Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spirit Camp Hosts Opening Ceremony on Rosebud Reservation


Photo and story by Vi Waln

IDEAL, SD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has set up a Spirit Camp as a peaceful, non-violent way to protest construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (KXL).


Over one hundred cars caravanned to the site on March 29 from Mission, SD to attend opening ceremonies held over the weekend at the site which is located south of the Ideal Community on the Rosebud Reservation.


A ceremony was led by several local spiritual leaders and medicine was placed within the ground along the actual proposed KXL route. “We’re going to sit here and protect this medicine,” stated Russell Eagle Bear. He is a spokesperson for Oyate Wahacanka Woecun (Shield the People) which is an organization sponsored by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “Three more camps are scheduled along this [KXL] corridor,” he said. “We are doing this with prayer.”


“It’s good to see all of our relatives here. It’s good to see the all little ones here, this is what we are here for – to protect the future generations, for clean air, clean water and good land. ” stated Cyril Scott, RST President.


Scott also asked the people of Rosebud to boycott the Ampride station in Mission, SD and plans to ask the tribal council to revoke their business license. People gathered in the parking lot of the convenience store in preparation to caravan to the camp site were told by management they needed to leave because they were trespassing.


“Today we stand together, today we stand united,” stated Brandon Sazue, President of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. “The KXL pipeline will not come through here, I will die if I have too.”


“You can feel the power here,” stated Bryan Brewer, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “This will be non-violent, we will take our coup stick and count coup. This Thursday the OST tribal council is going to declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline.”


Ed Schultz of MSNBC’s The Ed Show also traveled to South Dakota to witness the opening of the Spirit Camp. He interviewed tribal leaders along with several other people during the course of the day. KSFY of Sioux Falls, SD was also on site conducting interviews.


Eight tribal flags representing the Yankton, Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Oglala and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes of South Dakota as well as flags from the Shakopee Mdewakanton, Prairie Island and Upper Sioux Communities of Minnesota are all flying at the Spirit Camp. In addition, black, red, yellow, white, blue and green banners are also flying to represent the six directions.


Nine tipis have been erected in what was a cornfield on tribally owned land. The camp area also has a wall of 1,500 pound hay bales around it. There is a cook shack area located just north of the tipi area as well as a prayer lodge located south of it – both of these areas also have the big round hay bales set up around them. According to organizers, the camp will be manned 24 hours a day until the proposed Keystone XL pipeline permit is denied by President Barack Obama or ground is broken for construction.


Visitors can take highway 18 east of Mission, SD and then drive north on highway 53/183. Signs are posted along the way. The camp can be seen on the east side of the highway.


For more information you may call the Rosebud Sioux Tribe at (605) 747-2381. The Oyate Wahacanka Woecun Project has a Facebook page which you can check for updates or you can call 1-888-742-7244.

Does a suspended SWA charter also mean suspended evictions?

Congratulations to Pamela Kills In Water, Calvin Hawkeye Waln, Steve DeNoyer, Lydia Whirlwind Solder, Alvin Bettelyoun, Rose Stenstrom, Kathleen High Pipe and Michael Boltz for appointing themselves as the new board of commissioners for the Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi (SWA) Corporation!


I’m sure they will dedicate themselves to solving the current housing crisis facing the Sicangu Lakota Oyate.


The issues which have plagued SWA for decades are numerous. An issue which concerns many tribal members are the vacant houses boarded up in nearly every community.


There are approximately fifty or more SWA houses currently sitting empty on the Rosebud Rez. Some of those houses have been boarded up since 2011. There is $0 rent being collected from those houses.


Fifty homes rented for a mere $100 per month would bring in at least $60,000 per year to housing coffers.


The vacant houses sit in stark contrast to the most recent SWA waiting list which contains approximately 292 applicants. The list lengthens considerably when you add people who’ve applied for a FEMA trailer.


Consequently, it might not be possible to collect rent on those houses even if they were occupied.


Could this be why they remain vacant?


The number of evictions being pursued by SWA might give one an idea of how many homes aren’t actually being paid for. Furthermore, you can look for more houses to be boarded up as March is the month when the eviction process awakens from a six month hibernation.


But wait. Does a suspended charter also mean suspended evictions? I hope so.


The tribal council members who now serve as commissioners could also review the housing evictions. I remember going to meetings where a tenant facing eviction would be listed on the agenda. The board would listen to the person even though there was nothing which could be done to stop the eviction.


The board would often be criticized by the administration for trying to meddle in an eviction process. Why would a tenant being evicted be placed on the board agenda if there was actually nothing which could be done to stop a legal process already in court?


In closing, the tribal council had an executive session before they moved to suspend the SWA charter/board of commissioners. Common courtesy could have been extended to the members of the SWA board that day as they were having a regular meeting at the same time the tribal council was voting to suspend them.


In my opinion, it was awfully rude for the tribal council to not extend common courtesy to their own tribal members. Still, I realize a normal day of business in the council chambers is often characterized by rudeness. The board of commissioners were given “official” notice of the charter suspension through a certified letter from SWA which contained a photocopy of the motion excerpt issued by the RST Secretary’s office.


The two years I served as a commissioner were eye-opening. The Sicangu Oyate deserve to hear what really goes on at SWA.


Stay tuned.



They’re lying

The Keystone XL pipeline could be the final rape of Unci Maka.


The natural minerals of Unci Maka are basically non-toxic until man excavates them for profit. We aren’t meant to mine these minerals. 


In Canada, portions of the Boreal Forest are now decimated due to tar sands mining. Indigenous people in the surrounding area currently suffer from major illnesses.


Canadian and American politicians have sold their souls to wealthy big oil corporations. They have zero conscience regarding the corporate assault upon Unci Maka.


They obviously don’t care about what happens to our sacred water and all the living things we as humans must co-exist with.


I listened to a retired politician chatter on television last week about how the Keystone XL pipeline is safe. The nonsense he spoke didn’t convince me. His meaningless words reminded me of the numerous roughnecks who testified at the State Department’s Public Hearing in 2011. One by one they spoke like pre-programmed robots. Their scripted speeches were about how the project was going to put them to work.


They were likely programmed with what to say as they cruised in the prepaid charter buses to the 2011 State Department hearing in Pierre. They’ve also sold their souls. They’re highly misinformed.


The construction of a monster pipeline might bring jobs. Yet, they will be temporary jobs which are likely already promised to the union workers who advocate mindlessly for destructive pipeline projects such as Keystone XL.


It’s really about The Almighty Dollar.


There are many aspects to a construction project like this. One reality which has many worried is the prospect of a man camp being established on our Rez.


Do you have relatives living on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota? They are aware of what a man camp is and how much grief it has brought to their area.


Imagine a throng of strange roughnecks living within 100 miles of Rosebud. Don’t know what roughneck means? My favorite online dictionary defines the term as “a rough or violent person; thug.”


We are facing grave danger. We definitely don’t need a large group of violent thugs living so close to us.


Consequently, Three Affiliated tribal members affected by the oil boom on Fort Berthold can give firsthand accounts of what their people have suffered. The oil brought roughnecks, money, drugs and crime.


Heroin drug dealers and high crime rates, including violent sexual assaults, are now regular occurrences on Fort Berthold.


The final day to submit your comments on the Keystone XL pipeline project is Friday, March 7, 2014. If you have access to a computer and can get online please leave your comments AGAINST this death project.


The Ogallala Aquifer is at risk. People who are blind to everything except money will tell you the project is safe.


Politicians who’ve sold their souls to big oil will tell you there is no danger from man camps to your children, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmas.


They’re lying.