Is it Ignorance or Arrogance?

Richard Rahn refused to obtain a Tribal Business Licence on the Rosebud Indian Reservation

Richard Rahn refused to obtain a Tribal Business License on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Photo by Vi Waln.

When tribal members travel off our Rez, it’s generally understood that we will be subject to the laws of the tribe, county, state or country which we are traveling through or visiting. Right?

The original boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation, which was illegally established in 1889 through a partition of the Great Sioux Reservation by the federal government, include the counties of Todd, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory and Lyman. Consequently, many Sicangu people were duped into selling their land allotments for next to nothing after the reservation was partitioned.

Still, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe recognizes the five county area as being within the exterior boundaries of the reservation as tracts of trust/tribal land are located within those counties. Consequently, non-Indian business owners quickly forgot the fact that the land their establishment was built on in Todd, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory or Lyman County originally belonged to a Sicangu Lakota. They will also refuse to acknowledge that the acquisition of the land they “own” wasn’t always a fair deal.

Today, the Rosebud Reservation is legally recognized as comprising all of Todd County. So, Todd County is the Rez, even though some of the land here is “owned” by wasicu. Thus, when you are doing business within the boundaries of Todd County you are subject the laws of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe whether or not you are a tribal member.

I attended the Cherry Todd Electric Cooperative Annual meeting in Mission last week. I do realize many of our non-Indian neighbors are ignorant when it comes to the way the Tribe conducts business. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt but I was rudely reminded of the ignorance and arrogance which the wasicu are capable of; the behavior I witnessed at the meeting was truly appalling. All those arrogant and ignorant wasicus need lots of prayers!

An issue which carried over from the 2013 meeting was the fact that an attorney retained by Cherry Todd didn’t have a tribal business license, which resulted in the tabling of a motion last year. The motion was apparently to remain tabled until the attorney obtained a license. Yet, the attorney was ignorant enough to believe he did not need a tribal business license to provide services within the legal boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation. Maybe he skipped class when his law school offered the lesson on the importance of complying with the laws of the local jurisdiction when doing business.

This attorney is not covered by Cherry Todd’s tribal business license because he is not an employee of the cooperative. Attorneys are paid a retainer to provide services. This attorney would only be considered an employee if he was at the cooperative office every day and paid a salary instead of a retainer.

People doing business within the boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation are required to obtain a tribal business license. It’s that simple, yet ignorance or maybe just plain arrogance got in the way of this lawyer doing things according to tribal law.

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Vodka is Killing Our People


When it comes to drug abuse there are people who will tell you that addicts will go to any length to get their drug of choice. And even though it is sold legally by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe on the Rosebud Reservation, alcohol is still classified as a drug. Alcohol acts as a depressant on the drinker’s central nervous system.

There was a time when my Tribe didn’t sell alcohol. There was even a resolution passed by the tribal council which stated the Tribe would make every effort to have an alcohol and drug free reservation by the year 2000. I don’t think that resolution was ever rescinded so basically it is still in effect. Today, the sale of alcohol continues to be a very lucrative economic development venture of my Tribe.

Even though my Tribe enjoys cash profits from their off-sale alcohol stores, the money will never offset the number of lives alcohol has affected. Last week Parmelee residents walked to remember residents who have died from alcohol abuse. Elders, adults and children walked the streets to make a statement that they were tired of people dying needlessly.

We all have free will. Alcohol is still a legal drug and my words probably won’t change the minds of those who are addicted or bootlegging. Still, some of the people who have died from drinking in Parmelee left behind small children. Who is caring for children who have lost a parent to alcohol?

The walk in Parmelee was also held to bring attention to the fact that there are numerous bootleggers in the community. One time I asked my Facebook friends to inbox me names of people who were bootlegging vodka in Parmelee. I was provided with at least thirty names. I turned all those names over to the Rosebud Police Department but I am not sure what action was taken.

