New Resource for Lakota Land Owners

Today, Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project is proud to announce the launch of a new resource for Lakota lands owners on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS), is online mapping tool that allows members of the Tribe to locate their allotted lands and view other data about land use and management. The resource was developed by Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. Village Earth also developed a companion website to house the tool an other related information at www.lakotalands.net.

The Pine Ridge Reservation encompasses 2,788,047 acres including all of Shannon, Jackson and Bennett Counties in South Dakota and a portion of Sheridan County, NE. This land is divided into 20,507 different parcels, 44% of which are owned in-part or in-whole by individual Tribal Members, a total of 1,067,877 acres. These are lands that were allotted to individual tribal members as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1887 (also known as the Dawes Severalty Act) and have been passed down to each subsequent generation. Most of these lands however, are not being managed by the land owners. Rather, a century of discriminatory policies enacted by the Federal Government have functioned to alienate the original allottees and their heirs from their lands to make them available for lease by non-tribal members for a fraction of their fair market value. Few people realize that on Pine Ridge and on Reservations across the country, these policies have meant that the Indian land owners have been separated from their allotted lands, in many cases, for generations. In fact, many Tribal land owners know very little about their lands; where they’re located, how they’re being used, who they share ownership with, etc. This has had devastating impacts on the ability of land owners to benefit from their land-based resources – economically or culturally. According to the USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations, the market value of agriculture commodities produced on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2007 totaled $54,541,000. Yet, less than 1/3 ($17,835,000) of that income went to Native American producers. Despite the widespread leasing, over 70% families on Pine Ridge would like to live on and utilize their lands. This is according to survey data collected by Colorado State University.

Short Video about the PRLIS

Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project was started out of this expressed desire from the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Since 2003, the Lakota Lands Recovery Project has worked alongside tribal members moving in this direction. Our approach has been to provide direct support to Lakota families who are utilizing Reservation lands, providing fiscal sponsorship, small grants, loans, and releasing over 100 head of buffalo onto Lakota family ranchers. Our other complimentary approach has been to provide advocacy, information and tools to those who would like to begin to move in that direction. In 2008, with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book and distributed it through Strategic Land Planning Workshops held in each of the Nine Districts on the Reservation. The map book, addressed a particular challenge expressed by tribal members, accessing information about their lands and the options available to them. This is a common problem across Indian Country and is a serious obstacle for Native American’s wanting to utilize their lands. According the Indian Land Working Group:

Over the past 100 years, the government has implemented their “highest and best use” management policy by leasing Indian Land to non-Indians. This continues today, as is evidenced by the fact that of the 9 million acres of trust land classified as agricultural, 6 million is lased to non-Indians. A leasing cartel has been created because Indian landowners have had limited access to information and resources necessary to use and manage allotted trust lands.

To begin to address this need, Village Earth’s Stategic Land Planning Map Book provide full color aerial photos with parcel information for the entire reservation, sample forms and step-by-step procedures for doing land exchanges, partitions, gift deeds, and other tools that Tribal land owners can use to gain greater control over their lands. It was very well received across the Reservation but it was costly to print and distribute. Furthermore, land owners could only get a limited view of their lands. This new tool supports both of these strategic directions while making it more accessible and dynamic.

Using the PRLIS, tribal members can:

  • Search for individually allotted and Tribal owned trust lands using the Tract ID found on their government land reports.
  • View, print and share a web link for the boundaries of specific land tracts.
  • View Pine Ridge lands with various base layers including Google and Bing aerial photography, Google and Bing roads, Google and Bing Hybrid, and terrain.
  • View a Landsat TM Image which can be used to assess the management and of lands on Pine Ridge.
  • View a map of the Range Units that are leased across Pine Ridge.
  • View the Boundaries of the Reservation today and as defined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties.
  • We plan to soon add other demographic, cultural, political information to the PRLIS.

