson (incumbent), Lorraine Rousseau, Arnold White Jr.

Enemy Swim District: Cheryl Owen (incumbent), Dallas Owen, Brice Roberts.

Heipa District: Bryan Akipa, Branden LaBatte, Charlene LaFontaine, Merlin Jay Renville, Gypsy Wanna.

Lake Traverse District: Dionne Lake, Michael Selvage Jr., Shannon White.

Long Hollow District: Curtis Bissonette (incumbent), Janel Cook, Gretta Lavergne, Darrell Quinn Jr.

Old Agency District: Brandon Adams, Floyd Kirk Jr., Milton "Nippy" Owen (incumbent), Gladys Renville, Martha Renville.

(Editor's note: According to the SWO Election Code, the REB is to complete certification of candidates for both Executive and Council positions by the last Friday of August [August 28, 2020]. Also, according to the Election Code, Tribal members must be on their District voting roster by August in order to vote in the primary and general elections. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, REB has put a "safety plan" in place for this year's elections to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.)

Sisseton IHS provides ongoing COVID-19 testing

The Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center (WWKMHCC) is doing COVID-19 testing for anyone who is eligible for IHS care.

Drive-through testing is available every Wednesday from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in the WWKMHCC parking lot.

The IHS nurses are also traveling to the districts, using test kits provided by the state of South Dakota.

Here is the current schedule for the remainder of August:

*Buffalo Lake District Center: Tuesday, Aug. 11, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.

*Open: Tuesday, Aug. 18, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.

Watch for more District testing dates as requested and scheduled.

For more information, contact: Lori Sampson, Director of Nursing at 605-742-3686; or Tracey Cooper, Public Health Nursing Director, 605-742-3767.

SWO Emergency Financial Assistance program

Agency Village, SD – July 10, 2020 – Applications for the SWO Emergency Financial Assistance program are available online on the Tribe's website:

There, you can download a checklist along with the two-page application.

Paper copies are available at the administration building security desk.

For information, contact either of these dedicated telephone lines Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.:

*605-698-8440 – COVID19APP

*605-698-8441 – COVID19APP2

There is also a fax line for submitting applications:

*605-698-8442 - COVID-19 Emergency Applications

Information is also available, and you may submit applications, by contacting the following dedicated email:

Completed applications can be dropped off at either of two wooden boxes at the Tribal admin building, both labeled "Emergency Assistance Applications."

The boxes are located beside the security podium at the public entrance, and in front of the Chairman's reception suite in the rotunda.

During a Facebook Live question-and-answer session with the Tribal Executives, Vice-Chairman Eddie Johnson reminded the Oyate that the SWO COVID-19 Hotline is to be used for COVID-related questions – primarily to let the DARE program know what is needed to be delivered to quarantined homes on the Reservation – not for the Financial Assistance program.

That number is 605-698-8249.

The Vice-Chairman also announced that any tribal member needing copies of utility bills, or tribal enrollment, will be assisted at the Agency Village Community Post Office in the admin building.

He also encourages social distancing and requests visitors please wear a mask.

Purpose, requirements for COVID-19 education internet assistance

Agency Village, SD – August 5, 2020 – The following contains information for those Tribal members wishing to take advantage of the COVID-19 Education Broadband Internet Assistance program. Also, see the notice elsewhere in this edition of the Sota.

COVID-19 Education Broadband Internet Assistance Application


Through the COVID-19 Education Broadband Internet Assistance Program, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate provides emergency Internet service for Tribal member households on the Lake Traverse Reservation with students enrolled in schools that are employing Internet-based distance learning in response to COVID-19 public health emergency.

Assistance Amount

Broadband Internet assistance will be provided directly to the Internet service provider of the applicant household for qualifying months between August 2020 and December 2020, inclusive, during which the household requires Internet service in order to enable one or more full-time students in the household to participate in Internet-based distance learning at their schools.

Assistance is subject to the availability of funding in the program.


1.  The applicant must be the head of household (and the only household member applying for assistance).

2.  The applicant must be an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.

3.  The applicant household must be on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

4.  The applicant must have had an adjusted gross income in 2019 of not more than:

     *$99,000 for individuals filing as a single individual or married filing separately,

     *$136,500 for individuals filing as head of household, and

     *$198,000 for married couples filing joint returns.

5.  The applicant household must have one or more students enrolled in school full-time.

6.  One or more students in the applicant household participate in Internet-based distance learning at their schools.

7.  The applicant must need broadband Internet service in order to enable one or more full-time students in the household to participate in Internet-based distance learning at their schools.

8.  The applicant may not have received assistance from another government or program for the same expenses for which assistance is sought through this program.

Back-to-school clothing drive

Agency Village, SD – August 4, 2020 – There will be a back-to-school clothing drive and exchange on Saturday, August 15th at the Veterans Memorial Youth Center from 12:00 noon until 3:00 p.m.

Please bring donations of new or gently used, freshly laundered clothing, backpacks and shoes to the VMYC parking lot at this time.

There will be no cash exchanged.

Everything is free and all sizes (infant to adult) will be accepted.

Please bring your own shopping bags and provide one article of freshly laundered, gently used clothing, backpack or shoes (with no stains or holes) as a donation.

Due to storage availability, donations will only be accepted during these hours at this location.

Virtual Crisis Care now available in Roberts County

By Mimi Larsen

While much of the country debates how to meld mental health expertise with law enforcement for on-scene crises, the Roberts County Sheriff's office now has the resources to make this happen, in cooperation with Avera eCARE®.

The Roberts County Sheriff's Office is one of 11 South Dakota sheriff offices participating in the Virtual Crisis Care pilot program, thanks to a $1 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

This collaboration allows law enforcement to communicate in real-time with mental health professionals anywhere, anytime, via an iPad tablet, and act together as a mobile crisis response team.

South Dakota Chief Justice David Gilbertson has long been a proponent of using technology to better serve individuals with mental health issues.

"Too many people we see entering the system are really there because of mental health issues," said Gilbertson. "Sure, they've been charged with a crime, but why did they commit that crime? The underlying issue is mental illness." He says if mental health expertise is readily available, it could revolutionize the state's criminal justice system.

"Mental health crises can be extremely difficult for law enforcement officers," said Roberts County Sheriff, Barry Hillestad. "We are incredibly grateful that Virtual Crisis Care is now available in our county. It will help our officers ensure that those in crisis get the appropriate level of help as quickly as possible."

Hillestad said officers can connect remotely with an eCare team who can perform a basic mental health assessment via live chat, and give direction on what that person needs. He gave a scenario where the police would have little idea if a person were really a danger to themselves or not.

With the use of the tablet, a mental health professional will assist law enforcement through safety assessment, stabilization and de-escalation during a crisis situation in an individual's home, or wherever the crisis is occurring. Following the crisis response, Virtual Crisis Care connects individuals to local mental health resources for follow-up care, such as counseling.

"Having mental health professionals make the assessment and decision takes the responsibility off of us," said Hillestad. "We're finding throughout the state that commitments are cut about in half."

