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Protect Bear Butte!

Protect Bear Butte!

by Carter Camp, Ponca Nation
Ah-ho My Relations,

Last night [Oct.4] we attended the monthly meeting of the Meade County Commissioners to voice our objection to the planned "biker bar" and 600 acre entertainment venue adjacent to our sacred mountain Bear Butte. It is unfortunate that none of the statewide media were present to report the proceedings as person after person, representing a very broad range of Indian Nations and groups, rose to testify against allowing this obscene development to proceed. Indian people were joined by many concerned citizens from the surrounding area until the first hearing room became too crowded and the meeting was moved into an auditorium.

First to be heard was a group of landowners and local people who are opposed to the development. They explained that not only was the development harmful to Indian interests it is also not in the best interests of the county to have more and more huge campsites with liquor licenses proliferating throughout the county. They not only made a powerful economic case they also clearly informed the Commissioners of the sacred nature of Bear Butte as they were represented by Lakota women Jace DeCory, Ann White Hat and Nancy Kyle. I will give you the name of their organization in the next update but they've been working on this issue from the beginning and deserve our appreciation.

After their presentations the "Defenders of the Black Hills" began with a presentation by Executive Director Charmaine White Face. Charmaine made all the arguments we had earlier made in our fight against the shooting range, citing the freedom of religion acts in the Constitutions of South Dakota and America. She then presented the Commissioners with an official resolution from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposing the development on behalf of the Sicangu Nation. She spoke for all of us as she told them of all the Indian Nations who still journey to the sacred mountain to pray and conduct ceremonies. Her presentation was thorough as well as powerful and when she finished I think even the Commissioners were impressed and more open to our requests.

Charmaine introduced Debra White Plume who spoke to the Commissioners about her Nation's special and sacred ties to "Mato Paha" and the Black Hills. She explained the map of the sky that guided the Oglala Lakota and the greater Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations to perform certain of their sacred ceremonies upon the Sacred Mountain. She explained that at certain times of the year the people gather at Mato Paha to consider important questions to the tribe and make lasting decisions for the people, as well as to gather medicine and food. She then presented a very forceful Resolution from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council strongly opposing the development and directing the Tribal President to make every effort at the local, state and federal levels to stop the development and to establish a five mile buffer zone around Bear Butte.

Next to speak was State Senator Teresa Two Bulls who voiced her opposition as both a Lakota and an elected official. She reminded the Commissioners that as elected officials they serve the people just as she does and it is her hope that they will listen to the people's voices. I was impressed with what Ms Two Bulls had to say and I was also encouraged to see an elected official in the State legislature stand with her people seeking justice. We need more like her.

I was introduced next to speak for my Ponca Nation as then speaker after speaker rose to speak on behalf of their people, our Nations, and our most Sacred Mountain. Men and women of many Nations called for unity and urged the People to protect Bear Butte and stop all further development near the sacred mountain. I informed the Commissioners of the seriousness with which we take this effort to save Bear Butte and I invited them to join us in our next effort which will be to ask the State of South Dakota to create a five mile buffer zone against all further development and to also stop all liquor sales with the same zone. It will be interesting to see if they accept.

One young man, speaking on behalf of "Owe Aku" and the NYM (Native Youth Movement) warned the Commissioners that many young warriors are prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect the place where so many Indian youth must go to Fast and to prepare themselves to be strong men and women. His words were strong and powerful to those in the room and caused them to applaud him and say "HO"! One Commissioner felt threatened and protested but others reassured him that true words aren't threats and the meeting continued with a better understanding of the stakes. I'm not sure, but I think I'd be just as proud of another young man saying the same thing, the fact that Vic Camp is my son shouldn't matter.

Unfortunately several speakers spoke while I was out of the room and I can't report their words, but all of us reinforced the points made in the beginning and each speaker added something good to the whole until by the end of the meeting our meanings were clear to the Meade County Commissioners, the State of South Dakota and to the world? It is time for the mountain sacred to so many Nations to be protected and rescued from the steadily encroaching development that is exemplified by, but not limited to, the obscene development proposed as "Sacred Ground". In this we are united as a people and we intend to use every resource at our disposal to protect our true sacred ground, Bear Butte.

Now it is up to us all to build on and utilize the unity and momentum we have begun. Although in the words of the whiteman, "all options remain on the table" our next effort must be in attempting to convince the State legislature to take action to protect Bear Butte. Senator Two Bulls offered to copy and print each and every email, fax and letter sent to her in opposition to the development. She intends to make them available to every Senator and to use them in her efforts to support us. This is a great opportunity if we can generate a flood of emails to her and the Governor it will help our Indian legislators in their work to protect Bear Butte.

At times like these many young warriors are eager to rush into battle and like Vic said, there may come a time when a stand must be made and sacrifices must be endured. I agree that Bear Butte is a place worth a fight and I fear the wasicu will not understand that until too late. But for now we must utilize the resources we have at hand. Please join me in contacting the following officials to state your support for the effort to Protect Bear Butte by establishing a minimum five mile buffer zone and your adamant opposition to granting of liquor licenses or the building of noisy, drunken, entertainment venues close to our sacred mountain. Thank you for your help, Carter
Senator Theresa B Two Bulls
PO Box 434
Pine Ridge 57770-0434

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