Village Earth has developed this as a demonstration and is open to consult with other Tribes interested in developing their own low-cost online land information systems. For more information about the Pine Ridge Land Information System or the Lakota Lands Recovery Project contact David Bartecchi at [email protected]

Spring Update from Earth Tipi

Vermiculture workshop sponsored by Earth Tipi on the Pine Ridge Reservation

By Shannon Freed, Director of Earth Tipi

Spring has sprung and Earth Tipi has been making plans for the coming season all winter! First some exciting updates on current news. In November Earth Tipi hosted a Lakota language immersion experience for children at the Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit in Rapid City. Children experienced the Lakota language through story telling, computer interactive games and a video corner that featured the Lakota Bears (Berenstein Bears in the Lakota language). In January I teamed up with Arlo Iron Cloud of KILI Radio in Porcupine to do an early morning radio show about foods that heal. Each week a different food is featured and its medical properties are discussed. Information shared includes meal preparation uses and cooking recipes. Also new to Earth Tipi programming are school presentations. I have been making regular visits to the Lakota Waldorf School where the children learn about different food ingredients, where they come from and then they create something from the ingredients. Playdough and Granola were both big hits with these kindergarteners. This month we featured Vermiculturist John Victor Anderson “The Colorado Worm Man” of Fort Collins. John visited both the Little Wound High School, Lakota Waldorf and did a community presentation in Wounded Knee. At Little Wound, Automotive and Carpentry students learned how to transform an old refrigerator into a worm bin. Two bins were made using non functioning refrigerators that would have otherwise gone to the dump. The following day John presented to 9th and 10th graders in Biology and Physical Science classes. These classes will be responsible for raising the worms using food collected from cafeteria waste. In April, students from the Art class will decorate the bins.

This summer we will turn our existing fruit tree orchard into a food forest. We plan to expand our gardens and are in the process of implementing new permaculture techniques including a “hugelkultur” which will help store water so that we can work to eliminate the need for irrigation in our garden. We will also be repeating our collaboration with the William Penn House of Washington D.C. to take three youth from our reservation to Washington D.C. for one week following a visit from D.C. area high school students. One intern position will be offered to a local youth and it is hoped that funds can be raised to pay a small stipend for this position.

We will be very busy this summer as we work to complete the gazebo project we started last summer as well as construct an outdoor kitchen which will feature a cob oven, solar oven and bengali pit stove. If funds are raised we will also construct a greenhouse, root cellar and a home office for Earth Tipi made from light straw clay. We are currently in the process for raising funds for all of these projects and will need to raise $150,000 by August. If you are interested in supporting Earth Tipi in these endeavors please visit http://earthtipi.org/support to make an online contribution. Pilamaya, Shannon Freed, Director Earth Tipi

 

Henry Red Cloud wins 2011 Glynwood Harvest Award

Henry Red Cloud, Buffalo Hump Sanctuary

Village Earth is proud to announce that our long-time partner, Henry Red Cloud, has won the 2011 Glynwood Harvest Award for Connecting Communities, Farmers and Food, and in particular, for his work restoring buffalo for families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Henry’s bison project, “Buffalo Hump Sanctuary” is an affiliate of Village Earth.

Glynwood is an agricultural non-profit whose mission is to save farming, has announced the winners of its annual Harvest Awards.  The Harvest Awards were created by Glynwood in order to highlight innovative work being done on a community level to increase access to fresh, locally-produced food and to recognize leaders across the country whose exemplary work support their regional food systems.

This year the winners will participate in a panel discussion open to the public to take place on Monday, October 24 at the 92YTRIBECA in downtown Manhattan.  Moderated by Glynwood President Judith LaBelle, the winners will discuss their work, their challenges and the models they’ve created to increase their community’s access to locally produced foods.

Buffalo Hump Sanctuary is the result of Henry Red Cloud’s father’s vision of reclaiming the land of their Lakota tribe (which for generations had been leased out to non-indigenous people and businesses), and building a successful bison ranching operation that would better support their family economically and culturally.  The work was started in 2000, beginning with the complex process of identifying and reclaiming the land, then restoring the overgrazed land to fertility.  With the help of Village Earth, an organization that helps communities reconnect with resources that promote human well-being through empowerment and community self-reliance, Henry implemented an “Adopt a Buffalo” program; this enabled the release of over 100 head of buffalo onto the reservation, helping native bison ranchers to start or expand their ranching operations.  By 2005 Henry, along with two other families on the reservation, formed the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative, composed of Lakota ranchers who agree to comply with strict ethical standards for the care of the animals. Participating producers are then able to market their meat under the Coop’s label.  To further assist in distributing the Coop’s pasture-raised and field-harvested bison, Henry and Village Earth partnered with a local entrepreneur who markets the products online and sells throughout northern Colorado.  Today, even the smallest producer can find a market for their meat through the Cooperative.

