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Oglala Lakota Tribal Council Opposes Kirkegaard as Secretary of Education


The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council submitted a resolution to state lawmakers on Thursday opposing the nomination of Don Kirkegaard to Secretary of Education. Council members are concerned about his connections to the GEAR Up Controversy.

The concerns were brought to the State-Tribal Relations Committee during its second unofficial meeting in 24 hours.

Following Thursday's State of the Tribes address, members of the state-tribal relations committee met with a room-full of tribal representatives and other state lawmakers to discuss issues of importance to the tribes. It was an informal and unofficial meeting without official minutes. Committee members welcomed tribal representatives to present issues they believe the committee ought to address.

One such issue was the ongoing GEAR Up investigation. Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Representative Collins "CJ" Clifford of the Wounded Knee district passed copies of two tribal council resolutions to members of the committee. The first calls for the US Attorney to investigate and prosecute all current and former state employees who in any way facilitated the misappropriation of federal funding meant to benefit tribal youth. 

In the second resolution, the tribe opposed the nomination of Don Kirkegaard as Secretary of Education--citing his role as consultant to Dakota Education Consulting and his longstanding ties with others who were directly involved with the GEAR Up Controversy.

Senator Stace Nelson of District 19 is a member of the State-Tribal Relations Committee. He Tweeted pictures of the resolutions during the meeting. He aso referenced another unofficial meeting the previous night.

At the end of the meeting, Senator Nelson expressed intention to draft a joint resolution on behalf of the committee based on the tribe's input.

"I'll let the members know," he said, "I'll start working on drafting a resolution as we discussed last night and I will use as the source material information that was provided today as much as I can do in the authoring process."

Senator Phil Jensen of District 33, who also sits on the Senate Education Committee, agreed to carry the resolution to be presented there.