Not having the expertise available, the default option has been to drive the person-in-crisis to Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, or Yankton and then bring them back the next day when the assessment shows there really was no need for mental health services.

"This will improve the quality of law enforcement services," said Hillestad.

According to mental health providers involved in the program, follow-up care is extremely important, and this eCare resource will also help ensure that people get the mental health services they need, closer to home, to prevent future events,

It is estimated that about 10% of all law enforcement calls involve a person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Mobile crisis teams have proven to be a beneficial intervention in these situations allowing individuals to access timely care and preventing unnecessary mental health holds, transports, admissions to emergency rooms, and admissions to mental health facilities.

"This program aims to advance my vision to ensure those working in the criminal justice system have access to the resources they need to help people with mental illness regardless of where they live," said Gilbertson. "I'm grateful to all who have collaborated to make this vision a reality."

Virtual Crisis Care is a partnership between Avera eCARE® and the South Dakota Unified Judicial System in collaboration with the South Dakota Sheriffs' Association and community mental health centers with pilot funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

"Helmsley is proud to be on the forefront of increasing access to vital mental health resources for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve," said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Trustee.

ND approves nearly $320M in third round of COVID-19 relief

Bismarck, ND – Aug. 3, 2020 – The North Dakota Emergency Commission today unanimously approved a third tranche of federal funding to support the state's COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, directing nearly $320 million to cities and counties, public health services, unemployment insurance and other programs.

North Dakota received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The $319.7 million approved today is what remained of the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars after votes by the Emergency Commission to allocate $406.1 million in June and $524.2 million in May, with approval from the Legislature's Budget Section.

Cities and counties will receive $59 million, on top of the $20 million for local public health units. The $59 million will be paid out as a reimbursement for law enforcement payroll based on each jurisdiction's number of law enforcement officers and actual payroll costs from March through September. Public safety payroll is considered an allowable expense to distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars. An estimated $33.5 million will go to cities and $25.4 million to counties.

"As local governments experience declining revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, this substantial support will help cities and counties limit property tax increases by delivering the relief to them before their 2021 budgets are finalized," said Gov. Doug Burgum, who chairs the Emergency Commission. "We're grateful for the partnership of our legislative leaders and local political subdivisions in developing this consistent approach, and we strongly encourage North Dakotans to continue taking steps to slow the spread of coronavirus to save lives and livelihoods: practice social distancing, wear a mask when appropriate and wash your hands frequently."

The six-member Emergency Commission consists of four legislative leaders – House Majority Leader Chet Pollert of Carrington, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson, House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer of Underwood and Senate Appropriations Chairman Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks – along with Secretary of State Al Jaeger and Burgum as chairman.

The third round of funding includes $100 million for the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, bringing to $410 million the total amount of federal aid allocated to the fund to maintain solvency and replenish the fund to support out-of-work North Dakotans and minimize the impact to employer tax rates. The $100 million is estimated to restore the trust fund to pre-pandemic levels, Office of Management and Budget Director Joe Morrissette said.

The North Dakota Department of Health will receive $96.6 million, including nearly $63 million for an enhanced testing campaign covering K-12, the North Dakota University System (NDUS), additional contact tracing, public awareness and education efforts, private lab contracts and reinforcing the state's medical cache. Nearly $31.6 million was approved as a contingency if other federal dollars are unable to cover the cost of testing, lab supplies and contact tracing.

Other allocations include:

$23.3 million for the Office of the Adjutant General for support of statewide testing sites and other expenses.

$17.4 million for the North Dakota University System, including $13.6 million for HVAC modifications to improve air quality in campus buildings and $1 million for personal protective equipment, thermometers and other protective supplies.

$13.3 million for the Department of Human Services, including $12 million to continue to the Childcare Emergency Operations Grant through December.

$5 million for tribal colleges, trade schools and private colleges.

$5.2 million for other state agencies, including $2 million through the Department of Agriculture to support food bank programs.

A total of $445 million in requests were received for the $319.7 million available, Morrissette said, noting that the recommended allocations are focused primarily on public health and safety.

Burgum expressed his gratitude for the strong collaboration and input from legislators as well as the state agencies and North Dakota citizens whose responsible actions have slowed the spread of coronavirus and reduced health care impacts in North Dakota, allowing the state to direct the majority of its federal relief funds to economic support for individuals and businesses.

For more information on North Dakota's COVID-19 response, visit or

Updated IHS COVID-19 testing results

August 7, 2020

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of August 5, 2020.

According to the data, 34,556 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 1.9 percent from the 33,898 cases previously reported.

Altogether, 522,091 coronavirus tests have been administered through August 5, the data shows. That marks an increase of nearly 2.2 percent from the day prior.

Overall, 6.6 percent of IHS coronavirus tests have returned positive, according to the data. But the rate is far higher in the Phoenix Area, where 17.5 percent are positive.

Next is the Navajo Area, which serves the largest reservation in the United States. But even with 15.2 percent of tests returning positive, the rate has held steady in the last several days following a slow but noticeable decline from the region with the highest rate.

The Nashville Area, which covers a wide area of Indian Country, including the South and Northeastern parts of the U.S., also continues to show a high positive rate of almost 9 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, aggressive efforts in the Alaska Area are turning up very few cases. Out of 103,746 tests administered in Alaska, only 0.63 percent have returned positive, the data shows.

The Alaska Area also outnumbers every other area — including Navajo — in terms of tests administered. The Oklahoma City Area has fallen back to the second spot.

The data, however, is incomplete. While 100 percent of facilities run directly by the IHS are reporting data, only 33 percent of tribally managed facilities and 44 percent of urban Indian organizations are doing the same, the agency has told Indianz.Com.

The agency also provided to Indianz.Com the service population for 2019: 2,562,290. Based on that figure, nearly 20.4 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

The IHS user population, on the other hand, is a much smaller number. As of 2019, 1,662,834 American Indians and Alaska Natives have lived within a service delivery area and have received health care at an IHS or tribal facility during the previous three years.

Based on the user population, 31.4 percent of Native Americans have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

COVID-19 Cases by IHS Area

Data are reported from IHS, tribal, and urban Indian organization facilities, though reporting by tribal and urban programs is voluntary. Data reflect cases reported to the IHS through 11:59 pm on August 5, 2020.

IHS Area           Tested              Positive             Negative

Alaska               103,746 654                  86,425

Albuquerque     34,007             1,596               23,087

Bemidji            30,870             841                  28,251

Billings             39,719             964                  35,525

California          7,714               486                  6,451

Great Plains      41,626             1,768               38,963

Nashville          19,299             1,734               16,820

Navajo              69,722             10,662             52,782

Oklahoma City 102,739 5,645               94,307

Phoenix            45,747             8,018               37,267

Portland           21,317             1,668               18,903

Tucson             5,585               520                  4,956

TOTAL            522,091 34,556 443,737

Source: (Indian Health Service)

Operation Lady Justice Task Force opens SD cold case office

Washington, DC – August 4, 2020 – Today, officials from the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services announced the opening of the second of seven cold case offices established through an initiative of Operation Lady Justice to investigate cold cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump joined Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt for the launch of the first cold case office in Bloomington, Minnesota, last week highlighting President Trump's commitment to forgotten men and women across our country and actions taken to end the violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development – Indian Affairs Mark Cruz, a member of the Klamath Tribes in Oregon, and Administration for Native Americans Commissioner and member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Jeannie Hovland, were joined by representatives of the U.S. Attorney's Office for South Dakota and tribal government and law enforcement officials at the opening.

