Supreme Court Upholds Right Of Tribes To Control Tribal Healthcare In Rapid City

    The U-S Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the sovereign right of the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes to control tribal healthcare in Rapid City.

       The tribes in 2019 assumed control of the Indian Health Service Rapid City Unit under the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act, which allows tribes and tribal organizations to contract services formerly provided by the federal government.

     The tribes contracted with the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board to manage the service unit and eventually opened the Oyate Health Center. 

      The move was challenged on the grounds that the Health Board was not a tribal organization under federal law, an argument rejected by both the federal district court and U-S 8th Circuit Court of Appeals before reaching the Supreme Court.

       Health Board Communications Director Bandon Ecoffey said there should never have been any doubt because the Health Board was formed by the 17 tribes of the Great Plains and not the federal government. 

       Ecoffey called the high court ruling “a win for tribal sovereignty against those who believe only the federal government is capable of providing health care and other services.”

       He said the past 2 years have shown that tribal-nations and their tribal organizations are just as capable of providing services to tribal members – and in many cases do a better job of it.