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June 2009 - Newsletter

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” Paulo Freire
Dear Defenders:

A year and a half ago, the Board of Directors of Defenders of the Black Hills agreed to stop the monthly meetings and mailings. The Coordinator’s health, the expense, and the time needed to put a mailing together were the primary reasons. The downside is, we are not able to get as much information out to all of you as we did before, and sometimes it has meant missing on comment due dates. The Angostura information on the backside of the address page is an example. Although we did submit comments from Defenders, it would have been better for more comments to go in. We will continue to supply as much information to you as possible.


This Newsletter has a number of actions that can be taken. If there is a form letter, please make a copy (if the copy is handwritten, all the better), and ask your family members, other relatives, and friends to also sign and send off the letters.

Schedule of Upcoming Events (Following this message) Please, mark the dates on your calendar and post the Schedule where more people can see it and become involved. If anyone wants to be a part of Defenders, all they have to do is send us their name and address, or email address.

Updates on Uranium Issues:

“The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today [November 27 2002] adopted the General Comment on the right to water referring to article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The General Comment states that: “The human right to drinking water is fundamental for life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of all human rights.”

“The Comment defines the sufficiency, safety, affordability and accessibility to water – and describes State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling the right. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses. The provision of water must be adequate for human dignity, life and health.”


Special, Exceptional, Critical, or Unique Land Status: Defenders nominated the land area northwest of Edgemont, SD, that Powertech Uranium Mining Company plans on mining for the status of Special, Exceptional, Critical, or Unique due to the number of burial and cultural sites there, due to the nesting site for Bald Eagles which are threatened birds in South Dakota, and due to this area being part of the recharge area for the Madison and Dakota Aquifers. However, our nomination was denied by the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment on April 20, 2009. The next step would be to go into State court which we did a couple of years ago. We chose not to do so as the chances of winning in South Dakota are so small, and there are still the federal processes that Powertech must go through, as well as the shaky price of uranium. The price of uranium is currently lower than what is needed to be able to mine it and make a profit.

Moratorium Request to President Barrack Obama: As we have approached every avenue we could think of in South Dakota, we are sending letters to President Barrack Obama asking for a Moratorium on any more uranium mining. Please make a copy then put your name, address, date and sign the following form letter. Thank you.

Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council Updates on United Nations Meeting

Interventions on Agenda Items 7 & 8 at the UN Permanent Forum: A delegation from the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Coucil attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It is at this meeting that recommendations are made to the United Nations agencies on issues affecting Indigenous Nations and Peoples. Attached are Interventions on Agenda Items 7 & 8.
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Agenda Item 7
Agenda Item 7p.1a
Agenda Item 7p.2a
Agenda Item 8
Agenda Item 8
World Health Organization Study: Our Interventions resulted in the Permanent Forum recommending to the Economic and Social Council and ultimately the General Assembly that studies by the World Health Organization need to be completed on the effects of nuclear radioactivity on Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. This will include our Region. A copy of the Press Release follows this message.

Upcoming Meeting at Eagle Butte - June 27, 2009: A meeting is scheduled at the HBJ Lakota Culture Center located on the south side of Highway 212 in Eagle Butte, SD, on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Agenda items include: a more detailed report on the Permanent Forum Meeting, other actions involving the North American Representative to the Permanent Forum, a request to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other efforts. Discussions will be held on the Florida Case upholding the 1868 Treaty and recent attempts by a few to take the money for the Black Hills under the 1980 US Supreme Court decision.
Upcoming Meeting with Ochapowace Cree Nation - July 27 & 28, 2009: Representatives from the Ochapowace Cree Nation in Saskatchewan will be meeting with the Tituwan Oyate Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council and any others from the Oceti Sakowin who wish to attend. The meeting will be held at the hall in the Mother Butler Center, 221 Knollwood Drive, Rapid City, SD from 9:00 - 5:00 (MDST) on both days. Tentative Agenda items include: Preparation Meeting before 3rd UN Expert Treaty Seminar, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Joint Declaration between the Tituwan Oyate and the Ochapowace Cree Nation.

Black Hills

Sacred Walks to Protect Mother Earth: On Fri. & Sat. - June 26 & 27, 2009, a Mother Earth Spiritual Run, sponsored by 1st Nations United will begin with camping at Bear Butte near Sturgis, SD. For more information contact Gary Spears at 952-974-3257.