The financial and cultural implications of this work for the Lakota families cannot be underestimated.  About two-thirds of the reservation’s lands have been leased for generations, stripping the families of their connection to their land as well as economic opportunity – leasing the land brings only one-third of the potential profit that working the land can offer.  Additionally, the reservation has been identified as “food insecure,” with little access to fresh, healthy food and a history of related medical issues that result. The production of fresh bison meat has given members of the Lakota access to nutritious protein. To further the goal of supplying fresh healthy food to its community, the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative recently created the Tatanka Talo project to help the elderly members of the reservation by distributing fresh meat to them.

Two Listening/Talking Meetings Scheduled for May

The Oyate Omniciye | Oglala Lakota planning team will be hosting two meetings with the same agenda at two different locations:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2011
12:00 noon – 4:00 pm
Su Ann Big Crow Boys & Girls Club
Pine Ridge

THURSDAY, MAY 5, 2011
5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Pahin Sinte Owayawa School
Porcupine

RSVP

Please RSVP at www.oglalalakotaplan.org/rsvp

Child care available on site

Meal provided per accurate head count

QUESTIONS?

Please direct questions to:

Nick Tilsen at 605-455-2700 ~ [email protected]

Julie Two Eagle at 605-454-0377 ~ [email protected]

or Scott Moore at 505-280-4840 ~ [email protected]

A message from Wakanyeja Pawicayapi Inc. – Porcupine, SD

As a supporter of grassroots organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Village Earth would like to highlight the work of Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc. based out of the village of Porcupine. Wakanyeja Means Children. Wakanyeja has much deeper meaning; “Wakan” is sacred and “yeja” is translated to mean “a gift”  Pawicayapi: to put them first. We believe that the ‘Sacred Gift’ is at the center of the sacred hoop of life, and they must be protected and nurtured. They are our future and the most fragile. Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc. (Children First) comes from the rebirth of the Lakota way of life and laws through education, healing, and collaboration. This holiday season, please consider donating directly to Wakanyeja Pawicayapi by going to their website at http://www.wakanyeja.org/
Please read the appeal below from Taoiye Wakan Win, S. Ramona White Plume, Executive Director, Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHpfPsARuA]

A message from Wakanyeja Pawicayapi Inc

As a Lakota culturally appropriate mental health resource for children/youth and families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation since 1999, we do not receive federal funds for the services we provide. These services include primarily child/youth and family healing in the areas of trauma, suicide prevention, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
We respectfully ask for your support, both financially and spiritually. Your financial support will help us to purchase wood for the purification lodge ceremonies, purchase food to serve children/youth and families after the ceremonies and pay for general operating costs.

Your spiritual support in the form of appeals to the Creator on behalf of children/youth and families who continue to suffer from intergenerational grief, loss and trauma will strengthen the work that we do and will assist in the ongoing battle for our Lakota way of life and the future of our children and grandchildren. For more information contact Taoiye Wakan Win, S. Ramona White Plume, Executive Director, Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc., P.O. Box 100, Porcupine, SD 57772, [email protected], 605-455-1226. Wopila (thank you).

Download Village Earth’s Strategic Land Planning Map Book for the Pine Ridge Reservation

Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book

The purpose of this book is to make information about reservation lands more accessible to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and to promote greater grassroots awareness and participation in land-use planning and management of their natural resources.

Created by Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Range Units and the History of Leasing Lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Village Earth – Fort Collins, Co 

Today, nearly 60% of the Pine Ridge Reservation is being leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), often times to non-tribal members. Despite the fact that lands allotted to Lakotas have been in the federal leasing system for several generations, over 70% of families on the reservation would like to live on and utilize their allotted lands. According to 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations, the market value of agriculture commodities produced on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2007 totaled $54,541,000. Yet, less than 1/3 ($17,835,000) of that income went to Native American producers.

The reason so few Lakota’s are utilizing Reservation lands today can be traced back to a history of discriminatory policies enacted by Congress just a few years after the signing of the General Allotment Act that opened up Reservation lands to non-Native producers. These policies affected Native Americans nationwide. According to Village Earth’s study of the USDA data, in total numbers, Native Americans represent only 1.6% of the farmers and ranchers operating on Reservation lands. Today, for most Native American Reservations in the United States, more than two-thirds of the farms and ranches are controlled by non-natives. As might be expected, this disparity in land use has had a dramatic impact on the ability of Native Americans to fully benefit from their natural resources. Statistics on income reveal that the total value of agricultural commodities produced on Native American Reservations in 2007 totaled over $2.1 Billion dollars, yet, only 16% of that income went to Native American farmers and ranchers.