"Under the Trump Administration, tribal governments are not alone in fighting the epidemic of pervasive violence against American Indian and Alaska Native people," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Cruz. "I want to thank the tribal leaders and tribal advocates whose voices helped shape the conversation around this difficult subject. They are the driving force behind the signing of President Donald Trump's executive order establishing the Operation Lady Justice Task Force that led, in turn, to the creation of these cold case offices."

"Today, our shared presence, especially during these difficult times, is a demonstration of our commitment to keeping the national crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans a top priority," said Commissioner Hovland. "We must move upstream to improve prevention, intervene for those in crisis, and support individuals, families, and communities in need of healing."

The first office opening was on July 27, 2020, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Other offices will be located in Billings, Montana; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; Anchorage, Alaska; and Nashville, Tennessee.

President Trump's Executive Order established the Operation Lady Justice Task Force, a multi-agency effort co-chaired by Secretary Bernhardt and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr. Its purpose is to enhance the operation of the criminal justice system and address the staggering number of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Natives in tribal communities.

The cold case teams have been established in accordance with Executive Order 13898 which President Trump signed on November 26, 2019, to address this crisis. They will be staffed with law enforcement personnel and newly appointed special agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS).

A way for top federal officials to engage, coordinate and work with tribal governments on developing strategies to address the crisis, the Operation Lady Justice Task Force is working to collect and manage data across jurisdictions; establish protocols for new and unsolved cases; establish multi-jurisdictional cold case teams; improve the response to investigative challenges; and provide clarity on the roles, authorities and jurisdiction for those involved. It is also charged with providing a report to the President of its work and accomplishments in meeting the executive order's mandate.

Since 2019, the Department of the Interior and the BIA have undertaken a number of efforts to address the crisis, conducting criminal investigations, stopping illicit drug activity and solving missing and murdered cases.

The BIA-OJS and its partners have opened 200 percent more drug cases across Indian Country than in the last year of the Obama Administration, and their tribal law enforcement officers have seized approximately 6,000 pounds of narcotics worth $30 million in the past two years. Preventing further violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives is largely predicated on ending illicit drug activities and sex trafficking.

The BIA-OJS's partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NamUs, has led to the development and implementation of new tribal-affiliation data fields to assist law enforcement with capturing information to track missing and murdered persons in Indian Country. Since the addition of these new data fields last year, there has been a 60 percent increase in Native-person entries into the system.

The Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues, communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the BIA and the BIE, provides leadership in consultations with tribes, and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on Indian matters.

Established in 1974 through the Native American Programs Act (NAPA), the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) serves all Native Americans, including state and federally recognized tribes, American Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations and Native populations throughout the Pacific Basin (including American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). ANA promotes self-sufficiency for Native Americans by providing discretionary grant funding for community based projects, and training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and native organizations.

An optimistic outlook

By Governor Kristi Noem

Pierre, SD – August 7, 2020 – Last week, when I was in Sioux Falls to discuss reopening schools with parents and superintendents, I saw a great bulletin board in a 4th grade classroom. It said, "Put your positive pants on." That message reminded me of a lesson that is often easy to forget: an optimistic outlook can be tremendously helpful when responding to life's challenges. That's especially true in the fight against COVID-19.

As we get more and more data about this virus, it's becoming increasingly clear that most of us aren't at high risk. This virus has a clear vulnerable population; we know that elderly folks are far more likely to get seriously ill, especially when paired with certain pre-existing health conditions. That leaves about 95% of the population that is not at risk for serious infection. For these folks, we can continue getting back to normal, while making the best decisions for ourselves and our loved ones.

We need to make sure to take care of the vulnerable population, and that starts with good hygiene and social distancing. Our vulnerable friends and family should continue to take extra precautions and to stay home when they are able, and we can all take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to them.

We can also celebrate that we're getting better at treating COVID-19. This means that even for those who do get seriously sick, our outlook is getting better all the time. Our case fatality rate is dropping, meaning that those who get sick are more likely to recover from the virus than in the past.

Data shows that the antiviral drug Remdesivir substantially reduces the mortality rate and cuts recovery time significantly. Similarly, a study out of Michigan's Henry Ford Health System indicates that hydroxychloroquine may cut mortality rate for COVID-19 in half. And progress on a vaccine is moving along ahead of schedule.

As we continue planning to reopen schools in the fall, let's remember that kids are less likely to contract the virus and far less likely to get seriously ill. In fact, science suggests that influenza is a greater risk to kids than COVID-19. If children do contract the virus, data indicates they are less likely to spread it to others.

There is a risk associated with everything that we do in life; more South Dakotans have died from accidental injuries than from COVID-19 in the past 5 months. We mitigate risks by taking proper precautions when we get in our cars, when we operate farm equipment, and when we make choices about what we eat and how much we exercise. The same should be true about life as we get back to normal.

So let's remember to "put our positive pants on." We need to emphasize facts, not fear. Let's tell the story of what works in the fight against this virus, and let's continue to get through this together.

When it comes to the election, states should use South Dakota common sense

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

Washington, DC – August 7, 2020 – With fewer than 90 days left until the November election, voters are considering how best to cast their ballot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We won't be moving the date of our election – it will be November 3 as scheduled – but logistics may be different. Absentee voting has become a popular choice this year since you can avoid crowded polling places. Normally, I vote in person at my polling location, but for this year's primary election I actually voted absentee. South Dakota has a safe and secure absentee voting system in place, but this is not necessarily the case across the nation.

One of the important pillars of South Dakota's absentee voting process and that of other states is that eligible South Dakota voters must submit a request for an absentee ballot before the ballot can be mailed to them. We have done this for many years now. South Dakota also requires that voters provide proof that they are indeed eligible to vote—on our voter registration form, there is a space to enter in your driver license number, or, if you don't have one, the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Additionally, South Dakota requires absentee ballot applications to be notarized or include a photocopy of a photo ID card such as a driver license. In other states, absentee ballots are being automatically sent to every voter, regardless of if they requested one. This can lead to voter fraud. For example, if a voter recently moved to a new house and hasn't yet updated their voter registration information, a ballot could be sent to their old house. There's nothing stopping the new residents from filling out the ballot.

Maintaining the integrity of our free and fair elections is critically important—our elections are how we choose our country's leaders. We need to make sure that they remain secure as we adapt to life during a pandemic. One of the main concerns we have with mail-in voting is making sure that all votes will be counted on Election Day. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which delivers mail-in ballots, has been bogged down by delays in recent months because of the coronavirus. We don't want voters' filled-in ballots left behind at USPS locations across the country where they can be compromised or greatly delayed. In South Dakota, our absentee ballots must be received by 5:00 p.m. the day before the election. This allows our normal election process to be completed on November 3.