Wed. thru Sat. - July 1 - 4, 2009 will be the 2nd Annual Black Hills Prayer Walk through the Black Hills. Although the groups are camping at Bear Butte Lodge on the northwest side of Bear Butte, the walk begins at Wind Cave in the southern Black Hills and continues until finally ending at Bear Butte.

Camping begins at Bear Butte Lodge on July 1 and continues through July 12th. For more information contact Gary Silk at 218-444-3828.

Inyan Kara Comments: Inyan Kara Mountain is a sacred place located 13 miles south of Sundance, Wyomining in Crook County. It is managed by the US Forest Service, Bearlodge Ranger District. Plans are being made to conduct controlled burns in this area as no natural forest fire has been allowed for decades. This has built a strong potential for a huge fire. Comments may be sent to Dennis, Mauch, Project Leader, Bearlodge Ranger District, PO Box 680, Sundance, WY, 82729, telephone: 307-283-1361. Although the time to submit comments was May 15th, comments will probably be taken and if you wish to be kept informed of the actions to take place at Inyan Kara Mountain, please let Mr. Mauch know.

Angostura Environmental Assessment Report: Angostura Reservoir, which is fed by the Cheyenne River, has been one of our primary concerns as many people go there in the summertime to swim, boat, and fish. A test by the SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already shown that uranium is entering the Cheyenne River at the Wyoming border. Our water tests show that uranium and other radiation is proceeding past Angostura Reservoir to Red Shirt Village. We did send in our concerns to the Bureau of Reclamation on the Environmental Assessment. Copies of the Resource Management Plan are available. Please see attached Angostura information.
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Angostura Report
Angostura Report
Other Uranium Tests: We have completed tests of the water in the middle of the Pine Ridge Reservation and at Lower Brule Reservation along the Missouri River with the help of grants from a Swiss foundation. From the results, we have grave concerns due to the high number of picocuries per liter of gamma radiation, the worst kind of radiation. We also looked at an old radon study and discovered a house in Rapid City with extremely high levels of radioactive radon gas. We will be approaching tribal governments and others regarding these alarming situations.

Constitutional Protection Case - Marc S. Wisecarver

The Board of Directors thought it was a good idea to inform our members about the Marc Wisecarver case even though it is not specifically an environmental issue but does affect every American citizen. We strongly support the Constitution of the United States not only for the Civil Rights protections but also because Article VI protects the Treaties made between the United States and the Great Sioux Nation. Unless the Constitution is protected in every aspect, diminishing even one part begins to weaken the whole.

Many people know Marc from his year of taking care of the sacred fire at LaFramboise Island in 1999-2000. On a personal note, he is my son, so if you have called or written or emailed and I have not immediately answered, please know I and my family are under a great deal of stress.

Lakota Aid Foundation in England has been getting the word out about Marc since his imprisonment on Jan. 29, 2009. For those with internet access, search either Lakota Aid - UK or Marc S. Wisecarver to find out more details about his case. A form letter to President Barrack Obama is enclosed. It includes a brief summary of the case. Please complete and send the letter to the President as soon as possible.

Letters have been sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation, not just into Marc’s case, but the entire justice system for Native American prisoners. There are five areas in the federal justice system that work against equal justice for Native American people: 1.Double Jeopardy, 2. Major Crimes Act, 3. State vs. Federal vs.Tribal Jurisdiction, 4. No oversight of federal judges, and 5. Federal Guidelines. Senator Jim Webb and Senator Arlen Spector are asking for an investigation into the entire national justice system, and you might want to write to them too. Their addresses are:
Senator Arlen Spector
711 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington DC 20510
Fax: 202-228-1229
Senator Jim Webb
248 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington DC 20510
Fax: 202-228-6363

Another group is trying to get an investigation into all of the cases involving Native American prisoners. If you know a Native American in the federal or state prison system and know they are innocent, please send their name and details of their case to:
Antonio G. Gonzales, PO Box 410534, San Francisco, CA 94141

phone: 415-577-1492. Collecting all of these cases will assist in getting a national investigation started.
Thank you.
Submitted by Charmaine White Face, Coordinator

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