Whiteclay clashes continue

Sept 11, 2013 By KERRI REMPP


Protestors continue to rally against alcohol sales in Whiteclay, with the situation escalating last week.

Incidents began on Labor Day when protestors marched into the small town just south of the South Dakota state line.

“That day, basically, they were pretty calm, except they went to some of the beer stores and squirted some substance in to the locks. It appeared to be some kind of glue,” said Sheridan County Sheriff Terry Robbins. Store owners had to replace the locks.

The next day, authorities and protestors confronted each other again during weekly beer deliveries by Budweiser.

The protestors hid behind a building on the South Dakota side of the border until the trucks arrived and then attempted to gain access to the beer stores, engaging in confrontations with authorities, Robbins said. A female individual also allegedly spray painted a Whiteclay building. As authorities tried to arrest her, other protestors began shoving, hitting and spitting on the officers, which included Robbins, one of his deputies and two Nebraska State Patrol troopers. Robbins and the NSP troopers each requested additional help from their respective agencies.

The protestors eventually moved back in to South Dakota. An NSP report indicated that there they set up four cars across the road and refused to allow traffic entry to South Dakota.

The Budweiser delivery was halted Sept. 3, and the trucks told to “back out of town” until the matter was under control, Robbins said. Delivery was never completed that day, but all three distributors that serve the town were able to make deliveries without issue on Thursday. Budweiser also visited Whiteclay again this week without problems.

“The sad part about this is that very few of these people (the protestors) actually live in Shannon County, and very few are tribal members,” Robbins said. Many of the protestors are from other areas of the country, and many do not appear to be Native American, he added.

The Pine Ridge Reservation recently voted to allow alcohol sales on what has traditionally been a dry reservation. The tribal council must still formulate the regulations and policies that will guide alcohol sales and consumption on the reservation. Robbins said he’s visited with tribal members who are for and against allowing alcohol on the reservation.

Sioux Students Kindle Solar Knowledge

It started with a spark — an interest in green energy. This glimmer of curiosity led Lyle Wilson, an instructor at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota and U.S. Army veteran, to start researching renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal. Now sparked by Lyle’s interest, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation are finding new possibilities in their clean energy capabilities.

Students and instructors at Oglala Lakota College designed, connected and built a mobile solar energy system over the course of two days. | Photo courtesy of Oglala Lakota College.<br /><br />
July 24, 2013 Energy.gov
Minh Le
Program Manager, Solar Program

As part of his work at Oglala Lakota College, Lyle works with students in the applied sciences department to construct houses for members of the tribe. He envisioned taking the work a step further by integrating solar panels into new homes to help reduce power bills. To make it happen, Lyle reached out to Solar Energy International (SEI), which helps coordinate solar training courses for the Energy Department’s Solar Instructor Training Network.

From there, a group of students and instructors at the college signed on for SEI’s Photovoltaic (PV) 101: Solar Design and Installation course, in which they set up their first grid-tied photovoltaic system. This introduction served as fuel for their solar fire. Next, about 20 people took part in SEI’s PV 203: Solar Electric Design (Battery-Based) class. This course allowed them to install two 250-watt solar panels on their construction trailer.

“Most kids don’t want to sit in class — they want to get out and do things,” said Lyle. “We did a short one-day lesson in the classroom then went down to the yard and designed, connected, and built the system over two days. Our students were actually sort of stunned to learn how easy it is to do something like this once they understand the fundamental concepts.”

The mobile solar energy system built through the PV 203 course now provides enough power to run electric tools at construction sites, supports community service projects and serves as an educational resource for school-aged children.

Lyle sees these accomplishments as just the start. With more knowledge, more possibilities come into focus. Up next, the students hope to take another SITN course on setting up their own power grid. This would offer potential savings for the tribe, provide a degree of energy independence and empower students by bringing new job skills into the community.

