Pine Ridge Reservation-Wounded Knee [Wiki x4]

19 Jul

Indigenous issues are very close to my heart as a Salish of the Flathead Nation, where struggles with poverty, and with the government are constant.  I’m not certain why illegal Hispanics and black issues continue to take front and center in the political realm without hardly a mention of Indian struggles.  Americans need to remember what was done, and know there is still very substancial suffering as a result of those actions.

I watched a documentary about the shoot-out on Pine Ridge and it brought up many questions about the reservation, wounded Knee Incident, and the White Clay beer sales.  As such, I greedily read the associated Wiki pages, and for your ease, have compiled them here.  I’m still looking for a free documentary or kindle book. . .  This is a long set of information, but very worth the read:

-Pine Ridge was established in 1889 in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border. Today it consists of 3,468.86 sq mi (8,984.306 km2) of land area and is the eighth-largest reservation in the United States.

-Only 84,000 acres (340 km2) of land are suitable for agriculture.

[that’s only 3.8% of the land good for agriculture a.k.a. survival]

-According to the USDA, in 2002 there was nearly $33 million in receipts from agricultural production on Pine Ridge. Less than one-third of that income went to members of the tribe.

-As of 2011, population estimates of the reservation range from 28,000 to 40,000. Numerous enrolled members of the tribe live off the reservation

  • 80% of residents are unemployed (versus 10% of the rest of the country);
  • 49% of the residents live below the Federal poverty level (61% under the age of 18);
  • Per capita income in Shannon County is $6,286;
  • The Infant Mortality rate is 5 times higher than the national average;
  • Because of the high rate of alcoholism on the reservation, one in four of its children are born diagnosed with either FASD or FAS.
  • The school drop-out rate is over 70%,
  • teacher turnover rate is 800% that of the U.S. national average.
  • Native American amputation rates due to diabetes is 3 to 4 times higher than the national average;
  • Death rate due to diabetes is 3 times higher than the national average; and
  • Life Expectancy in 2007 was estimated to be 48 for males and 52 for females (the population on Pine Ridge has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere)
  • adolescent suicide rate is four times the United States national average.

-The population of Pine Ridge suffer health conditions commonly found in Third World countries, including high mortality ratesdepression,alcoholismdrug abusemalnutrition and diabetes, among others.

-Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.

– the reservation has little economic development or industry. No banks or discount stores are located on the reservation.

[Events that led up to why things are so bad now:]

-Initially the U.S. military tried to turn away trespassing miners and settlers. Eventually President Grant, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of War, “decided that the military should make no further resistance to the occupation of the Black Hills by miners.”[5] These orders were to be enforced “quietly”, and the President’s decision was to remain “confidential.”

-the Sioux resisted giving up what they considered sacred land. [Which was initially set aside as reservation land by US government] The U.S. resorted to military force. They declared the Sioux Indians “hostile” for failing to obey an order to return from an off-reservation hunting expedition by a specific date, but in the dead of winter, overland travel was impossible.[7]

-In 1876 the U.S. Congress decided to open up the Black Hills to development and break up the Great Sioux Reservation. In 1877, it passed an act to make 7.7 million acres (31,000 km2) of the Black Hills available for sale to homesteaders and private interests.

-Wounded Knee Massacre:

[different from the Wounded Knee Incident, which is discussed a little later]

-On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, saying he had paid a lot for it.[12] A scuffle over Black Coyote’s rifle escalated and a shot was fired, which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening firing indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.

-In the end, U.S. forces killed at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux and wounded 51 (four men, and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300.

-Twenty-five troopers also died, and thirty-nine were wounded (six of the wounded would also die).[13] Many Army victims were believed to have died by friendly fire, as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions.

-A law passed in Congress in 1832 banned the sale of alcohol to Native Americans. The ban was ended in 1953 by Public Law 277, signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The amended law gave Native American tribes the option of permitting or banning alcohol sales and consumption on their lands.

-On January 25, 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order returning the 50 square miles of the of the White Clay Extension into the public domain. The town of Pine Ridge (often called Whiteclay), in Sheridan County, Nebraska, just over the border from the reservation, was established in the former “Extension” zone and quickly started selling alcohol to the Oglala Sioux.

-During World War II, in 1942 the Department of War annexed 341,725 acres (1,382.91 km2) of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for use by the United States Army Air Force as an aerial gunnery and bombing range.

-It condemned privately held land owned by tribal members and leased communally held tribal land.

-Another family forced to give up their land was that of Dewey Beard, a Miniconjou Sioux survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre. One of the models for the Indian Head nickel, he was 84 years old at the time of the taking and still supported himself by raising horses on his 908-acre (3.67 km2) allotment received in 1907. The compensation provided by the government was nominal and paid out in small installments insufficient to make a down payment on other property; Dewey Beard and others like him became homeless. He testified before Congressional hearings in 1955 when the Sioux sought to address their grievances over the land taking.[25]

“For fifty years I have been kicked around. Today there is a hard winter coming. I do not know whether I am to keep warm, or whether to live, and the chance is I might starve to death.”~Dewey Beard’s 1955 testimony before Congress at age 97 on the taking of his land for inclusion in the Badlands Bombing Range

-Longstanding divisions on the reservation resulted from deep-seated political, ethnic and cultural differences. Many residents did not support the tribal government.

-Officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, administrators and police, still had much influence at Pine Ridge and other American Indian reservations, which many tribal members opposed.

Richard A. “Dick” Wilson was elected chairman (also called president) of the Oglala Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

-opponents of Wilson protested his sale of grazing rights on tribal lands to local (white)ranchers at too low a rate, reducing income to the tribe as a whole, whose members held the land communally. They also complained of his land-use decision to lease nearly one-eighth of the reservation’s mineral-rich lands to private companies.

-Most recently, many residents were upset about what they described as the autocratic and repressive actions by the current tribal president Dick Wilson, elected in 1972.

-Some full-blood Oglala believed they were not getting fair opportunities.

-He also began showing what his detractors would describe as authoritarian behavior. In his first week, he challenged the eligibility of council member Birgil L. Kills Straight because of residency requirements.

-He preferred governing using the five-member executive council instead of consulting with the full tribal council of 18, which several times he called into session on important issues only belatedly.[5]

-He was criticized for favoring family and friends with jobs and benefits.  In response, Wilson reportedly said, “There’s nothing in tribal law against nepotism.”[

-creating a private militiaGuardians of the Oglala Nation(GOONs), to suppress political opponents, which he paid from tribal funds.

– introduced eight charges of impeachment against Wilson at a council meeting. They charged him with nepotism in hiring tribal government staff, operating the tribe without a budget, two counts of misappropriating tribal resources for personal use, failing to compel the treasurer to make an audit report, failing to call the full tribal council according to the bylaws, using the executive committee to bypass the housing board, and illegally arresting Keith.

-After an attempt to impeach Wilson failed, his opponents had a grassroots uprising. Several hundred Lakota people marched in protest, demanding the removal of Wilson from office. US Marshals were assigned to protect Wilson and his family.

February 27, 1973, AIM Organization accepted the responsibility of providing all necessary strength and protection needed by the Oglala Sioux in the efforts to rid themselves of corrupt tribal president, Dick Wilson. Because this degenerated human being is financed and wholly supported by the FBI, CIA, BIA, U.S. Justice Dept., and the U.S. Marshals, it is virtually impossible to for any Oglala to voice any kind of opinion which may run contrary to this puppet government with out being arrested or beaten…a policy that cannot go unchallenged or unanswered.

-About 200 AIM and Oglala Lakota activists occupied the hamlet of Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973. They demanded the removal of Wilson, restoration of treaty negotiations with the U.S. government, and correction of U.S. failures to enforce treaty rights.

-Another concern was the failure of the justice systems in border towns to prosecute white attacks against Lakota men who went to the towns for their numerous saloons and bars.

-The Oglala Lakota saw a continuing pattern of discriminatory attacks against them in towns off the reservation, which police did not prosecute at all or not according to the severity of the crimes; they were also increasingly discontented with the poor conditions at Pine Ridge.

-February 25, 1973 the U.S. Department of Justice sent out 50 U.S. Marshals to the Pine Ridge Reservation to be available in the case of a civil disturbance.”[2] This followed the failed impeachment attempt and meetings of opponents of Wilson.[2]

-AIM says that its organization went to Wounded Knee for an open meeting and “within hours police had set up roadblocks, cordoned off the area and began arresting people leaving town… the people prepared to defend themselves against the government’s aggressions.

-The federal government established roadblocks around the community for 15 miles in every direction. In some areas, Wilson stationed his GOONs outside the federal boundary and required even federal officials to stop for passage.

-Visits by the U.S. senators from South Dakota, FBI agents and United States Department of Justice (DOJ) representatives, were attended by widespread media coverage, but the Richard Nixon administration was preoccupied internally with Watergate.[22]

[The Wounded Knee incident officially began February 27, 1973]

-Members of the Oglala Lakota, the American Indian Movement, and supporters occupied the town.

-The activists chose the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre for its symbolic value.

-The events electrified American Indians, who were inspired by the sight of their people standing in defiance of the government which had so often failed them. Many Indian supporters traveled to Wounded Knee to join the protest. At the time there was widespread public sympathy for the goals of the occupation, as Americans were becoming more aware of longstanding issues of injustice related to American Indians.

-while the United States Marshals ServiceFederal Bureau of Investigation agents and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area.

-The equipment maintained by the military while in use during the siege included fifteen armored personnel carriers, clothing, rifles, grenade launchers, flares, and 133,000 rounds of ammunition, for a total cost, including the use of maintenance personnel from the National Guard of five states and pilot and planes for aerial photographs, of over half a million dollars.