I know some of you believe an addict will find and use their drug of choice no matter what. But the sale of vodka in Parmelee has to stop. The vodka sold by many bootleggers in Parmelee is often mixed with other products to make it go further. Some bootleggers will mix alcohol based hand sanitizer into the vodka they buy. Then the mixture is put into smaller containers to be sold to the people who want to drink.

This is wrong. When I think about the number of people who have died in Parmelee because of their drinking, I wonder how many of them bought vodka from bootleggers. I bet all of them did. I’d like to see voluntary manslaughter cases built against the bootleggers in Parmelee. After all, they are the dealing the poisonous mixture which is killing people.

Bootleggers! If you push your deadly vodka mixture in Parmelee, you definitely have blood on your hands because you knowingly sold a poisonous drink to a person suffering from an addiction. The last bottle of vodka you sold them, which you mixed with whatever, cost them their life.

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Bullying is a Fear Based Behavior

KODAK Digital Still Camera

It’s time for all of our students to go back to school. Some schools opened last week. Here on Rosebud our schools are open this week, so watch out for students getting on and off the bus.

Many of our students start out a new school year with a ton of enthusiasm. For some of them, that enthusiasm will last all year. But for others the enthusiasm soon turns into dread because of bullying. There are some students who will not finish the year because of other students who bully.

Teachers, administrators and support staff need to be aware of what is going on in their schools. When a student is terrorized by another student they often do not tell anyone because they choose not to create any more trauma for themselves. Many parents will seek out a teacher or administrator to inform them of incidents of bullying. Oftentimes, the excuse offered by the teacher or administrator is “he/she never said anything to me about being bothered by a bully.”

I am not a teacher, nor am I an administrator. Still, I believe that if you choose to go into a career which involves helping elementary, middle and high school students become educated you have to accept that part of your job is keeping our young people safe while they are on school grounds. If this means hiring more staff to make sure everyone is safe while they are at school well please hire more staff.

For two years in a row I have had family members suffer bullying while they were trying to learn at school. Our experience was the teachers and administrators claimed ignorance about what was going on because no one said anything.

Many people employed by the schools have been there for a while. Most should know how their students really behave by now. Staff must know which students are mean. They should also know which students will choose not to stand up for themselves – these are the young people being are targeted by the big bad bully.

Consequently, bullying isn’t a behavior limited to students. There are teachers, administrators, support staff and even school board members who are bullying students. They will even bully parents!

A bully falsely believes he/she has gained the respect of the people they are picking on. But, they are mistaken in feeling it is respect making people do what they want them to do. Actually, it is really the opposite. People fear a bully so they do what the bully wants. Fear has absolutely nothing to do with respect.

No bully deserves respect. Respect is on the level of love. Fear is a dark emotion, quite the opposite of love. A bully who believes they are respected is a fool.

We always get back everything we hand out. When you are deliberately bullying someone – a classmate, your student, an employee or a coworker – a bigger bully will surely appear in your life to give you an equal dose of fear.

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Rosalie Little Thunder: A Lakota Library of Wisdom

The Late Rosalie Little Thunder makes a point during a recent discussion about Lakota Language and Culture.

The Late Rosalie Little Thunder makes a point during a recent discussion about Lakota Language and Culture.

Lakota women have always been the backbone of the Oyate. Without the strength and resilience of our women, the Lakota people would never have made it this far. The future of the Lakota Oyate still depends upon the strong women of our tribe.

Rosalie Little Thunder, one of our most resilient women, has left this Earth plane to start a new sacred journey along the Milky Way. She’s gone to meet our ancestors!

There is a saying about how when an elder passes on it is akin to a library burning down. Rosalie was one of our libraries.

She carried knowledge which she shared freely with many. She was known for her cultural advocacy. She did a tremendous amount of critical work with the Lakota language. She provided life lessons to people of all ages.

I was very privileged to have worked with Rosalie on several projects. Her determination to help the Lakota people evolve out of the colonized mindset many have succumbed to was inspirational. A Lakota woman of Rosalie’s caliber is hard to find in today’s modern, assimilated society.

While spending time with Rosalie, I witnessed firsthand her compassion for her family and Lakota people in general. Her cell phone would ring non-stop and she would sometimes talk for hours on it, offering advice and encouragement to whomever was on the other end. She would think nothing of dropping whatever she was doing to help someone in need.