The unequal land-use patterns seen on reservations today is a direct outcome of discriminatory lending practices, land fractionation and specifically, Federal policies over the last century that have excluded native land owners from the ability to utilize their lands while at the same time opening it up to non-native farmers and ranchers. Discriminatory lending practices, as argued in court cases such as the pending Keepseagle vs. Vilsack, claim that Native Americans have been denied roughly 3 billion in credit.  Another significant obstacle is the high degree of fractionation of Reservation lands caused by the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887. Over a century of unplanned inheritance under the GAA has created a situation where reservation lands have become severely fractionated. Today, for a Native land owner to consolidate and utilize his or her allotted lands they may have to get the signed approval of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of separate land owners. As a result, most Indian land owners have few options besides leasing their lands out as part of the Federal Government’s leasing program. Additionally, historical and racially-based policies by the Federal government have been designed to exclude Native American farmers and ranchers from utilizing their own lands, opening them up to non-natives for a fraction of their far market value.

The leasing of Indian Lands by the Federal Government dates back the the the Act of February 28, 1891 which amended the General Allotment Act to give the Secretary of the Interior the power to determine whether an Indian allottee had the “mental or physically qualifications” to enable him to cultivate his allotment. In such cases, the Superintendent was authorized to lease Indian lands to non-tribal members. In 1894, the annual Indian Appropriation Act increased the agricultural lease term to 5 years, 10 years for business and mining leases, and permitted forced leases for allottees who “suffered” from “inability to work their land.” Clearly designed to alienate lands from Native Americans, this act dramatically increased the number of leases issued across the country. For the Pine Ridge Reservation the practice was so widespread, that in a 1915 Government report, it was noted that over 56% of the adult males on the reservation were considered incapable of managing their lands and thus they were forcefully leased out. In 1920 the Government Superintendent for Pine Ridge wrote, “It has been my policy to insist upon the utilization of all these lands and the grass growing upon it and this has restricted members of the tribe owning stock to their own allotments, and such land adjoining that they have leased.” Not only were a great number of Native Americans denied the ability to utilize their allotted lands, many did not even receive the lease income collected by the Federal Government. Today, it is estimated that Native Americans are owed upwards of 47 billion dollars by the Federal Government for 120 years of oil, timber, agriculture, grazing and mining leases (See Cobell vs. Salazar).

According to Village Earth, the disparity in land use on Native American Reservations will only worsen with each new generation until Native Americans are given a fair chance at accessing the credit and other forms assistance available to non-natives. Additionally, the Government should honor its obligation as trustee and pay the over 47 billion dollars in revenue it has received for the leasing of Native American lands over the last 120 years. Lastly, the Department of Interior should place special emphasis on repairing the fractionation problem created by the General Allotment Act by providing information and support to individual allottees to consolidate and utilize their lands. In particular, speeding up the appraisal and survey process for which they are responsible.

The Fate of the Badlands South Unit and a Forgotten History

By Jamie Way

The future of the land that now comprises the Southern Unit of Badlands National Park is once again uncertain. Today, the dispute over this land is somewhat more relaxed as the tension of war is no longer looming, but the stakes may be just as high as ever. In the fall of 2008, the National Park Service (NPS) began receiving public input on the creation of a new general management plan for the Badlands National Monument’s Southern Unit, (the Northern portion of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation in South Dakota). The NPS is accepting public input on their proposed options until November 1st, whereupon the fate of this land will once more be determined by someone other than the Lakota.

The Southern Unit has a long history, riddled with controversy and violence. Originally, this land belonged to the Lakota. In 1890, after the Lakota along with their Cheyenne and Arapahoe allies, were massacred by the 7th Cavalry in the battle of Wounded Knee, the survivors fled to what is now the Southern Unit. They took shelter in the natural fortress formed by a butte surrounded by cliffs. The area served as a refuge for those who escaped the cavalry. For this reason, and because Lakota Ghost Dancers were buried in this location, the land came to be considered sacred.

