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The U.S. Attorney For The District Of Montana Announces The First Ever Winners Of The “working Hard, Making A Difference” Awards For Exceptional Contributions In Indian Country

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The United States Attorney for the District of Montana Michael W. Cotter announced today the first three winners in the inaugural presentation of the District of Montana's "Working Hard, Making A Difference" Award. The award was created to recognize individuals in Indian Country who have made significant contributions to public safety.

The reason for the creation of the new award was a desire by the U.S. Attorney's Office to find a way to acknowledge some of the unsung heroes working every day to make Indian Country a better place for all. The goal of the new award is to annually recognize the men and women who work day in and day out to assure that Montana's reservation communities are safe and justice is served.

In reflecting on the new award, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter said, "Public Safety in Indian Country is a collaborative effort largely between sovereigns, the federal government and the tribal governments. This award moves forward the goal of truly acknowledging the significant contributions made by the people working inside the tribal systems towards the overall goal of public safety."

The first three winners of the "Working Hard, Making A Difference" Award were chosen from submissions made by community members to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The 2010 Award winners are: Brenda Top Sky Gardipee, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Montana; Henry Devereaux, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Reservation, Montana; and Algin Young, Chief of Police and Supervisor Special Agent - Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

First Award Winner: Brenda Gardipee - Interim Division Chief/Human Service Department - Rocky Boy's Tribe.

Brenda Top Sky Gardipee is a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Montana. Gardipee received her education in Community Leadership from Montana State University-Northern, Havre, Montana. Gardipee has held many positions in community organization under the Chippewa Cree Tribe. Gardipee is currently employed as Interim Division Chief of the Rocky Boy's Human Service Department, Gardipee has gained knowledge and expertise over the past years in many areas within the department including Child Protection, the Indian Child Welfare Act, Family Preservation, Adoption, Child Support, Tribal TANF and the her latest endeavor the Defending Children Against Violence project.

Gardipee was instrumental in the creation and establishment of the Chippewa Cree Tribe's Traditional Peacemaker Circle, a cultural approach to justice within a contemporary tribal judicial system. Working with local elders and experts in this area, she was able to develop the system entitled "Traditional Circle" that was passed by the Chippewa Cree Business Committee in 2009. The Traditional Circle/Peacemaker Court is now utilized for purposes such as traditional adoptions, child protection matters and most recently, traditional/cultural intervention for families in crisis.

Presently, Gardipee is focused on her leadership role as Chairperson for the High Priority Performance Goal Workgroup (HPPG) on the Rocky Boy's Reservation. The HPPG initiative is President Obama's Crime Reduction Initiative to decrease crime on the reservation by 5% or more over a 24-month period. In conjunction with the plan, Gardipee has introduced a component that will be included for long term planning that concentrates on early intervention for families and will address factors that may contribute to juvenile delinquency issues and criminal behavior.

The Chippewa-Cree Tribe has done a masterful job of finding resources necessary to tackle the problems of home, head on," U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said. "Success comes when the right people are at the table. It is individuals like Ms. Gardipee - the thoughtful, reliable, creative, detail implementers - who provide the foundation for strong and culturally appropriate community based solutions."

Second Award Winner: Henry Devereaux - Outgoing Acting Public Safety Director - Blackfeet Tribe

Henry Devereaux is originally from Browning Montana and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe. Devereaux started his law enforcement career as a police officer in Browning in 1971. While in Browning, Devereaux served as the head of the juvenile justice program, which at the time, was one of the first departments in the country to operate under what is known as a 638 contract. Devereaux also served as a criminal investigator.

In 1976, Devereaux started his college career at Weber State and ended at the College of Great Falls where in 1981 he earned a BS in sociology. He also earned an associates degree in criminal justice.

Also in 1981, Devereaux contracted with the Blackfeet Tribe to help with an effort to convert the tribal law enforcement program to BIA.

In 1982, Devereaux started as a patrolman with the Montana Highway Patrol. He retired as a Sergeant in 2007. Of the 25 years in uniform, he spent 23 of them the sole enrolled tribal member on the Montana Highway Patrol.

In January of 2009, the Blackfeet Tribe called upon Devereaux to assist it in converting the BIA police force into a tribal police department. Devereaux was hired as the Acting Public Safety Director. In December of 2010, the conversion occurred, but not without its challenges.

My biggest job in aiding the transition was to help the team stay focused," Devereaux said. "It is easy to get distracted whether it be by tribal politics or other infighting. We had a lot of assistance in accomplishing the takeover. At the very end of this transition process, even the BIA became very helpful. When everyone finally comes together with a common goal, it will get done." Devereaux added, "We still have a long way to go."

Congratulations to Henry Devereaux and the Blackfeet Tribe for taking over the law enforcement contract from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and establishing the framework for continued success," U.S. Attorney Cotter said. "Mr. Devereuax brought a lifetime of experience, humor, and pragmatism to the task at hand and is a worthy recipient of the "Working Hard, Making a Difference Award."

Third Award Winner: Algin Young - Chief of Police/Supervisor Special Agent - BIA - Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Algin Young, originally from Wanblee, South Dakota, joined the Marine Corp., in 1994 and served until he was honorably discharged in 2001. His first foray into tribal law enforcement was when he joined the Oglala Sioux Tribe's police force after returning home from military service. In 2002 he graduated from the Indian Police Academy. In addition to working for his home tribe, the Oglala Sioux, Young worked at the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota until he signed on at Northern Cheyenne as a police officer in 2006. After graduating first in his class in a national Criminal Investigation training in Glenco, Georgia, Young became a criminal investigator for Northern Cheyenne, and then fulfilled his goal of becoming Chief of Police. He currently serves as Chief of Police and Supervisor Special Agent for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

I'm happy at Northern Cheyenne," Young stated. "The Court System, Prosecutor's Office, and Tribal Council are easy to work with and dedicated to the same goal I have - providing more professional service to the public. Crime Reduction at Northern Cheyenne is visible. As a team, we are able to be responsive to the public, conduct more thorough investigations, and deter crime."

Chief of Police Young is a modest young man who to me, is a stand out role model for young women and men who have aspirations to better themselves and better their communities," U.S. Attorney Cotter said. "In a field of national candidates and as the only BIA member of the class, Young was recognized as graduating at the top of his class in criminal investigations. Young is smart, a great leader and valued team player."



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