On January 10, 2019, the GPTCHB sent a letter to the Great Plains Area IHS Acting Director, Jim Driving Hawk, to notify IHS of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s and Oglala Sioux Tribe’s intent to contract their portions of shares of the Rapid City Service Unit on behalf of their Tribes and to remind IHS that it would still have an obligation to ensure Rosebud tribal members receive services. When we were invited to the January 24 meeting of the three Tribes, GPTCHB provided a copy of this letter to President Rodney Bordeaux and the Rosebud Tribal Council along with copies of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s and Oglala Sioux Tribe’s amended resolutions. These resolutions were adopted after the Rosebud Tribal Council acted to rescind its resolutions of participation.
The authority for GPTCHB to assume services and related funding of the Rapid City Service Unit is dependent on tribal authorization, which changed when IHS construed the Rosebud Tribe’s December 18 action as a rescission of its resolution. There had been an enormous financial investment by the GPTCHB, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribes for the planning and negotiations on behalf of the three Tribes, which were days away from being finalized when Rosebud acted. After the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Councils each met with the GPTCHB in January, each decided they wanted the GPTCHB to proceed with the assumption on their behalf. When notice of their latest actions was given to IHS, GPTCHB wanted to be sure IHS was reminded of its responsibility to use resources IHS would retain on behalf of Rosebud to ensure healthcare for Rosebud beneficiaries.
In hindsight, when asked for further clarification by Rosebud Council Members and after rereading the letter, we realized it was worded in such a way that could be interpreted as GPTCHB refusing to provide services. This was not our intent; GPTCHB would not deny care to any IHS-eligible American Indians. However, GPTCHB will not have the funds available to provide healthcare for IHS beneficiaries for whom IHS retains funds unless IHS makes arrangements to pay for the services.
We regret the confusion the wording of the letter may have caused. We are hopeful that all three Tribes will come together to work through the difficult nuances and are reunited.