-After 30 days, the US government tactics became harsher when Kent Frizell was appointed from DOJ to manage the government’s response. He cut off electricity, water and food supplies to Wounded Knee, when it was still winter in South Dakota, and prohibited the entry of the media.

-When Lawrence “Buddy” Lamont, a local Oglala Lakota, was killed by a shot from a government sniper on April 26, he was buried on the site in a Sioux ceremony. After his death, tribal elders called an end to the occupation.[6] Knowing the young man and his mother from the reservation, many Oglala were greatly sorrowed by his death.

-Both sides reached an agreement on May 5 to disarm.[2][3] With the decision made, many Oglala Lakota began to leave Wounded Knee at night, walking out through the federal lines.[6] Three days later, the siege ended and the town was evacuated after 71 days of occupation; the government took control of the town.

-turned into an armed standoff lasting 71 days.

-Wilson remained in office and, following the occupation, violence increased on the reservation, with residents reporting attacks by his GOONs.

-More than 50 of Wilson’s opponents died violently in the next three years

-When Wilson ran for reelection in 1974, he faced a dozen challengers. He placed second in the primary, and defeated Russell Means in the runoff election on February 7.

-A United States Civil Rights Commission investigation reported ballot tampering, a large number of ineligible voters, improprieties in the appointment of the election commission, and “a climate of fear and tension.” Its report concluded the election results were invalid, but a federal court upheld Wilson’s reelection.[23]

-Wilson was only the third person to be elected to consecutive terms as Oglala Sioux Tribal Chair since the position was created in 1936.

-The murder rate between March 1, 1973, and March 1, 1976, was 170 per 100,000; it was the highest in the country. Detroit had a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 in 1974 and at the time was considered “the murder capital of the U.S.” The national average was 9.7 per 100,000.[31]

[Wow *shakes head*]

-More than 60 opponents of the tribal government died violent deaths in the three years following the Wounded Knee Incident, a time many residents called the “Reign of Terror”.

-Among those killed was Pedro Bissonette, executive director of the civil rights organization OSCRO.[32] Residents accused officials of failing to try to solve the deaths

-In this period of increased violence, on June 26, 1975, the reservation was the site of an armed confrontation between AIM activists and the FBI in what became known as the Pine Ridge Shootout.[37]

-Two FBI agents, Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams, and the AIM activist Jim Stuntz were killed.

-After being strongly defeated in the 1976 election for tribal chairman, Wilson moved with his family off the reservation.

-Alcoholism among residents has been a continuing problem in the life of the reservation since its founding.

Pine Ridge, Nebraska (also known as Whiteclay), a border town selling millions of cans of beer annually, primarily to residents from the reservation in South Dakota, where alcohol possession and consumption is prohibited.

-The town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (just over the South Dakota-Nebraska border) has approximately 12 residents and four liquor stores, which sold over 4.9 million 12-ounce cans of beer in 2010 (13,000 cans per day), almost exclusively to Oglala Lakota from the reservation.

-In 1999, after the murders of two young Lakota men at Whiteclay, Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) and supporting groups, such as Nebraskans for Peace, protested publicly for the state to do something about controlling or shutting down beer sales in the town.

-They also asked for the county to provide increased law enforcement in the hamlet, which is 22 miles from the seat of rural Sheridan County, Nebraska.

-During 2006 and 2007, tribal activists tried to blockade the road inside the reservation to confiscate beer being illegally brought in. The OST police chief complained of having insufficient money and staff to control the beer traffic

-tribal police estimate that 90 percent of the crimes are alcohol related.[87]

-widespread alcoholism on the reservation, which is estimated to affect 85 percent of the families.

-In 2004 the Oglala Sioux Tribe voted down a referendum to legalize alcohol sales, and in 2006 the tribal council voted to maintain the ban on alcohol sales, rather than taking on the benefits and responsibility directly.

-While other tribes and reservations also prohibited alcohol at one time because of Native American vulnerability to abuse, many have since legalized its sales on their reservations in order to use the revenues generated to improve health care and life on the reservation, as well as to be able to control the regulation of alcohol sales and police its use.

-They say that if the tribe legalized alcohol sales, it could keep much of the revenues now flowing to Nebraska and to state and federal taxes, and use such monies to bolster the reservation’s economy and health care services, including building a much-needed detoxification facility and rehab services.

-On February 9, 2012 the Oglala Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Nebraska against the four liquor stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska who sold over 4.9 million 12.oz cans of beer in 2010, almost exclusively to Pine Ridge residents, as well as the beverage distributors who deliver the product, and the brewery companies who make it.

-The suit; Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Jason Schwarting, Licensee of Arrowhead Inn, Inc. et al, is seeking $500 million in damages for the “cost of health care, social services and child rehabilitation caused by chronic alcoholism on the reservation, which encompasses some of the nation’s most impoverished counties.”[44]

-The suit claims that the defendants knowingly and willingly sell excessive amounts of alcohol with the knowledge that most of said alcohol is smuggled onto the reservation, in violation of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Federal law.

 

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