- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

LOWER BRULE, S.D. (AP) - The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has a new leader as part of changes to the tribal administration in the wake of allegations of financial mismanagement.

Lewis Grass Rope, 38, was sworn into office earlier this month, The Daily Republic newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/1MU1KFL ). Grass Rope ran for the chairman’s post last year but lost to Michael Jandreau by 28 votes.

Jandreau died in April at age 71 due to complications from pneumonia and heart disease. He had guided the tribe for decades. At the time of his death, he was facing allegations of financial wrongdoing.

Federal auditors are examining nearly $20 million in grants to the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in response to a report this year by the Human Rights Watch organization alleging financial mismanagement in the tribal government. The audits of four projects are meant to make sure the money is being spent and handled correctly, and are not criminal inquiries, according to the Interior Department. Jandreau denied any wrongdoing.

Grass Rope says he looks forward to “getting things turned around and doing things right,” and uniting the tribe that has been divided between reform-minded councilmembers and an old guard loyal to Jandreau.

“We’ve got to sit there and listen to the people and see what they want to do and bring them back together as a tribe,” Grass Rope said.

Councilman Kevin Wright, who had been acting chairman in the wake of Jandreau’s death, called the inauguration of Grass Rope “liberating.”

“For the longest time, nobody knew what was going on in the tribe,” he said.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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