Protecting the integrity of our election system isn't a partisan issue —we all deserve to know, without a doubt, that our votes are being counted appropriately and that only the legal, valid votes of others are accepted at the ballot box. While this has always been the case, our concerns are exacerbated this election cycle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because not every voter wants to or is able to vote in-person at a polling location, states must take steps to protect their elections while allowing for social distancing as well.

I trust in South Dakota's voting process, and I encourage other states to take a look at how we do it. Our absentee voting process is voluntary and we require proof of eligibility to vote. These are two common-sense ways to help secure the validity of election results.

Census Bureau, CDC 2020 Census non-response follow-up interviews

Washington, DC – Aug. 7, 2020 – In carrying out our respective missions, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are committed to protecting the health and safety of those we serve and employ. This is particularly important during the current COVID-19 health crisis.

Participation in 2020 Census interviews should present a low risk of transmission of COVID-19. Census takers are trained to rigorously and universally follow these CDC recommendations to mitigate risk of transmission:


            *Wearing of face masks.

            *Maintaining social distance of 6 ft. or more.

            *Practicing hand hygiene.

            *Not entering homes, and conducting interviews outside as much as possible or practical.


Household members encountered by census staff are encouraged to maintain social distances during interviews and practice the CDC's other recommendations as much as possible.

The CDC stands ready to support the work of the Census Bureau and its staff in providing consultation and technical assistance to ensure that relevant data and findings are communicated in a timely fashion to keep Census field staff and household members safe and healthy.

(Editor's note: Please support the SWO 2020 Census workers; undercounting means the SWO Tribe receives less in federal funding than would otherwise be available.)

USDA issues Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments

Washington, DC – Aug. 5, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications for this important relief program.

In the first six days of the application period, FSA has already made payments to more than 35,000 producers. Out of the gate, the top five states for CFAP payments are Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and South Dakota. USDA has released data on application progress and program payments and will release further updates each Monday at 2:00pm ET. The report can be viewed at

FSA will accept applications through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion in financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Getting Help from FSA

New customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help producers identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments. Producers self-certify their records when applying for CFAP and that documentation is not submitted with the application. However, producers may be asked for their documentation to support the certification of eligible commodities, so producers should retain the information used to complete their application.

Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print a pre-filled CFAP application, sign it, and submit it to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery through an office drop box. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred delivery method for your local office. Team members at FSA county offices will be able to answer detailed questions and help producers apply quickly and efficiently through phone and online tools. Find contact information for your local office at

Policy Clarifications

FSA has been working with stakeholder groups to provide further clarification to producers on the CFAP program. For example, the agency has published a matrix of common marketing contracts that impact eligibility for non-specialty crops and has provided a table that crosswalks common livestock terms to CFAP cattle categories. Updated information can be found in the frequently asked questions section of the CFAP website.

More Information

To find the latest information on CFAP, visit or call 877-508-8364.

The next COC meeting will be held August 18, 2020 at 8:30 am in the Roberts County Office.

For more information on FSA programs, visit a local FSA service center or

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting should contact Sharon.Rolstad at 605-698-7639 extension 2 or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339


"USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866)632-9992(Toll-free Customer Service), (800)877-8339(Local or Federal relay), (866)377-8642(Relay voice users)."

Editorials –

Sota guest editorial –

Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline

By Rachel Franzin

The Hill – Aug. 5, 2020 – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday reversed a lower court's determination that the Dakota Access Pipeline should be temporarily shut down.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg had ordered the pipeline to be shut down last month while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation that allowed it to cross the Missouri river.

However, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday that the lower court did not have the "findings necessary" for such a move.

Still, Wednesday's ruling was not entirely a win for backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, with the appeals court declining to halt a prior ruling saying the Army Corps of Engineers needed to conduct another environmental impacts assessment.

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the pipeline to be temporarily shut down while the Army Corps. of Engineers conducts the additional assessment. That followed a prior ruling in which Boasberg determined that a previous environmental assessment was inadequate.

"Appellants have failed to make a strong showing of likely success on their claims that the district court erred in directing the Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement," the judges said Wednesday.

Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who sued over the pipeline on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said in a statement that the split decision now leaves the pipeline "operating illegally" since a permit for it has been vacated, but it's also continuing to transport oil.

A news release from Hasselman's group says that it's now up to the Army Corps of Engineers to decide whether to shut down the pipeline and if it doesn't do so, the matter will return to the lower court.

"We've been in this legal battle for four years, and we aren't giving up this fight," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said in the statement. "As the environmental review process gets underway in the months ahead, we look forward to showing why the Dakota Access Pipeline is too dangerous to operate."

The oil and gas industry expressed mixed feelings over the latest ruling.

"The Court rightly stayed the decision to shut down and empty the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been operating for over three years and provides millions of tax dollars to states, affordable energy to the entire region, and thousands of jobs along its route," said a statement from American Petroleum Institute senior vice president and chief legal officer Paul Afonso.

"However, the failure to uphold the easement granted years ago by the federal government exemplifies the problems with our outdated permitting system, which allows protracted challenges to advance within the courts and ultimately take away jobs, tax dollars, and investments that pipelines bring to communities that sorely need them."

Wednesday's ruling is the latest development in a long legal battle over the 1,200-mile pipeline that carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Most recently, the appellate court paused the decision requiring the shutdown for administrative reasons.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was completed in 2017 after President Trump ordered for it to be revived, a reversal from when the Obama administration denied a permit for the project.

The controversial project has drawn significant opposition from environmentalists and tribes over the years, spurring massive protests.

The decision from last month that would have shut down the pipeline was one of several that dealt setbacks or uncertainty for often-challenged pipeline projects.

Around that time, companies behind the Atlantic Coast pipeline backed out of the multibillion-dollar project, citing persistent legal battles and other matters and recent court decisions have also prevented the Keystone XL pipeline form using a permit that helps fast-track construction.

Brief editorial comments from the editor's desk –

On and Off the Lake Traverse Reservation

On Friday, August 7th, the Tribal Executives issued a memo shutting down tribal offices this week due to the COVID-19 spread.

Offices will be cleaned and sanitized.

Please read the memo on page one.

Work is set to resume as normal next Monday, August 17.


Your Tribal leaders have been dealing with many important issues, some critical, and most have been discussed in open Council meetings.

We encourage Oyate who have internet access to take advantage of having these sessions aired online.

Check out the SWO Tribal Council YouTube channel:

Chairman Hopkins has been reminding everyone in Council chambers to speak clearly into the microphones in order to be heard by the online audience.

And watch for approved minutes to be published in your Sota.


Please note that COVID-19 testing is ongoing.

The Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center (WWKMHCC) is doing the testing for anyone who is eligible for IHS care.

Drive-through testing is available every Wednesday from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in the WWKMHCC parking lot.

The IHS nurses are also traveling to the districts.

