As vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Tom Poor Bear has been tapped by his people to advocate for their rights, their land and their health. Yet, Poor Bear is also one of his people, not immune to the problems facing the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.
Just weeks after the Native American tribe filed a lawsuit against some of the world's largest beer makers and distributors, Poor Bear was arrested in an alcohol-related incident that he believes was, in some ways, a good thing. It showed who really believed in him.
"People came to me and said, 'Tom, we don't care what they write about you. We know who you are. We know where your heart's at and your commitments at,' " said Poor Bear, speaking candidly about the February arrest for the first time.
"I tell you, it makes a man's heart beat good to hear his people commend me instead of condemn me," he said.