Home Meetings Meetings February 10, 2007

February 10, 2007

Feb. 10, 2007

Special Meeting on Uranium

Meeting Notes

Opening Prayer: Dennis Spotted Tail, Sr.

Opening Remarks: Charmaine - This information to be presented can be depressing, but we need to look at it as a challenge that we have no choice but to win. If we lose this challenge, the whole world will lose. Uranium not only harms us here in the Midwest, but when it is used in nuclear power plants, the wastes harm the environment, or when it is used in nuclear weapons, then we know the kind of destruction that will bring. Tunkasila must think we can handle this challenge, so we must learn as much as we can and do the best we can to stop the uranium for hurting the environment, the people, and the future.


Film: “The River That Harms” This film depicts the consequences of a uranium mine waste water dam break that spilled into the Puerco River in New Mexico in 1979, and the cost to the Navajo people who lived along that river. It also shows the effects on the children whose parents were exposed to radiation in the Shiprock, NM, area.

Charmaine explained the current situation regarding uranium within the 1868 Treaty Territory:

   1. More than 1,000 abandoned open pit uranium mines and prospects are polluting all the rivers in the Area with their runoff. We have a copy of a water test for uranium from the Mni Wiconi pipeline, more than 200 miles from the Missouri River, that shows that uranium is being carried in the pipeline. (Information from a map from the US Forest Service of the area with yellow dots for sites of abandoned uranium mines and prospects.)

   2. Current uranium development in the southwestern Black Hills in the form of In Situ Leach (ISL) mining will hurt the aquifers. There are already 4,000 exploration holes in this area in the Black Hills north and northwest of Edgemont, and now 155 more holes are going to be drilled. Defenders attended a hearing on Jan. 17 on this in Pierre. The mining company, Powertech, received their permit despite our objections. There is no process for exploratory mining permits for uranium so these ISL exploratory mining operations are considered under the general exploratory mining permits. In the past 4,000 holes were drilled in this are and have not been capped or marked. They are large enough that an adult male could fall in. There is no way to save any person or animal who falls in since the holes are too deep. [We need an attorney - pro bono, knowledgeable of SD Administrative Law before Friday, Feb. 16 to help us stop drilling any further exploration holes.] There are 3,000 exploratory holes west of Belle Fourche in Wyoming. (Information and maps available)

   3. The missile silos and radar stations that were built all over the Territory in the 1950s and 1960s were possibly powered by small uranium power plants called submarines. What happened to these and their wastes? (An article from the Rapid City Journal is included.)

   4. The radioactive fallout from the above ground detonations of nuclear bombs in the 1950s and 60s in Nevada fell on South Dakota as well causing thyroid cancer primarily to those people who were children at that time. (Map and information available from the National Cancer Institute*.)

Charmaine offered to give this presentation to all the Tribal Councils, and any organizations, schools, colleges, Districts, or communities. All the people in South Dakota and the surrounding states need to learn about this threat . She hopes that soon everyone present at the meeting would also be able to give the same information, and encouraged everyone to take home and read all the information that was available. There is more information if anyone wishes more.

Discussion and Recommendations
- All worker bees are invited to help.

   1. An effort is being made to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act by a group from New Mexico. We have cards to send to Senators Johnson and Thune, and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth asking them to push for the expansion of RECA.*

   2. The Oceti Sakowin needs to be reunited and declare our Territory to be a nuclear free zone. Have a meeting with the Secretary of State who is to meet with nations regarding the treaties, and if no response then go to court with the Secretary of State.

   3. We need to work with the Tribal Councils and begin imposing the Winter’s Doctrine on all the water. Recommend an immediate injunction to stop any further pollution of the rivers.

   4. Recommend contacting Waterkeepers Alliance.

   5. We need lawyers in SD Administrative law, Civil Rights law and are working with the Natural Resource Defense Council on environmental considerations. We need a lawyer to begin a class action suite for all the people who have been hurt by the radiation in the water.

   6. We need more specific research on health data. The State Health Department report which says that the cancers in South Dakota are not caused by uranium has no data to back up their statement.

   7. A handout is available with the names and addresses of the members of the SD Interim Rules Committee. They need to have a hearing on the new ISL regulations. If no hearing, the rules are automatically approved. The rules favor the mining companies. The SD Water Board also needs to study and have input into the ISL rules as they will affect aquifers.*

   8. The Tribal Councils need to pass clean air acts to protect the air on the reservations from nuclear and other kinds of pollution. North Dakota is the third most air polluted state and their air flows down first into the Standing Rock Reservation then into the rest of South Dakota and the country. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could help us all by passing a resolution for clean air.

   9. A generic resolution is available for the tribes to protect the people, their environment, and economy from nuclear pollution. (See attached.) Everyone is encouraged to ask their Tribal Attorneys to strengthen the language, and then asking their Tribal Councils to pass the resolution. This is a proactive move for protecting all people as the Tribes efforts will assist everyone, not just the people on the reservations.

