RAPID CITY, S.D. — The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the sovereign right of the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes to control tribal healthcare in Rapid City.
“This is a win for tribal sovereignty against those who believe only the federal government is capable of providing health care and other services,” said Brandon Ecoffey, Communications Director for the Health Board. “We have shown that tribal-nations and their tribal organizations are just as capable of providing services to tribal members, and in many cases, even do a better job.”
In 2019, both tribes opted to assume control of the Rapid City Service Unit using the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act. The law allows tribes and tribal organizations to contract services formerly provided by federal departments and agencies.
The tribes contracted with the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board to manage the service unit and eventually opened the Oyate Health Center.
The lawsuit dismissed this week looked to prevent the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes from controlling the Rapid City service unit by arguing that the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board was not a tribal organization.
“This is a victory over the misinformation that was being spread about the status of the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board as a “tribal organization” under federal law,” Ecoffey said. “This organization was formed by the 17 tribes of the Great Plains, not by the federal government.
The lawsuit lost in both U.S. District Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals before reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.