Rosalie was admired and known in many circles for her teaching methods which included a process she called Cultural Mapping. She would draw a spiral on a sheet of paper or a white board and expand upon it. The basic terms she used were Wotakuye, Wicozani, Wokicunze, Wicoh’an, Wiconi, Wicoyake and Wokiksuye. Cultural Mapping was a way to remember our Lakota way of being and how to use it to help our relatives.

I always learned something new when I interacted with Rosalie. Actually, I believe we learned from each other. The input she had in the small groups we worked with taught me so much. Sometimes responses offered by the people in meetings would trigger profound comments from her. She always encouraged people to help each other re-learn and remember the cultural wisdom that colonization tried to rob from us.

Rosalie was a Sicangu Lakota woman who wanted to help people work through their differences with one another. Also, despite her health problems, she demonstrated the love of a true Lakota Unci by providing for Calea, her very young Takoja.

Rosalie was an activist. She was involved in issues which affected the people. Several years ago she stood up and spoke out for the buffalo being slaughtered at Yellowstone National Park. She organized a National Day of Prayer on their behalf. Her most recent involvement was with the grassroots movement against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Rosalie was the epitome of how to be a good Lakota ancestor. She will be greatly missed by the Lakota Oyate.

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Youth Carry Prayers to Sundance Tree in Spiritual Relay

CROW DOG’S PARADISE – Six young men ran a seventy mile spiritual relay to carry the prayers of all Indigenous people who stand against the building of the massive Keystone XL pipeline.

The group of runners included Karver Gregg, Chad Blood, Morgun Freio, Jeremy Ashike, Terrell Iron Shell and Eli Horinek. They were escorted by two vehicles along the route. One young man immediately entered the Sundance circle as a dancer after running all night.

The runners began their run at Oyate Wahacanka Woecun, which is the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Spiritual Camp near Ideal Community, at approximately 1am on Thursday, July 31. Each young man committed to run approximately 12 miles in the spiritual relay. The last two miles of the relay were completed as a group walk. The six young men walked into the Sundance grounds at approximately 10am to bring the prayers of many who are concerned about the effects of the pipeline on the land and water to the Sundance Tree at Crow Dog’s Paradise.

In April, President Obama postponed any decision regarding the approval of a Presidential Permit sought by TransCanada to allow their pipeline to cross the US/Canadian border. The delay gave grass roots activists more time to organize against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe established the Oyate Wahacanka Woecun on March 29 near the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The spiritual camp has been visited by many people who support the resistance against the building of more tar sands pipelines.

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We Pray For All Of You



The Rez has many problems. We see alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and the sexual abuse of children. Many tribal members believe we have a largely unaccountable tribal government. Also, some of our people live in homes without electricity. Many teenagers are left alone to care for younger siblings.

Still, we make the choice to live here and raise our families close to our beautiful Lakota culture. The love we have for our Lakota ceremony outweighs many things wrong with tribal society today.

The most awesome aspect about life on the Rez is our spirituality. Lakota spirituality is still in the early stages of a major renaissance. But even though many of our people are being called to embrace the spiritual ways of our ancestors, there are still many Lakota people who make a personal choice to sit back and condemn the ceremonies which take place on the Rosebud Rez. Some Lakota people even spread fallacies about ceremony being akin to a cult.

Yet, Lakota people who attend ceremony offer prayers for all to overcome their fear and ignorance about their own culture.

Purification begins on Sunday for the sun dance at Crow Dog’s Paradise, which is likely the oldest ceremony on the Rosebud as it has been held for many years. I remember attending this ceremony when there was no arbor and only a handful of dancers. Today it is the largest sun dance held on Rosebud.

Wopila to Chief Leonard Crow Dog for all the years he has held the sun dance on Rosebud. Today, there are humans from all over the world who come to Rosebud to pray with us in the sacred circle under the Tree of Life.

