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Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
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Subjects / Keywords: Lakota
Environmental Justice
Black Hills
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theses   ( marcgt )
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Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: From the beginnings of what has been defined as the Environmental Justice Movement in the United States, public attention has been primarily focused on injustices based on race and class involving exposure to polluted air, water, toxic wastes, and dangerous working conditions. Since the 1800's, the Black Hills have been at the center of a bitter dispute between the United States federal government and Native inhabitants of the region. The history of the Black Hills land dispute is intertwined with a history of land dispossession, marginalization, and discriminatory federal policies. For the Lakota and other Native communities to whom the Black Hills represent sacred ground, natural resources, and an integral aspect of cultural identity, these federal policies have greatly defined the last two centuries of existence. For well over a hundred years, the government has denied negotiations for the return of the Black Hills. The Lakota have continued to reject monetary compensation and maintain that the Black Hills are not for sale. In this thesis, I focus on the case study of the Lakota, how it is representative of larger issues within environmental justice, and how it illustrates the need for a broader understanding of environmental justice that includes deeper consideration of historical processes and cultural differences.
Statement of Responsibility: by Olivia Brockmeier
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Dean, Erin

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Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Brockmeier, Olivia
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2013
Publication Date: 2013


Subjects / Keywords: Lakota
Environmental Justice
Black Hills
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: From the beginnings of what has been defined as the Environmental Justice Movement in the United States, public attention has been primarily focused on injustices based on race and class involving exposure to polluted air, water, toxic wastes, and dangerous working conditions. Since the 1800's, the Black Hills have been at the center of a bitter dispute between the United States federal government and Native inhabitants of the region. The history of the Black Hills land dispute is intertwined with a history of land dispossession, marginalization, and discriminatory federal policies. For the Lakota and other Native communities to whom the Black Hills represent sacred ground, natural resources, and an integral aspect of cultural identity, these federal policies have greatly defined the last two centuries of existence. For well over a hundred years, the government has denied negotiations for the return of the Black Hills. The Lakota have continued to reject monetary compensation and maintain that the Black Hills are not for sale. In this thesis, I focus on the case study of the Lakota, how it is representative of larger issues within environmental justice, and how it illustrates the need for a broader understanding of environmental justice that includes deeper consideration of historical processes and cultural differences.
Statement of Responsibility: by Olivia Brockmeier
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Dean, Erin

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2013 B86
System ID: NCFE004722:00001

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T : ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN LAKOTA COUNTRY BY OLIVIA BROCKMEIER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida I n partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Erin Dean Sarasota, Florida May 2013


ii DEDICATION For the Lakota and all Native peoples that have endured in the face of great adversity. To the young The old The living And the dead To our brothers and sisters in all living things across Mother Earth and Her beauty we've destroyed and denied the honour that the Creator has given Each individual: The truth that lies in our hearts All my relations Ulali


iii P R E F A C E I recently saw a documentary that characterized genocidal campaigns as occurring in five stages: identification, ostracization, con fiscation, concentration, and finally annihilation ( J a r e c k i 2 0 1 2 ) In light of spending the past two semesters writing this thesis, it struck me how clearly these stages have occurred in the case of the Lakota, and indeed in the case of American Indians in general. As th e U.S. government expanded westward, the first stage of identification was fairly straightforward: the Indians were in the way because they occupied lands that the United States wanted access to. They were identified as a national enemy not just because they were unwilling to passively give up their land and resources, but also because they were unwilling to give up their culture and livelihoods, which were different from what was familiar to the Western world. In stage two, ostracization, the federal gov ernment pursued land and resources while dehumanizing and excluding Native peoples from any meaningful negotiation process, and additionally by alienating Native communities in order to divide and conquer. It was widely accepted in Western society that Nat ive cultures were inferior to their own. In stage three, confiscation, the United States took what they wanted by extortion and by force. In stage four, concentration, Native peoples were confined to reservations, which often represented the most ba rren lands that the U.S. had no interest in. The final stage annihilation has taken many forms. The most literal form of extinguishment occurred in such instances as the Wounded Knee Massacre, and on other numerous occasions of physical violence and br utality throughout the history of U.S. Indian relations. However, annihilation has taken other less dramatic, but equally tragic, forms. The policies of assimilation for example, denying rights to traditional subsistence, allotment policies,


iv banning trad itional religious practices, confiscating children from their families and placing them in government and church run boarding schools, and denial of sovereignty, self determination, and self sufficiency and the social, economic, and political marginaliza tion that have resulted in gre at hardships for Native peoples T hese represent the annihilation in slow motion. Although the primary purpose of this thesis has not been to assign this case study as a genocide, this illustrates that though the progression of such history is not necessarily carefully devised and planned by groups or individuals injustice tends to behave in a cumulative manner and contemporary realities of injustice cannot be resolved without understanding their past and roots. Acknowledging a nd understanding this past is the first step towards resolution.


v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS To all those who have helped me on this journey, I would like to extend my deepest thanks. To my parents, I am grateful for the life you have given me, for bringing me up well, for teaching me wha t it means to be a good person, and for loving me unconditionally. And to the rest of my wonderful family, thank you for sharing so much with me and for offering me endless support and encouragement. To Erin Dean, for walking me through my last year a New College and providing m e with the support, feedback, and reassurance that kept me going. Without her encouragement I would probably never have completed this thesis. To Heidi Harley and Ivan Ramirez, for their willingness to serve on my comm ittee and help me down the final str etch, and to all of the teachers who have enriched my college experience. To my beautiful friends, who have been there for me through thick and thin; I am forever To Sophie and Manna : all o f the laughing, crying, and longs hours of work we shared were worth it (I also owe my sanity to you). To Colt: thank you for showing me the captivating beauty of the Black Hills. To Amanda: thank you for y o u r e p i c f o r m a t t i n g f e a t all o f the chocolate and fo r a friendship I hold dear to my heart. And to everyone else, you know who you are. I love you all and I am endlessly grateful to have you in my life. To all of the challenges and difficulties all of the laughter and bliss, all of the growth and change that the past four years ha ve brought me I am grateful for every lesson I have been given.


vii MENTAL JUSTICE IN LAKOTA COUNTRY Olivia Brockmeier New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT F rom the beginnings of what has been defined as the Environmental Justice M ovement in the United States, public attention has been primarily focused on injustices based on race and class involving exposure to polluted air, water, toxic wastes, and dangerous working conditions of a bitter dispute between the United States federal government and Native inhabitants of the region. The history of the Black Hills land dispute is intertwined with a history of land dispossession, marginalization, and discriminatory federal policies. For the Lakota and other Native communities to whom the Black Hills represent sacred ground natural resources, and an integral aspect of cultural identity, these federal policies have greatly defined the last two centuries of existence. For well over a hundred years, the government has denied negotiations for the return of the Black Hills. The Lakota have continued to reject monetary compensation and maintain that the Black Hills are not for sale. In this thesis, I focus on the case study of t he Lakota, how it is representative of larger issues within environmental justice, and how it illustrates the need for a broader understanding of environmental justice that includes deeper con sideration of historical processes a n d c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s Dr. Erin Dean Divis ion of Social Science


1 INTRODUCTION To the American public, the Black Hills conjure up images of Mount Rushmore, gold mining, pioneer gambling towns, and rich natural beauty. The land itself is inconceivably ancient; the geological formation is what remains of a mountain range that began forming 40 to 60 million years ago (AllTrips: Black Hills South Dakota 2013). The contributed greatly to national wealth. However, long before the westwar d migration of European immigrants, the Hills were home to a number of Native peoples and played an important role in their cultures spirituality, and livelihoods. The anthropogenic history of this region reaches back at least se veral thousand years. S inc have been at the center of a bitter dispute between the U nited States federal government and Native inhabitants of the reg ion. The Lakota have been one of the primary parties involved since the very beginnings of this land dis pute, and they continue to participate on the frontlines as it endures into the twenty first century. The history of the Black Hills land dispute is intertwined with a history of land dispossession, marginalization, and discriminatory federal policies. Fo r the Lakota and other Native communities, these federal policies have greatly defined the last two centuries of existence. Historic and c ontemporary actions of the government have been characterized by a notable lack of redress and u nwillingness to negoti ate with Native nations. Equally distressing is the pervasive societal ignorance concerning the contemporary state of affairs on modern Indian reservations, conditions which are a


2 consequence of both hist oric Euro American relations and the current imposit ion of socioeconomic systems and federal policies that continue to perpetuate these injustices. In choosing to address federal Indian policy and how it manifests in historic and contemporary environmental justice I was inspired more than anything by my o wn ignorance of the topic as a fourth year Environmental Studies student at a reputable learning institute such as New College of Florida. Although in recent decades there has been an increasing focus on social justice in the realm of Environmental Studies it is my experience that a large body o f issues, such as this one, have been widely overlooked and often blatantly ignored by dominant society. For this reason, I focus on the case study of t he Black Hills land dispute, how it is representative of larger issues within environmental justice and how it illustrates the need for a broader understa nding of environmental justice that includes deeper consideration of historical processes and cultural differences To begin with, we must first define what is mean Perhaps a definitive, universally accepted answer to this question will never exist; however, this phrase has been used widely in media, academic research, campaigns, and policy making. Most importantly, it is the nam e that has been given to a political and social movement. The Environmental J ustice M ovement in many ways precipitated out of the convergence of the environmental and social justice movements. E nvironmental M ovement has been widely criticized for its limited activist agenda fraught with racist and classist undertones and the Environmental Justice Movement represents an attempt to address these shortcomings


3 (Sandler and Pezzullo 2007:2). The Environmental Protection Agenc y defines environmental justice in the following way : Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcem ent of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2012). In October of 1991, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit took place in Washington D.C. Abou t a thousand individuals attended, including delegates from across the United States, Canada, Latin America, and elsewhere. The Summit was a momentous event in e nvironmental justice history, resulting in the birth of a multi issue international movement. A t its culmination, Summit delegates adopted the Environmental J ustice defining document for the future direction of the Environmental J ustice M ovement (Sandler and Pezzullo 2007:4 5). Principles defined in this document are not limited to addressing environmental racism, exposure to environmental hazards, and access to resources. They extend to spiritual and ecological commitments; respect for diverse cultures, languages, and beliefs; the right to self determination; promotion of economic alternatives that offer the possibility of healthy and sustainable lifestyles; and securing the freedoms denied to many by five hundred years of colonization (EJnet 1991). It is clear however, based on these princ iples and the way they have been interpreted by different parties, that there remains a contested understanding of e nvironmental justice In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 otherwise Environmen tal J ustice in Minority


4 Populations and Low must identify and address environmental concerns within their activities. Thi s document essentially defines e nvironmental injustice in the cont adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low income populations in the United States and it There has been significant critique re garding the actual effectiveness of this legislation in terms of federal policy action to date and how successful it has been in managing bureaucratic behavior (Gerber 2002:42). However, I believe the content and execution of Executive Order 12898 also dem and attention. How thoroughly did it seek to address the Principles of Environmental J ustice laid out during the 1991 Summit specifically those that apply to past and present federal Indian policies and the environmental injustices that they have created? According to Executive Order 12898, the development of agency e nvironmental justice strategies should include revisions to their current programs and policies to include the following: (1) promote enforcement of all health and environmental statutes in areas w ith minority populations and low income populations (2) ensure greater public participation (3) improve research and data collection relating to the health of and environment of minority populations and low income populations (4) identify differential patterns of c onsumption of natural resources among minority populations and low income populations activities that substantially affect human health or the environment, in a manner that ensures that such programs, policies, and activities do not have the effect of excluding


5 persons (including populations) from participation in, denying persons (including populations) the benefits of, or subjecting persons (including populations) to d iscrimination under, such programs, policies, and activities, because of their race, color, Executive Order 12898 was conceived as a reaction to growing advocacy for addressing links between race/class and exposure to environmental hazards. This legislation aims to address injustice within existing federal laws and bureaucratic activity (Gerber 2002:43). However, it does not address historical policies that have contributed significantly to root problems. T his lack of action has particularly grim implications for American Indian communities, for whom historic federal policies have in many cases meant forced land dispossession and relocation, denial of natural and cultural resources, forced assimilation and i mposition of subsistence strategies and other such negative impacts. Over the past two centuries, these policies have created massive environmental injustice and a legacy that hangs heavily over American Indian communities today. The application of this l egislation has focused almost exclusively on exposure of communities to environmental hazards, generally in the form of toxic substances and undesirable land uses. The interagency working group formed to oversee the implementation of EO 12898 was comprised of the heads of relevant federal agencies and chaired by the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An assessment Political Science examined all final rules in the U .S Federal Register that cited EO 12898 between 1994 and 2002. Results indicated that nearly 95 percent of rules citing the order were authored by the EPA. Roughly 68.40 percent of these rules concerned the


6 establishment of pesticide tolerance levels, and the next most frequent category was air pollution, representing only 8.65 percent. Other issues included hazardous waste and hazardous waste siting, drinking water, surface water, transportation, procedural actions, flood control and disaster planning, tox ics (including solid waste), biotechnology and endangered species, housing, and nuclear waste/general energy (Gerber 2002:45 46, 48 50). Though this list seems long, it is far from inclusive, suggesting that t he nature and application of EO 12898 represent s a very shallow interpretation of e nvironmental justice This narrow focus extends beyond specific legislation; f rom the beginnings of what has been defined as the Environmental J ustice M ovement in the United States, public attention has been primarily f ocused on injustices based on race and class involving exposure to polluted air, water, toxic wastes, and dangerous working conditions (Newton 2009:3). However, m any injustices exist that are deeply ingrained in our current social and economic systems. In the case of the Lakota, I would argue that deprivation of land, culture, and livelihood also falls into the category of environmental injustice and demands the social responsibility of those participating in the systems that have cause d the injustice. For the N ative peoples in the land we call the United States, these injustices manifest in a legacy of imperialism, exploitation, capitalism, and cultural hegemony. While I do not wish to denigrate issues such as toxic exposure that have stolen the show in con temporary environmental justice dialogue, I think it is vital to include a more holistic discussion of injustices. For the Lakota, the patterns of social domination and marginalization which characterize their historic relationship with the United States have resulted in a condition


7 of determination and destruction of self sufficiency. Because the historical patterns of social domination and marginalization exerted on the Lakota are so deeply intertwined with land and resource control, destruction of traditional livelihoods, and denial of self determination and general well being the injustice it has created should indeed be considered in the realm of environmental justice. In the cont ext of socioeconomic status and quality of life indicators American Indians are one of the most disadvantaged racial groups in the United States (Frantz 1999:105). According to the USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectan cy of any group in the United States. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, r ates of disease and alcoholism are significantly higher than the national average and m any residents live without adequate access to healthcare. Homeless populatio ns are high and homes are often unsafe severely overcrowded and lack basic water, sewage, and electricity There is no public transportation available on the reservation, and many residents own a functioning automobile. In addition, much of the lan d and water is contaminated with toxins associated with mining and farming operations, closed military bombing ranges, and open dumps. Little industry exists on the reservation and unemployment is about ten times the national average The residents of Pine Ridge are unfortunately not unique. Despite the fact that the United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, its wealth is not experienced equally by all. Many residents of reservations throughout the nation live in conditions comp arable to Third World countries (Schwartz 2006).