See the notice from the Community Health Education Program with the current schedule of testing in the districts.

For more information, contact: Lori Sampson, Director of Nursing at 605-742-3686; or Tracey Cooper, Public Health Nursing Director, 605-742-3767.


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:



The REB COVID safety plan, implemented for the special election, will be used throughout the upcoming primary and general election cycle.

Watch for its re-publication as the October primary approaches, possibly with changes as REB gets updated health guidance to help keep tribal members, and election workers, safe during voting at the district centers.


The Census 2020 was one of the topics for Tribal Council Wednesday, August 5.

Tribal members are encouraged to fill out the census, as undercounting shorts the Tribe on federal funding.

Watch the Sota for information about how you can participate in the count.


We have no update on the Tribe's "email phishing attack."

Hopefully, the email messages containing links to malicious sites and/or downloads have not caused problems with the Tribe's server.

As we moved into the new year, the Tribe was hit with a debilitating and costly ransomware attack that shut down servers and computers for weeks.

We do not need any more virus attacks – human or computer!

We sent the SWO IT manager new requests for information this Thursday, the first when we noticed a few suspicious SWO and IHS related email messages …

"The amount of obvious phishing emails from tribal and IHS accounts has slowed down but do you have a report to provide? Also, here is a screenshot of a suspicious email account ending in *.br which purports to have originated with the state of SD and has gone through the tribal secretary's email. My antivirus software will not have me open it."

And a second request later in the day, after receiving several dozen more suspicious emails …

"Another wave of SWO and IHS emails have hit today. Some are getting past by anti-virus protection. Do you have anything you can report?"

We will update Tribal members as soon as there is an official report available.


Elder's meditation:

"We have to have one mind for the Four Directions. Until we reach that one mind, we cannot be filled with understanding…. The Creator will not answer until you have just one mind, just like if you have one person."

–Grandfather William Commanda, ALGONQUIN

The Elders have taught us to balance our lives emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. If I am out of control emotionally, I get angry, doubtful or erratic, I am out of balance. If I trigger bad mental pictures of my brothers and sisters, I am out of balance. If I get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I am out of balance physically. If I don't pray and talk to the Creator daily, I am out of balance spiritually. To be centered, I must be in balance. The Creator talks to me in the quiet and still place. So if I get angry, what I should do first is to pause and get still so I can hear the guidance of the Grandfathers.


Words to consider (or, perhaps not!):

Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists? - Kelvin Throop III

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. - Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

Behind every great fortune there is a crime. - Honore de Balzac (1799 - 1850)

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. - Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much. - Donald H. Rumsfeld (1932 - ), US Secretary of Defense

Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away. - Thomas Fuller (1608 - 1661)

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. - Lily Tomlin (1939 - )


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 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 letters to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received by 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 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 –

Services pending for Sara Hayes

Sara Anne Hayes, age 58, of Sisseton, South Dakota, began her spiritual journey on August 4, 2020 at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota surrounded by her family and the caring nurses and staff at Sanford.

Memorial service is pending.

Cahill Funeral Chapel, Sisseton, is in charge of arrangements.

Sara Lawrence was born on August 17, 1961 in Sisseton, South Dakota to Lillie Mae Bird and Samuel Lawrence.

She attended school in Sisseton, South Dakota where she met and fell in love with her soul mate, Elden Hayes.

They were united in marriage on June 15, 1978 and had 4 children.

Sara and Elden remained married until his passing on Aug 17, 2015.

Sara worked very hard throughout her life and had a wide variety of jobs throughout the years.

She most recently worked as the District Coordinator for Old Agency District Center.

Sara also enjoyed helping people, anytime she could and if she couldn't help, she would refer them to someone who could.

Sara always hard a close relationship with God, thanks to her uncle Elden Lawrence.

Her family knew the importance of prayer and having a relationship with God, thanks to her.

Sara created a loving, caring and supportive home for her children and grandchildren.

She enjoyed spending time with her family, watching horror movies, and TV shows, listening to music, and fishing with her husband and sons.

Sara will be greatly missed by those that knew her, but they know she is rejoicing in heaven with God, her mother and the love of her life.

Sara is survived by her children; Karen Hayes, Elden Hayes Jr, and Stephen Hayes, all of Sisseton, SD and Jesse (Elizabeth) Hayes of Sioux Falls, SD, her grandchildren; Jessica Hayes and Emanual Hayes, brothers Robin (Melonene) Lawrence, Richard Lawrence, sisters Joni (Perry) Mahpiyasna and Sonya (Marlon) Lawrence all of Sisseton, SD, and an aunt Sylvia (Mike) Owen and numerous nephews, and nieces.

Sara was preceded in death by her husband Elden, her parents, Sam and Lillie Mae, maternal grandparents, Laura Renville and Samuel Bird, and paternal grandparents Marie Ironheart and Melvin Lawrence, and many aunts and uncles.

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.

SWO Law Enforcement thank you

Agency Village, SD – August 7, 2020 – The Sisseton-Wahpeton Law Enforcement program would like to thank Angel DeCoteau for her 5 years of service as Administrative Assistant to the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal members.

We want to wish Angel all the best in her future endeavors and thank Angel for all the great memories and stories.

She surely will be missed.

Change of hours at Dakota Connection

Sisseton, SD – August 4, 2020 – Dakota Connection Casino announced a change in hours of operation.

The casino is open from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.

The restaurant is open for dining in from 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Open letter to the Oyate

August 5, 2020

Dear Editor,

After 18 years of being employed by the SDSU Extension Service, I have decided to make a career change. As I have been preparing for my final day at the Roberts County Extension Office, I have had the pleasure of reflecting on many positive memories. A common denominator to these memories was your newspaper. For this reason, I am writing this letter to say thank you for your partnership and support over these years.

When I started my Extension Service career, you welcomed my weekly news column in your newspaper. As I learned that this was something I could do I wondered, "Are these columns worth the space in your paper? Will people even read them?" I soon found out the answer to both questions was yes.

One of my first columns was about dealing with grief. Our county had experienced several deaths and I knew the school year was going to be very different for students and families not having their loved ones by their side. I had contacted the Human Service Agency for information. I remember when I clicked "send" on that news column, I wondered if you would print it since much of the information was from the agency, not just from me. That column was my first experience with learning the importance of collaboration and community partnerships. You did put the column in the paper, and afterwards I received many positive comments about its content.

Together we provided people with a variety of unbiased scientific information so they could make the best decisions for themselves and their families. I recall another article talking about "little bites add up to too many calories." This time people were telling me they had lost weight and were making changes in the way they ate because of the suggestions in my column. Kitchens and lunchstands became safer when your newspaper allowed articles on "When in Doubt, Throw it Out" and the "Danger Zones of Food Temperatures." People have stopped me over the years and told me how they have purchased a food thermometer and made other changes in their habits to make their food safer.

You have also been supportive to provide space for upcoming Extension Service programming. For example, when Medicare Part D first began, I held a program at the 4-H building. I knew right away how important your paper was in the community as the building filled up with community members from across the county wanting to learn of the new program. Almost every year I would get a phone call either from a community group or family for a babysitting clinic. They knew where to call because you always allowed that program information in your newspaper and would publish the pictures following the clinics.

