August 3, 2010
Source: Rapid City Journal
The longstanding domestic violence shelter in Mission, South Dakota will keep its funding, at least for now.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council tabled a resolution Monday that would have prevented the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society women’s shelter from receiving funding through the tribe.
Tillie Black Bear, executive director of the shelter, said the tribal council and shelter’s board of directors came to the agreement Monday night after meeting to discuss allegations made during a July council meeting.
On July 16, three former residents of the shelter made allegations of client abuse, building deficiencies and funding issues to the council. The council responded by revoking the shelter’s ability to acquire pass-through federal grants because it is affiliated with the tribe.
Black Bear, who called the allegations unfounded and unfair, said the shelter continued to operate, relying on funding from the state and federal government. The salaries of nine staff members were suspended, but they continued to work at the shelter, Black Bear said.
At Monday’s meeting, the tribal council and the board of directors agreed to a 60-day tabling of the resolution. In return, the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society board of directors must meet certain requirements by that Oct. 4 meeting.
First, the shelter must establish a grievance system. Black Bear said a verbal system is already in place, but the council wants a written system.
Second, the council asked for monthly financial reports from the shelter until next year, when reports will be required annually, Black Bear said.
The council asked that the facility undergo inspections by building experts, such as plumbers and electricians.
The tribal council also asked the shelter to explore becoming a charter under the tribe. Such a move would make the shelter a tribal entity. Black Bear said the board is investigating such a move but is hesitant to do so.
Black Bear said the board fears that making the shelter a part of a political entity could jeopardize its funding.
“The greatest fear we’ve always had in the 33 years we’ve been in operation … is the retaliation of men who are being held accountable for their actions,” she said. “We want that autonomy to do the work that we need to do.”
Staffers at the shelter were reinstated Monday and given back pay, Black Bear said.
Black Bear said the shelter’s board of directors showed themselves to be capable leaders during the conflict. Their abilities give her hope for the future of the society, which has been operating since 1977. The shelter building has been open since 1980. The center serves more than 300 women and more than 600 children annually.
“I sat on my hands and listened and observed,” Black Bear said of the Monday meeting. “The board of directors from the Buffalo Calf really stepped to the plate.”
Note: You can get information about this situation by following White Buffalo Calf Woman on Facebook.