Mining Sovereignty in the Black Hills

Kevin Woster:

Many years ago, the federal courts ruled that the Black Hills of western South Dakota had been taken illegally from the American Indian tribes –

As governor, would you consider transferring Bear Butte State Park land and management to a consortium of American Indian Tribes as a gesture of  reconciliation from the state?

Mike Rounds, Republican candidate in 2006:

“I do not believe that Bear Butte State Park, and it is a state park,
should be transferred to a Native American tribe.

I’m not sure which Native American tribe you might suggest (that) you hold
that they are all sovereign.

SD Governors Discuss Bear Butte

What a convenient point of view.

Drilling to continue

“Judge denies Stay”

“Drilling to continue”


June 20, 2007

Rapid City, SD
— South Dakota Circuit Court Judge John Delaney denied a motion for a stay to stop any further drilling by a Uranium mining company near Edgemont. Opposing parties considering state Supreme Court appeal.

Powertech, a Canadian mining company, began drilling uranium exploratory wells in the Dewey Burdock area northwest of Edgemont a few weeks despite the approval of their permit being appealed in court.  Two environmental organizations, Defenders of the Black Hills and ACTion for the Environment are appealing the decision made by the South Dakota Board of Mining and Environment.  Cindy Gillis, lead counsel for the two groups had previously sought a preliminary injunction and a restraining order.  Judge Delaney denied those requests and said a “stay” was the proper procedure, and one was filed on April 30. A hearing was held on June 19, 2007, in the Pennington County Courthouse and the Judge denied the stay stating there was not enough environmental information to show harm to the plaintiffs.

Charmaine White Face, Coordinator for Defenders, said, “This appeal is about the violation of our Constitutional rights.  Our concerns about the environment were not even considered by the Board during the first hearing in January,” she said. “That’s why we appealed their decision in the first place.  We are not even to the environmental questions yet.”

Mike Rounds, who was a Republican candidate for governor in 2006 stated,
  “I’m not sure which Native American tribe you might suggest (that) you hold
that they are all sovereign.”

It seems to me, that republicans appealing to their own willful ignorance as a false appeal to their own mistaken authority is a sad standard, not to mention appalling in light of what they apply their god-complex-politics to.

God complex

A person is who is said to have a “God complex”, does not believe he is god, but acts so arrogantly that he might as well believe his is God or appointed to act by God.

In addition to South Dakota Circuit Court Judge John Delaney’s decision regarding mining in the Black Hills, I want to highlight Bear Butte with bad and good news.

Here’s the bad news.

prayer atmosphere at Bear Butte (posted June 6 of 2007)

You can contact and ask how you can help. Specifically, contact Carter Camp.

HBO’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (review)

Wounded Knee Massacre & Action Call: Defend The Black Hills (Update & Updated)

Sorry if this is too long. I wrote it when the movie came out. CC 

Review by Carter Camp, AIM, Ponca Nation

Ah-ho My Relations,

It has been a long buildup to the showing of HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”. We read about the good native cast that was being assembled and as the date drew near Indian people were emailing the starting dates and previews to each other. I remember telling my brothers that “I know this will be hard to watch”. I knew that because the book had touched my heart and I knew a movie would be even more emotional. I think everyone was prepared to see a modern, well researched movie that would be as truthful and hard hitting as the book. It seemed all right that they had narrowed the book down to the story of the 1890 massacre of the Lakota at Wounded Knee rather than try to tell the whole book’s many stories of the genocide of Indian people. It promised to be an Indian movie we could be proud of or at least a truthful one to counter some recent stinkers like Pocahontas and Apocalypto.

Of course that may have been wishful thinking on my part seeing as how the book galvanized a generation of Indian people to fight for the redress of the historical wrongs done to our people. The book touched a nerve with tribes across Indian Country and showed us graphically the commonality of our many struggles. The book proved that what was done to our people was a decades long, government inspired, well planned, process of genocide and a movie showing the same was eagerly looked forward to by Indians across the nation. The book was deeply researched and exceptionally careful in its scholarship, Dee Brown was one of the first historians to attempt to examine the native side of the conquest of America.

