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Sioux tribe says it hasn't seen Hoka Hey race proceeds

July 17, 2010
  • The Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota says it hasn't seen a dime of the money supposedly raised for it by the cross-country Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. (Courtesy Florida Keys News Bureau)
The Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota says it hasn't seen a dime of the money supposedly raised for it by the cross-country Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. (Courtesy Florida Keys News Bureau)

by Jackie Bartz
Friday, July 16, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge was billed as a fundraiser for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, but Oglala Sioux tribal leaders say they're in the dark about where the money went.

Riders were already asking where the cross-country race's reported $500,000 winner's prize went, and now the Oglala Sioux tribe says it has no affiliation with the challenge.

Nearly 200 motorcyclists completed the Hoka Hey earlier this month, riding from Florida's Key West to Homer. Organizers say it's meant to raise money for water improvements on the Pine Ridge reservation.

"A lot of the homes don't have water, and the water that they have has to be brought in because the aquifer is polluted," said Hoka Hey spokesperson Alystar McKenneh.

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Oglala Sioux tribal leaders say they haven't seen a dime, and have never been contacted by Hoka Hey organizers.

"The administration of the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Rural Water Supply System is also unaware of a plan by the HHMC organizers to improve the water system with revenue generated from the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge," the tribe said in a statement.

The challenge was organized by Jim Red Cloud, and the Hoka Hey website lists the Red Cloud Humanitarian Fund as the charitable organization which will receive the money. But tribal leaders say the primary agent for that fund has been dead for four years.

Several calls to race organizers were not returned, but a family member of Jim Red Cloud said the money will go to the Lakota people -- not the tribe itself.

In an interview earlier this month, McKenneh said there is no truth to concerns that the challenge is a hoax.

"How could that possibly be? And how could you -- when you do something like this, and these are federal people, federal land -- you have to remember the Native American lives on federal land, so for them to be able to hoax anybody would be a huge federal issue," McKenneh said. "So I don't know what to say to them; I haven't really answered them because it just seems silly to me."

The Oglala Sioux tribe says it's not affiliated with the race at all, and that it will not be paying the $500,000 prize money at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota this August, as asserted by race organizers.

"If the Oglala Sioux tribe had ready access to a half-million dollars, the funds would more than likely be used for the emergency needs of tribal elders and children," the tribe said in its statement.

The Oglala Sioux tribe has passed an ordinance preventing people from fundraising in the name of the tribe without its permission. In a press release, it notes that there are other Sioux tribes in South Dakota.

Contact Jackie Bartz at jbartz@ktuu.com

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