8 By outlining the historical relationship between the Lakota and the U.S. federal government in Chapters 1 and 2, I attempt convey some understanding of the relationship between these historical actions and policies an d how they have compromised self sufficiency and self determinatio n in Lakota communities today It would be impossible for me to paint a complete and accurate picture of the current state of affairs within the pages of this thesis, and it is not an effort to detail cause and effect. However, I hope to at least open the door through my own research to some of the realities that are generally not taught in school or talked about in the media. Chapter 3 explores some of the modern implications of the history discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, as well as contemporary actors in the scene and domestic and international reactions to issues t hat surface in previous chapters. The Conclusion explores the recent status and the potential future of the land dispute. Throug h this case study I will illustrate that the dominant per ception that e nvironmental justice is primarily a matter of industrial pollution and exposure to hazardous wastes is erroneous and troubling. Simply pointing a finger at race culture, and socioecono mic status when considering injustice is dangerous and often counterproductive. These problems all have historical roots that cannot be ignored if holistic solutions are to truly be embraced.


9 C HAPTER 1: When Cultures Collide a History of U.S. Lakota Relations The Black Hills Risi ng up from the Great Plains, an ancient mountain range extends across western South Dakota into the state of Wyoming. The geologic formation covers an area 125 miles long and 65 miles wide (U.S. Forest Service 2013). To the Lakota, it is called Paha Sapa and other Native American cultures have known it by many names. But in English it is called the Black Hills. The geology of the region is complex and somewhat of an anomaly. The Black Hills region contain s a multitude of un ique geological features (AllTrips: Black Hills South Dakota 2013). The ecology of the Black Hills is also rich and complex, but it has changed dramatically since Euro American settlement. The primary arboreal ecosystem is dominated by ponderosa pine, which reach their easternmost range in the Black Hills, and areas of lush grasslands are scattered throughout (Terry 2009:18 23). Since Euro American settlement, the landscape and n atural cycles have been altered dramatically by over harvesting of trees, intensive grazing, fire suppression, mining, and other anthropogenic stresses. Some noticeable impacts also include a decrease in biodiversity, as well as increased vulnerability of ecosystems to insects, disease, and wildfires (U.S. Forest Service 2011).


10 In addition to the human populations that have resided in the Black Hills for thousands of years, the region has also been an important habitat for a diverse array of wildlife. The r egion has been known for its populations of trout and big game animals such as deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, buffalo ( American bison ) and elk as well as a host of smaller mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, an d other predators also roam the Hills (Terry 2009:18 23). At the time of European contact, several tribes called the Black Hills region and the surrounding areas home. Evidence indicates that the region has been inhabited by Native Americans for over 6,000 years. Small groups of nomadic hunters and gatherers roamed the region during the Early Archaic period, and more recent residents included the Cheyenne, Crow, Kiowa, Ponca, and the Lakota. At the time of European contact, the Lakota had become the dominan t culture of the Black Hills. Today, many U.S. citizens of primarily European descent also inhabit the region (Terry 2009:32). The Lakota Although multiple Native American tribes have cultural and historical connections to the Black Hills region, for the purpose of this thesis I have chosen to focus primarily on the Lakota and their relationship with the U.S. government and Euro American Black Hills residents. The Lakota are also often referred to as Sioux. The Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin (the Se ven Council Fires), includes a group self governing tribes speaking three distinct dialects of the Siouan language: Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota. The Lakota, also referred to as the Western Teton or Tituwan Sioux, traditionally inhabited lands ranging from t he Rocky Mountains to east of the Missouri


11 River valley. The Lakota represented the westernmost of the Siouan language groups and consisted of seven bands, or sub groups: Oglala, M i niconjou, Sicangu ( Brul) Sihasapa ( Black Feet) Oohenunpa ( Two Kettles) Hunkpapa, and Itazipco ( Sans Arc) (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe 2013 Witkin New Holy 1997:1 appropriated by the French from the Chippewa (Ojibwa) term Na dou esse meaning word eventually shortened to Sioux The English, and late r the United States, adopted this term. However, many tribal members find the term derogatory and prefer to use names with which they self identify. These names are often bas ed on band names, reservation of origin, and linguistic group (Gibbon 2011). In this thesis, I generally use the designation Today the Sioux tribes live on several reservations throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Canada. The Lakota primarily inhabit the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, and Crow Creek Reservations in South Dakota (the Standing Rock Reservation also extends into North Dakota) (U.S. Department of the Interior 2013). The Lakota reservations that exist today make up only a small fr action of the original Great Sioux Reservation designated in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, let alone their traditional rangelands. Many aspects of Lakota identity and culture have been sh aped by a relationship between the people and the land. In Lakota cosmology, Paha Sapa, or the Black Hills, through cataclysmic cleansing of the earth. According to th eir origin story, the Lakota people emerged from the earth within the Hills (Little Dog 1994). The Black Hills


12 represent both sacred ground and an integral aspect of cultural identity to the Lakota, and the Black Hills and opposition to their return represents a gross injustic e against the Lakota and other N ative inhabitants of the region. However, the case of the Black Hills is also representative of a long and complex history of exploitation, land dispo ssession, and cultural imperialism that far from being just a sad but inevitable fact of history continue s to contribute to the modern hardships of the Lakota and other N ative peoples. Two conflicting narratives exist explaining the presence of the Lakot a people in the Black Hills. The first is a tale of westward expansion a popular explanation adopted by many mainstream scholars and historians. This version of early Lakota history attempts to draw legitimacy from written documents and archaeological evid ence. The second is an oral history that recounts the origins of the Lakota people in the Black Hills themselves. This version uses oral tradition as well as alternative interpretations of written documents and archaeological evidence (Kurkiala 2002:447, 4 55). published by George Hyde in 1937, is generally accepted by anthropologists as an accurate tribal history of the Oglala Lakota, though he has been criticized for minimal discussion of Native Amer ican Sioux tribes were living at the headwaters of the Mississippi in a loose federation. In the seventeenth century, a migration including the Teton (Lakota) and the Yank ton (Western Dakota) Sioux occurred. This movement was likely spurred by the acquisition of guns by neighboring Cree enemies. The Lakota are believed to have migrated north to Minnesota, then gradually westward, crossing the Missouri River (Hyde 1937:3, 7 8, 11). At this


13 time, the people were moving in small, numerous camps and Oglala and Brul bands of Lakota migrated westward in order to follow the shifting buffalo herds while other bands appear to have been residing in the wooded upper Valley of the Minn esota River, crossing the Missouri at a somewhat later date. Having not yet acquired many horses, they travelled primarily on foot and transported equipment from camp to camp with the help of their dogs (H yde 1937:11 12, 18). By the mid to late eighteenth c entury, many of the Lakota led by the Oglalas had advanced westward further reaching the Black Hills sometime around 1775. Once across the Missouri, the Oglalas pushed into the open plains, where they rapidly obtained horses. The Oglalas and the Bruls invaded the Black Hills, displacing several tribes. According to this narrative, t heir expansion westward was one of conquest and often aggressive when other tribes were encountered. Other bands continued to linger east of the Missouri. By the time Lewis and Clark travelled up the Missouri River in 1804, several other bands of Lakota had crossed the Missouri River (Hyde 1937:20 21, 28 29). The Cheyenne, who migrated to the Plains region during roughly the same time period, established a trade relationship with their Lakota neighbors and gave them horses. To the newly mounted Lakota, their growing horse herds became a foundation of power. By the late eighteenth century, the Lakota had thoroughly adopted a mounted way of life and were able to invade land bet ween the Missouri and Platte Rivers in order to access prime buffalo range. By the early eighteenth century, the Lakota held the Black Hills region and had forged alliances with their Arapahoe and northern Cheyenne neighbors and made bitter enemies of othe rs, such as the Crow nation. They had mastered mounted hunting and become the dominant power of the northern Plains (Hamalainen 2003:859


14 860). The Sioux were first mentioned by white explorers around 1640, and at the time were hunting, fishing, and gatheri ng in the western Great Lakes region (Steinmetz 1998:3). This is the story most mainstream scholars and historians tell, however, Lakota oral tradition reveals a very different perspective of their origins. According to tribal history, the Lakota have res ided in the Black Hills since time immemorial. One version of their origin story claims that the Lakota people were born in caves of the Black Hills, a place called this was the locat ion now known as Wind Cave. Some proponents of this view place the Lakota in the Black Hills region for at least 10,000 years. Robert Gay, a former instructor at the Oglala Lakota College, states that the western expansion theory may be true from some Siou x tribes, but that there is little scientific data supporting the theory that the Oglala Lakota originated in the eastern woodlands (Kurkilala 2002:449). In addition to oral history, the Lakota kept pictorial calendars of tribal records known as waniyetu i yawapi or winter counts, which counted back the winters from the present to as far back as memory allowed. Each winter was represented by a pictograph that illustrated an important event for which that year was named. Generation pictographs were used to r epresent time preceding yearly counts, taking Lakota history back to time before they were introduced to horse (Walker 1982:112). According to Gay, Lakota oral history and winter counts place them in the Black Hills region as far back as 900 A.D. Many who accept this narrative believe that Lakota claim to the Black Hills has not only historical basis, but is also based on a sacred design in which they were placed there by Wakan


15 Tanka the Great Spirit. As a result, Lakota spirituality is tied to certain sac red p laces in the Black Hills (Kurki ala 2002:449 451). In an article published in a 2002 edition of Critique of Anthropology Mikael Kurkiala points out that these two versions are not necessarily in complete disagreement with one another, but certainly ra ise important questions about aspects of Lakota history that remain unanswered. Kurkiala leads a very insightful discussion on the concept of truth as it pertains to the discourse of history. He gives examples illustrating the concept that the production o f truth is directly related to the questions asked. Kurkiala quotes basis of a presumed m presented are only conflicting if it assumed that they are answering the same question, which often such narratives do not. In sum, assigning the logic of Western historiography to the Lakota v ersion of their origins in the Black Hills creates conflict because the form of inquiry does not match the method for answering (2002:452 455). The conflict perceived between these two narratives has, however, been relevant to the Black Hills land dispute They have been used by proponents of both sides as evidence that one party holds a more legitimate claim to the land than the other. Many have cast the conflict superficially in regards the approximate date that the Lakotas arrived in the Black Hills, an d such interpretations have had profound impacts on the ongoing battle over the land (Kurkiala 2002:447). This is illustrated in a speech given by Wilmer Stampede Mesteth, an Oglala Lakota, who spoke in a panel discussion entitled Environmental J ustice an


16 Mesteth highlights the fact that those in opposition to returning the Black Hills to the Lakota people have used the argument that because the Western historical narrative appears to conflict with t he narrative that Lakota oral history presents, the Lakota hold no legitimate claim to the Black Hills, thus implying that the United States government should be entitled to keeping the land. The way in which the Lakota regard their relationship to the lan cribed by Western academics, Lakota histor y and heritage are bound to the land (2002) In his book, Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian M anifesto Vine Deloria, Jr. highlights the danger that academia and anthropology pose to Native American peoples. Many policies and pr ogram s that h ave been imposed on N ative peoples can be traced back to some justification furnished by anthropologists and academics Deloria criticizes anthropologists for their historical tendency to conduct research on Indian reservations g them into static categories and delegitimizing any variations that may exist in the past, present, and future. He also mass of irrelevant information that the total impa ct of the scholarly community on Indian 82). As the discussion of Lakota origins has shown, conclusions drawn by anthropologists historians, and academics have very real implications in the trajectory of policy decisions and have the potential to pose real threat to N determination and cultural evolution.


17 In the Lakota language, the Black Hills go by two names. The first, Paha Sapa meanings: Pa describes the mountains emerging from the earth. Paha Sapa all together gives you a picture and a description of our sacred mountains as seen from a distance. The Ponderosa Pine gives the illusion of black from a distance and the mountains given is (or He Sapa what the sacred mountains look like close up, with the white stone cliffs, the meadows and the trees and the valleys. Therefore, you know it is holy ). Lakota tradition maintains deep religious ties to Paha Sapa and surrounding landmarks, and many sites are considered sacred. In national dialog ues of sacred geography, conflict has often arisen around inconsistent understandings of what defines a sacred site. In Judeo Christian religions, it is generally an organized church that represents the religion; however, within many American Indian religi ons, places where sacred events occur take on sacred meaning of their own. The significance of place holds fundamental importance and many tribal religions cannot exist in the absence of such holy and irreplaceable sites. Many such sites hold ritual and ce remonial significance and are utilized by subsequent generations (Winter 2010:73 74). For the Lakota, their dispossession of the Black Hills is not merely an economic hardship; the land represents sacred ground and cultural identity.