This movie began with scenes of a screaming bunch of be-feathered warriors charging down a hill and riding in a circle around and around a tightly gathered group of soldiers bravely making a “last stand” against the swarming horde. As anyone knows who has been to the actual Bighorn battlefield the soldiers death sites are scattered over many acres in a big fan shaped area from where it began. It shows that with few exceptions the soldiers were flushed like a covey of quail and died running to escape. As the camera slowly faded from the scene I said “uh-oh, I hope that wasn’t supposed to be Custer getting his arrow shirt”.

It was, damn it all to hell, the movie began with one of the oldest and tiredest of the old, tired Hollywood western stereotypes… suicidal Indian warriors, too dumb to plan battle tactics, letting themselves get picked off one by one by smart white soldiers who take cover while the Indians ride around and around. A sinking sensation began to come over me but I hoped against hope that this was perhaps a counterpoint that would be explained later. That hope was futile, the movie turned out to be full of those types of ignorant stereotypes and to make it worse it was also full of historical mistakes so egregious I doubt the perpetrators even read Dee Browns book! They had the Paiute preacher Wovoka in South Dakota teaching the Lakota how to Ghostdance and the protagonist Eastman devising the Dawes Act! They berated the Lakota for fighting other tribes as if their early displacement by the Ojibway was their fault. Every battle scene shows the Lakota doing their B-western thing and charging straight into superior whitemen shooting superior weapons. We see Lakotas getting blown every which way until they run off and then sue for peace from the superior white officer. I felt like I was back in my 1950’s youth, watching a cowboys and redskins flick!

Worse than some of their historical mistakes was the lack of important historical events like Chief Bigfoot’s desperate, 200 mile flight through the bitter, subzero cold under harassment by the 7th cavalry. These were the women and children that were to be slaughtered at Wounded Knee, after weeks of trudging and freezing they were almost to safety when the cavalry attacked and murdered them. How could they not portray such a major part of the story? Without Bigfoots attempt to save his people from the revenge minded 7th cavalry by leading them to Red Clouds agency seeking refuge, there would not have been a Wounded Knee massacre. They didn’t even make it clear it was Custer’s old outfit that committed the murders.

In this movie it made the massacre seem like a fair fight with Lakota shooting as much as the whites, not showing that our men had been disarmed and only a very few had been able to hide a weapon. It obscured the start and never mentioned, much less portrayed, how so many unarmed women and children were murdered one by one, execution style. It made it look like they were killed in the heat of battle instead of being hunted down like rabbits and shot pointblank by crazed and drunken American heroes. It wasn’t hard to watch, like the murder of innocent children should be, even though a lot blood was splattered. Oh it got graphic with today’s special effects how could it not, but the people didn’t seem real because in this movie Indians have no personalities. Except for Adam Beach in a couple of scenes, Indians were one dimensional and stoic (as always) even Sitting Bull (the main personality of the Indian side) was never given any but the barest of motivations for his lifelong resistance.

Which brings me to my biggest disappointment with the movie, no, I should say what pissed me off the most about this movie. They got everything Indian wrong! They sang Sundance songs at inappropriate times and danced the Ghost Dance before a tree. The small things that make us Tribal people were distorted to make our societies the mirror of theirs. Things like our familial relationships were completely ignored and the fact that we had a governmental structure at all seemed unknown to the scriptwriter and director. That’s racist. It’s as if we were so primitive we lived dog eat dog lives while dictator chiefs ruled us with an iron fist. There were no Clans, no Societies, no Woman’s voice, no respect in a society built on respect. There was no beauty.

Chiefs, the honored leaders of our societies who were chosen by the people because they openly lived their lives above reproach, were shown as venal, greed driven autocrats who held life and death powers over their people. Nothing could be more wrong. In one sickening scene they had Chief Sitting Bull tying up a boy and whipping him unmercifully in front of his wife and family for trying to leave camp! Worse again was the way, all of a sudden when the agent said there would be no Chiefs, all the Indians immediately obeyed him and shunned Chief Sitting Bull and gave him no more allegiance. Again no understanding of Indian society or a Chiefs role in our society. The historical record says the agent, who the movie shows as harshly dictating to an intimidated Chief Sitting Bull, was in reality deathly afraid of the Chief and generally kissed his ass while scheming behind his back. And the truth is the vast majority of Lakota people still revered and respected both Chief Sitting Bull and Chief Red Cloud.