“We could install 40 panels as a test to see how much money we could save by getting power from the sun,” said Lyle. “Then we could pass that information on to the tribe.”

Beer delivery truck shot at by air soft rifle in Whiteclay

Watch the on scene report here


Another beer delivery truck has been attacked by anti-alcohol activists in Whiteclay.

Nebraska State Patrol officials say air soft rifles were fired at a High Plains Budweiser truck Monday afternoon.

Lieutenant Lance Rogers with the Nebraska State Patrol says the investigation has been turned over to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs because the altercation crossed state lines.

The plastic pellets were shot at the beer truck in the Nebraskan town of Whiteclay from the ‘Zero Tolerance’ camp on the South Dakotan border.

The small town of Whiteclay has been the center of many as anti-alcohol protests, where activists say they want to keep alcohol off of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.

Governor, tribal president talk for just 2 minutes

By KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star

July 8th 2013

Not many problems can be solved in two minutes.

And that includes the situation in Whiteclay.

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer of South Dakota and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman had planned for weeks to get together Monday morning to try to address alcohol sales in Whiteclay and alcoholism on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

But the meeting ended after fewer than three minutes, and the governor’s office and Brewer later traded barbs over whose fault that was.

“I feel very bad that I came down here to talk with him for a couple minutes,” Brewer said. “He didn’t want to talk to me.”

The tribal leader said he walked out because Heineman was aggressive and said Brewer violated the governor’s request to meet without media involvement. He said the governor had asked him

Bryan Brewer, president of South Dakota's Oglala Sioux Tribe, speaks Monday after meeting with Gov. Dave Heineman to discuss his concerns about alcohol sales in the Nebraska town of Whiteclay that borders South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.NATI HARNIK/The Associated Press
Bryan Brewer, president of South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux Tribe, speaks Monday after meeting with Gov. Dave Heineman to discuss his concerns about alcohol sales in the Nebraska town of Whiteclay that borders South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
NATI HARNIK/The Associated Press

to not speak to the media before their meeting.

However, both Brewer and Heineman spoke to reporters in the days and hours leading up to their meeting. Heineman spokeswoman Jen Rae Wang said Brewer was the one who originally had requested a closed meeting with no media present.

“The governor was happy to accommodate that,” she said.

Brewer said the governor was especially angry about a news release that appeared Sunday saying the governor had received $96,000 in contributions from the liquor industry and charged that illegal alcohol activity and bootlegging in Whiteclay have not been stopped because of financial contributions to him and other Nebraska politicians from Anheuser-Busch, distributors and alcohol trade associations.

A spokesman for Alcohol Justice — a California-based, self-described watchdog of the liquor industry — cited the National Institute on Money in State Politics as its source. The institute describes itself as a nonpartisan nonprofit that seeks to reveal the influence of campaign money on politicians.

“He verbally attacked me,” Brewer said. “I didn’t write that article. I don’t know why he’s mad at me.”

Wang said the governor has not been influenced by any campaign contributions from liquor industry representatives.

“That’s absolutely false, and it’s completely inappropriate,” she said.

She said the governor had set aside an hour to spend with Brewer and had invited Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Col. David Sankey, Chief of Staff Larry Bare and the governor’s policy adviser to attend.

Wang said Brewer made it clear he didn’t plan to stay long and have a serious conversation about the problem of alcoholism on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

At a news conference Monday morning before the meeting, Heineman said the state of Nebraska has no legal way to shut down beer stores in Whiteclay as long as those stores follow the law. And, he said, it is Brewer’s responsibility to address the underlying problem that has led to rampant alcohol sales there.

“As the leader of his tribe, he’s got to put a focus on treatment and education relative to alcohol abuse,” Heineman said.

Brewer refused to take responsibility for his people’s actions, Wang said.

“The governor remained at the table and was hopeful to have an open and honest conversation about some of the difficulties surrounding this issue,” Wang said. “I would just call it an unfortunate situation.”

