Surprise Drug Test Angers Tribal Council On SD Reservation


Bruce Renville, chairman of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe of the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota, will appear before his tribal council Friday to defend his decision to spring surprise drug tests on more than 100 administrative employees, some of whom failed, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Council members, who suspended Renville with pay earlier this month, have called a vote to remove him from office.

Renville, 71, was elected chairman last November after a 32-year civil service career with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., and Indian Health Service in Aberdeen, S.D. “They got all upset because people tested positive — friends, relatives, family members,” he said. To Renville’s critics, the mass drug tests were an abuse of power that embarrassed the tribe's workforce. But to Renville, it seemed like a reasonable response to an escalating drug crisis on the reservation, where 20 meth-addicted babies were born last year.

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