All of us have seen the beautiful way our Chiefs and Headsmen dressed when they had formal meetings with the whiteman or sat in Council for the people. In this movie in scene after scene our most respected leaders were dressed like 1930’s depression era bums! Why the hell was that done? The completely untrue and totally undignified portrayal of Chief Red Cloud must have been done with deliberate malice. He was shown as an overweight, sad and broken old man without dignity nor the respect of his people. The truth is, a more proud, straight and tall example of Lakota pride and dignity cannot be found in all the pictures of that era. We can only ask why? Why the hell would you make a movie like this? Why would you ignore the very book the movie is named after and choose to make a movie from the ignorant 1950’s? Why?

I’m outraged that this movie was foisted upon us under the name of such a respected book. In a different more subtle way this movie is worse and more stereotypical than Mel Gibson’s stupidly violent Apocolypto. This movie disrespects those that died at Wounded Knee in the massacre of 1890, it disrespects those that survived, it disrespects the Lakota Nation and it disrespects Indian people, most of all it disrespects the book and its title. When will they ever learn?

The good news is that the Northern Cheyenne Tribe purchased “36 acres of private land on the west side of Bear Butte.” The article is dated June 12.

Montana tribe buys Bear Butte acreage

BEAR BUTTE – About noon Wednesday, a small tribal delegation replaced a worn U.S. flag near the base of Bear Butte with the blue and white flag representing the Northern Cheyenne people of Montana. As a good neighbor, they said, they plan to keep their land pristine.

Northern Cheyenne Tribe President Eugene Little Coyote led the tribe’s council and other officials in a flag song after buying 36 acres of private land on the west side of Bear Butte.

Little Coyote, 33, said the tribe will not build casinos on its land or commercially develop the property. He said his tribe does not have gambling within its 444,000-acre reservation in Montana and would not develop it at Bear Butte.

In conclusion, a double standard is clearly operating. To illustrate, when uranium is mined for, it is called  promot(ing) economic development through the creation of jobs and tax revenues and the availability of a stable and reliable source of energy.

However, when Alex White Plume tried to grow hemp:


Alex White Plume, a Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, has grown industrial hemp on his land since 2000. That year, the DEA, with helicopters and machine guns, confiscated the crop (legal in the sovereign nation in which it was grown), costing taxpayers more than $200,000.00.

In 2001, the DEA came only with side arms and weed eaters, this time simply destroying the crop.

In 2002, Alex and his family again planted fields of industrial hemp, but were unable to complete their contract by delivering the crop to the Madison Hemp and Flax Co., because U.S. District Judge Battey (in Rapid City, So. Dak.), issued a civil injunction stating that if Alex so much as touches his hemp, he will be held in contempt of court and jailed for up to six months without a trial or a jury. As a result, the hemp was cut and piled by people unknown; the pile lying in silent testimony between Alex and the Madison Hemp & Flax buyer Craig Lee, both barred from touching it by the government. Delivery was made, but the deliveree could not accept the product.

It’s called illegal, even though it is

Lakota Hemp Days came from that.

Here are the comments that information came from.


The 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty left control of agriculture on reservation land to the tribes.

On Nov. 21, 2001, the The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council enacted regulations allowing licenses fornon-psychoactive hemp to be grown on reservation.

A long legal battle ensued, thus far not favorable to the White Plume family, who’ve attempted to grow and market a hemp crop. 2002 interview with Alex White Pluume

6th Annual Lakota Hemp Days August 21-23, Kiza Park, by Wounded Knee Creek.

Thankyou ben masel.

Uranium is not only what is being mined in my opinion – tribal sovereignty is.

Concerned people are trying to get the message out through the media, so I’ll end this diary with this video.


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  1. god-complex-politics. Imagine that.

  2. The link for Defend Bear Butte is and has been down for a while, maybe a couple months. Doesn’t seem to be very “temporary.”

    • dkmich on October 13, 2007 at 21:29

    Land, sea/lakes, and air should belong to the people. 

  3. Custer’s Pipeline

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