The land could not serve as a refuge forever. Throughout time, the reservation was created and the Oglala inhabited the Southern Unit. Unfortunately, however, right before World War II began, things changed drastically yet again for the inhabitants of the Southern Unit. On July 20, 1942 the War Department advised the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that they would be taking over an area of 40×15 miles across the northern portion of the reservation. While a small portion of this land lay within what was then Badlands National Monument (337 acres), the vast majority of the land was located within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation (nps.gov). The dispossession would impact some 125 Oglala families. And while the dispossessed families were to be supplied with some relocation compensation, assistance and supplies, actual accounts vary as to how much the families received if any at all.

The displacement was messy and created a major crisis on the reservation. While officially, the families would have had 40 days to leave if they were given notice on the same day as the Bureau of Indian affairs (which seems not to be the case most of the time), most believed that they needed to evacuate almost immediately. In fact, archival data reveals that Mr. McDowell, an employee of the land acquisition division of the War Department, had stated that the War Department was taking possession of the land and shooting was to start on August 1st (Roberts 7/7/42).This is even more shocking when you take into account that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was only officially notified of the dispossession twelve days prior. Myrtle Gross, who was displaced during the event, reported that “the Farmer Office” sent a man to tell her to “[g]et out now because the Japs aren’t going to wait!” She said they were then given 30 days to leave, (Archives Search Report 1999, Interview 5). Similarly, Ida Bullman recalls finding out about the evacuation after reading a poster that was displayed at the local store. The store owner told her, “Pack up and leave. They’re going to start shooting at you.” Thus, by the time the information reached the population the impression was given that they were to have well under two weeks (approximately ten days) to evacuate their land.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.

Due to many families’ attachment to the land, Ellen Janis represented her neighbors’ interests and fought for reparations or the return of their land in a series of trips to D.C. to see public officials. During this time, Congressman Francis Case, who had lobbied for the bombing range, acknowledged that the evacuation had created an incredibly difficult situation for many of his constituents, admitting that “[t]he injustice that was done to the people of Pine Ridge is almost beyond comprehension” (Francis Case as represented in Nichols 1960). In 1968, Public Law 90-468 was finally passed, and lands declared excess by the Air Force were to be transferred to the Department of Interior. The law afforded those displaced (whether their land was held in trust or in fee) the possibility of repurchasing the land that had been taken from them if they filed an application with the Secretary of Interior to purchase the tract. This application needed to be filed within a one year window from the date a notice was published in the Federal Register that the tract had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary. Needless to say, the displaced were not properly notified of this option in many cases, in part due to their geographical dispersion. The law also stated that the original inhabitants that wished to repurchase their land were to pay the price the U.S. government had paid for the land, plus interest. Thus, those that decided to repurchase their land explained that they paid much higher prices for the land than they had originally been paid for it when the government confiscated it.

According to Jim Igoe’s BRIDGE report, “By the end of the early 1960s it was clear that Department of the Interior bureaucrats intended that the area should be taken over by a Department of the Interior Agency, and not returned to the Tribe.” The Park Service promised the tribe that by creating the park, they would invigorate the reservation economy through tourism, while the a Senate committee simultaneously strong-armed the tribe threatening to “dispose of the land in question under surplus property agreements if the Tribe refused to lease land,” (Igoe 2004).

The topic was controversial on the reservation, as traditionalists refused to turn over the land. In 1976, the Tribal Council under Chairman Dick Wilson, whose questionable leadership during the AIM struggle on Pine Ridge has solidified his legacy as a harsh and corrupt leader, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service. The Stronghold District of the Badlands National Park, which includes 133,300 acres of land, from this point on has been held by the National Park Service in conjunction with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Over the next 25 years, the relationship between the NPS and some tribal members remained strained. In 2002, relations between the NPS and some tribal members degenerated to the point where a grassroots movement of Lakota defending the burial place of Ghost Dancers, called the Keepers of the Stronghold Dream, felt it necessary to physically occupy the land, guarding it from the invasion of hikers, park visitors and fossil poachers in an attempt to reclaim it (Igoe 2002). Unfortunately, this confrontation settled nothing and the issue remains unresolved to this day.