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted last month to hold a reservation-wide referendum this fall on whether to legalize alcohol on the Pine Ridge. Asked whether he supports that, Heineman declined to offer an opinion.

“I think that’s up to them to decide,” he said.

Brewer said he doesn’t want to see his tribe legalize alcohol but that he would do his best to regulate alcohol sales if tribal members vote yes.

He said he met earlier Monday with Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, who offered to assist the Oglala Sioux Tribe address alcohol sales in Whiteclay.

Brewer said he had hoped to talk to Heineman about re-creating an alcohol-free buffer zone south of the reservation that existed for more than 20 years until 1904. He said he also hoped to discuss making Whiteclay a national historic place to honor a massive sun dance that occurred there decades ago. Such a designation could force the beer stores to close, he said.

“I will continue working with the state of Nebraska,” he said. “I’ll refuse to deal with (Heineman) in the future.”

Brewer said he would like to be able to offer more treatment services to tribal members, but the tribe lacks the funding to do so. It has one treatment center with only seven beds, he said.

“I have to come up with the money somehow,” he said. “Our people are dying up there.”

During a news conference outside the State Office Building by activists after the meeting between Heineman and Brewer, Winnebago activist Frank LaMere said the governor clearly failed to show Brewer the respect he deserved as the leader of a sovereign nation.

“President, I apologize for our Nebraska governor,” he said. “I apologize for the way you were treated today.

“That to me is shameful.”

Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

Lakota to file UN Genocide Charges Against US, South Dakota

Jeff Armstrong in Native Challenges.
June 1, 2013 7:57 am est
Jeff Armstrong is a longtime journalist and activist in Fargo, North Dakota. This article originally appeared in Counterpunch.

NEW YORK – In April, a grassroots movement led by Lakota grandmothers toured the country to build support for a formal complaint of genocide against the United States government and its constituent states. Though temporarily overturned, the recent conviction of Efrain Rios Montt for genocide against indigenous Guatemalans should give US officials, particularly members of the Supreme Court, pause before dismissing the UN petition as a feeble symbolic gesture.

The tribal elders’ 12 city speaking tour culminated in an April 9 march on United Nations headquarters in New York and an April 18 press conference in Washington where the Supreme Court had just heard arguments in a challenge to the landmark 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. Attracting support from Occupy Wall Street and other non-Native allies in the New York march, the Lakota Truth Tour delegation was physically blocked by UN security officers from presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s office a notice of charges against the U.S. under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

lakota-march-on-the-unAn excerpt from the complaint, still being refined into its final, legal form, reads: “This letter serves notice as complaint, that the crime of genocide is being committed, in an ongoing manner, against the matriarchal Tetuwan Lakota Oyate of the Oceti Sakowin, an Indigenous First Nation people whose ancestral lands comprise a large area of the Northern Great Plains of Turtle Island, the continent known as North America.” As evidence, the Lakota cite systematic American usurpation of their land and sovereignty rights, imposition of third world living conditions on the majority of Lakota, US assimilation policies that threaten the future of their language, culture and identity, and environmental depredations including abandoned open uranium mines and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline slated to invade the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Lakota grandmothers and their allies in the Lakota Solidarity Project have even produced a powerful, full-length documentary, Red Cry, available on DVD or online at www.lakotagrandmothers.org »

But the UN complaint is just one facet of a multi-pronged legal, political and educational movement within the indigenous Lakota, Sioux, nation to stop the state removal of Native children from their families into white foster homes and institutions, arguably the most salient and best-documented evidence of ongoing US violation of the genocide convention. Article 2 of the convention defines acts of genocide as follows:

“…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Historically, one could make a case for the applicability of most, if not all, of the above provisions to official US policies over more than two centuries. Certainly the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Wounded Knee massacre, of which the perpetrators have yet to be stripped of their Medals of Honor, and Sand Creek slaughter perpetrated by the US military in the latter part of the 19th century, the General Allotment Act of the same time period, the Termination/Relocation policy of the 1950s, the FBI’s war on the American Indian Movement, and the cumulative legal decisions validating the above on explicit or implicit grounds of racial or cultural superiority, come to mind as constituting violations of contemporary international standards of crimes against humanity, if not genocide per se.