Many of us appreciate the spiritual help Chief Crow Dog and his family have offered to the people of Rosebud, as well as the people of many other tribes which he has assisted. He has said many prayers for humanity and the living beings of the universe. We are grateful for him and all the wonderful blessings he has helped to bring into our lives.

This is the time of year when local people focus on our own Lakota ceremony. That is, Lakota people will either come to dance, sing or support the Paradise sun dance or they will sit at home in harsh judgment about their own ceremony. Some people will even write disparaging comments on social media sites.

Still, the sun dancers pray for all of us, even those of you who gossip about trivial incidents you believe happen during this ceremony. I am always amazed at the level of ignorant gossip spoken by our own Lakota people.

I encourage the Lakota people of Rosebud to come and pray with us at Paradise next week. This is the year you could consciously choose to transform your mind and embrace the ceremony of your ancestors. Acknowledge your own Lakota blood and come support Chief Crow Dog at your own ceremony next week.

Our children need your prayers.

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Fire Hall named after Susan Kary



By Vi Waln

PARMELEE, SD – The Grand Opening of a much welcomed building to house the fire trucks and equipment belonging to the Parmelee Fire Department was held on Tuesday.

“I want to thank all the firefighters today,” stated Susan Kary. “Many have other jobs so they couldn’t be here today but they are here when the whistle blows announcing there is a fire.”

The new fire hall is named after Mrs. Kary, who was instrumental in bringing the project to the Parmelee Community. Under her leadership, the fire department and community were able to access the financial resources required to build the support needed for the project.

South Dakota USDA Rural Development provided funding for the project totaling $120,000 through a $55,000 Community Facility Direct loan and $65,000 Community Facility grant, along with other funding including a $10,000 applicant contribution, and $145,000 Community Development Block Grant from the State of South Dakota for a total project cost of $275,000.

The fire hall, which took six years to become reality, will be home to the Parmelee Volunteer Fire Department. Several agencies and groups such as the Todd County Commissioners, State of South Dakota, Todd County Emergency Management, Rosebud Sioux Tribe-Tribal President and entities, Bureau of Indian Affairs, South Central RC&D, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, and the Central South Dakota Enhancement District were involved in bringing forth this project.

“To have a fire department in Parmelee is a great thing,” stated Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

The old fire department was housed in a one stall garage and was donated space for their one truck bought back in 2008. The new fire hall is a 42’ X 57’ foot pre-engineered building with three bays and portion of the facility will be made available for community functions. The 20 person volunteer fire department serves a population of 1,188.

“It was really the community who pushed me,” stated Elsie Meeks, Rural Department State Director. “It takes a lot of people working together to see a project like this through.”

Pastor Utecht offered prayers to open the day. Lunch was served to all who attended.

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Sicangu Lakota Akicita – Past and Present

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Mental Illness = Disease of the Mind




May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month. All children deserve role models to show them positive ways of living all year round, not just during the one month designated for mental health awareness.


On the Rez there’s always an abundance of unhealthy role models for our children to imitate. Alcohol, drug, gambling and violence addictions are witnessed by our young people more often than healthy life paths are.


Social networking websites which exist today give even more opportunities for people who lack integrity to influence young people. There is a lot of online bullying happening on the Rez. Bullying even happens through text messages. When someone suffers from bullying, it affects their mental health.


People tend to be very bold online. Many who won’t look us in the eye in person have no problem typing hateful words aimed at us in cyberspace. But it may not be disrespect – the person could actually be suffering from mental illness. Consequently, I equate mental illness as disease of the mind.


When our young people go online to visit social networking sites, I am sure they are regularly disrespected by both their peers and mentally ill adults. Parents have a huge influence in their children’s lives. Parents also have the power to ensure their children grow into mentally healthy adults.


This week I was thinking about the phenomenon on the Rez in which adults will teach their children how to carry a generational grudge. That is, many families have been at war for generations over nothing. Now these grudges will happen for a number of reasons and I am sure you can think of many examples without me listing all the scenarios here. In any case, it is not good for the mental health of anyone to go through life carrying a grudge.