  10. Give a presentation to a SD Stockgrowers’ meeting. Cattle and livestock that eat plants polluted with radiation suffer diseases and the radiation locates in internal organs and muscles.

  11. Write an article for the “Livestock News.”

  12. Meet with the SD Stockgrowers’ President and ask if they would include and information flyer in their mailing.

  13. Keep an information booth at the Central States Fair.

  14. Give the presentation at a Democracy in Action meeting.

  15. Ask for a Resolution from the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman’s Health Board.

  16. Find a celebrity to help with our efforts.

  17. Form letters are available to send to SD Governor Mike Rounds requesting a moratorium on all uranium development. *

  18. Brian will draft a bill to not allow exempting aquifers.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Harold One Feather is one of the volunteer researchers for Defenders. He attended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission workshop on licensing In Situ Leach mines in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8. In his report at the meeting, he said of the 100 people in attendance, 40 were from mining companies including Powertech and Energy Metals who mine in South Dakota. NRC has about 6 employees who will be studying the Environmental Impact Statements that are submitted by the mining companies for ISL mining. There is a big push for uranium mining since the price went from $7 per pound to $70 pound. There are many ‘junior’ companies who are small startup companies just now getting into uranium mining, such as Powertech. The meeting lasted from 9 to 12:00 then in the afternoon were breakout sessions. His trip was sponsored by Indigenous Environmental Network and Western Mining Action Network. Harold also told about his trip to the WMAN conference in Sept.

   1. Frank Sanchez, Yankton, told about their history and their continuing struggles to retain jurisdiction on the Yankton Sioux reservation. He stated that the Oceti Sakowin needs to reunite to help each other with these battles.

   2. Defenders needs three 4-drawer filing cabinets. Frank Sanchez offered to provide these.

   3. The Ihanktowan Dakota Treaty Committee (Yankton Sioux Tribe) is hosting an Oceti Sakowin Conference Planning meeting, Feb. 19 & 20, 2007 at the Ft. Randall Casino on SD Hwy 46, 3 miles east of Pickstown, SD. Charmaine has been asked to give her presentation on uranium at 9:00 Monday, Feb. 19. Everyone is invited to attend.

   4. A Prayer Gathering sponsored by Defenders will be held in the southern Black Hills on Sat., Feb. 24, 2007. Everyone is invited to meet at the Mueller Civic Center, 801 South 6th Street, Hot Springs, SD, at 10:00 a.m. Weather permitting, a caravan will proceed into the southern Black Hills for the ceremonies.

   5. A Uranium Summit will be held on Tues. March 27, from 9 - 4:30 in the Ballroom at Surbeck Center, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, March 2007. The event features Professor Kim Kearfott, Nuclear Physicist, University of Michigan. Everyone is invited. A noon meal is being provided by a grant from the Indigenous Environment Network and Western Mining Action Network. The event is cosponsored by SDSM&T’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

   6. Comments are being taken by the US Forest Service regarding plans to drill three exploratory holes for gold in an area west of Spearfish. Anyone wishing more information, please call (605) 399-1868.

Closing Prayer: Phillip Farrel

Pot luck meal followed by showing of “Inconvenient Truth.”

Notes by Janice Badhorse Larson; compiled and edited by Charmaine White Face.

[* If you would like a copy of the information, please write or call the office. Thank you.]


Feb. 19 & 20, 2007 - Mon. & Tues. - 9 -5:00 pm

Oceti Sakowin Conference Planning Meeting

Ft. Randall Casino on SD Hwy 46, 3 miles east of Pickstown, SD Sponsored by the Ihanktowan Dakota Treaty Committee (Yankton Sioux Tribe) Contact: Francis Bernie (605) 491-4602, Margaret Zephier at (605) 384-3814, Evelyn Blackmoon at (605) 384-4479

Charmaine White Face, Coordinator, will give a presentation on uranium at 9:00 AM, Mon., Feb. 19th. A showing of the film, “An Inconvenient Truth” also called The Al Gore movie will be shown at 7:30 PM. Everyone is invited to attend.


Feb. 24, 2007 - Saturday - 10:00 - 4:00

Southern Black Hills Prayer Gathering

Meet at the Mueller Civic Center, 801 South 6th Street, Hot Springs, SD, at 10:00 a.m. Weather permitting, a caravan will proceed into the southern Black Hills for the ceremonies. Noon meal and meeting to follow.


March 27, 2007 - Tuesday - 9 am - 4:30 pm

Uranium Summit

Ballroom at Surbeck Center
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
521 East St. Joseph St., Rapid City, SD

Featured Speaker: Professor Kim Kearfott, Nuclear Physicist, University of Michigan

A noon meal is being provided by a grant from the Indigenous Environment Network and Western Mining Action Network. The event is cosponsored by SDSM&T’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Indigenous Environment Network, and Defenders of the Black Hills.

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