18 Early Relations B et ween t he Lakota and the U.S. Government In 1805, the Lakota entered into their first treaty agreement with the Uni ted States, in which Lieutenant Zebulon Pike obtained permission to build several military posts in exchange for $2,000 or the equivalent in m erchandise (Hanson 1980:469). Generally, the first white men t o arrive in the Black Hills in the late eighteenth century were tolerated by the Lakota. However, in 1819, an outbreak of mea sles and smallpox ravaged many N ative peoples in the region. By 1822, a trading post had been established by white pioneers and the U.S. Army had launched their policy of setting Indians in the region against one another. In 1837, another more devastating smallpox epidemic plagued Indians all over the Great Plains, and the thousands of Indian deaths intensified growing resentments th at N ative peoples held toward encroaching white pioneers. Around this time, many such pioneers were migrating westward to seek gold in Oregon and California, marching through Lakota hunting groun ds with their wagons along the way and putting increasing pressure on elk and buffalo populations. In the wake of costly wars that had recently been waged with Southeastern Indian tribes, the U.S. government was eager to ensure the safety of the pioneers, traders, and trappers travelling through Great Plains Indian territory and sought to establish a policy of friendship with the Lakota. The result was the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, which established territorial claims among several tribes, ensured safe pass age for white migrants, and secured approval for the construction of certain roads and forts (Matthiessen 1983:5 7). In 1866 the government organized an expedition to initiate the construction of the Bozeman Trail, which would cut through Lakota territory into Montana. An Oglala Lakota war leader named Red Cloud adamantly opposed this road, which was built


1 9 culminated in a series of armed conflicts over control of the Powder River reg ion in northern Wyoming between the Lakota and their allies and the United States. The government sued for peace with the Sioux N ation, but Red Cloud refused to negotiate until the wagon roads and forts along the Bozeman Trail had been abandoned. The resul t of these negotiations was the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (Matthiessen 1983:5 7). The treaty served as a peace agreement and established the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation. The treaty states that all reservation lands on the east bank of the set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and solemnly agrees that no persons except those herein designated and authorized so to do, and ex cept such officers, agents, and employs of the Government as may be authorized to enter upon Indian reservations in discharge of duties enjoined by law, shall ever be the Lakota officially relinquished all rights to permanently occupy land beyond what was North Platte, and on the Republican Fork of the Smoky Hill River, so long as t he buffalo provide additional arable land if reservation lands did not provide enough tillable land to support those authorized to live on it. The treaty also stipulate d that any tribal member over the age of eighteen that wished to engage in agriculture would be e ntitled to land as well as seeds, agricultu ral implements, and instruction. I t promised yearly allotments of clothing and money for the first thirty years, as well as food, livestock, goods, and


20 education. The Lakota agreed that they would cease opposition to the construction of railroads outside of their reservation and would not attack, capture, or disturb United States citizens or their property (Kappler 1904 ) Article 12 of this treaty, which has proved critical in the Black Hills land dispute, states the following: No treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the reservation herein described which may be held in common shall be of any validity or for ce as against the said Indians, unless executed and signed by at least three fourths of all the adult male Indians, occupying or interested in the same; and no cession by the tribe shall be understood or construed in such manner as to deprive, without his consent, any individual member of the tribe of his rights to any tract of land selected by him, as provid ed in article 6 of this treaty (Kappler 1904). essentially to assimilate them into Euro American culture ; f or example, by inducing them to take up farming, wear non Indians clothing, and subject ing their children to white education Congress felt that it their colo nial European forebears. The treaty also ensured that the Indians would be compelled to withdraw from the plains of Nebraska and Kansas, ensuring safe settlement of the country and construction of the railroad, which the government perceived as essential f or westward expansion (Matthiessen 1983:8). These attitudes were fueled by the belief in manifest destiny the idea that the United States was destined to conquer and expand westward across the continent that was generally held by the United States in the nineteenth century (Andersson 2008:1 2). as the had a serious caveat. For the Lakota and for many other Plain s tribes, buffalo represented a primary source of


21 livelihood for food tools, clothing, and shelter An estimated 60 million of these animals roamed North America at the time of European contact. By 1880, this number had dwindled to less than 400,000, and by 1895 the population dropped to less than 1,000 animals (Mihesuah 1996:30). This decline occurred due to a combination of factors including increased competition for grazing lands that followed the introduction of horses and cattle to the continent, in creased hunting pressure due to population spikes and trade economy that Euro Americans induced, and environmental conditions. However, in large part, the dwindling population could be attributed to policies implemented when the U.S. Army pushed into Plain s territory, bringing with them railroads and pioneers. It was believed by some that the elimination of bison would mean the elimination of Indians, and their policy of extermination was nearly successful (Hamalainen 2003:844 845). C onflict O ver the Blac k Hills It was not long before the United States breached the agreements of the 1868 Treaty. In 1874, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer of the United States Army led a company of nearly a thousand soldiers and a train of over a hundred wagons into Lakota Territory with the declared mission of exploring uncharted terrain Officially, this expedition backed by President Grant himself was in search of military routes through the region (Hyde 1937:217 218, Patric 2003:36). However, Custer had requested several seeking gold in the Black Hills (he had even financed the miners himself). The miners did in fact find what they were looking for, and it was not long before newspapers across the nation had picked up word of the Black Hills gold. A report written by William Curtis


22 that appeared in an edition of the Chicago Inter Ocean permit this region so rich in treasure, to remain...unoc cupied, merely to furnish the dians should be extinguished as soon eager to move into the Black Hills and exploit the resources that lay within. In disregard of treaty obligations laid out in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, swarms of gold prospectors began to flow into Lakota Territory (Patric 2003:37 41). Under the terms of the treaty, it was the responsibility of the United States government to keep these white settlers at bay. However, in an 1875 c onfidential correspondence between Lieutenant General Philip H. Sheridan, who was at the time serving as a military commander in Missouri, and Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry, commander of the Department of Dakota, Sheridan indicated that although he was not rescinding the terms forbidding the your Department to assume such attitude s as will meet the views of the President in this Army, William Tecumseh Sherman, indicated that though Sherman thought the order would cause trouble in Lakota Territory, h qtd in LaVelle 2001:44 45).


23 white settlers grew practical thing to do was to secure access to the Black Hills for mining and settlement. They decided it was necessary to seize ownership of the Black Hills from the Native tribes (LaVelle 200 1:47 48). When the U.S. government sent a commission from Washington that sought to convince the Lakota to give up the Black Hills, the Lakota were appalled by the suggestion of desecrating the sacred lands in order to strip them of mineral resources. When Lakota leaders refused to sign the proposed document, President Grant withdrew the soldiers that were supposed to keep whites out of Lakota Territory in fulfillment of previous treaty obligations. By the end of 1876, over ten thousand white pioneers were setting up frontier towns in the Hills, and the general sentiment was that the Black Hills should be taken from the Indians whether or not they were willing to accept the $5 million dollars they were being offered (Matthiessen 1983:10 11) Many bands and tribes in the region, including Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho gathered to stage resistance, which would include the famous Battle of Little Bighorn, tha t went down in history 12). Military operations carried ou destroyed food supplies, homes, and other vital resources, and men, women, and children practicing their treaty pro tected hunting rights were shot on sight. Under the 1868 Treaty, the Uni ted States had acquired 48 million acres of traditional Lakota lands; before this, they were self sufficient. The subsistence rations guaranteed to the Lakota in the 1868 Treaty and restriction of their hunting rights were used in attempt to ensure a relat ionship


24 of dependence on the U.S. government. This paved the way for strategies of coercion in legation, known as the Manypenny Commission, was appointed by President Grant to press more aggressively for the surrender of the Black Hills. If the Lakota would not cede the land and their treaty protected hunting rights, they would no longer receive rat ions. This blackmail was unsuccessful ; even faced with mass starvation they refused to sign over the sacred lands of Paha Sapa to the United States. When this strategy failed, the Manypenny Commission resorted to threatening a forced removal and relocation of all cooperate; this strategy of coercion proved more effective in extorting signatures. However, under t he terms of the 1868 Treaty, it was necessary for three quarters of adult Lakota males to provide signatures in order for any new agreements between the Lakota and the United States to be valid. The Manypenny Commission was never able to obtain more than ten percent of adult male signatures, and even many of these were suspect including the names of women, children, and the deceased. In spite of this, the agreement was enacted into law by Congress in 1877, and the United States assumed custody of the Black Hills (LaVelle 2001:48 54, 59 61). For the Lakota, the establish ment of reservations was initiated in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, in which they conceded to the Great Sioux Reservation. The original tract of land included in this treaty covered all of present day South Dakota west of the Missouri River, and under t his treaty, they retained the right to utilize hunting grounds beyond designated reservation lands (Ellis 1972:96). When all was said and done


25 following the Act of 1877, the government had robbed the Lakota and other Indian nations in the region of the Bla ck Hills, the Powder River lands, and the Bighorn country. Upon their surrender, the Lakota were forced to reside on reservations and essentially held as prisoners of war (Hyde 1937:292 293). The federal government assumed a strict policy of assimilation a nd took measures to eradicate native religions, destroy traditional systems of governance, and replace traditional subsistence strategies with European style farming (Ellis 1972:96). The case of the Lakota was unfortunately not unique; all over the United States, Indian reservations were established with the primary goals of contain ing, weakening, and conquering N ative populations in order to promote expansion and conquest in North America by administrative means. In 1849, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (orig inally established in 1824) was transferred from the War Department to the newly created Interior Department. This action formally represented the passing of a time in which Indians were perceived as a threat to the s ecurity of the United States. The new e ra of Indian policy was aimed at assimilation into the larger populace of the United States (Rockwell 2010:246 247). The General Allotment Act Indians to Christianity, Indian p olicy reformers in the latter half of the nineteenth century came to the conclusion that the answer to the Indian problem was allotment of land to individuals, which would serve to further break down traditional means of existence by destroying communal attitudes toward land. Logic behind this action also lay in the assumption that private property ownership provided incentive for Indians to adopt the


26 civilized ways of white farmers. When reservations were originally established, all tribal lands were h eld as communal property, reflecting how members of tribes tended to function as a cohesive unit. Although many tribes opposed this policy, the General Allotment Act (also known as the Dawes Act) was passed in 1887, which set into action mandatory laws tha t divided reservation lands into sections, allotted land to individual Indians, and opened up surplus reservation lands to non Indian settlement (Ellis 1972:117 118). The Commissioner of Indian affairs was of the belief that this policy would serve to acce responsibility, farming, and homemaking endeavors. During the enforcement of these policies, treaty rations were often used as an economic weapon to induce compliance; Indians who resisted faced star vation and jail. Although the General Allotment Act was meant to promote farming and livestock operations, it was not adequately supported by funding necessary to supply training, seeds, farming equipment, and other implements necessary for success, and ov erall the viewed as a failure. Under the Allotment system, approximately 67 percent of original reservation lands were lost. Legislation brought about by this act would directly affect BIA policies for the following fifty years. Through the provisions of this act, the BIA became the manager of Indian lands; in many cases the authority of tribal governments ceased to be recognized and was replaced by the authority of Indian agents. The breaking down of Indian social a nd political systems became a central part of BIA policy (Curtis and Galli 1977:88 95). When A llotment policies were finally brought to a close in 1934, Indian lands in the United States had shrunk from 138 million acres to 52 million acres. Additionally, two in three Indians were either landless or did not hold a sufficient amount of land to


27 support even a subsistence living (Riney 1999:6). The individual A llotment policy was applied gradually to different tribes, an d the Lakota managed to resist A llotment until World War I (Matthiessen 1983:18 19). However, in 1889, President Benjamin Harrison in another blatant violation of the 1868 Treaty forced the Lakota into accepting the Sioux Agreement of 1889. In doing so, the Great Sioux Reservation was dismantl ed and five smaller reservations were established in the form of the present day Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Reservations. Approximately 11 million acres of surplus lands were confiscated (Riney 1999:5). The Ghost D ance and the Wounded Knee Massacre In 1883, traditional Lakota religious ceremonies, such as the Sun Dance, were outlawed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although religious ceremonies were often continued in secret, this policy dealt a great blow to Lakot a cultural practice. This decade also brought a great deal of hardship in the form of famine and devastating disease epidemics. The situation became even more dire when the Sioux Act of 1889 not only reduced Sioux lands to nearly half its size, but cut foo d rations in a time when they were most desperately needed (Andersson 2008:21 29, 38 47) It was during this time of hardship that the Lakota learned of the Paiute Indian prophet known as Wovoka and his teachings of a Ghost Dance that purportedly would br ing a better future. In the midst of a cultural crisis, the Ghost Dance spurred a mass message was that the world would experience a great transformation, and a time would come when all Indians, living and deceased could live in this new world free of white


28 people and free of misery, death, and oppression. He preached ideas of peace and nonviolence, and instructed his followers to dance the Ghost Dance in order to bring ab out this transformation. By fall of 1890, the Ghost Dance had spread to more than thirty tribes including the Lakota and covered a great area in the western half of the United States. The whites came to view the Ghost Dance with a great deal of fear and su spicion. Several Lakota Ghost Dance leaders were arrested on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations, and followers were ordered to stop their ceremonies. However, they continued in secrecy. In fall of 1890, Ghost Dance ceremonies were organized at several camps across Pine Ridge and neighboring reservations and several thousand Lakotas were participating regularly in ceremonies. Agents tried in vain to arrest participants and stop the dancing, which was reviving a growing sense of unity among the Lakota an d other Native tribes (Andersson 2008:21 29, 38 47). In late November, the U.S. Army troops were called to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations to intervene. In December, events precipitated in the murder of the important Lakota Ghost Dance leader, Chi ef Sitting Bull, when federal Indian police attempted to arrest him in his home. Sitting Bull's followers fled to seek refuge with his half brother, Chief Big Foot (Andersson 2008:78 87). The year of 1890 brought about another defining event in Lakota his tory. Chief Big Foot and his band arrived at the Pin e Ridge Reservation December 28 and were escorted by cavalry to Wounded Knee Creek. The Colonel in charge of the operation had ay, mounted so ldiers surrounded the Indians and Big Foot who was very ill with pneumonia, and began confiscating all guns and arms. One deaf Lakota man resisted when soldiers


29 attempted to grab his gun, and a shot was fired in the scuffle that ensued. The soldiers reacted immediately, firing guns and cannons and killing indiscriminately. Few of the Indians had weapons with which to fight back and many fled. The soldiers were armed with a new rapid fire weapon known as the Hotchkiss gun, and opened fire on t he camp, killing men, women, and children alike. Many of the Indians escaped into a nearby ravine, only to be followed by soldiers and gunned down. At the end of the massacre, the soldiers had lost around twenty five men many in their own crossfire. An est imated three hundred Indian men, women, and children were killed (Brown 1991:440 445). Among the soldiers th twenty Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor were awarded the highest number of Medals of Honor ever awarded to a single battle in United States history to this day. The Wounded Knee Massacre was considered the final battle of the Indian Wars (Huey 2010). However, for the Lakota and for many others, the struggle for survival was far from over; in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Massacre, soldiers were replaced by bureaucrats. Their mission was to break down independent cultural identity and assimilate remaining Indians into the larger population. The policy forbidding the practice of traditional religious ceremonies was strictly enforced, and violators faced imprisonment. Even traditional garments were banned. One of the most tragic consequences of assimilation policies was the practice of taking Indian children away from their families and sending them to government boarding schools (Matthiessen 1983:21). Most of these schools were run by either the BIA or Christian missions. The primary purpose of these schools was to further the mission of assimilation and extinguish traditional culture and values. Tribal languages and religions were forbidden,


30 and classes were conducted entirely in English. Many such schools were off reservation boarding schools and children were taken away from their families (often against the will of their parents) for three to five years at a t ime to attend. In addition to cultural dislocation, students often suffered psychological and physical abuse as well as malnutrition and illness (Riney 1999:7 11). In the following cent ury, the Lakota continued their battle for cultural and literal surviv al. The impacts of federal policies imposed during the nineteenth century persisted into the twentieth and twenty first centuries. But in spite of great adversity, the Lakota persisted as well. The ongoing strug gle to reclaim the Black Hills would become a focal point of their dispute with the U.S. federal gov ernment f or generations to come and is in many ways representative of the overall social and economic power dynamics between the U.S. and the Lakota.