It’s even worse when you make your children to carry that grudge for you. For instance, say your mom had a disagreement with your friend’s mom. They are good friends but they have that falling out. You always play with the children of your moms’ friends. Now you are forced to carry their falling out and give up your friends.


Also, the children, pre-teens, teenagers and young adults in the family of the person your mom had the disagreement are either totally ignoring you or else they glare at you when you see them. It’s very unhealthy for mentally ill moms, dads, aunties, uncles, grandpas or grandmas to coach their younger family members to ignore or glare at people.


The falling out we have with another person should be between us as individuals. It’s an extreme example of disease of the mind – which is the exact opposite of mental health – when you force your children to hold grudges against the adults you are pissed at.


It’s terrible when little children grow up to be just as vindictive as their parents or extended family members. This is not a Lakota virtue. It’s up to us to heal our disease of the mind.

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The Reality of Living Near A “Man Camp”



Grace Her Many Horses has dedicated many years of her life to law enforcement. After this article was published she was removed from her position at Rosebud and has since returned to work on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Article is reprinted with permission from The Sicangu Eyapaha (Rosebud Sioux) tribal newspaper.(Courtesy Photo)


By Damon Buckley
Communications Director, Rosebud Sioux Tribe


ROSEBUD, SD – Former Rosebud Sioux Tribe Police Chief Grace Her Many Horses took a temporary job working in the Bakken Region near Newtown, North Dakota. This Bakken Basin stretches from Montana to North Dakota and it is rich in shale oil supplies. She began work in June of last year until October of the same year. It was her first experience with Man Camps. She seen them before while driving past on the way to pow-wows but this was going to be the very first time she would enter the premises and work the area as a law enforcement officer. This seasoned professional would be in for a rude surprise.

“When I first got there some of the things they talked about, in any of these areas, was they told the men ‘Don’t go out and party. Don’t get drunk and pass out. Because you’re going to get raped,” she said without hesitation.

It’s not exactly something you would expect to hear from a workers’ camp but these places are not exactly your ordinary laborers’ camps. The depth of depravity and dubious behavior are commonplace in these so-called Man Camps. No one will say that all of the inhabitants are criminal but there is definitely an element there that has rocked the local law enforcement officials to the very core of their morals and value systems.

There are identifiable variables that remain constant: These oil workers usually come from desperate conditions. These workers usually have a family they have left elsewhere so they are not looking to start new relations. These workers are paid an excessive amount of money. These workers are well aware their employment is only temporary. These workers know they are living in a remote environment where law enforcement is already stretched beyond its limits and the temptation for criminal behavior is very strong. Unfortunately, most of America still cannot comprehend this information.

“Sexual assaults on the male population has increased by 75% in that area,” she continued. That kind of statistic makes maximum security prisons look like the minor league. “One of the things we ran into while working up there was a 15 year old boy had gone missing. He was found in one of the Man Camps with one of the oil workers. They were passing him around from trailer to trailer.”

He went there looking for a job and was hired by individuals within the Man Camp to do light cleaning in and around their personal areas. The young teenager was forced into sex slavery. It’s the kind of thing you hear about in the ghettos of third world countries; not in the quiet and remote countryside.

The victims aren’t just males but females too. Everyone has heard by now of the missing school teacher that was kidnapped as she was out jogging, repeatedly sexually assaulted, and murdered near one of these Man Camps. The age of the Man Camp victims varies. The assailants are not necessarily looking for male and female adults. They are also going after little girls.

Grace Her Many Horse recalls one specific instance where “We found a crying, naked, four year old girl running down one of the roads right outside of the Man Camp. She had been sexually assaulted.”

There has been a significant rise in prostitution, gambling, and organized crime in these Man Camps too. The oil workers enjoy being compensated at salaries far above that of the average American blue collar worker. So when their paydays come around the predators venture out of the camps and into nearby towns and places a little further down the road. They usually move in caravans of workers with large amounts of cash stuffed into their pockets. Their large payoffs give them the buying power to obtain anything they can think of including prostitutes and hardcore drugs that have never been seen in these towns before. It has a devastating effect on the local small towns.

