Oglala Sioux Tribe evicting tribal ranchers to make way for bison park


December 5, 2013 Rapid City Journal

Andrea J. Cook Journal staff

Sandra Buffington has spent her life working to carve a home and ranching business out of the sparse grasslands around the South Unit of Badlands National Park.

But she and other Lakota ranchers face the possibility of losing their grazing rights to make way for a huge bison reserve planned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Buffington, who is in her late 60s, runs her cattle year-round on 11,000 acres of leased land. It’s land that her father once leased. She also owns 80 acres where her home sits.

Many of the ranchers in the path of the planned reserve for a herd of 1,000 bison own small sections of land close to or adjacent to the land they lease.

The letter revoking Buffington’s permission to continue grazing also reminded her that the tribe also has the power to condemn her own land, land that has been in her family for many years.

“The land I’m leasing is what my father leased,” Buffington said.

Without the leased land, she would have to sell her cattle. A grandson’s dream of some day operating the ranch would be lost, she said.


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