U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will meet Wednesday and Thursday with tribal leaders in Rapid City and on the Pine Ridge Reservation during special subcommittee listening sessions that coincide with the first anniversary of the Tribal Law and Order Act.
Signed into law in July 2010 by President Barack Obama, the legislation attempts to fight crime and improve public safety on Native American reservations but is often seen by tribal officials as yet another unfunded federal mandate.
The act authorized $40 million per year to increase police, judges, prosecutors and corrections officers through 2015, but so far congressional funding has fallen short and the additional personnel has not materialized, reservation leaders say .
Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele is expected to deliver remarks on behalf of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman Association during sessions in Rapid City that are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. The OST president serves as vice president of the 16-tribe association.
Thirty U.S. attorneys from around the country, including U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson of South Dakota, will be in Rapid City to participate in the joint Native American Issues Subcommittee and the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee meeting.
As chairman of that subcommittee, Johnson said he was honored to convene “this historic meeting in the Black Hills.”
“This meeting will provide South Dakota’s tribal communities with a unique opportunity to discuss public safety issues with the nation’s top law enforcement officers,” Johnson said Monday.
Holder will speak at the 4:30 p.m. session Wednesday in Rapid City and will lay a wreath during an 11:45 a.m. ceremony at the Wounded Knee Memorial at the junction of BIA Highways 27 and 28. That ceremony follows Holder’s 9 a.m. listening session in Pine Ridge at the Suanne Big Crow Center on East U.S. Highway 18. Johnson will deliver remarks between 11:05 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. at Holder’s Conference on Community Safety at the Big Crow Center.
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Secretary Larry Echo Hawk will be among the federal officials making remarks during the subcommittee hearings.