31 C HAPTER 2: The Battle for the Black Hi lls The Lakota Seek Justice Organized protests in reaction to the loss of the Black Hills occurred as early as 1887, and in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Massacre, it was not long before efforts commenced to seek recovery of the Black Hills and amend s for the hardships experienced through their dispossession Major John Brennon, who served as superintendent at Pine Ridge in the beginning of the twentieth century, reported the establishment of the Oglala Council in 1891, through which several hundred i ndividuals began meeting to discuss the issue of the Black Hills and other past agreements and treaties on a monthly basis. These councils were made up primarily of traditional Lakota leaders and community members. By one account, these councils met as man y as 100 129, Lazarus 1999:119). In the words of place at the center of the conflict between the United States and the Sioux. T he land was gone, but in the minds of the Indians, the loss and the injustice were stil l very much alive 1 1 Throughout this chapter, I often refer to a book written by Edward Lazarus entitled Black Hills, White Justice This book provides a detailed account of the Black Hills land claim throughout the twentieth century. Although Lazarus, the son of a lawyer who worked on the case, provides an important perspective on these events through his analysis, it is also important to recognize that it has been critic ized as a Lynn 1996:21). However, it also seems to be the only comprehensive work that chronic les the claim in its journey through the courts. Despite the fact that this book (and indeed, perhaps the vast majority of books written about historical events) may have an alternative agenda, I feel that it still represents a valuable source of details o n the Black Hills land dispute.


32 After repeated attempts to obtain permission for a trip to the capital to speak with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs about the issue o f the Black Hills, the Oglalas we re eventually granted permis sion to meet with South Dakota C ongressman Eben W. Martin in 1902. However, Martin was very adamant that the Lakota had no sound basis fo r their argument that the 1877 A greement was invalid. Acco rding to him, the text of the 1877 Agreement dictated that the Lakotas had exchanged the Black Hills for the promise of rations until they were self sufficient, as well as schools and other assistance, and that those who had signed the agreemen t were figur es of authority who had the legitimacy to speak for their people. In addition, by signing the 1889 Agreement, tribal members had reiterated their consent for the provisions of the 1877 Agreement (Ostler 2010:129 130). In the following years, the Lakota beg an consulting with attorneys, who in 1910 began drafting l egislation to permit the Lakota to submit a claim in the U.S. Court of Claims, which had been previously established in 1855 to hear suits against the federal government, but which prevented Indian tribes from bringing claims without a special jurisdictional act. A year later, an inter reservational organization had been formed and close to a hundred Indians from the region met at the Black Hills Convention to discuss the land claim. Another initiati ve surfaced through the formation of the Society of American Indians, which began lobbying for legislation that would allow the Court of Claims jurisdiction over Indian claims. The Lakota were persistent in their demands for a hearing, and in 1914 Commissi oner of Indian Affairs, Cato Sells, finally recommended Congress enact this legislation. The bill was spo nsored in 1916 by South Dakota C ongressman H arry Gandy; however, World War I temporarily inte rrupted the process. Although the war created delays, this was perhaps to the advantage of the Lakota


33 because in the aftermath of the war, new considerations were taken due to the service and sacrifices Indians had made to the war effort (Ostler 2010:131 133). Around this period, the Lakota had begun collecting formal affidavits in preparation for bringing the case to U.S. courts. By this tim e, many firsthand witnesses who had been alive in the treaty days were rapidly aging (many key leaders had alr eady passed away), and there was a sense of urgency to record th eir words and memories before they were lost forever (Ostler 2010:133, Lazarus 1999:128). Among these witness accounts, many stressed that far fewer than three quarters of the required signatures had been obtained on the 1877 Agreement and that of those wh o had signed, many had done hreat of cutting off rations, moving them to Indian territory in Oklahoma, or because they were under the influence of government supplied alcohol Others stressed that Red Cloud and other chiefs had n ot knowingly sold the Black Hills, but merely leased it to the government. In 1920, Congress finally passed legislation that would allow the Lakota and other Indians who held stake in the claim to collectively select an attorney to represent them and submi t their claim. This legislation, however, also held the stipulation that any settlement on the claim would be based on the value of the land in 1877 rather than at the time of filing, that any reward would be offset by the amount of money the government ha d spen t to date supporting the Lakota under the 1877 Agreement, and that there was no requirement for the government to pay any interest. Regardless of these disadvantages, this legislation represented a victory for the Lakota in that they had finally obta ined the right to be heard (Ostler 2010:134).


34 Ralph Case Represents the La kota The same year, the Sioux General Council was held to discuss issues regarding which tribes held legitimate claims to the Black Hills and vote on attorneys. Following the first session, there was a great deal of protest from factions that felt they had not been properly represented, and it was demanded that a new council be held which would feature a number of delegates proportional to reservation populations as opposed to an equ al number from each reservation. This new council was held several months later; however the voting results for the selection of the attorney were again contested on the grounds that the winner had bribed some of the delegates. This candidate (Washington attorney Joseph Davies) eventually withdrew and the second place contender, Charles presidential nominee), took his place. This candidate also soon fell through when he was appoint ed Secretary of State, and his son and a fellow member of his firm, Charles Evans Hughes, Jr., took his place. Hughes, however, proved to be very pessimistic about the chances the Lakota had of ever recovering damages in court under the current legislation land to be owner ship per se. On the contrary, it ht ownership, nor would they recognize claims to resources (such as timber and minerals). He eventually withdrew from the case advising the Lakota and their allies to seek new legislation. After a heated debate and months of arguing, the reservations even tually decided not to seek new legislation and chose Ralph Case to lead the case (Ostler 2010:135 136, Lazarus 1999:130, 140 141).


35 Case had personal ties to Lakota country. He was born near the Cheyenne River Agency at Fort Bennett and was the son of a gov ernment employee. He attended Yankton College and became interested in South Dakota politics. Although he left the reservation when he was a boy, he had returned as a young adult and promised to help the Lakota seek justice. He signed a c ontract with the L akota in 1922 and formally filed the claims in 1923. In addition to the Black Hills land claim, Case filed twenty three other claims related to land rights, resources, hunting rights, poor government accounting, as well as unfulfilled treaty obligations (Lazarus 1999:130, 146 148, Ostler 2010: 136 137). Case was far more optimistic than previous attorneys in regards to seeking judgment monies, but he was concerned many Lakota retained the hope that they could still recover their lands as well. Case remained adamant that the legal claim to the Black Hills would entitle the Lakota to monetary compensation, but not the return of their lands. Ostler points out that, up to that point, the Lakota had generally been careful in their public statements to assure the United States that they had no intention of Lakota had maintained the hope of regaining their lands further down the road, but refrained from stating this in public for fear of compromising their efforts to win 138). Among the affidavits collected from the elderly tribal members that lived in the region during the treaty makin g days, many individuals referred to the Black Hills as land as an integral part of their cultural identity, and offers, perhaps, some insight into the stubborn and end uring hopes of recovering the Black Hills (Lazarus 1999:136 137)


36 The general at titude that Case and the Lakota encountered in the courts and expansion and specifically in their dealings with the Lakota. Additionally, in previous court decisions concerning Indian claims, such as in Lonewolf v. Hitchcock (which proved to be a defining Court of Claims decision), the court had ruled that Congress or complete authority over Indian affairs. In other words, Congress possessed the power to abrogate treaties (Ostler 2010:139 140). Before the Court of Claims would hear legal arguments, the government required an audit of its a ccounts concerning its dealings with the Lakota. They felt it was necessary to determine how much the gov ernment had spent on the Lakota since 1877, and Case feared that this fund would be used to offset whatever value the Lakota might be awarded in a sett lement. The auditing process proved to be excessively slow due to claim in 1923, the auditing process took another nine years to complete. The end result was a 4,385 pag argument for the claim was based on the provision that government seizure of property r as outline in the Fifth Amendment (Ostler 2010:141, Lazarus 2010:155 1 57). In this time period, federal Indian policy was still evolving on the national front. In 1924, President Warren Harding signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted citizenship to all Indians born in the U.S. This act was a continuation of the fede ral American society. Although this action was meant to signify the final stage in a


37 successful plan to solve the multitude of afflic ative commu nities, the Lakota and many other tribes across the nation were still experiencing a great deal of suffering and hardship mentally and physically, economically, and culturally. In the first decade of the twentieth century, there had been some economic pro gress on the Lakota reservations th r ough the stock raising industry. Keeping herds of cattle on reservation lands proved to be both a culturally and geographically compatible pursuit, and by 1912, Lakota herds had exceeded 40,000 head of cattle. However, t he relative economic prosperity experienced in this decade came to an end as the nation entered into World War I. Cattle prices soared due to wartime demand, and Lakota herds rapidly dwindled when BIA agents pressured Indians to sell their animals for quic k profit and lease their lands to white cattlemen. The ensuing postwar depression dealt a particularly harsh blow to the Lakota. The little remaining cash income evaporate d when non Indians leasing their lands went bankrupt and defaulted on payments. The g overnment continued to encourage farming, but the consistent lack of capital and ongoing sale and leasing of reservation lands to non Indians by the government were continuous obstacles. In 1924, a severe drought devastated the farming economy on the Dakot a plains. In 1929, the entire nation experienced an economic collapse that quickly evolved into the Great Depression. During this period, cash crops offered little potential for relief as market prices plunged, and subsistence crops suffered severely from insects and drought. Most individuals were forced to sell their few remaining assets for cash to survive (Lazarus 1999:150 151, Ostler 2010:142 143, Matthiessen 1983:24 26). As the Lakota drifted even further away from a self sustaining economy, the littl e income they earned came from government wages and relief programs; during this period


38 they depended on the government not only for food, but also largely for jobs. In 1931, the average annual income for a family of five on Pine Ridge was $152.80. By 1942 the average per capita income was sti ll only $120 approximately one sixth the average per capita income for the rest of South Dakota, and less than one third the per capita income of the state of Mississippi (the poorest state in the nation at the time) initiatives were launched to try and revive the livestock industry. These, however, proved unsuccessful largely because former cattle ranges had been so depleted and broken up by land sales, the difficulty of obtaining credit, and th e fact that many Indians were reluctant to trust the government because they blamed it for the original failure of their livestock and agricultural economi es. One important oversight of A llotment policy that had disastrous results was the failure to consid er that tribal populations might expand in generations of Indians the possibility of new land allotments. In the midst of dire economic and social circumstances, the B lack Hills claim represented the potential for a brighter future and the reclamation of self sufficiency (Lazarus 1999:165 166). The Indian Reorganization Act By llotment policy had begun to shift and policy makers began to r ecognize that it had done more harm than good. Roughly half of the reservations that existed when the Allotment Act was passed underwent the survey and allotment process before it was repealed. It was observed that among many reservations where land was st ill held in communal ownership, individual land development had generally advanced in comparison to those that had been allotted. In 1934, a


39 Congressional act, known as the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), was passed that effectively terminated the Allotme nt Act and marked a new direction for Indian affairs. Other concerns that the IRA addressed were the immense loss of land that the Allotment Act had produced and the fear that if it continued, subsequent generations of Indians would be completely landless. In addition, attitudes had shifted about the value of tribal g overning bodies; under the new A ct, the development of tribal governance from within reservations was to be promoted so that Indians could participate more in their own affairs. Unique tribal c onstitutions, bylaws, and governing bodies were drafted by BIA administrators and voted on by tribes. These provided for limited self government, but important decisions still had to be approved by the Secretary of the Interior and often by BIA reservation government. The BIA also developed corporate charters and financial assistance through loan programs and credit syst ems in an attempt to further economic develo pment on reservations. The new A ct was also meant to entail further inclusion into U.S. health and education systems and an integration of N ative cultures into American culture at large. Many hailed the Indian Re (Curtis and Galli 1977:99 103, Matthiessen 1983:27). The Lakota accepted the IRA with a majority vote. However, although the IRA appointed counsels were the only tribal entity with authority in the ey es of the government, more conservative tribal factions re fused to accept their authority viewing them as illegitimate. With the adoption of the IRA, the conflict between more progressiv e and traditionalist factions which


