Home Meetings Meetings May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007

Defenders of the Black Hills

PO Box 2003, Rapid City, SD 57709

Update Report - May 21, 2007

Above Ground Nuclear Detonations from the 1950s & 60s:

The above-ground detonations from the 1950s & 60s have caused many of our people to have thyroid cancer and they cannot have it taken care of by the Indian Health Service.  The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) needs to be expanded to include all people affected by the above-ground detonations.  We are encouraging everyone to complete the attached form letters to the South Dakota Congressional delegation.

Better yet, make additional copies and have your friends and relatives also send them in. What to do: put your address at the top, the date, and sign the letters after “Sincerely.”  Then, don’t forget to mail them directly to the Senators or Congresswoman.  Thank you.

April 28, 2007 Meeting  The Regular Defenders meeting was held in St. Francis at the St. Francis Community Hall.  The film “Lakota Voices of the 21st Century” was shown followed by a regular meeting.  Many topics were discussed but the uranium issue was one of the main subjects.  Getting the young people involved was also discussed.

Charmaine gave a report on a young lady named Holly from California. Holly began emailing Defenders about two and a half years ago when she was a sophomore in High School.  She is a senior this year.  Holly wanted to do something to help and was receiving the monthly news letters.  This past December, Holly and her friends put on a dinner.  They advertised it all over and charged $15 a plate.  They showed the two films, “Lakota Voices…” and “The Defenders of the Black Hills.”  They raised $1,000.00.  It was this money that provided the gas, food, and lodging for Defenders’ interveners to be able to attend the hearing on Jan. 17 & 18 in Pierre, SD, on the Uranium Exploration Permits.  Without the help of this young lady, we would not have been able to attend and continue with our endeavors for the protection of Mother Earth. 

Areas other than the uranium issue that need fund raising include: Bear Butte Legal Fund, Bear Butte Land Trust Fund, and the International Work, besides General Expenses. General expenses are used wherever there is an urgent need.

Uranium Issue:  Powertech has started drilling in the southwestern Black Hills.  The judge has denied a motion for an injunction. A hearing on a Stay is scheduled for June 4th at 10:45 AM in the Pennington County Courthouse, Rapid City, SD.  If  Powertech finishes drilling by then, our lawsuit will be over.  We were trying to stop the exploratory drilling.

Cotteau West Freedom Mine Prayer Gathering will be held on the morning of May 28, 2007, at 10:00 AM at the turtle site located on the gravel road at the north end and about a half mile to the west of the administrative offices of the Cotteau Power Plant.  The Cotteau Power Plant is located north of Beulah, ND. 

Cotteau Power Company plans on bulldozing 1700 burial and sacred sites this summer in an area to the south and west of the turtle.  They are strip-mining for coal.  This will be the third prayer gathering at the turtle site.  The graves were from the Battle of Killdeer Mountain a few miles to the west.  The turtle petriforms are spoken of in Tetuwan (Lakota) stories.

Cave Hills Prayer Gathering will be held at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, May 29th. 
at the sacred site at the base of the rim rock near the entrance to the Riley Pass Mine.  We do not encourage young people and children from attending as the area is high in nuclear radiation from the abandoned uranium mines.

1851 Treaty Commemoration   Discussion was held on requests to do a large commemoration of the signing of the 1851 Treaty on Sept. 17th.  Anyone wishing to volunteer to be on a committee to plan, organize, and handle the commemoration should send a letter to Defenders of the Black Hills, PO Box 2003, Rapid City, SD 57709.

Next Regular Meeting  will be held from 1:00 - 5:00 PM on Saturday, May 26th, in the coffee room of St. Isaac Jogues Church next door to the Mother Butler Center, 221 Knollwood Drive, Rapid City.

Anyone wishing to host a meeting, please let us know before the next Regular Meeting by calling (605) 399-1868.  We will gladly conduct a meeting in your community, finances permitting.

Sample Letter:  Please consider sending to the South Dakota Congressional delegates:

Dear ______________,

    Many people living in the state of  South Dakota have been affected by the fallout from the detonations of nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site, and the radioactive pollution from abandoned uranium mines and prospects in our region.  You have an opportunity to help those that were harmed by supporting the expansion of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

    Hearings need to be held in the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the victims who should be covered by RECA to insure that they receive adequate medical monitoring and treatment.  Those hearings should also include those harmed by the more than 1,000 abandoned uranium mines and prospects in the four state region of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota.

