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OST President Bear Runner suspended for 30 days



OST President Julian Bear Runner

PINE RIDGE – Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was suspended for 30 days and put on a 14 day quarantine during an emergency council meeting July 8.

Robin Tapio, a representative from the Pine Ridge District, made the motion to suspend Bear Runner and the vote passed 13-7. Bear Runner is suspended with pay. Tom Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has taken over presidential duties.

The emergency council meeting was called by Bear Runner to discuss a now-cancelled 72 hour lockdown previously issued by Bear Runner on July 6.

The lockdown forced many tribal members to stay home, and blocked any non-essential travel through the reservation. But, when put in place, Bear Runner was unable to be reached by council members who did not know that the lockdown was even being considered by Bear Runner.

Several council members have expressed frustration about not being able to answer their constituent’s questions while being put in the impromptu lockdown. “We were all in the dark,” one council member said while speaking with the Native Sun News Today. “We were getting so many phone calls from people who didn’t know what was going on, and we didn’t know what was going on. People were in stores and the cops were telling the stores to close. Everyone was scared like there was something serious going on they hadn’t heard about.”

Speculation of a plethora of reasons why Bear Runner was suspended have been brought forth through social media, but a council person confirmed that “the only main reason he was suspended was because he called for a lockdown and didn’t notify the council.”

Many council members expressed their concern for not being able to contact Bear Runner while being caught off guard by the lockdown order, and said that the suspension was to give the president time to reassess his governing strategies. The 14 day quarantine was placed on bear Runner as his whereabouts during the time of the lockdown were brought into question.

A council member said that Bear Runner and his vehicle were located at a bar in Rapid City during the time of the lockdown. When contacted, a worker at the rumored bar said that many people called and walked through the establishment trying to locate Bear Runner. The worker also said that they had not seen Bear Runner throughout the time.

Oglala Lakota County has exceeded 100 COVID-19 cases and is now the seventh most impacted county in the state. Native Americans are now the second most impacted demographic in the state.

Border monitoring, shelter in place, and a curfew remain in effect for Pine Ridge despite the cancelled lockdown.

Bear Runner did not respond to the Native Sun News Today for comment.

Bear Runner remained vocal on the reservation this past weekend while several storms tore through and destroyed homes and businesses. The Oglala Sioux Tribe shared a Facebook post written by Bear Runner which said “my staff will be out delivering ice if you need ice to keep the food cold in your freezers or milk cold for the babies, or insulin cold for our insulin dependent relatives” and also had the hashtags #WishICouldBeThere and #WishICouldDoMore attached.

 

(Contact Travis at travisldewes@gmail.com)

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