40 became increasingly bitter (Matthiessen 1983:27 28, Ostler 2010:143). Although part of this New Deal was intended to fund tribal economic development, it proved to be minimally effective in improving the conditions of the Lakota economy. In 1937, the Pine Ridge Tribal Co uncil protested that the Lakota the failure of much of the crops, the shortage of livestock and employment, failure to secure credit legislation and general indifference of the administr ation to extend aid in the Battle in the Courts Meanw hile, Ralph Case and the Lakota continued to work on the Black Hills land claim in court. In October of 1941, the Court of Claims heard the oral argument for the Black Hills case. Eight months later, in June of 1942 (nearly two decades after the claim government was not responsible for the outbreak of war in 1876, had no t coerced any Lakota to sign the 1877 Agreement, nor was the Manypenny Commission at fault for failing to obtain the neces sary three fourths consent. In addition, they did not find any impropriety in its failure to prevent miners from invading the Black Hi lls. In October of filing a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court in the hopes that the decision would be reviewed. However, in 1943, the Supreme Cou rt denied the petition without comment (Lazarus 1999:175 180, Ostler 2010:144 145). After World War II, new initiatives were taken to address Indian claims. It is widely acknowledged that the enthusiastic patriotism and support that many Indians


41 showed by participating in the war effort figured into the decision to create a new commission to hear Indian claims. In 1946, President Harry Truman authorized the formation of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) (Lazarus 1999:184 186, Matthiessen 1983:28, Ostler 20 10:150 151). It was not until 1950 that Case filed a new Black Hills claim with the ICC. In 1954, the claim was again rejected. The ICC sided with the government on all key historical points and failed to acknowledge that the U.S. had acted dishonorably. A motion to the ICC to reverse the decision was denied, and Case took his appeal back to the Court of Claims but it too upheld the ruling. Many of the Lakotas Case was representing were growing anxious at the lack of progress; by this time, nearly thirty y ears had passed since the original claim had been filed in 1923 and over seventy years had passed since the land was lost in the 1877 Act. Ralph Case was also seventy years old, and his health was deteriorating. In addition, some tribal members felt that t he by Case. Although throughout his career he had proven to be a dedicated spokesperson for the Lakota, he often failed to consult with his clients before acting in court; the relationship that existed was less one of attorney client, and based more on a friendship and trust association. Most of the Lakota had very little understanding of the legal theories Case was presenting in court. A group of tribal leaders deci ded to seek outside legal advice about their predicament. It was eventually decided that any chance of reviving the claim and bringing it before the Supreme Court would require seeking new counsel, and in December of 1956, tribal leaders suggested that Cas e resign (Ostler 2010:151 153, 155, Lazarus 1999:191 192, 196, 204, 209 213).


42 Indian Reorganization Act. It was thought by many that I enough to fully assimilate into mainstream American society, and that the time had come to end the special relationship that existed between Indian tribes and the federal government. This became widely known as Termination Pol icy. The idea was to end the guardian ward relationship that existed in order to grant Indians full rights and privileges of American citizenship. In practice this was to include the transfer of management responsibilities of reserva tions and affairs to In dians, the termination of U.S. recognition of tribal sovereignty and exemption from state laws, as well as the liquidation of Indian lands and relocation of tribal member to urban areas. In general, health and education were to no longer be the responsibil ity of the BIA, but that of Public Health Services and state education systems resulting in the denial of these services to various tribes. Ultimately, Termination Policy was meant to reduce the cost of government operations and eventually eliminate the BI A in order to save the federal government money. Ostler lier assimilationist policies, t ermination presented itself in a humanitarian guise, while at the same time conveniently allowing non Indians to benefit from the elimination of th raised a great deal of concern for those who feared federal withdrawal was premature and that for tribes who were not prepared for such drastic changes it would be extremely detrimental. In the e federal trust relationship and greater emphasis on development. This was reflected in the


43 (Curtis and Galli 1977:103 104, Ostler 2010:156, Deloria 1988:54 57). Although the Lakota proved rela tively successful in resisting T ermination policy, government projects and policies continued to contribute to the ongoing land loss. One primary example of this can be see n in the results of a government initiated dam project. along the Missouri River, known as the Oahe Project, without obtaining consent from the Indian tribes it would directly affect. It was not until three years after Congress approved the project that anyone on the Lakota reservations were informed, but the project proved to carry devastating consequences. Over 220,000 acres of the richest arable lands in Lakota coun try were inundated on the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, and Lower Brul reservations. These lands previously provided winter shelter for 10,000 head of cattle and yielded nearly ninety percent of the timber, as well as various other crops for the affected reservations. Hundreds of families were forced to resettle, and on Standing Rock and Cheyenne River nearly twenty percent of the popul ation was displaced by flooding (Ostler 2010:156 157, Lazarus 1999:189 190). The Next Generation of Legal Re presentation Meanwhile, the Lakota continued their battle over the Black Hills claim in federal courts. After the resignation of Ralph Case, three new attorneys were selected to take his place: Arthur Lazarus Jr., Richard Schifter, and Marvin Sonosky. In 1 957, this new team of attorneys requested that the Court of Claims order the ICC rehear the case, blaming the on


44 later, their request was granted. In 1960, a series of petit ions were filed with the ICC, requesting compensation for both lands ceded to the government under the 1868 Treaty and lands taken in the 1877 Act (including the Black Hills). They also again embraced the argument initially used by Case that the taking of the Black Hills violated the Fifth Amendment right to just compensation for seized property. The proceedings once again were agonizingly slow and fraught with difficulty, and it was not until 1974, sixteen years later, that the ICC issued its ruling. By th is time, public attitudes in mainstream America increased awareness of racial injustice and opposition to the Vietnam War led to critiques of U.S. imperialism. These shifti ng attitudes increased public awareness of injustices that tribes had suffered through historic federal policies. As a result, the ICC made different considerations in its reevaluation of the history of the Black Hills land dispute, concluding that Congres s had in fact failed to make a good faith effort to compensate the Lakota for the full value of their property therefore violating the Fifth Amendment. According to their new ruling, the government had committed treaty violations through its failure to kee p invading miners at bay and this failure had precipitated the outbreak of war. Moreover obtain the three fourths signatures (necessary according to the 1868 Treaty) constituted another treaty violation (Ostler 2010: 158 161). This decision was another important step forward for the Lakota. Although the ICC determined that the Lakota were eligible for compensation equal to the worth of the Black Hills in 1877 and five percent interest, if the government chose to deduct offsets, the reward the amount could be reduced to almost nothing. However, in 1974 the Senate


45 1868 Treaty and having reduced the Indians to starvation, the United S tates should not now be in the position of saying that the rations it furnished constituted payment for the 163, Lazarus 1999:314 326). The American Indian Movement that was occurring in the courts was unfolding against the backdrop of a much larger movement for civil justice and N ative self found an active com munity of participants among American India n s In the public eye, this perhaps most notably manifested in the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM was founded in 1968 by Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Eddie Benton Banai, George Mitchell, and a number of others in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The formati on of AIM was largely sparked by American Indian civil rights activities already occurring across North the termination and relocation programs that dumped thousands of bewildered Indians was a perfect illust ration of this. Individuals who were uprooted and placed in cities found themselves not only in a foreign e nvironment, but often al so facing open racis m and discrimination and enduring terrible work and living conditions. In its beginnings, AIM was working to address concerns related to education, jobs, and housing, and to create a support network to help protect Indians from the abus es of law enforcement an d the justice system. However, N ative communities across Nor th America had been


46 fighting an oppressive system for centuries, and many Indians had become disillusioned with pursuing traditional lobbying avenues. AIM members took the approach of bringing their grievances to the attention of the American public. In addition to its social service and legal rights programs, AIM began staging demonstrations and engaging the American media and press to raise awareness for their cause (Matth iessen 1983:34 37). In 1971, a group of AIM activists set up camp on top of Mt. Rushmore in the heart of the Black Hills, demanding that the U.S. honor the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie (Lazarus 1999: 293). In 1972 rail of Broken headquarters in Washington D.C. for several days. In the process, they presented a Twenty Point documen t intended to represent the N held with broken promises of the federal government (Smith & Warrior 1996:142 157, Lazarus 1999:299 301). These included proposals for the resubmission of treaties negotiated with Indian nations that were never properly ratified, mandatory relief against treaty rights and violations, the restoration of Indian land base, and other points directly applicable to the Black Hills land dispute and others like it across the nation (American Indian Movement 1972). Although an interagency task force was formed by t he government to address these proposals, all of the demands in the document were rejected (Lazarus 1999:301). Turmoil in Lakota Country By and large, AIM proved to be particularly active in Lakota country. In the aditionalist and progressive factions were


47 perhaps more heated than ever. The Pine Ridge Reservation in particular was in the midst of bitter turmoil. The tribal government created by the IRA still did not carry the support of all tribal members, and many viewed it as merely a puppet for the BIA. During this period it was widely accused of exercising tyrannical and repressive policies. The tribal president at the time, Dick Wilson, was accused of among other things using tribal money to fund a private mil itia th Oglala Nation fiercely opposed to AIM and its leaders, and this rancor was certainly reciprocated. The reservation had become an extremely dangerous place for anyone who questioned grassroots uprising took the form of an occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, SD (the site of the 1890 Wounded K nee Massacre), involving around two hundred activists and AIM members, and a seventy one day armed standoff with U.S. law enforcement. A list of demands was presented to a representative of the Justice Department, calling for the removal of Wilson from off ice and the assembly of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee for hearings on treaties between the U.S. Congress and Indian nations, therefore restoring negotiations. Although Wilson remained in office and the demands were not met, the event received intern ational media coverage and served to heighten awareness of the situation on Pine Ridge (Matthiessen 1983:60 76, Smith & Warrior 1996:194 217).


48 The Supreme Court Issues a New Decision Meanwhile, this spirit of resistance displayed on Pine Ridge was echoed in the courts as the Lakota and their attorneys continued to engage the federal government over the Black Hills land claim. In the wake of their apparent victory in 1974, they were once again faced with a new obstacle. Th e Justice Department appealed the I the Court of Claims, and in 1975 the Court of Claims dismissed the Black Hills claim on the grounds of res judicata returning to its 1942 decision. O attorneys turned to the Supreme Court and petitioned for appeal, a nd once again it was denied. As a last resort, the Lakota and their representatives requested that Congress enact special legislation to override res judicata and luck was on their side. In 1978, a bill was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter that or dered the Court of Claims to re consider the claim In 1979, the court ruled in favor of the claim. The Lakotas and the Dakotas (who also held stake in the claim) were awarded $17 million dollars for the land and an additional five percent interest. However the Justice Department once again appealed the decision, and the Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal. In June 1980, the Supreme Court issued its new decision; eight of the nine justices concluded that the U.S. had acted dishonorably in the case of t he Black Hills. Including the five percent interest, the total amount came to approximately $106 million. This proved to be the largest monetary judgment ever awarded in a case concerning the United States and Indian land claims (Ostler 2010:163 164, Lazar us 1999:336 344, 347 375).


49 The Black Hills Are Not For Sale However, this was not the end of the road for the Black Hills claim. Although Lazarus and Sonosky, like Case before them, viewed the recovery of land as an impossibility, many among the Lakota co ntinued to view the return the Black Hills as the ultimate goal. This attitude was only strengthened with the rising campaign of resistance and the fight for self determination inspired by the Civil R ights era. Although the attorneys were elated with the n ews of their court victory, attitudes among the Lakota were mixed. Many feared that t o accept this monetary award would mean relinquishing the Black Hills forever (Ostler 2010:165, Lazarus 1999:375 376). In his book, Black Hills, White Justice Lazarus cap tures the sentiment with a quote from Isadore White Hat, pt [the judgment ], the Black Hi lls are gone. After the Black Hills, are the reservations next? We have to think of our kids. If we sell them o ut, where will they go? Our culture, our tradition, our customs will In addition to the belief that the Black Hills were irrevocably tied to the future of their cultural continuity and self sustainability, the Lakota were not u naware that the Black Hills had generated considerable wealth for Euro American invaders. After the discovery of gold and subsequent seizure of the land that held it, gold mining became a leading industry in the Black Hills and dozens of mining companies p urchased land (Lee 2001:269). According to one estimate, the Homestake Mine alone has produced well over gold production was only surpassed by the state of California. The discovery of gold led to an era of capitalism and commodification in the Black Hills, and the resource rich hills


50 were exploited by ambitious pioneers. Sawmills sprang up all over the hills and the timber industry boomed. Prior to the gold rush, India ns and whites had both utilized timber resources that the heavily forest ed region had to offer, but the nomadic Lakota primarily took small quantities of saplings for lodgepoles. The pioneers that later swarmed the hills cut down trees indiscriminately in mass quantities. The former lands of the Lakota were exploited for timber, agriculture, livestock, and transportation business pursuits. However, the Lakota were not the economic benefactors of this industry. Many Euro American pioneers and companies becam e rich off Black Hills gold and resources, while federal Indian policies throughout the twentieth century continued to perpetuate poverty and oppression on Indian reservations (Lee 2001:269 283). In addition to gold, the land has been estimated to contain billions of dol lars in other valuable minerals such as uranium, copper, and molybdenum (Matthiessen 1983:527). In the decades of prosperous U.S. occupation of the Black Hills that followed the gold rush, economic development has expanded greatly. Governmen t industry has found a firm foothold in the Hills in the form of military installations, national forest, national parks, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and other pursuits. Once improved infrastructure and roads allowed for easy travel, t he tourism industry kicked off as sightseers, gamblers, trophy hunters, and nature lovers came from far and wide. Tourism became a significant industry after President Calvin Coolidge spent a vacation in the Black Hills in 1927 and the media covered his de dication of Mount Rushmore, an ironic shrine to American dem ocracy that draws in hordes of tourists each day. Other attractions include the infamous casinos of Deadwood, the Sturgis motorcycle rally, lakes and campgrounds, hot springs, and several national parks and forests However, the


51 prosperity in the Black Hills since 1877 has historically occurred at the cost of the exclusion of the Lakota and other tribes in the region from the economic benefits (Lee 2001:284 288). It is no small w onder that there w ere those who felt the settlement that they had been offered was inadequate and unjust. Although the amount awarded may seem large, if distributed on a per capita basis, each individual would receive approximately $1,500. T he majority among the Lakota was adamant about rejecting the settlement, and the decision was made to prevent the attorneys from accepting the monetary award. Not long after the Supreme Court released its decision, Mario Gonzalez, both a tribal member and an attorney representing the Ogla la Sioux Tribe, filed a new suit in U.S. District Court. This suit not only petitioned for the return of the Black Hills land, but for an additional occupancy and use resources) (Ostler 2010:165 167, Lazarus 1999:377, 403 407). The District Court dismissed the case, assertin g that the ICC had already provided a solution and that it lacked jurisdiction. After an appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court was denied, the Supreme Court also refused to hear the case. The Oglalas then submitted a new suit, this time targeting the Homestak e Mining Company (representing the largest gold mine in North America, in the heart of the Black Hills), suing for damages, illegal extraction of resources, and unlawful trespass. This too was dismissed (Ostler 2010:176 178, Lazarus 1999:410 413). Ostler e xplains that these suits were generally not meant to be an ends in and of themselves, and that the Lakota recognized their unrealistic chances of winning.


