A case brought before the United States Supreme Court by three Native American women, who have been representing themselves, may decide the future of the 1975 Indian Self Determination Act. Clearing the FOG speaks with Charmaine White Face, a petitioner in the case, about her fight to stop the privatization of an Indian Health Service facility, Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City South Dakota, that serves 325 tribes in the area. She describes how the privatization is harming the health of the people who use this historic hospital. To her knowledge, this is the first effort to privatize an Indian Health Service hospital. If the privatization is allowed to continue, which has been done without the consent of the people who are impacted, it will set a dangerous precedent for all tribes and allow any federal agency to take a similar illegal action.
Charmaine White Face, or Zumila Wobaga, is an Oglala Tetuwan from the Oceti Sakowin in North America. She is known for her work in support of Native American rights, in particular as coordinator of the Defenders of the Black Hills, a volunteer environmental organization centered on efforts to encourage the United States government to honor the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. She also works at the international level in support of recognition of human rights of indigenous peoples all over the world. She is the spokesperson for the Sioux Nation Treaty Council established in 1894. She was a participant in the prayer fast/hunger strike held in December 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland at the final meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples WGDD. She has worked to preserve Bear Butte, on monitoring of abandoned uranium mines, on “environmental remediation of hazardous waste ponds,” and in the anti-nuclear power movement. In Jan. 2013, she raised concerns about radiation exposure of South Dakota Army National Guard soldiers in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Charmaine White Face is also a columnist and freelance writer who has written for Indian Country Today, the Rapid City Journal, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and The Lakota Journal, and is a grandmother.