Currently, the NPS and the tribe both have complaints about how the area is being managed. The NPS complains that they have not been given proper access to manage the site as needed. The tribe feels as though the NPS has not lived up to its promises in the 1976 MOA including filling NPS jobs at the site with tribal members and reintroducing buffalo into the area. Moreover, they are still concerned with fossil poaching and environmental destruction of the region by outsiders. For this reason, many would like to see the land pulled out of the park system entirely.

As is evident in this history, the land was never properly returned to its original owners. While none of the NPS options include returning land to those that were displaced prior to WWII nor giving the land back to the tribe with no obligations, the options do include giving the tribe more control over this portion of their land. Option 2, considered the “preferred option” by the NPS, would have the NPS and the tribe create a “National Tribal Park.” Option 7 would give even greater control (but may create financial issues or have other drawbacks) to the tribe. It would allow the tribe to create and operate an Oglala Sioux Tribal Park. The NPS claims that both Option 2 and Option 7 would require Congressional approval. The reasoning behind this, however, remains unclear. In the original 1976 MOA (which has since been modified), section 21 states that “Any part or parts of this Agreement, including any appendix, may be amended or modified by mutual written consent (between the NPS and tribe) at any time.”

The NPS is currently in the final phase of public meetings and accepting comments. The comment period for this topic will close on November 1, 2010. Please consider this history while attending meetings on this topic or giving your feedback. You can read more about the options at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=117&projectID;=17543&documentID;=35882 and comment at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=117&projectID;=17543&documentID;=35882

www.villageearth.org

Support this Appeal for the Creation of the First Ever Tribal Park in the United States!

The message below was sent to Village Earth by Oglala Lakota Tribal Member, Doris Respect Nothing.
“Dear my friends and family, 

The Badlands National Park has developed a 20-year general management plan (GNP) for the South Unit. Within the GNP, there are seven alternative plans currently proposed. The comment period is now open until October 19th to the public. It is important for the public to review the alternatives and pick one which will help the Lakota people with the current status.

The South Unit is located in our reservation and has been a part of Oglala Lakota history. However, This area was leased to the war department during the WWII for the bombing practice. After the land was turned over to the National Park Service after the war in 1968. Since then, the National Park Service has given permits for the fossil excavation without a proper consultation with the tribal government.
In my opinion, the best alternative is Option 7: Oglala Sioux Tribal Park. This option allows us to protect our cultural and natural resources and restore our relationship with the buffalo nation on our own. With this option, it will guarantee protection of the South Unit from becoming the public lands (Option 1 to 5) as well as possible uranium mining and other threats of development by the tribe (Option 6: deauthorization). 

Please help us establish our own tribal park by making a comment today. If you agree with the Option 7, you could use the sample comment below. Simply copy and paste tin the comment page.

Thank you so much for your support on this matter. Please spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends and family.

Sincerely,
Doris
Sample comment here:  you can copy and paste this sentence to the comment page at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=35882.  Feel free to personalize the comment if you would like.
Dear Badlands National Park,
I would like to support Option 7: Oglala Sioux Tribal Park from the proposed alternatives of the park general management plan. This option allows Oglala Lakota nation to protect their cultural and natural resources and restore their relationship with the buffalo nation. With this option, it will guarantee protection of the South Unit from becoming public lands, which help the nation to fully regain their access to the South Unit. This option also prevents the possible uranium mining and other threats of development in the South Unit. I like to support Lakota nation’s sovereign right to manage the South Unit as a tribal park. This will create many opportunities for the Oglala Lakota people within park management, business and all other aspects of a tribal park. It is important to create a hope for the Oglala Lakota people, especially for the youth who deserve to regain their own identity as Oglala Lakota. Option 7 will serve the best to these purposes, in my opinion.
Thank you.



The Tipi House Project

The Tipi House Project is an alternative housing project in the Wounded Knee District on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Developed by Chris Cuny, lifetime resident of the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Tipi House Project is intended to be a low-cost alternative housing option for residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation or for anyone in the world looking for an alternative to square, stick-built housing. Currently, the Pine Ridge Reservation is experiencing a shortage of several thousand houses and Village Earth seeks to support local solutions to solving this dilemma. The Tipi House is one such effort!
If you would like to support this project, please contact Chris Cuny, P.O. Box 268, Manderson, SD. 57756. Ph. 605-441-3876. Email. [email protected]

 

LAKOTA BUFFALO CARETAKERS COOPERATIVE TO CELEBRATE DONATION & REFLECT ON PROGRESS

On Friday, September 25, members of the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC) will be celebrating the donation of 6 head of buffalo that will be added to their herds. For the 6th consecutive year, Danylchuck Buffalo Ranch, based in Rye, Colorado, will generously donate buffalo to the cooperative. Members of the LBCC will be present at the celebration, making it an exciting opportunity for those interested in learning more about issues of sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, and Lakota ranching ethics. The event will be free and open to the public, held at the Historic Federal Building, 421 North Main Street, Pueblo, CO.

The Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative is 100% Native American owned and operated, making it (to the best of our knowledge) the only Native American run small family cooperative of buffalo caretakers in the United States. The cooperative is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation, located in South Dakota. All of the meat produced by the group comes from buffalo that are raised on open ranges, grazing on wild grass, and respectfully harvested in the field. This culturally significant and ethical approach to meat production supports the members’ overarching commitments to the restoration of the northern plains ecology, self-sufficiency and strengthening the sovereignty and self-determination of the Oglala Lakota Nation and all indigenous peoples.

After becoming incorporated in the state of South Dakota and having its labels approved by the USDA, the LBCC began selling retail meat last January. The cooperative was the progeny of Village Earth’s (a Fort Collins based NGO, which supports sustainable development through empowerment) Adopt-a-Buffalo project. The project was started as part of Village Earth’s larger vision to support Lakota families in reclaiming and utilizing their legally allotted lands. Due to significant legislation produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s, on Pine Ridge Reservation over 60% of individual Native American land is being leased out, primarily by non-tribal members. Through the Adopt-a-Buffalo initiative, Village Earth helped recover over 2000 acres for buffalo restoration, releasing over 82 head of buffalo onto these lands. Due to the historical and spiritual significance of the buffalo for the Lakota people, Village Earth hopes this project will be a significant step in the process of restoring the reservation’s economy and strengthening cultural pride.

If you have more questions about the event, the LBCC, Village Earth, or any of the larger underlying issues, please contact David Bartecchi at (970) 491-0633 or [email protected]

High Country News Features Village Earth’s Work on Pine Ridge

Read about Village Earth’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Aug 31, 2009 edition High Country News, the award winning news magazine that covers the American West’s public lands, water, natural resources, grazing, wilderness, wildlife, logging, politics, communities, growth and other issues now changing the face of the West. From the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast, High Country News’ coverage spans 11 Western states and is the leading source for regional environmental news, analysis and commentary, making it an essential resource for those who care about the West.
The article (above) written by Josh Zaffos, profiles some of the Lakota families that Village Earth has been working with for several years to utilize and protect the remaining lands on the reservation. The article does an excellent job of describing the challenges faced by tribal members and they struggle to utilize their own lands. According to research done by Zaffos, “more than 19,000 members of the Oglala Sioux tribe have claims to more than 203,000 properties.” The article describes some of the history behind this situation.

Under the Dawes Act of 1887, the federal government doled out 160 acres of land to the head of each Indian family at Pine Ridge and other reservations. Congress could sell off any un-allotted lands, while the Bureau of Indian Affairs would maintain a tribal trust fund of revenues from mineral, oil, timber and grazing leases. (That trust fund is the subject of the ongoing lawsuit brought by Blackfeet tribal member Elouise Cobell in 1996.)

Then, in 1906, Congress passed the Burke Act, which allowed the BIA to measure Native Americans’ “competence” to handle their homestead lands, based on ancestry, cultural assimilation — even the length of a person’s hair. The assessments at Pine Ridge underscored official prejudice: By 1915, government agents had classified 56 percent of the Oglala Lakota living on the reservation as “incompetent,” and 700,000 additional acres were sold off before the practice ceased in 1934. Other parcels allotted to “incompetent” Indians were shifted into the leasing system, which has served mostly non-Native ranchers. But “competent” Indians didn’t make out much better, since they were forced to pay taxes on their allotments. Ninety-five percent of these lands were eventually sold to non-Natives for a fraction of their real value.

And the allotment system had lasting cultural impact: By chopping up the land base, it effectively ended communal hunting practices. As the original allottees died and their children inherited the land, parcels were fractionated among dozens — sometimes hundreds — of heirs.

To read the entire article go to http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.15/a-new-land-grab

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