Indeed, the ink was scarcely dry on the Genocide Convention before the US deliberately set out to violate Article 2(e) by arbitrarily removing Native children from their families as part of a comprehensive strategy of abolishing reservation boundaries and absorbing indigenous peoples into the states that surround and besiege them. In 1950 President Truman appointed Dillon S. Meyer, fresh from his experience administering the Japanese internment camps with an iron fist, as Indian Commissioner to carry out the final solution to the Indian Problem, i.e., their stubborn refusal to fade into the mists of history, itself a genocidal concept, that has haunted this nation since its inception. It was the formal policy and procedure of the United States at the time to forcibly transfer indigenous children to white homes and boarding schools as a component of a strategy to “terminate” tribes as distinct peoples, meeting the essential threshold of intent under the Genocide Convention. It would have been embarrassing to say the least if the Soviet Union or its allies would have initiated legal genocide charges against the self-avowed fount of human liberty at the United Nations. So it was that the US celebrated its victory over genocidal Nazi imperialism by rebranding the practice in Indian Country as emancipatory individualism and refusing to ratify the 1948 convention until nearly 40 years later.

Ironically, it was the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 that enabled the US to ratify the Genocide Convention by manifesting its intention to stop the wholesale removal of Native children from their families and tribes. ICWA established minimal protections of due-process rights for indigenous parents and recognized the exclusive jurisdiction of existing tribal courts to adjudicate child welfare cases within reservation boundaries, also allowing tribes to intervene in state cases. Ratified by the US in 1986, the Genocide Convention was not implemented until 1989, and then only after denying universal jurisdiction and limiting prosecutions under the act to a five year statute of limitations for violations of the federal crime of genocide. As a measure of the government’s commitment to punishing the ultimate international crime, the federal offenses of arson, art theft, immigration violation and some crimes against financial institutions all carry a statute of limitations period longer than five years. Rios Montt himself would be immune from prosecution under the federal genocide act.

A remarkable 2011 National Public Radio series, Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families, revealed that the federal government not only fails to enforce the baseline standards of ICWA against the states. but actually underwrites the removal of Native children in some cases with additional funds, adding an economic incentive to the racial and cultural ones.

Focusing on South Dakota, a yearlong investigation by NPR reporters Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters found that 90% of the 700 Native children taken from their homes yearly in that state were placed in white foster homes or group homes, in blatant violation of ICWA provisions mandating that any Indian child taken into foster care be placed with a family member, tribal member, or other Native family in the absence of “good cause” to the contrary.

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Naughty names nixed on Pine Ridge reservation

SD panel: Offensive titles given to geographic features should go.

By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press

Published April 06, 2013, 07:49 AM in the Daily Republic


PIERRE — A South Dakota panel charged with scrubbing the state of offensive place names has recommended that two creeks, a dam and two other geographical features on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation be renamed to reflect the area’s traditional use for deer hunting.

The state Board on Geographic Names is proposing that the locations — all of which feature a variation of the phrase “Squaw Humper” — get new names in the Lakota language. For example, Squaw Humper Creek would instead be Tahc’a Okute Wakpa, which translates to Deer Hunting Ground Creek.

The names were suggested by Oglala Sioux tribal officials at a March 28 hearing on the reservation.

The state Board on Geographic Names will seek public comment on the proposed names before taking a final vote in June.

The names then would be submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which has the final say on naming places.

The renaming of the five features in northwestern Shannon County is the second case in which the state board has used a new process aimed at increasing public involvement in changing offensive names for places, mostly features that use the terms “Negro” or “Squaw” but are so small they do not appear on most maps. The board recently recommended that Negro Creek in Meade County be renamed Howe’s Creek because it’s near the community of Howes.

