The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board is a tribal organization governed by the 18 tribal leaders representing 17 federally recognized tribes and one IHS service area within the four-state region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
As per GPTCHB’s by-laws, the health board hosts a minimum of four board of directors meetings annually and as such, covers travel costs to its members or their designated proxy.
The GPTCHB budgets to cover travel for only one representative per tribe. It is conceivable that more one representative from a tribe may attend board meetings, in which case, travel for additional representatives is not paid by GPTCHB, and may be paid by the tribe.
In the October 5, 2016, issue of Native Sun News, newspaper employee Ernestine Chasing Hawk reported allegations of financial improprieties by OST leadership including double dipping for travel to GPTCHB board meetings by President John Yellowbird Steele, and Council representatives James Red Willow, Sonia Little Hawk Weston, and Jackie Sears.
However, GPTCHB was never contacted by Native Sun employee Ernestine Chasing Hawk to fact check her reporting. Also, GPTCHB has never been approached by Melanie Two Eagle Black Bull to confirm expenditures incurred by GPTCHB for any OST representatives or their proxies. At no time has GPTCHB received a request to provide documentation to the OST Treasurer’s office to audit for potential discrepancies between GPTCHB’s disbursements and the tribe’s records.
Lastly, GPTCHB goes on record to confirm that President John Yellowbird Steele has not received travel funds from GPTCHB in at any time during FY years 2015 or 2016.
Jerilyn Church, MSW
Chief Executive Officer