Brewer wins Pine Ridge Chairman Election

Bryan Brewer, who is new to the world of tribal politics, defeated incumbent John Yellow Bird Steele in a close – and cordial – race for Oglala Sioux Tribe president in the tribe’s 2012 election on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The unofficial tally as of 10:30 p.m. MST: Brewer had 2,216 votes to Steele’s 2,128. Brewer is a Vietnam veteran, having served two tours of duty as a member of the United States Navy.
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff Writer 

PINE RIDGE — In a somewhat surprising turn of events, novice politician Bryan Brewer defeated John Yellow Bird Steele in the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s biennial presidential election.

Late last month Brewer told Native Sun News that “It’s going to be tough to unseat John. He is very tough to run against and even harder to beat, and I realize this. I am the underdog.”

Despite his assumption that he would fall behind in the polls, Brewer succeeded by carrying the vote in the Pine Ridge Reservation’s largest voting district – Pine Ridge Village – in addition to a number of other districts across the reservation.

In the days leading up to the election Nov. 6, Brewer picked up endorsements from fellow Oglala Sioux Tribe members Tim Giago, retired NSN founder, and Ryan Wilson, one of his opponents in last month’s OST presidential primary election, which may have contributed to the deciding factor in the election.

Throughout his campaign, Brewer promised that if elected he would advocate tirelessly on behalf of both the youth of the Lakota Nation and for his fellow veterans.

Brewer and Steele – who was seeking his seventh nonconsecutive term in office – engaged one another in a series of highly publicized debates on the reservation leading right up to the election; debates that for the first time in history gave citizens of the Oglala Lakota Nation a comprehensive understanding of just where each individual candidate stood on both local and national issues.

Having served as an educator for many years in several reservation schools, Brewer brings a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stagnant pool of tribal politicians: He is a Vietnam veteran and practitioner of traditional Lakota spirituality.

In the past, Brewer has gained fame across the state of South Dakota through his work with the Lakota Nation Invitational basketball tournament that every year brings tens of thousands of people to Rapid City and millions of dollars to businesses in Rapid City.

“I have an understanding of how the business world works. Hopefully, I can put that experience to use as tribal president,” Brewer said.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be chosen by the people,” he said after the results were tallied. “I look forward to working with the tribal council on the issues that affect our nation”.

Brewer, along with those elected to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, will take office in the first week of December.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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