III. Facts of the complaint and nature of the alleged violations
The Native American Indian Community of Rapid City, SD, and the Black Hills Area is an inter-tribal community made up of approximately 28,000 members from more than 300 Indigenous nations located in North America and Alaska. We use the Sioux San Indian Health Service Hospital located in Rapid City, SD, for our health care needs. This city is located in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, a Treaty made with the United States who invaded and presently occupy our Treaty Territory without our permission. The provision for health care was also a part of the 1868 Treaty with the Sioux Nation, although many other Native American nations also had similar treaty provisions. This complaint is being made due to the health care provision that is an obligation to be provided by the U.S. Indian Health Service (IHS).
The Sioux San IHS Hospital became a general hospital from the efforts of the local Rapid City Native American Indian Community in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Prior to that time, our Native American Indian community did not have health care as the IHS hospitals on the reservations would not provide health care to us as we did not live on the reservations.
In 1986, the U.S. Indian Health Service created a non-profit corporation in the state of South Dakota and secured federal 5.01(c)3 non-profit tax status for it. The corporation was called the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and the 17 tribal chairmen from the region were placed on the Board of Directors. The purpose of the corporation was to provide a liaison between the 17 tribes and the IHS. The name of the corporation was eventually changed to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB).
The Sioux San Hospital was unique in that it was not located on a reservation but on federal Indian land in a city, and the patients were also people who had access to health insurance because of being able to find work. Therefore, the Sioux San Hospital was able to generate additional income for the hospital and its’ patients. The U.S. has historically funded IHS hospitals at only 40% of need which is even lower than that of U.S. federal prisons.
The current situation is this: the IHS made a Public Law 93-638 Self-Determination contract with their own non-profit corporation for the management of the Sioux San Hospital. The contract went into effect on July 21, 2019, with an organization that has no health management capability. Further, their health facility was not certified by any health certification system and cannot bill for any insurance. In addition, as a private non-profit corporation, they need to have their health delivery personnel licensed in the state of South Dakota. Many of their doctors and other health personnel are not licensed, and many were removed from employment with the IHS for a number of reasons. In addition, some of the personnel are convicted felons.
The consequence is that health care delivery has been greatly diminished for the 23,000 active patients treated at Sioux San Hospital. Since July 21, 2019, there have been 3 deaths, 2 maimings, a mentally ill woman incarcerated due to her medication being stopped, a man having a stroke had his medication also stopped and told to just pray, and the prescriptions for medication for a young man with a terminal illness were not given to the right pharmacy so that his illness was activated. These are all incidences that the author is aware of. There are many more but due to the right to privacy, we are not listing more.
IV. Exhaustion of domestic remedies.
1.As the only remedy available to us, more than 150 of us filed a lawsuit in the federal court in June, 2019, asking for a permanent injunction on the contract due to no free, prior, and informed consent of the Community’s members and patients as required under PL 93-638. The court case was recently decided on Feb. 18, 2020, when the federal judge ruled in favor of the illegal contract stating that the non-profit corporation had “Tribal sovereignty.” (Online see Gilbert v. Weahkee)
2.A non-profit corporation, as a 5.01(c)3 entity under American law, cannot be a Tribe or part of a tribe, therefore the corporation cannot have “tribal sovereign immunity.” This was brought up in our case. We will be appealing the decision but the American court system can take years to complete. In the meantime, our health care, which was never ideal, is rapidly declining.