52 The logic behind these suits was linked to a broader strategy of putting pressure on Congress to purs ue legislation for returning at least some of the Black Hills land (2010:178). More than three fourths of the Black Hills was classified as federal or state lands (mostly in the form of national forest) that could potentially be returned without inflicting hardship on private citizens (Matthiessen 1983:527 528). While the battle continued in court, AIM and tribal members continued to actively oppose U.S. occupation of the Black Hills. In 1981, a group led by Russell Means an Oglala activist who had become one of the most prominent members of AIM established a camp in the Hills about twelve miles southwest of Rapid City as a demonstration asserting their right to occupy the land according to the 1868 Treaty, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 197 8, and a federal law passed in 1897 that permitted the use of wilderness sites for educational and religious purposes. The site was llow Thunder, an Oglala man who had been murdered as the result of a hate crime in 1972. Members of the camp applied for federal permission to build permanent structures and turn the camp into an alternative energy community, and a claim was filed to 800 acres of surrounding U.S. Forest Service land. A troop of armed FBI agents were s ent to the camp, apparently as an intimidation tactic and to watch for signs of terrorist activity. The permits were denied, but the occupation commanded a great deal of media attention and the support of many white sympathizers. When a suit was filed to c ontest the rejection, the lawsuit dragged on for several years and the residents of Yellow Thunder Camp continued to make their political statement. Ultimately however, the decision was upheld and the occupation of


53 Yellow Thunder Camp eventually ended, but the Black Hills battle continued (Lazarus 1999:411 412, Matthiessen 1983:526, Ostler 2010:179). In 1983, Gonzalez and tribal representatives of the newly formed Black Hills Steering Committee d rafted a bill for Congress asking for the transfer of all fede ral lands withi n the Black Hills to the Lakota to be managed jointly by tribes and federal agencies through the creation of a Sioux National Park and Black Hills Sioux Forest. This would include approximately 1.3 million es. According to this bill, the public would retain access to these lands with the exception of traditional ceremonial sites. Municipalities, state lands, private lands, land containing federal monuments, and land used for public purposes (post offices, ho spitals, military installations, etc.) would be exempted. The Sioux Nation Black Hills Act (also known as the Bradley bill, because it was introduced by Senator Bill Bradley) was introduced to the Senate in 1985. In 1987, a new player entered the scene. Ph il Stevens, a California millionaire who claimed to be of Lakota descent, showed up in Lakota country and attempted to help by convincing the tribes to accept a new plan that involved demanding a larger monetary figure. A heated debate over the two proposa ls ensued. Eventually, new legislation was dra fted by the Grey Eagle Society (associated with Stevens) that included land propositions similar to the Bradley bill, but supported greater control by the Lakota. In 1990, seven years after the original bill wa s introduced by Senator Bradley, the new bill was introduced by C ongressman Matthew Martinez. However, citing disputation among the Lakota over the ir support for the initiative, C ongressman Martinez did not reintroduce the bill to Congress the following ye


54 the Congressio (Ostler 2010:180 181, 185 187, Lazarus 1999:423 427, Giago 2007). The amount awarded to the Lakota in 1980 is currently held in trust by the BIA and continues to gather interest. Among the Lakota, many still hope for the return of a portion of the Black Hills, but the debate over whether or not to accept the judgment monies has continued. Many still feel that accepting even a penny of this money would mean validating the theft of the lan d and compromising any future possibility of recovering it (Giago 2007).


55 C HAPTER 3: The Black Hills, Environmental J ustice and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples In September of 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The non binding international document outlines the individual and collective 370 million indigenous people 2 In the words of General Assembly President Sheikha Haya, the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms The Declaration was approved with a majority vote, with 143 Member States in favor, 11 abstentions, and 4 Member States voting against; the opposition included Australia, Canada, New Zealand, an d the United States (notably, all nations originating as colonies with large European immigrant majority populations) (UN News Centre 2007). The content of this document is tremendously important in the context of this thesis. The message of this docume nt is twofold. It affirms the right of Native peoples to 2 According to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the UN system body ity of indigenous peoples. Their system of characterization is instead based on the following considerations: self identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member; historical continuity with pre c olonial and/or pre settler societies; strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources; distinct social, economic or political systems; distinct language, culture and beliefs; form non dominant groups of society; and resolve to maintain and rep roduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities (UNPFII 2006).


56 culture, language, and identity, as well as the strengthening of their own institutions and traditions and pursuing development that is compatible with their own needs and objectives. It also affirms that they are entitled to pursue these rights without discrimination. The true significance of the document is brought home by a quote from Secretary General Ban Ki moon, who describes the adoption of the international document UN Member States and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all (UN News Centre 2007). The Declaration calls for the protection and promotion of indigenous cultures, meaningful participation in all decisions that will affect their lives, and recognizes the right to self determination, land, and subsistence rights. The Declaration also explicitly calls for States to provide effective m echanisms for prevention and fair redress of any action resulting in dispossession of lands and resources, deprivation of traditional means of subsistence and development, forced population transfer, deprivation of integrity as distinct cultures with disti nct values, forced assimilation or integration, and propaganda designed to promote discrimination ( U nited Nations 2008). Considering the scale on which the United States (and its fellow opposing nations) would have to address such issues in order to be in accordance with these articles, their initial hesitation in adopting the Declaration seems predictable. The brief overview of U.S. federal Indian policies in regards to the Lakota provided in Chapters 1 and 2 reveals innumerable viola tions to rights outlin ed in the Declaration Some of the foremost include denial of subsistence rights and the extermination of the buffalo, treaty violations particularly that of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the nonconsensual


57 confiscation of the Black Hills in the Act of 1877, the General Allotment Act, the outlaw violations. Several Articles within the Declaration apply very specifically to the Black Hills land claim. For example, Artic le 28 states: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwis e occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent. 2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress. Article 37 states: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agr eements and other constructi ve arrangements concluded with States o r their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indig enous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements (United Nations 2008). The implications of these articles and many others within the Declaration open a metaphorical can of worms in terms of the U.S. formally recognizing historic injustice against Native peoples through colonization, dispossession of lands and resources, extermination and forced assimilation, as well as preventing them from pursuing development according to their own needs and aspirations. Consenting to t he adoption of this document would also mean consenting to being held internationally accountable for upholding the standards of the Declaration by their allies within the UN.


58 U.S. Adoption of the UN Declaration In 2010, the United States became the fina l of the four nations in initial opposition to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Currently it represents one of the most widely accepted UN human rights instruments and is to date the most comprehensive international statement addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples. Although obtaining the support of these final four nations who arguably represent four of the principal historic violators of indigenous rights represents an important landmark in the international indige nous rights forum, each of these nations expressed their own interpretations of certain aspects of the text. Notably, the U.S. asserted its own understanding of the right to self determination, as well as free, prior and informed consen t (OHCHM 2010 ). The General Assembly Resolution 2625 addresses the concept of self self determination of peoples enshrined in the [UN] Charter, all peoples have the right fre ely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their However, w hen defining the right to self determination of indigenous peoples, the United States does not acknowledge a right to self determination that includes independence and permanent sovereignty over natural resources (Morris 2003:121). iating development projects or other actions that would affect the territory of indigenous peoples, the federal government released a White House statement maintaining that the United States understands [the importance of a] call for a


59 process of meaningf ul consultation with tribal leaders, but not necessarily the agreement Tribal members and indigenous rights activists have expressed disappointment in this stance and view it as a major obstacle to the full recognition of cultural, spiritual, and political sovereignty ( Cultural Survival 2010). The Concept of Vulnerability As an academic term, vulnerability is not well defined. In a basic sense, it refers ity to damage or harm; however, when applying the concept to systems, it often refers to exposure and sensitivity to stress, as well as capacity to absorb and cope with results of stress. V ulnerability in the context of the Lakota has been the result of a complex historical process involving both social and environmental interactions which have manifested in injustice and marginalization And indeed, this case study is representative of a much broader narrative including indigenous peoples worldwide and the ir interactions with col onization and imperialism. Consideration and understanding of this concept and its implications are important to the healthy development of policies that are sensitive to needs of all parties involved. Theoretical approaches, concep tual frameworks, and academic explorations have the potential to serve as tools for the identification of sensitive populations, creation of viable solutions, and enhancing resilience. It is important, however, to maintain an awareness of the dangers posed by such abstract conceptions of vulnerability. For example, the potential for damaging and unintended consequences that vulnerability assessment could create through detachment and unequal power dynamics between the


60 assessors and those being assessed. In group or population carries a significant danger of further contributing to a long history of marginalization and disempowerment (Eakin & Luers 2006:366, 378). Eakin and Luers divide vulnerability asses sment and practice into different approaches emerging from three broad intellectual lineages: risk/hazard, political economy/political ecology, and ecological resilience. For various reasons, I have chosen the focus on the political economy/political ecolo gy approach to vulnerability to briefly discuss the concept in the context of this case study (2006:367 3 68). According to this approach, economic marginality, and the inability to garn er sufficient resources to maintain the natural (Ribot, Najam, & Watson 1996). This approach is particularly concerned with the analysis of social and economic processes; impor tant focal questions include the investigation of differential capacities to cope and adapt why people and places are affected differently, and the identification of causes and consequences of differential susceptibility. Political ecology perspectives in vestigate vulnerability in the context of broad processes of institutional and environmental change, with balanced consideration for both biophysical and social dynamics. The political economy approach tends to focus on sociopolitical and economic factors to explain differential exposure and resilience to but rather a state or conditi on of being and a very dynamic one at that moderated by existing inequities in resource distribution and acc ess, the control individuals can exert


61 over choices and opportunities, and historical patterns of social domination and uers 2006:368 371). Putting vulnerability in these terms makes it particularly salient to discussion of the Lakota in relation to the Black Hills land dispute. The state of vulnerability currently experienced by the Lakota and other Native peoples in the U .S. (and worldwide) has developed over centuries of engagement with a dominant system that has denied their rights of sovereignty self determination, and permanent control over natural and cultural resources. The manifestations of this marginalization ar e experienced in many ways both individually and collectively through political status and participation; economic, social and cultural development; and in daily lives and livelihoods. More specifically, it has taken the form of poverty, compromised subsis tence strategies and economic development, denial of access to natural resources necessary for healthy livelihood and self sufficiency, denial of self determination and cultural freedom, and essentially an attempt at systematic destruction of Native cultur es and society through assimilation and oppression. Poverty is perhaps the mo st easily demonstrated of these outcomes, using statistics gathered through census data which are comparable to national averages Currently, o ver 80 percent of residents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota live below the federal poverty line and unemployment is approximately 85 percent. The housing situation on the reservation is also a dire issue; many are homeless and houses are often overcrowded and in very po or condition. In many cases, extended families live together, and some figures estimate an average of 17 people living in each family home. Over one third of home s lack electricity, sewage, and water systems. There


62 is no public transportation available on the reservation, and a minority of residents own a functioning automobile. Health and education of the population have also been afflicted. Infant mortality is three times higher than the U.S. national average the highest on the continent. Tuberculosis, c ancer, diabetes, alcoholism, heart disease, and malnutrition are also significantly higher than the national average. Average life expectancy is 52 years for women and approximately 48 years for men, as compared to the national average of 78. The teenage s uicide rate is about 150 percent above the national average (Schwartz 2006, Huey 2010). Although these statistics serve to highlight existing inequalities, it is important to understand them in the context of historical processes, policies, and power dynam ics As previously mentioned, a second area related to vulnerability for the Lakota and ind eed for many Native peoples includes the destruction of traditional subsistence strategies and the failure of economic development. These are multifaceted and comple x issues to say the least, however, some important historical examples can be pointed out in this case study As mentioned in Chapter 1, the Lakota were traditionally mounted nomadic hunter gatherers in the northern Great Plains region, and they were pract icing this form of subsistence quite successfully when European s began to move into the region. Much of their livelihood revolved around the seasonal migration of the buffalo herds (Hamalainen 2003:859 860). Early treaties between the U.S. and the Lakota e nsured their continued hunting rights, and even with the establishment of the Great Sioux Reservation they were guaranteed rights to utilize traditional hunting grounds beyond reservation boundaries as long as the buffalo existed in sufficient numbers (Kap pler 1904). However, as the U.S. Army pushed into Plains territory with railroads


63 advantage. Overhunting and demand for hide and bones, competition for grazing lands, and other factors contributed to a dramatic crash in the buffalo population. An estimated 60 million animals roamed the continent at the time of European contact; at its most critical point during the end of the nineteenth century, less than one thousand a nimals remained (Mihesuah 1996:30). Without the buffalo, the traditional subsistence patterns of the Lakota were no longer possible. The dramatic loss of traditional land base that occurred throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the restrict ion of hunting of assimilation, attempts were made to replace this traditional hunter gatherer livelihood with sedentary farming on reservation lands (Ellis 1972:9 6). However, consistent lack of capital and poor environmental conditions contributed to a general failure of a reservation farming economy. Another attempt at economic development took the form of a stock raising industry. Although this was initially more successful than farming, a combination of disadvantages created by the post lands prevented this industry from providing a base for economic self sufficiency (Lazarus 1999:150 151, 165 166, Ostler 2010:14 2 143, Matthiessen 1983:24 26). The rich natural reso urce base of the Black Hills has been thoroughly exploited by Euro American inhabitants since the land was acquired by the U.S. in 1877. This is aptly displayed in the notable success of mining, timber, livestock, and tourism industries (Lee 2001:269 283). Access to these resources has largely been denied to the Lakota, and one can only speculate as to how history may have played out differently and changed their