This former tribal police chief’s first experience talking with prostitutes that cater to Man Camps came here on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. She pulled over two vans heading out of town. They were filled with female passengers, again, of varying ages. They were heading in the direction of the Man Camps. One of the brazen occupants declared outright to this officer, “Well, you know why we are going up there.” It’s not something you would expect to hear from a woman but these passengers were determined to make it to their destination one way or another.

After taking a long breath followed by a sigh Officer Her Many Horse said, “That small tribal town has been through so much. When you go into to their casino around 11 at night you notice the flavor of the patrons has dramatically changed for the worse.” She speaks of her short time policing those camps and admits it was easy to notice how hard drugs and prostitution had increased dramatically.

She spoke with local Indians that said they used to frequent their casino but they stopped. Things had changed so much that a large number of locals dare not venture outside at night. There are strangers everywhere. Again, this is coming from a small town where most of its population is Native American and everyone had known each other’s first names and origin. Now it is hardly recognizable. Businesses were forced to open only to be shuttered later. Trash and debris has increased. Violence of all types has surged and the beauty of the land has been replaced with heavy construction vehicles and the destruction of lands once referred to as God’s Country. The traffic on local highways has increased significantly as well as the number of traffic accidents and its numerous victims that can no longer speak for themselves. Life goes on in these small Indian towns but it is a life that is bitter and strange.
Meth has been seen as having destructive effects on Indian communities before but now there are new drugs filtering onto Indian reservations from these Man Camps. “There is a new drug called Crocus. When you ingest it your skin boils from the inside-out. It leaves you with permanent scars on the surface of your skin that resembles the scales of a crocodile. It will literally eat your feet off, eat your limbs off. It’s horrible. That’s been introduced up there and it is more addictive than heroin. The drug trade is rampant up there.” She explains how the police department near that particular Man Camp is smaller than the one here in Rosebud. “They need help,” she confesses.

There are oil workers there that can’t even speak English. The sex offenders are very prevalent. “We found thirteen sex offenders in one Man Camp and that Man Camp is found directly behind the tribal casino. Our supervisors would tell us “Watch your kids. Don’t let them run through there.” Making matters worse was the fact that Grace Her Many Horses moved up there with her two young daughters ages ten and fourteen. Living in those conditions and having to worry about the safety of her children must have added years to her life. After the need for workers ends the small town is left with its eye sore oil pipeline, businesses will go bust, the introduction of these new hardcore drugs will linger on, and its shocked residents will be left to contemplate their decision for the oil pipeline in years to come.

The most startling time Grace Her Many Horses spent at the Man Camps was when her police force had to serve warrants on some of the workers and remove them from their dwellings. She and her co-workers took things very serious, suited up in full SWAT gear, went through extra-ordinary measures to could conduct their raids, and to protect themselves from harm.

“It was scary. I never had to do that before in my many years of service. I feel really bad for the local residents because the flavor of their [Indian] reservation has changed so much,” she admits.

It leads the common Rosebud resident to ask if we have enough police officers to cover the proposed Man Camp being built nearby the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. She was not hesitant to argue: “No we do not have enough members on the police force. We barely have enough people to cover our [Indian] reservation right now. If you were around for the first week of January we had a double-homicide, we had unattended deaths, we had shootings, we had a major car accident, and that’s just in one week. We were so busy here at the [police] station. My whole department worked thirty hours straight. I told those guys to go home, get showered, and come back to work. That’s not even taking care of our outlying communities. This tribal police department isn’t equipped to handle what’s going to happen out there when the Man Camp arrives. The infrastructure of the towns on this Indian reservation will be forced to expand then months later it will collapse onto itself. Because I’ve witnessed it doing just that… what I am saying up there in Newtown, ND. It’s going to be really scary. Realistically speaking, we’re going to need to setup a substation for the area nearest to the Man Camp, and we got have people on call 24 hours a day there too. I don’t know how we are going to deal with that just yet. We are overwhelmed as is stands right now. Once the Man Camp moves in…” Basically, it’s not a future everyone wants to see.


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