Lastly, thank you for all the support you have given to the Roberts County 4-H events and activities. Our membership kept increasing because we were able to spread the news about what 4-H has to offer throughout the county. You always welcomed pictures of the 4-H members and the results of their hard work so our community could see all the things the program has to offer. You honored our program by highlighting all the goals that were being reached as the 4-H youth, their families, and 4-H volunteers were following the 4-H motto, "To Make the Best Better."


Tracey Lehrke.

Mimi's Musings –

What makes a town vibrant

By Mimi Larsen

I have been thinking a lot lately about what conditions turn a town into a vibrant community, a place where people want to live. If we want to live is a great community, and if we want to raise our children in a great community, it makes sense to do all we can to make Rosholt a great place to live.

I've noticed over the years that what matters most is caring: caring about the people in the community, and caring about the vibrancy of the community. The more people who care, and the more who actively work to improve things in the community, the more delighted people are to live there.

One thing necessary to improving a community is recognizing something that needs improving, or can be improved upon.

My parents and my school community taught me that if I see a problem, I should make myself part of the solution. This attitude leads to a vibrant community. It's easy to see problems and complain about them, but creating solutions takes creative thought, time and commitment.

Complaints with no solutions lead to vain strife. Nothing improves. Nothing is accomplished except hard feelings and division, and we all know that a community divided against itself will not be a vibrant community, and could ultimately fail to be any community at all.

Some people are incapable of helping. For example, children who want to play baseball, but have no coach or facilities can do little about it, but adults who care, seeing the problem, can come up with a solution.

Some people see a problem, but do not have the authority to solve it. They can, however, appeal to those in authority to do something about it. In a community, that means going to meetings by the board in authority. Maybe a culvert near you is washed out, so you tell your township board members about it, and they make sure it's repaired. If no one tells the board, nothing gets repaired.

Sometimes, those in authority see things differently, and choose a different solution than you'd like. Hopefully, it is because they see the bigger picture, know the financial situation, know the legalities, know something you don't, but are barred, by law, from publicizing.

Maybe a family is struggling. Someone notices and organizes a benefit. Even more importantly, many people attend the benefit and contribute to the cause. This is a great way a community takes care of its own. I love the fact that, in Rosholt, when there is a charitable public event, many people step up to help. Maybe only a few make the initial arrangements, but people show up, seemingly out of the woodwork, at the last minute to help. "Many hands make the work light."

In small towns, very few people are willing to serve on boards. The reasons are varied: maybe because of worries that their business would suffer from tough decisions; maybe because they don't feel they have the time; maybe because they don't like conflict… and there is always conflict… there will always be those who disagree with board decisions.

Ideally, every citizen would serve on a board at some point in their life, as a civic duty, and to learn all that is involved; to learn how difficult it can be to figure out what "the right thing" is to do. One old-timer in a different town once said, "It's not a matter of filling one's term; it's a matter of taking one's turn."

Too often, board vacancies have to be filled by appointment because no one runs for election.

The other thing about small towns it that the few who are willing to serve on boards don't necessarily know exactly the right way of doing things, or have the right solutions, but they care, and they're trying to do their best… without a doubt. They want to help the town/school/elevator/ambulance keep moving toward a vibrant future. They want to make the town a great place to live, the school a great place to learn, the elevator the most prosperous and effective tool for its members.

Why serve otherwise? It isn't as if the pay is worth it. It isn't as if the controversy is worth it. No matter what anyone says it isn't to have power. Power over what? This is a very small town in a sparsely populated state. It's not like someone is using a board position to launch a political career.

Terms expire about the time someone begins to understand all that is involved with board matters. If board members make mistakes, it isn't on purpose; decisions aren't made perniciously.

People in small towns need to have patience with board members. If it means going to multiple meetings to point out something that isn't going the way you think it should, go often. Speak kindly, politely. Presume the board has its people's best interests at heart - that's their duty. Offer a solution, and offer to be part of that solution.

It's easy to think someone else will step up and solve a problem, but as we often hear, for every finger pointed at someone else, there are four more pointing back at you. Maybe you should make yourself part of the solution.

In every community there are all sorts of people. People with quirks. People who bring joy; those who bring the opposite. There are those who pitch in when help is needed, and those who don't.

Like a vibrant family, a vibrant community needs to overlook quirks, to help those in need, and to plan for the future. It needs more people who pitch in toward those goals.

…and remember, "love covers a multitude of sins." We can overlook a lot of perceived problems in others if we care a lot.

Leadership for SD broadband during COVID-19

Sioux Falls, SD – Aug. 7, 2020 – In times of uncertainty, SDN Communications has relied on experienced leadership to keep the region connected.

Its nine-member Board of Managers has played an integral part in improving communities in South Dakota amid a global pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 proved the importance of having access to reliable connectivity as workplaces shifted to work-from-home environments and schools moved to online instruction.

The Connect South Dakota grant program has awarded more than $11 million to 12 of SDN's member companies over the past two years. Combined with their investment, South Dakota's independent broadband providers are closing gaps in connectivity that have left some rural areas of the state unserved or underserved. In 2019, over 100 businesses and approximately 4,800 residents gained access to broadband internet. To date, 2020 has resulted in 295 businesses and 3,700 households receiving internet connectivity. The long-standing leaders of SDN's member companies have been making a difference across South Dakota and at SDN for decades.

The Board of Managers, which governs SDN Communications, was elected during its recent annual meeting. Each member maintained their position on the board.

Denny Law will serve as board president for his second consecutive year. Law is the general manager and CEO of Golden West Telecommunications (Wall, SD) and has been a dedicated member of the board for 11 years.

Vice President Bryan Roth has been a member of the board for 21 years. Roth is the general manager and CEO of TrioTel Communications (Salem, SD) and Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. (Clear Lake, SD).

Randy Houdek, general manager at Venture Communications (Highmore, SD), will continue serving as secretary/treasurer and is the longest-serving member of the board at 22 years.

Other board members include:

*Mark Benton, Midstate Communications (Kimball, SD)

*Rod Bowar, Kennebec Telephone (Kennebec, SD)

*Steve Meyer, Swiftel Communications (Brookings, SD)

*Colle Nash, West River Cooperative Telephone Company (Bison, SD)

*Ross Petrick, Alliance Communications (Garretson, SD)

*Ryan Thompson, Santel Communications (Woonsocket, SD)

Together, SDN and its 17 owner-members operate a 50,000-mile fiber network that reaches into eight states, including South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

The independent telephone companies of South Dakota formed SDN Communications in 1989 to provide better long-distance options to their customers. Subsequently, SDN has become a leader in broadband connectivity and network security services to businesses in the region.