64 economic circumstances if they had mainta ined access to the natural resources of the Black Hills. Self Determination as a Human Right The marginalization and circumstances discussed above have all contributed to denial of self used by the U.S. in the treaty making days in a sense represent the overall relationship between the U.S. government and Native peoples that has carried into the present. The dependency created by historic U.S. policies has been utilized to suppress any sy stematic shifts toward greater self determination within Native communities. In addition, for more than a century, the U.S. has been adamant about its policy of assimilation of Native peoples into mainstream American society. The rights outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples set forth minimum international standards for the survival, dignity, and well being of indigenous peoples. The Declaration acknowledges Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. The right to self determination appears several more times throughout the document specifically in Article 3, which affirms the right to self determination of political status as well as economic, social and cultural development; and Article 4, which affirms the right to


65 autonomy or self government in matters relating to local and internal affairs. It is also alluded to more generally thro ughout, including the right to determine development and resource use priorities and strategies, structure and membership of their institutions, identity according to their customs and traditions, and the responsibilities of individuals in their communitie s ( United Nations 2008). The U.S. federal government has unquestionably upheld policies which deny Native self determination and sovereignty. Some would argue that as long as tribes continue to accept government funds and services, they should be subject to federal authority just as any other U.S. citizen. However, as Vine Deloria Jr. and others have pointed out, many such services were commenced in treaties and statutes between the U.S. and Indian nations in which the U.S. guaranteed these services in ex change for vast cessations of land and resources. Deloria describes the general attitude among Indian people a s ambivalence regarding whether they would prefer increasing services offered by the BIA in order to help address long standing problems or elimin ating the BIA altogether. He proceeds to explain that this ambivalence is rooted in the historic relationship of marginalization and exploitation that the BIA exercised through its policies. Over a century under BIA jurisdiction has created a relationship of dependency that has served to severely compromise the self sufficiency that Indian nations enjoyed prior to the invasion of colonial powers. (Deloria 1969:125 126, 203 204). Native Rights and Self Determination in Environmental J ustice of Environmental J ustice Introduction of this thesis, succinctly outlines major areas of marginalization and


66 exploitation leading to states of injustice and vulnerability As mentioned, this document was the result of a multi issue international movement that came out of the 1991 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. Although this Summit was not the beginning of the Environmental J ustice Movement, it has been marked as perhaps the single most i document, the Summit greatly expanded the demands of the movement by broadening the focus from toxic exp osure to a wide range of issues including spirituality, empowerment and self determina tion, exploitation and military occupation, public health, land use, resource allocation and access, balanced participation in decision making, worker safety, sovereignty, and overconsumption ( Bullard 2001:151 155 ). Environmental justice began its evoluti on at a grassroots level, and this is made clear in the presentation of this document. The preamble of the document indicates several principal agents of vulnerability contributing to environmental injustice: the destruction and dispossession of lands and communities, the depr ivation of economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally healthy livelihoods, and the need for economic and cultural liberation and self determination denied by over five hundred years of colonizati on and oppression. The Principles themselves proceed to highlight specific aspects and consequences of these agents that proponents within the movement feel it s agenda should include As this thesis attempts to address, however, the translation of these pr inciples into national policy agenda has not been so successful. In addition, these principles have not been entirely influential in defining popular notions of e nvironmental justice Representations that have permeated the media and national agenda still tend to highlight issues of exposure to toxicity and


67 environmental hazards and ignore historic policies of dispossession and marginalization As previously discussed in the Introduction, this is demonstrated in Executive Order 12898, which requires that fe deral agencies must identify and address environmental concerns within their activities and make achieving e nvironmental justice part of their mission. Yet its actual implementation has almost exclusively focused on exposure of communities to environmental hazards, generally in the form of toxic substances and undesirable land uses (Gerber 2002:45 46, 48 50). An Integrated Federal Interagency Environmental J ustice Action Agenda was published in 2000 as a result of the Federal Interagency Working Group on E nvironmental J ustice (EJ IWG) established under EO 12898 The EJ IWG, comprised of 17 federal agencies and several White House offices, was formed to help guide and support federal e nvironmental justice initiatives ( U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 201 3 ). This Action Agenda of the EJ IWG creative solutions emanating from communities. The Action Agenda seeks to create partnerships between Federal agencies and other stakeholders to promote comprehensive solutions to environmental justice 2000:1). The goals of the Action Agenda include the following: Ensure that no segment of the population, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, suffers disproportionate adverse human or environmental effects, and that all people live in clean, healthy and sustainable communities. Create opportunities for building partnerships between specific Federal agencies to promote comprehensive solutions to environmental justice issues.


68 Promote models based in an integrated approach to addressing environment al, public health, economic and social concerns of distressed communities. Ensure that those who live with environmental decisions (community residents; state, tribal, and local governments; and the private sector) have meaningful opportunity for public participation in the decision making process. Provide a lasting framework for the integration of environmental justice into the missions of Federal agencies. There is also specific mention of the inclusion of indigenous/tribal peoples in these goals (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2000:5). However, somewhat discouraging is the failure to mention the importance of regarding historic al processes that have contribut ed to environmental injustice. Only t wo of the Demonstration Projects ou tlined in th e Action Agenda address Native American communities specifically ; one target s environmental concerns due to contamination in the Metlakatla Indian community of southeast Alaska and the other is a general plan to hold roundtable discussions to address issue s related to e nvironmental justice in Indian Country (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2000). The Action Agenda of the EJ IWG further reiterates the lack of consideration for appropriate redress regarding historic marginalization and confiscation of l ands within Native communities. For well over a hundred years, the government has denied negotiations for the return of the Black Hills. The Lakota have continued to reject monetary compensation and maintain that the Black Hills are not for sale. In a 2011 interview, tribal attorney Mario Gonzalez r eiterated the importance of the Black Hills to the Sioux Indian tribes and their status as the spiritual center for the Lakota. In addition, the dispossession of the traditional lands has meant cutting the Lakota off from the natural resource rich regions while they attempt to survive on the barren, dry landscape


69 set aside for their reservations. Gonzalez sees the theft of the Black Hills and the Although the monetary compensation tribes have been offered currently amounting to roughly $1 billion dollar s may seem like a large sum, industry in the Black Hills currently generates over $2 billion in each year alone. The Lakota have also pointed out that the federal government still owns much of the land and that they are not asking to confiscate land from private citizens If the Sioux tribes accepted the money, it would primarily be distributed on a per capita basis meaning each in dividual would receive only a lump sum of several thousand dollars in exchange for the ancestral lands that represent both their cultural identity and an enormous potential for economic relief (Sreenivasan 2011). Culture of Resistance In considering the d ynamics of federal Indian relations, it is also important to account for actions and reactions among Native groups. This case study is not simply a narrative of white domination and Native submission. Far from being the passive recipients of government mis treatment, the Lakota represent a strong example of Native resistance. From the beginnings of their relationship with the U.S. government, Lakota tribes have spawned strong leaders and activists. Some of the most well known include Crazy Horse, Sitting Bul l, Black Elk, Russell Means, Leonard Peltier, and Vine Deloria, Jr. Reactions to U.S. imperialism and domination can be seen in the military resistance reactions to treaty violations and the invasion of white pioneers that led to the Battle of


70 Little Bighorn in 1876 They can be seen in the cultural resistance displayed in the religious cerem onies in 1883, as well as in the academic and literary resistance displayed in the works of Vine Deloria, Jr., Elizabeth Cook Lynn, and other Native writers who have challenged the history of western expansionism as told by dominant culture and breathed an aspect of self definition into Native American studies. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the Lakota have represented a strong faction within the American Indian Movement from its beginnings. Several important demonstrations were staged in South Dakota, includin g the 1971 occupation of Mount Rushmore (Lazarus 1999:293), the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973 (Matthiessen 1983:60 76, Smith & Warrior 1996:194 217), the establishment of Yellow Thunder Camp in the 412, Matthiessen 1983:526, O stler 2010:179), and the the imprisonment of Leonard Pel tier (Matthiessen 1983:155 375). The movement is committed to challenging ideologies, government and corporate pow ers, and media that marginalize indigenous peoples. In 1974, the First Intern ational Indian Treaty Council (IITC) met on the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with delegates representing 97 Indian tribes and Nations from across North and South Americ a. A result of this gathering was the adoption of the International Treaties. One the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Declaration calls for a committed and


71 unified struggle to secure U.S. recognition of the human and treaty rights of all Native Nations. It al so calls for the interpretation of all treaties according to the traditional and spiritual ways of the signatory Native Nations. Also important is the affirmation of a Provisional Government of the Independent Oglala Nation and the demand for recognition o f its sovereignty by the United States of America. The IITC also expressed the intention of applying for recognition and membership of sovereign Native Nations within the UN, and to open negotiations for the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U .S (First Intern ational Indian Treaty Council 1974). Since 1974, the IITC has supported grassroots indigenous struggles throughout North, Central, South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific through information dissemination, coalition building, network ing, technical assistance, and the organization and facilitation of local and international gatherings. In 1977, the IITC gained recognition from the UN as the first indigenous Non Governmental Organization to gain Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council. The IITC additionally served as a major player in the process of drafting and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples ( IITC 2013 ). In December of 2007, a group known as the Lakotah Freedom Delegation travelled to Washington D.C. to declare the independence of the Lakota from the United States. The group refuses to recognize the tribal governments instituted by the BIA and declared their withdrawal from constitutionally mandated treaties, adopting the name Repub lic of Lakotah plans for political activism, education, health, energy/economics, international aware ness,


72 and sustainable energy efficient housing. The proposed boundaries of Lakotah coincide with those assigned in the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie (Republic of Lakotah 2013 ). Popular support among the Lakota for the independence movement is unclear. Howe ver, individuals within official government appointed tribal councils have expressed that they support their actions. Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, c Sioux tribal council or our government in any way to get our support and we do not support what they've done.'' BIA spokesperson Gary Garrison says that the groups declara (Toensing 2008). uny ielding refusal to accept over $1 billion dollars in monetary compensation for the Black Hills, with which the legal system created a complex justification to legit imate the sale or expropriation (Clinton 1993:155 156). Professor John Ragsdale cites the Sioux as "vivid present examples of Indian nations under fierce economic pressures who have refused monetary substitutes, preferring to hold on to their spiritual, legal, and equitabl e claims part of a broader narrative of "peoples who continue to struggle to maintain their right to lle 2001:67 68). In the face of extreme hardship and adversity, the Lakota have chosen to pursue what they


73 view as true justice rather than accepting temporary monetary relief. This represents an important example of Native communities asserting active res istance against threats of self determination and autonomy. Social Responsibility It is a common reaction for people to attempt to find solutions to surface sympt oms rather than addressing root problems. Investigating holistic solutions in this case for problems rooted in centuries of unequal power dynamics and exposure to imperialism, capitalism, and Western hegemony means a long term commitment and careful intro spection by those participating in a system that continues to perpetuate injustices caused by these historical processes. The first vital step toward taking social responsibility and developing holistic solutions is acknowledging and understanding the roo ts of the problem. American Indians are perhaps one of the most misunderstood and blatantly stereotyped groups in the United to Hollywood films and outdated, one sid ed grade school history books, while American media and academia often do little to present accurate portrayals. If anything, propaganda serves to perpetuate ignorance. As of 2011, the population of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. was appro ximately 5.1 million (of this total, about half were American Indian and Alaska Native combined with one or more other races) (U.S. Census Bureau). However, if I asked you to imagine an American Indian, what is the first thought that pops into your head? T he mounted warrior donning a war bonnet? The


74 Indian princess, the helpless drunk, or perhaps the wise elder? It has been my own experience that a troubling number of people (myself not excluded) have very little actual knowledge of Native cultures and thei r historic and contemporary relationship with colonial powers as well as the contemporary realities experienced by Native peoples living in American society today One theme that stands out to me when considering contemporary American Indian stereotypes is the tendency to attribute socioecon omic issues to internal factors. F or example the epidemic of alcoholism, high unemployment rates, economic dependency, and high school dropout rates. Many of these stereotypes are founded in some sense in reality. Alt hough by no means can they be extended to all Indians, they are relevant issues on many reservations. Problems a rise when it is assumed that th e se issues have emerged from some inherent nature that Indians possess. A common historical thread in Western soc because Native cultures present worldviews that are radically different and often conflicting with those of Western civilization, they possess inherent inferiority Assigning blame to these false assumptions allows one to ignore historic and systematic inequalities, unequal power dynamics, and cultural oppression. American Indian academic Elizabeth Cook Lynn provides a counter narrative to explain the high dropout rates of American Indian stu dropping out of racist and damaging school systems to which they are routinely subjected. It appears instead that there is something systematically unhealthy in the schools, themselves, in their false history based on assumptions of a European body of


75 thought which suggests that the American Indian exp erience is somehow a lesser one (1996:x). At the same time that the Lakota and other groups are attempting to assert their sovereignty and identity in a society still pressuring for assimilation, they are their cultures. In some realms, this appropriation is rather obvious. For example, the FSU Seminoles football tea Pan. In other arenas, this appropri ation may be a bit more subtle f or example, through d cultural imperialism through scholarship and anthropology. In an article published in American Indian Quarterly Kathryn W. Shanley Indian people often implications of doing so. Popular images often do not account for the actual lived experienc es of American Indians ( 1997:12 14). The issues presented in the case study of the Lakota and the Black H ills land dispute are representative of much broader issues experienced by indigenous peoples worldwide. In many cases, the relationships that exist have been building for several centuries; developing and adopting solutions that are healthy for all partie s involved will take a great deal of time, effort, and compromise. Understanding and embracing these realities in environmental justice, and in particular, considering how historical relationships affect contemporary injustice, is vital to the realization of true justice.


