REGINA – Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation held a controversial election on Saturday.
The election was called several months earlier than normal due to allegations of corruption by the chief and five council members.
Among the 10 candidates vying for the six councillor positions, Stella Isnana was the only one running for re-election. She blew the whistle last year after she discovered councillors were claiming $5,000 on travel expenses per month, on top of their $1,200 biweekly pay.
She said audits revealed nearly a million dollars of council money had been claimed for travel, per diems, meeting costs, and honoraria.
Meanwhile, council was imposing a 10 per cent cut to all services on reserve, including a $34,000 cut to education. These extravagant expenses were enough to anger the people who live on the reserve.
“I’m really against the mis-spending. I didn’t realize to that extent the money that was taken,” said Standing Buffalo resident Naomi Ryder.
But anger to turned action. The senate impeached every person on council, except for Isnana, who had refused the extravagant payments.
Among those impeached was Chief Rodger Redman, who called Saturday’s election illegal. Global News went to his house to ask him about council expenses, but there was no answer at the door.
Saturday’s election left Standing Buffalo’s residents feeling hopeful.
“I feel that we can move on,” Isnana said. “That we can have a better outlook for our community. That we can start planning for our future.”