July, 2012 Newsletter - 3rd Quarter
The third Quarterly meeting was held on Saturday, July, 7, 2012. The meeting had originally been planned for June 23, but scheduling conflicts occurred and the meeting had to be postponed.
In the Opening Remarks, Charmaine White Face, the Coordinator, explained that there are so many issues, and have been fr om the beginning, that she sees her job as letting others know about projects, and the time and place for comments or meetings. She thanked those that attended the South Rochford Road Meeting in Hill City which she couldn’t make, and also those that sent comments letters in to the National Guard. This kind of participation by many people is what helps to have an effect on the issue. If many people attended the meetings, what kind of cumulative effect would we have?
1. National Guard and the National Grasslands. In the last newsletter, everyone was asked to sign and send in a form letter, or send their own letter in their own words to stop the National Guard fr om coming into a very fragile ecosystem in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Thank you to all of you who did send in letters. The US Forest Service who manages the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands said that it will be another year before the Environmental processes are finished. The National Guard was planning to begin their war games in the National Grasslands this past June 1. This gives more time to talk to the National Guard and the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation about the disturbance of naturally occurring uranium in the proposed project area and the health dangers to the soldiers and the people on the Reservation.
There needs to be a large public meeting so these issues can be discussed and more people made aware of the dangers. Anyone interested in being on a Planning Committee for a large public meeting, please call the Coordinator at 605-399-1868.
2. South Rochford Road (Pesla) Update A Public Scoping Meeting to begin the environmental processes on South Rochford Road, also known as the Pe Sla Road, was held on Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Hill City. Although the Coordinator had planned on attending, a family emergency just prior to the meeting stopped her fr om attending. However, some of the Defenders did attend which is the reason these alerts are sent to everyone, so important issues can always be covered by a Defender. As Ben Rodd did attend the Public Scoping meeting, we asked him to give an update. However, evidently he didn’t make it back fr om Washington state in time for our meeting this past Saturday. Sandra Little will be following up on the South Rochford Road Project, and will try to contact Ben Rodd for more information.
The following is fr om the Pennington County Highway Department website on Rochford Road. “The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in cooperation with the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) and Pennington County are in the process of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation act (NHPA) on proposed roadway improvements to South Rochford Road.
“The proposed project would involve roadway improvements for approximately ten (10) miles of South Rochford road, between the Town of Rochford and its intersection with Deerfield Road. The proposed project is considered necessary to improve year-round access to the Town of Rochford fr om the Deerfield Lake area.
“HDR Engineering, Inc. out of Rapid City, SD has been selected by the Pennington County Commissioners to complete the EIS and has developed a website for the project which can be found at South Rochford Road EIS .”
3. Gold Mining in Spearfish Canyon One of our allies, Gary Heckenliable fr om ACTion for the Environment, spoke about their work on a new gold mine planned for the rim of Spearfish Canyon near Latchstring Inn, Savoy, and Bridal Veil Falls in the Canyon. Called the Deadwood Standard gold mine, approval was given by the Lawrence County Planning and Zoning Commission last week.
This is one of the most beautiful places in the Black Hills, and ACTion for the Environment did get a Scenic and Unique designation for the canyon, but now this new gold mine could begin operation.
It is time for the Tribes to get involved. If you are a tribal member, please contact your Tribal President and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer asking them to send a letter requesting no approval of the Deadwood Standard Gold Mine, and send it to the Lawrence County Commission, 90 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD 57732.
More importantly, PLEASE ATTEND the Lawrence County Commission Meeting on the Deadwood Standard Gold Mine at the Deadwood City Hall on Monday, July 23rd, at 1 p.m. to voice your concerns. Thank you.
4. Uranium Update Two Defenders, Charmaine White Face and Pam Blue Horse attended the Seventh Generation Funds annual conference, this year, June 15-18, in Albuquerque, NM. Charmaine was on a panel talking about the Uranium situation in the Northern Great Plains. Charmaine explained that in the issues that come before Defenders, she chose to work on the Uranium issue because of her science background and understanding of chemistry and geology. In this Northern Great Plains Region, there are more than 3,000 abandoned, open-pit uranium mines, and more than 10,000 unmarked, uncapped, and unfilled uranium exploratory wells as deep as 800 feet. Some of these are large enough for a man to fall into. Wyoming doesn’t know exactly how many exploratory wells are in that state. The coal in this Region is also laced with uranium which is not monitored or regulated by the federal government, so more people than just in this Region are being affected by radioactive pollution when mining and later by burning the coal. This polluted air and water also affects agricultural crops. She calls this region, “America’s Secret Chernobyl.”
A hand out was available on plans by a German company for yet another uranium mine in the region. She said it is getting too difficult to watch all the mines as there are too many new mines and abandoned mines. At the meeting in Albuquerque, making allies with the Southwest Tribes, she recommended that 2 bills be written and introduced in Congress: one for the cleanup of all the abandoned uranium mines, and a second Bill for no new uranium mines in the United States. The campaign process itself will give more awareness of this problem that affects all the people in the United States. Anyone wishing to work on this campaign, please call Charmaine at 605-399-1868. If you know how to write bills, or how to raise funds and plan for a national campaign, we need you!