76 C ONCLUSION Based on my own lived experience within American society, many people tend to view issues of injustice in federal Indian policies as a sad but inevitable fact of our history a sine qua non that most try to replace in history books with happy images of Most people who grew up in the United States have probably heard of the famous Wounded Knee Massacre that involved the slaughter of about 30 0 unarmed Lakota men, women, and children there have been numerous books written and documentaries made about it; the unimaginable atrocities committed make a perfect plot twist for a to imagine how little time has actu ally passed since this tragedy occurred, and that there are still individuals alive today who remember great grandmothers and grandfathers who lost their lives. And although military conquest has perhaps come to an end, structural violence and conquest in the U.S. certainly has not. rooted in historic and contemporary action of a government that continues to address them on a superficial level and like s to pretend th at if you ignore such problems they will eventually disappear (at least from the collective knowledge of our society). In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills, and sculptor Gutzon Borglum began carving the faces of four U.S. presidents into the side of a mountain. The idea was originally conceived to


77 Belanger et al. 2002 ). The National Park Service website proudly declares: Mount Rushmore National Memorial is visited by nearly three million people each year that come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and learn about the birth, growth, devel opment and preservation of the country. From the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share ( National Park Service 2013 ). Mount Rushmore does indeed bring visitors face to face with a shared heritage, although I cannot say for certain how many of the millions truly appreciate the significance of this heritage or the legacy that continues to play out in the lives of contemporary Americans of all backgro within this heritage. By speaking of these issues from the perspective of e nvironmental justic e we are able to shed light on some aspects of injustice experienced through federal Indian relations, however the breadth and depth of it could in truth be examined from many different angles and fields of study. From this particular perspective I wish t o highlight aspects of social injustice that manifest in relation to the environment and livelihoods of considering not just contemporary symptoms, but historical processes w hen addressing e nvironmental justice issues. Recent Status of the Black Hills Land Dispute The beginning of the Obama administration brought new hope for many individuals still fighting for the recovery of the Black Hills. President Barack Obama


78 expresse d a willingness to meet with representatives of the Great Sioux Nation regarding land claim negotiations. In August of 2009, the Oglala Lakota Nation held a gathering in ng development of a plan addressing Black Hills Claim issues to be presented to President Obama. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama issued the following statement: Barack Obama is a strong believer in tribal sovereignty. He does not believe court s or the federal government should force Sioux tribes to take settlement money for the Black Hills. He believes the tribes are best suited to decide how to handle the monetary award themselves. Obama would not be opposed to bringing together all the differ ent parties through government to government negotiations to explore the innovative solutions to this long standing issue (qtd in Afraid of Bear Cook 2009 ). During the White House Tribal Nations Conference in 2009, President Obama addressed representat ives of 386 tribes and signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to submit recommendations within 90 days on how best to improve tribal participation in forgotten were violated. Promises were broken. You were told your lands, your religion, your cultures Also in 2009, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court that would allow Sioux tribes to use judgment monies awarded in the 1980 Supreme Court decision. Wanda L. Howey Fox, one of the lawyers wh the money does not amount to selling the Black Hills. She was adamant that the possibility of recovering the Black Hills is f utile. However, Charlotte Black Elk, an


79 are of the significance of the Black Hills and money, tribal members would mean relinquishing their identities as Indians (Brokaw 2009). These statements represent ongoing conflict within tribal factions regarding the land dispute. President Obama is the first president to extend an offer to meet with Sioux tribes on the Black Hills land claim, however he insisted that the nine tribes involved in the Claim must first unanimously agree among themselves on a proposal. According to Tim Giago, a Native American journalist who has covered the story for over thirty years, the land dispute has in the past been the source of a great deal of squabbling amongst tribal members. However, country surrounding the Black Hills land dispute ( Sreenivasan 2011). One result of the campaign pr omises made by President Obama was the formation Association also appointed tribal members for negotiations with the Obama a resolution of the Black Hills land claim through the ICC that entails the return of Black Hills lands held by the federal Black Hills guaranteed by the 1868 Treaty of Fo rt Laramie, the unification of Tribal Councils and Treaty Councils in order to develop a realistic settlement plan, and the


80 participation of all tribes of the Sioux Nation in negotiations ( He Sapa Reparations Alliance 2013 ). Reactions and UN Recommendati ons on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, hearings were held in 2011 by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in order to discuss the ramifications of the Declaration. Dur ing these hearings, it was asserted that although the Obama administration considered lack of attention to initiatives that address the legal and political status of Native peoples troubling. The limitation of the document to non well for the implementation. Robert Coulter, Executive Director of th e Indian Law only inconsistent with our Constitution and human he U.S. (IWGIA 2011). In response to the 2011 hearings, the Black Hills National Treaty Council voiced its opposition to the U.S. approach to its adoption of the UN Declaration. They accused the United States of impeding the progress of an international i ndigenous rights standard from its inception and unilaterally interpreting the UN Declaration in a way that continues to deny Native nations self determination and international status. They also to government basis, rather


81 to basis reiterates U.S. treaty violations and denial of sovereignty. The Treaty Council delivered a statement to the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs asserting its refusal to acknowledge any limits on its rights which utilize federal Indian law, including the recent hearings by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Norrell 2011). On September 11, 2012, UN Special Rapporteur on th e Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya released a report based on information gathered during an April 23 to May 4, 2012 visit to the United States to meet with U.S. officials, and various Native tribes and nations in Washington D.C., Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, and Oklah for authorities in the U.S. to peoples and address persistent deep seeded problems related to historical wrongs, failed policies of the past and continuing systemic barr iers to the full realization of indigenous challenges that are related to widespread historical wrongs, including broken treaties and acts of oppression, and misguided g overnment policies, that today manifest themselves in various indicators of disadvantage and impediments to the exercise of their individual and resolution of outstandi ng claims of treaty violations and non consensual takings of lands to which indigenous peoples maintain cultural, religious, and economic attachments. Anaya cites the Black Hills Land dispute between the Lakota and the federal government as an example of a n unsettled claim which should be addressed in order to establish a


82 solution that explores control and restoration that allows the Lakota greater access and presence in the Black Hills (2012b ). In a video interview also posted in September 2012, Anaya stat and these are not just historical phenomena. What happened to Indigenous Peoples the colonization of their territories, the taking of their lands, the undermining of their cultures, and in many cases the massacres of their peoples has ongoing consequences that are manifested in the social and economic disadvantages Indigenous Peoples across the United States face. They face severe challenges in ter ms of their own human The Future of the Black Hills Land Dispute The f uture of the Black Hills land dispute is still uncertain; however there is reason for those seeking reparations through the return of land to hold onto hope. Ther e are examples of successful repossession of lands by other Native tribes. One example is the recovery of Blue Lake by the Taos Pueblo people in New Mexico. Like the Lakota, the Taos Pueblo Indians had spent decades fighting for the return of the Blue Lake Watershed. According to Taos Pueblo tradition, the location in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is a sacred place where their ancestors first ascended from the earth. They also relied on the land as an important source of water and sustenance. The Taos Pueb lo reaffirmed by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe after the land was ceded to the U.S. government. However, the 48,000 acre region was confiscated in 1906 under the


83 Roosevel t administration and eventually placed under the control of the U.S. Forest Service. Like the Lakota, the Taos Pueblo people put forth decades of persistence and court battles in order to recover land that held vital cultural and economic significance. In 1970, the Senate voted, 70 to 12, to return the land title of the Blue Lake watershed to the Taos Pueblo Indians, and President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law (Rico 2013). gove forward in the pursuit of Native and environmental justice the case of t he land dispute illustrates the fundamental inadequacy of monetary compensation offered for the th eft of the Black Hills and two centuries of marginalization of its Native inhabitants, as well as federal efforts toward redress of historic injustices in general. Executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council William Means denounces the co urt decisions: [F]irst of all, the courts [in Sioux Nation] identified the thief of the Black Hills in 1877 as the U.S. Congress. The second thing the court did was allow the thief to keep what he had stolen. The third thing the court did was allow the thi ef to determine the value of the land. The fourth thing they did was allow the thief to impose or attempt to impose that monetary judgment upon our people in exchange for the land (qtd in LaVelle 2001:65). It is clear from the persistence of the Lakota th at the torch carried by the generations since the 1877 Act that forcefully alienated Sioux tribes from Paha Sapa is and recent UN recommendations that specifically addr ess the need for reparations in the case of the Black Hills land claim, prospects for a resolution are still within sight. Nevertheless, if the restoration of Native rights to the Black Hills land and resources is to succeed many questions remain regardin g how best to establish these rights and who exactly has a legitimate right to these land and resources. What is certain is that the


84 development of any future proposals must include honest dialogue and the participation of all parties involved above all th e Native peoples dispossessed of traditional land and resources and resolutions must acknowledge both historic and ongoing injustice. In the Concluding Remarks There are several areas concerning this thesis that I would either have done differently, or believe could guide important future research on the subject. I think, first and foremost, is the lack of fieldwork and ethnographic research in this thesis. Although I had originally hoped to include this, my circumstances did not allow for it. Because my thesis was primarily done through library research, for the most part I only have a second hand perspective on the issues of which I speak. T hroughout the process of this thesis, the actual voices of those involved felt noticeably absent. This was particularly salient because of the nature of the topic I chose. I was writing about a people that have been exploited and marginalized not only by t he federal government, but also by academics, for centuries. Although I made an attempt to include voices from multiple sides of the issue through literature whenever possible, I feel that this thesis would be much more meaningful if ethnographic research had been included. Another topic I struggled with was the inclusion of the concept of vulnerability. I believe the concept itself is very important to consider in environmental justice and policy decision making that aspires to justice, yet I found that th e methodology of vulnerability assessment offers its own perspective on such issues, and although it is


85 related to environmental justice it is in many ways a separate perspective and a separate discipline. In order to avoid writing a second thesis, I attem pted to discuss the concept of vulnerability without detailing the methodology of vulnerability assessment as a discipline. However, I believe research concerning the perspective of vulnerability assessment represents an important area of future research. Although in writing this thesis I had no intentions of offering solutions to the issues presented in this case study, it is clear to me that a just resolution must include several elements. To begin with, there must be a much deeper level of acknowledgem ent and understanding concerning the history and shared heritage in this country the good, the bad, and the ugly. Additionally, it will require the restoration of self determination that Native peoples have been denied through several centuries of coloniza tion. It is not the right of the U.S. government to decide how these peoples will move forward, however, it does hold a great deal of responsibility in helping to return the self sufficiency that was taken through the process of colonialism, land disposses sion, and marginalization which would have to include, among other things, the return of lands and access to resources that were unlawfully taken. The process of restoring this self determination will also demand the decolonisation of tribal governance and federal policies that concern Native peoples. Above all, the process of healing will necessitate a degree of understanding and mutual cooperation between incommensurable and often contrasting worldviews, as well as respect for different cultural systems and values and their consideration and participation in policy decisions and to whatever degree they wish, society at large


86 APPENDIX : The Principles of Environmental Justice WE, THE PEOPLE OF COLOR gathered together at this multinational People of Colo r Environmental Leadership Summit, to begin to build a national and international movement of all peoples of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, do hereby re establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of o ur Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world and our roles in healing ourselves; to ensure environmental justice; to promote economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally safe livelihoods; and, to secure our political, economic and cultural liberation that has been denied for over 500 years of colonization and oppression, resulting in the poisoning of our communities and land and the genocide of our peoples do affirm and adopt these Principles of Environmental Justice: 1) Environmental Justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction. 2) Environment al Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias. 3) Environmental Justice mandates the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resource s in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things. 4) Environmental Justice calls for universal protection from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons and nuclear testing that t hreaten the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food. 5) Environmental Justice affirms the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self determination of all peoples. 6) Environmental Justice demands the cessation o f the production of all toxins, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials, and that all past and current producers be held strictly accountable to the people for detoxification and the containment at the point of production. 7) Environmental Justice dema nds the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation. 8) Environmental Justice affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environ ment without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment. It also affirms the right of those who work at home to be free from environmental hazards.


87 9) Environmental Justice protects the right of victims of environmental injustice to receive full compensation and reparations for damages as well as quality health care. 10) Environmental Justice considers governmental acts of environmental injustice a violation of international law, the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, and the U nited Nations Convention on Genocide. 11) Environmental Justice must recognize a special legal and natural relationship of Native Peoples to the U.S. government through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming sovereignty and self determinat ion. 12) Environmental Justice affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature, honoring the cultural integrity of all our communities, and provided fair access for all to t he full range of resources. 13) Environmental Justice calls for the strict enforcement of principles of informed consent, and a halt to the testing of experimental reproductive and medical procedures and vaccinations on people of color. 14) Environmental J ustice opposes the destructive operations of multi national corporations. 15) Environmental Justice opposes military occupation, repression and exploitation of lands, peoples and cultures, and other life forms. 16) Environmental Justice calls for the educa tion of present and future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based on our experience and an appreciation of our diverse cultural perspectives. 17) Environmental Justice requires that we, as individuals, make personal and consume r choices to consume as little of Mother Earth's resources and to produce as little waste as possible; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles to ensure the health of the natural world for present and future generations Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24 27, 1991, in Washington DC, drafted and adopted 17 principles of Environmental Justice. Since then, The Principles have served as a defining document for t he growing grassroots movement for environmental justic e ( 1991).


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96 2012 Environmental Justice. Accessed online at, Accessed March 2013. Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. Accessed online at, U.S. Forest Service Accessed February 2013. Black Hills National Forest. USDA. Accessed online at,!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy 8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6BdkOyoCAPkATlA!/?ss=110203 &navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=FSE_003853&navid=09100000000000 0&pna vid=null&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ttype=main&pname=Black% 2520Hills%2520National%2520Forest %2520Home/faq/index.shtml#q2 2011 Black Hills National Forest Collaborative Forest Restoration Project. USDA. Accessed online at, lls/BlackHillsProposal.pdf Walker, J. R., Raymond J. DeMallie Ed. 1982 Lakota Society Fi rst Bison Book printing. ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Winter, Karly C.,Student author 2010 Saving Bear Butte and Other Sacred Sites. Great Plains Natural Resources Journal 13:71 84. Witkin New Holy, Alexandra Lynn 1997 The Significance of P lace: The Lakota and Paha Sapa. University of California, Berkeley. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.