About SDN Communications - SDN is owned by 17 South Dakota independent broadband companies - cooperatives, family, municipal, and tribal-owned companies. They joined their independent networks in 1989 and created SDN as a hub for long-distance service to their rural customer base. Today that same statewide fiber footprint allows file sharing and internet traffic. Additionally, SDN partners with nine southern Minnesota and one northern Iowa independent telecommunications companies. SDN's network reaches into eight states serving businesses in many sectors. SDN also offers cybersecurity managed services including routers, firewalls, and remote network monitoring. Learn more at

Submitted by SWO Community Health Education -

Why it is important to wear a mask?

Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants).

Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.

The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

The masks recommended here are not surgical masks or respirators.

Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE).

They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.


Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases.

Clarification of Reservation's COVID-19 Hotlines

IHS COVID-19 Hotline:


The Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center has announced a hotline – 605-742-3734 – for persons who suspect they may have come into contact with someone having COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms.

If you have questions about testing or want to schedule a time to come in to be tested, call this number.

Please call before coming to the clinic.

The line is manned during WWKMHCC regular business hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday.

SWO 24-hour COVID-19 Hotline:


The Tribe's COVID-19 hotline number – 605-698-8249 – is a resource line to the SWO Emergency Management's Incident Command Center.

It is staffed by Tribal workers, who are non-health personnel.

Call SWO COVID-19 hotline anytime 24 hours a day seven days a week to report an emergency, needs for quarantined households, or to inquire about SWO resources.

People who have active health issues should NOT call the Tribe's number.

They should call the IHS number if they are a patient of IHS.

If anyone is having trouble breathing or has a high temperature, they should call 911.

Prairie Doc® Perspectives –

Kindness is the Best Medicine

by Joanie Holm, C.N.P.

My name is Joanie Holm. I am a certified nurse practitioner in Brookings, South Dakota and I am the person fortunate to have been the life partner of the original Prairie Doc®, Richard P. Holm, M.D. Rick and I were married for 40 years before his passing in March of 2020.

During those wonderful decades together, if I could point to one powerful action that strengthened our relationship with each other, with our family, our community and with our patients, it would be the act of kindness.

Thankfully, Rick was alive to see the recognition and formalization of kindness as an essential element of medical education. Medical schools across the country have started to offer courses on compassion and caring. One of the first to do so was the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

Dr. Mary Nettleman, dean of the USD medical school, explained why the school embraced kindness as part of its core curriculum. "People want a physician who is not only competent, but also kind, so we will work to elevate this value throughout the school. By approaching this intentionally, we hope that students will learn how important kindness is in medicine and how they can incorporate it into their everyday practice. A culture of kindness can make us exceptional," said Nettleman.

I celebrate this awareness and elevation of kindness in medical education and I salute educators for enriching their medical students in this way.

Since Rick's death, I have received many wonderful notes of condolence that have been very meaningful to me and my family. With permission from the author of one such letter, I share the following message which further illustrates kindness.


Dear Mrs. Holm,

I'm one of the people who knew your husband through his TV show, and I learned from him. I have cerebral palsy and sometimes it's hard for people to understand me. One day, my mom and I were having dinner in Sioux Falls and you were seated close to us. When Dr. Holm walked by my table, I put my hand out and he stopped and talked to me. I wanted to tell him that we were praying for him and I will never forget how he made me feel. I have worked with many doctors and he was one of the best!


My dear husband practiced kindness in all he did. Regardless of our profession, may we all embrace acts of kindness and stop to hold the outreached hand of a fellow human being.


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

Notice of Wokini Initiative position

Agency Village, SD – August 6, 2020 – SWO Education Director Dr. Sherry Johnson notified community members of a new position posted for the Wokini Initiative.

There has been a new position created for the Wokini Initiative and I wanted to inform you that this new position, Assessment and Grant Specialist position for the Wokini Initiative, has been posted.

Application deadline for initial review is September 1st.

The position is "open until filled."

This is a great opportunity.

Please share with colleagues and your connections.

South Dakota State University. Search: Position Type: NFE. Position by title (Assessment and Grant Specialist), institution (SDSU), City (Brookings), or by posting# (NFE00919P).

Search Committee Chair, Jana Hanson, is the main contact for this position. Her contact information is listed in the posting.

Shana Harming, M.Ed.

Kul Wicasa Oyate

Director of Wokini and Tribal Relations

Tiospaye Council Member

Morrill Hall, 119

Brookings, SD 57007-0098


Phone: 605-688-4030


Attention students

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

Washington, DC – August 7, 2020 – South Dakota is home to outstanding universities and technical colleges that are leading the country in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields that so many students are pursuing. These students have an opportunity to receive a first-class education right here in South Dakota.

While South Dakota has a lot of resources for college-aged students pursuing STEM, there's no reason we shouldn't expand our reach to the younger generations. That's why this week, my office announced South Dakota's first Congressional App Challenge, a digital app competition for middle and high school students across the state.

The Congressional App Challenge was created because Congress recognized STEM and computer science skills are essential for economic growth in the United States. As a nation, we've fallen behind on these fronts, and we have a programmer shortage. STEM jobs are high-paying and in high-demand. It's crucial we maintain American competitiveness – investing in our youth now and encouraging them to acquire these valuable skills will prepare us as a nation as more careers become STEM focused.

This competition is flexible. The Congressional App Challenge accepts computer programs (or apps) written in any programming language, for any platform (desktop/PC, web, mobile, raspberry Pi, etc.). You may not understand what raspberry Pi is, but your middle schooler might.

Since this is a new competition for South Dakota's students, I need your help to spread the word. Students must register online by September 10th and submit their app by October 19th. That deadline is coming up fast.

You don't have to be an expert coder to join the competition – we are looking for students of all skill levels, regardless of coding experience.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges in South Dakota and honored by South Dakota's Congressional office. Winning apps will be featured on display in the U.S. Capitol building and on the Congressional App Challenge website.

I know South Dakota is full of creative students and I'm looking forward to seeing their talents on full display.

To register for the competition, please visit

ND university system encourages students to get free COVID test before returning to campus

Bismarck, ND – Aug. 4, 2020 – The North Dakota University System (NDUS) in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Health is arranging mass testing events for COVID-19 in multiple locations across the state. Current students, incoming students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested.

"All areas of the state are being targeted so that students can get tested where they are at, in their hometowns, before packing up and travelling to their campus of choice. For the safety of your friends, family and yourself, we are asking all students to please get tested at a location of their choice and help us create the safest environment possible for our campus communities," said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott.

The testing events are scheduled for Aug. 3-25 in Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Wahpeton, Jamestown, Mayville, Bottineau, Minot, Devils Lake, Belcourt, Fort Totten, Fort Yates, New Town, Williston and Dickinson, and other smaller communities across the state. Exact testing dates, times and locations for each city are listed at the North Dakota University System's testing event site at As best as possible, students should take the COVID-19 test approximately five days before leaving home. That way, students know they are healthy as they leave home and head to campus.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register to facilitate an efficient collection process and minimize the amount of time spent at the testing site. The pre-registration link is on the Department of Health's website at

If results are positive, NDUS and DOH ask that you follow public health guidelines and isolate at your home or place of residence. Students and employees who live outside North Dakota can participate by going to the nearest NDUS/DoH testing site. However, testing closer to home is encouraged if it is available and distance prohibits travel to North Dakota.