5. Debra White Plume fr om Owe Aku Mrs. White Plume entered the meeting at this time and was asked to introduce herself. She said she was there to ask the Defenders if they had any questions about Owe Aku, their family, or tiyospaye, organization. One of the members asked what Owe Aku did, and was told a list of activities in which they were involved.
Mrs. White Plume said she came to the meeting regarding a letter dated March 30, 2012, with Defenders’ email address on the top. Charmaine stated that the letter was fr om the Sioux Nation Treaty Council and sent at their request as Defenders supports the work of the Sioux Nation Treaty Council, and Charmaine is the appointed Spokesperson for the Council. Charmaine said the letter was sent after Mr. Kent Lebsock was stating at the International level that he was the Representative for the Great Sioux Nation. Charmaine asked why Owe Aku would support a white man, Kent Lebsock, who says he is the Representative for the Great Sioux Nation? Instead of answering the question, Mrs. White Plume asked Charmaine why she didn’t come to see Mrs. White Plume individually. Charmaine answered that she was responding at the International level to questions that were being asked at the International level about Kent Lebsock. In the letter Charmaine stated that Owe Aku was a family organization, that the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council was established by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, an IRA (Indian Reorganization Act) government and therefore part of the American system, and that Kent Lebsock was not Indigenous and did not represent the Great Sioux Nation.
Mrs. White Plume stated that the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council represented the Great Sioux Nation. However, Wajaja elder, John Long Sr. stated again that the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council was created by an IRA government and it was under the American system. Oglala tribal member, Sandra Long, further reiterated that this is verified in history books. Mrs. White Plume then asked about the Sioux Nation Treaty Council. Charmaine stated that it was formed in 1894 by He Dog and represented the people, and that all members of the Great Sioux Nation were a part of the Sioux Nation Treaty Council including Mrs. White Plume. Mrs. White Plume then stated that Charmaine had been invited to the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council meetings but she never attended. Charmaine responded that the BHSNTC passed a resolution a number of years ago that women could not talk about the Treaty so she had no reason to attend. Mrs. White Plume asked how Charmaine became the Spokesperson. Charmaine responded that she was appointed by the Sioux Nation Treaty Council in 1994. She took over the position in 2004 when her predecessor passed on as it is a lifetime position.
Charmaine asked Mrs. White Plume if she wanted to talk about the uranium situation in Nebraska. She said that they are still in the appeals process with the Atomic Energy Agency to stop the renewal of a license for an expansion of an active In Situ Recovery mine. She said it was the Crow Butte Uranium Mine, then was changed to the Cameco Uranium Mine at Crow Butte. Discussion continued about regulatory agencies.
6. Oil Well Drilling at Pine Ridge Discussion was held regarding possible oil well drilling on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the need for more hydrogeology maps, especially maps of exploratory wells for oil and gas. Mr. Long said the BIA would have the maps in Washington, DC. Concern was expressed about another “Inconvenient Truth” which is going to be the lack of oxygen due to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere caused by the burning of coal and oil. Also, in the Tetuwan culture, there is no drilling or digging into Grandmother Earth. It was also mentioned that there is a trend to go away fr om coal and oil and go to natural gas with fracking. This again greatly pollutes the water, but burning natural gas also puts carbon in the atmosphere which grabs onto oxygen.
7. Nominations to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation We need to begin nominations to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as there are many projects that have no tribal objections according to information recently received by the Coordinator. There is a move to begin considering cultural landscapes as historical properties. This would include all the Black Hills. The Treaty Territory is also a historic site. We need a Regional organization that is focused on the National Historic Preservation Act. Anyone wishing to work on this project, please call the Coordinator at 605-399-1868. Thank you.
Black Hills Prayer Gathering - Sept. 22 - Pe Sla
10:00 a.m. begin Caravan fr om the Mother Butler Center to Pe Sla; need singers.
Potluck Lunch will follow the prayers. Anyone wishing to be on a Planning Committee to help with this, please call 605-399-1868. The public is invited.
Next Meeting: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, during the Black Hills Pow Wow, 1 - 5 tentatively in the coffee room of St. Isaac Jogues Church, 221, Knollwood Dr., Rapid City, SD.
Annual Raffle: Need items for the Raffle prizes. A star quilt with a turtle for “Turtle Island” has been donated by Sandra Little. Last year our biggest draw was the $100 of buffalo meat. If anyone wishes to donate funds for buffalo meat, we will contact Intertribal Bison Corporation again to see if they will match the monetary donation.
Our annual raffle starts with the Black Hills Pow Wow in October, and ends at the Lakota Nation Invitational Basketball Tournament in December. If you wish to donate an item for the raffle, please send it to:
Defenders of the Black Hills, PO Box 2003, Rapid City, SD 57709.
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