The board’s chairman, state Secretary of Tribal Relations J.R. LaPlante, said the panel is grateful for the grassroots effort by historian Wilmer Mesteth and other officials of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Historic Preservation Office to find culturally appropriate replacement names.

“Really, we were just ecstatic as a board to see the involvement. And of course, the names being recommended were in the original native tongue. It was just an exciting day for us,” LaPlante said.

Joyce Whiting, project review officer for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, said she is happy the state board accepted the Lakota names proposed for the creeks and other features.

“Years ago, all the names — all the creeks, the buttes, everything — they were in Lakota,” Whiting said.

“It’s something for me to witness this and to be a part of it.”

The features being renamed apparently got their original names because a man lived in the area with two American Indian women, Whiting said.

The 2001 South Dakota Legislature passed a law to start eliminating offensive names, and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has since changed the names of 20 places in the state.

Another state law passed in 2009 listed 15 names that hadn’t been changed and created the new state board to tackle the job.

However, the federal board has deferred action on some name changes, partly because it said the state had not sufficiently involved the public in renaming geographic features.

Next, the state board will seek new names for some places in Custer County, located in the southwestern corner of the state.

Whiting said tribal officials also would like to see something done about places with names that do not meet the official definition of offensive, but bother American Indians. Some places named for military officers sent to the area to subdue American Indians more than a century ago should also be known by their Lakota names, she said.

Oglala Sioux demand an end to illegal alcohol sales activity harming their people

Pine Ridge Liberation Day Event Turns Into Alcohol-Related Showdown in Whiteclay Nebraska, Says Alcohol Justice

PINE RIDGE, S.D., March 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Alcohol Justice is reporting that a serious confrontation over illegal alcohol activity occurred last night on the border between Whiteclay Nebraska and the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota. 

“We have so many strong sober relatives that the only option is to continue to heal,” stated activist Olowan Martinez. “We no longer hide our spirituality, we no longer walk in shame of who we are. An escape from the slavery of alcohol is now occurring and soon the mind of the Oglala Lakota will also be liberated.”

Eyewitness reports state a Round Dance celebration for Liberation Day 2013 (in recognition of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation) turned into a showdown between Nebraska state troopers and Native Oglala Lakota activists working to end destructive alcohol use when Nebraska State troopers walked onto Pine Ridge sovereign land. They warned Bryan Brewer Sr. , Oglala Sioux Tribal President, that if he stepped into Nebraska he would be charged with trespassing.

A state trooper performed an alcohol Breathalyzer test on Whiteclay Nebraska Sheriff Terry Robbins due to his behavior and results were not made public. Over a hundred Oglala Lakota marched into the town of Whiteclay forcing the state troopers to withdraw from the area. Tribal President Bryan Brewer Sr. stated that “…on Friday March 1st, activists will return with five times as many people to shut down Whiteclay.”

25% of Pine Ridge Reservation youth suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

2/3 of Pine Ridge Reservation adults suffer from alcoholism.

What:  Liberation Day 2013 Rally to end illegal alcohol activity in Whiteclay Nebraska

When:  Friday, March 1, 2013 

Where:  Border of Pine Ridge South Dakota and Whiteclay Nebraska

Who:  Representatives from:           

  • Oglala Lakota Nation
  • Deep Green Resistance
  • Community Supporters

Why: To stop the illegal alcohol activity at Whiteclay, Nebraska such as:      

  • Retailer participation in alcohol smuggling into the Pine Ridge Reservation
  • Trade of alcohol for sex
  • Loitering at the premises of alcohol retailers with open containers
  • The inability of Nebraska Liquor Commission to stop illegal retailer activity
  • Recent homicides and physical violence
  • Alcohol sales to minors                                                                  
  • Alcohol sales to intoxicated people

Source: PRNewswire