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Jandreau Passes Amid Administrative Controversy

Courtesy Lower Brule Sioux Tribe

Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Michael Jandreau passed away last Friday after a brief illness. His death comes amid unrest within the tribal leadership and at a time when his longtime administration was under investigation by the federal government.

Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Jandreau was rushed to the hospital on March 27 suffering from heart disease and pneumonia.

During Jandreau’s absence, and as the result of a recent tribal court directive, Vice Chairman Kevin Wright attempted to hold the tribe’s regularly scheduled council meeting on the first Wednesday of the month…April 1.

But two of the council members didn't attend so there wasn't a quorum present.

Credit Courtesy Kevin Wright
Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Kevin Wright

On April 3, and just hours before Jandreau’s passing. Vice-Chairman Wright issued a memo advising that he was assuming “all the rights, privileges and duties as well as the responsibilities of the Chairman…until the Chairman returns to the office and can resume his position.”

Wright says the constitution gives him the authority to assume the position of Tribal Chairman. He says he wasn't kept informed of Jandreau’s condition and was surprised to hear of his death.

“Kind of dumbfounded,” Wright says, explaining his reaction to Jandreau’s passing.  “It leaves a…it leaves an empty space in the community ‘cause…because he’s been there for quite a while. It’s going to be hard to…fill those shoes, but…”

But Wright plans to make his best effort. He adds that options for selecting someone for the Vice-Chairman’s position include either appointment by the tribal council or a special election. Out of respect for Mike Jandreau and his family, Wright would prefer to wait until an appropriate time of mourning has passed before making that decision.

“As far as moving forward and looking forward to transparency for our tribe…gaining back that trust,” explains Wright. “I’d like to look for better days for that.”

Kevin Wright wants to assure his tribal members as well as all those in the surrounding communities that the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe will recover from this loss.

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