    Senator, as cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Dakota, it is time to stop the cause and to help alleviate the suffering  of your constituents.  It would be even better if you took the lead on this effort to show the people of South Dakota and the United States that you truly care for the health of the people. We look to you for that leadership.

Thank you.


Addresses of South Dakota Congressional delegates:

Senator Tim Johnson
136 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4103

Senator John Thune
United States Senate SR-383
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Stephanie Herseth
331 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Press Release

May 20, 2007
"Restraining Order Denied"
"Appeal in jeopardy"

Rapid City, SD -- A temporary restraining order to stop any further uranium exploratory drilling in the southwestern Black Hills has been denied by a South Dakota Circuit Court Judge John Delaney. In an email sent Friday, May 18, 2007, the judge stated: “I have received the proposed TRO [Temporary Restraining Order]. It does not comply with statutory procedures and is therefore denied without prejudice.”

The motion for the restraining order was submitted after a motion for a Preliminary Injunction was filed on April 5, and a Motion to Stay was filed on April 30. A hearing was finally scheduled for June 4th at 10:45AM in the Pennington County Courthouse.

However, Powertech (USA), a Canadian mining company, began drilling exploratory holes in the southwestern Black Hills before the hearing could occur. These actions triggered the request for the Temporary Restraining Order.

Cindy Gillis, lead counsel for Defenders of the Black Hills and ACTion for the Environment, expressed her concern about the lack of a way to stop the drilling until the scheduled Hearing date. Powertech ignored the motions for the preliminary injunction and the stay, and their attorney, Max Main of Belle Fourche, stated in a Rapid City Journal article on May 18th that his client has a valid drilling permit.  The procedure to grant the permit is being appealed. Until the appeal is decided, the legality of the permit is questionable.

Gillis stated, “Powertech has jumped over the judicial process by drilling the test wells.  Even more troubling is the fact that the court now say that a stay is the only statutory procedure for maintaining the status quo.”

Charmaine White Face, founder and coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills said, “Our concern is that all the exploratory wells will be drilled before the hearing on the motion for a stay.  Then our appeal to the circuit court is moot and unresolved.  This would be a grave injustice.”

Gillis, along with attorney Mario Gonzalez, are the attorneys for the two environmental groups who appealed the decision to grant the exploratory drilling permits.  In the appeal, the two groups state their arguments were not heard by the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment because of Constitutional due process violations. Their evidence to deny the permit was not considered by the Board, nor were their objections heard prior to approval and signing of the permit.  They also contend that there is no legal record of their objections even though the groups followed the Board’s procedures

The permit allows Powertech to drill 155 more exploratory wells at depths of 500-600 feet in the southwestern Black Hills.  They already have 4,000 uncapped, and unmarked uranium exploratory wells drilled in the past. The mining company plans on doing In Situ Recovery of uranium from the Lakota and Fall River aquifers. In Situ Recovery was formerly known as In Situ Leach mining.

During the In Situ Recovery process, a solution to dissolve the uranium is poured down the wells and the dissolved uranium brought back up to the surface. The uranium is separated from the rest of the radioactive waste solution. The radioactive waste solution is then put back into the aquifer after being held in waste ponds on the surface. The procedure contaminates aquifers and cannot be controlled underground. In case of sudden rainstorms, the radioactive waste ponds often overflow and contaminate the surface ground and nearby watersheds as well.

According to Powertech’s application, each exploratory drill hole “will have a small excavated mud pit that will be approximately 12 feet by 5 feet” and 10 feet deep. Among the concerns of the environmental groups are the possibility of overflow from the mud pits with the sudden rain showers that occur in the Black Hills. One of the aquifers empties directly into the Cheyenne River. Among the deeper aquifers of concern is the Madison which provides water for many western South Dakota communities.


For more information call Charmaine White Face, Coordinator, at (605) 399-1868.

Mission Statement

"Defenders of the Black Hills is a group of volunteers without racial or tribal boundaries whose mission is to preserve, protect, and restore the environment of the 1851 and 1868 Treaty Territories, Treaties made between the United States and the Great Sioux Nation."

Speaking about radioactive fallout, the late President John F. Kennedy said,

"Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby who may be born long after we are gone, should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent."

July 26, 1963 upon signing the ban on above ground nuclear tests