Additional information with dates, locations, and times will be updated throughout the month, so please check the website often for the most current testing facts.






CASE NO. D-20-341-146 et seq

In the Matter of:


And concerning:

GERI LOCKE, Respondent.


THE COURT being satisfied by Affidavit duly filed herein that personal service cannot

well be made, it is Ordered that Geri Locke, who is the Respondent in the above entitled matter, be notified by three (3) weeks publication in full of the Notice of these proceedings in the regular issue of a qualified newspaper.

Dated this 14th day of July, 2020.

/s/ Gina Ruggieri, Tribal Court Judge.





CASE NO. D-20-341-146 et seq

In the Matter of:


And concerning:

GERI LOCKE, Respondent.


Take notice that a hearing regarding the above-named children will be held at the above named Court, Agency Village, outside the city of Sisseton, Roberts County, South Dakota on the 17th day of August, 2020, at the hour of 2:30 P.M. or as soon thereafter as possible.

You are required to be at the hearing. Upon request, the Clerk will provide you with a copy of the Petition describing the matter.

Dated this 14th day of July, 2020.


/s/ Gina Ruggieri, Tribal Court Judge

ATTEST: Lois Kohl, Clerk of Court.







CASE NO: D-19-816-523







Take notice that a hearing will be held at the above named Court, Agency Village, outside the city of Sisseton, County of Roberts, South Dakota, on the of 4th day of September, 2020 at the hour of 10:00 A.M. or as soon thereafter as possible.

You are required to be at the hearing. Upon request, the Clerk will provide you with a copy of the

Petition describing the matter.

Dated this 5th day of August 2020.


/s/Gina Ruggieri, TRIBAL COURT JUDGE

ATTEST: Eileen Pfeiffer, Clerk of Courts


Trading Post ads

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

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

Project Manager/Data Specialist, Health Administration

Closing Date: August 14th, 2020 @ 04:30PM

Project Director, TREE

Family Services Advocate, Early Head Start

Office Administrative Assistant, IT/MIS

Workstation Specialist , IT/MIS

Closing Date: August 21st, 2020 @ 04:30PM

DVPI Program Coordinator, Behavioral Health

Teacher Aide (3 positions), Head Start

Teacher, Head Start

Bus Driver/Custodian, Head Start

Special Needs & Mental Health Manager, Head Start

Teacher Aide/Bus Monitor, Head Start

Teacher Aide, Early Head Start

Parole Officer, Department of Parole

In-House Attorney, Tribal Executive Committee

Positions Open Until Filled

Application can be emailed to ArnoldW@SWO-NSN.GOV or DeniseH@SWO-NSN.GOV. Contact can also be at Arnold Williams 698-8238 or Denise Hill 698-8251 with questions.

(Tribal preference will apply).


Tiospa Zina Tribal School

Job Openings

Special Education: Two Special Education teachers (Elementary & Secondary) - $3,000 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Elementary School: Three Classroom teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Middle School: Math/Science teacher - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

High School: Math and Social Studies teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Two General Education Paraprofessionals

Cook Helper

Bus Monitor

Security Staff


Dakota Instructor

General Ed Para-professional


Head Cross Country

Football Cheer

Head Girls Basketball

Basketball Cheer

Head Volleyball

Assistant Girls Basketball

Assistant Track

Assistant Volleyball

Jr. High/Assistant Wrestling

Please contact Jennifer Williams, Human Resources Director by email at for more information.

Tiospa Zina Tribal School

PO Box 719

#2 Tiospa Zina Dr.

Agency Village, SD 57262

Phone: (605) 698-3953 Ext. 208

Fax: (605) 698-7686


Browns Valley School

… is hiring Paraprofessionals.

Applications available from the district office or


Drop off completed application in district office, mail, or email to:

Denise Pikarski, Principal

Browns Valley School District

PO Box N

Browns Valley, MN 56219


Open until filled.



Dakota Magic Casino

Job Openings

Foods Department:

Cook III (Full-Time) Day

Golf Course Department:

Cook II (2 Full-Time seasonal) where needed

Pro Shop Clerk (Full-Time seasonal) where needed

Hotel Department:

Night Audit (Full-Time) Graveyard

Room/Laundry Attendant (4 Full-Time) 8:00 am to finish

Housekeeping Department:

Attendant (20 Full-Time) where needed

Marketing Department:

Promotions Coordinator (Full-Time) Day

Shift Supervisor (Full-Time) Swing

Security Department:

Dispatcher (Full-Time) Rotating

Officer (3 Full-Time) Rotating

Smoke/Gift Shop Department:

Clerk (Full-Time) Swing

Closing Date: August 14, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Starting Wage: D.O.E.

High School Diploma or GED required for most positions. Two identifications documents required upon hire.

If interested please submit application to Human Resources Department, 16849 102nd Street SE Hankinson ND 58041.

For complete Job Description contact James Neconish 701-634-3000 ext. 2582

Indian Preference will apply / EEO (Please Provide Tribal Enrollment).

Must be licensable by the SWO Gaming Commission.


Dakota Magic Casino

Job Openings

Security Department:

Safety Officer (Full-Time) Day-all shifts as needed

Summary: Inspect property to ensure compliance with Tribal, State, and Federal regulations. Remain current on all OSHA and EPA regulations. Implement employee safety programs. Recommend necessary changes to Manager.

Closing Date: Until filled

Starting Wage: D.O.E.

High School Diploma or GED required for most positions. Two identifications documents required upon hire.

If interested please submit application to Human Resources Department, 16849 102nd Street SE Hankinson ND 58041.

For complete Job Description contact James Neconish 701-634-3000 ext. 2582

Indian Preference will apply / EEO (Please Provide Tribal Enrollment).

Must be licensable by the SWO Gaming Commission.


Dakota Magic Casino

Job Openings

Count Department:

Team Member (Full-Time) 3:00 am to Finish

Perform bill validator drop.

Prepare appropriate paperwork and make necessary computer entries.

Count and verifies all Table Games drop boxes.

Kiosk drop & fill, retail sales.

All training is on going and on the job.

Computer experience.

Money handling experience.

Operate ten-key calculator.

Punctually and attendance is crucial.

Must be physically able to lift up to 50 lbs.

Must be able to perform continuous bending, lifting, and handle repetitive motion to extremities.

Full-Time employee is guaranteed 40 hours per week-as long as they report to work by 2:45 am, they will be paid at least 8 hours per day when duties are completed in less time.

Closing Date: Pending fulfillment

Starting Wage: $15.00

High School Diploma or GED required for most positions

Two identification documents required upon hire

If interested please submit application to Human Resources Department, 16849 102nd Street SE Hankinson ND 58041.

For complete Job Description contact James Neconish 701-634-3000 ext. 2582

Indian Preference will apply / EEO (Please Provide Tribal Enrollment).

Must be licensable by the SWO Gaming Commission.



Return to Sota Home Page