Urgent Action Alert: Ask Senators to honor treaty rights of Sioux Nation

8 April 1999
Urgent Action Alert: Ask Senators to honor treaty of Sioux Nation

(On April 3 CPT began a one month presence with Sioux Native people in
Pierre South Dakota where where member of the Great Sioux Nation are
demanding treaty rights.)

Pierre, SD -- Lakota/Dakota Nation Native Americans have set up a
circle of tipis on an island in the Missouri River in a
nonviolent camp-in to protest a U.S. Congressional bill
transferring 200,000 acres of Treaty land to the state of South
Dakota. The vigilers, camped within sight of the state capitol
in Pierre, SD, want Congressional committees to hold oversight
hearings on the bill (Title VI of the 1998 Omnibus Appropriations Act)
to determine whether it is in fact legal.

The organizers of the encampment have asked CPT to provide
observers to monitor the situation. They are
particularly concerned that the local authorities may try to
provoke a violent confrontation in the coming days or weeks in order to
provide an excuse to evict the protestors. Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) agents have been staked out near the
encampment. Their presence recalls tensions between the agency
and the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee in the early 1970s.

ACTION: The organizers have asked CPT's supporters to make
phone calls and send faxes and letters to the following senators on key
committeesasking them to use their influence to ensure that the last minute
rider that South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle slipped into the
1998 Omnibus Appropriations Act gets a proper congressional hearing: Tom
Daschle, Tim Johnson, Ted Kennedy, Paul Wellstone and Ben Nighthorse
Campbell. They also want people to ask the Senators to ensure that the
local and national authorities refrain from harassing the protestors who
are camped
on land granted them by the U.S. government in 1868. (Contact
information below.)

SOUTH DAKOTA ACTION: CPT's South Dakotan constituents are asked
to send faxes and make phone calls to Governer William Janklow,
asking that he respect the original treaties made with South
Dakota's Native population and that he ensure the safety of the
vigilers. They are also encouraged to convey the same concerns
to Senator Tom Daschle.

Governer William Janklow
South Dakota State Capitol;
Pierre, SD 57501
Tel 605-773-3212
FAX 605-773-4711.

Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Washington DC 20510
Tel. 202-224-2321

Paul Wellstone (D-MN)
717 HSOB
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: (202) 224-5461
Fax: (202) 224-8438
E-mail: senator@wellstone.senate.gov

Ben Nighthorse-Campbell
380 RSOB
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: (202) 224-5852
Fax: (202) 224-1933
E-mail: senator@campbell.senate.gov

Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)
312 CHOB
Washington, DC 20515
Ph: (202) 225-4911
Fax: (202) 225-3290

Senator Tim Johnson (R-SD)
Washington DC 20510
Tel. 202-224-5842
Fax: 202-228-0368


The land in question belongs to the Lakota/Dakota nations,
according to the Treaty of 1868, a treaty reaffirmed by U.S.
courts in the early 1980s.

The nations had fought the land transfer legislation, called
the Mitigation Act, in the U.S. Congress for two years. In
October 1998, the House voted down the bill which mandated the
transfer of land and funds to the state of South Dakota.
However, Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) introduced the Mitigation Act
as a rider onto a huge budget appropriations bill (weighing 40
pounds) the night before it was passed later in October.

The legality of the bill, now called Title VI of the 1998 Omnibus
Appropriations Act of 1999, is questionable, since as passed it
never had hearings in the Senate or House. Lakota/Dakota leaders
were not consulted, and the requirement that three-quarters of
the men of the Sioux Nation sign the transfer was not met.

On March 22, Lakota/Dakota people and supporters held a
demonstration against the bill. Several men decided to remain on
the island in a spiritual camp-in, called the Seven Council
Fires, to remind the world that the land is theirs according to
treaties signed over a century ago, and that "Treaty Rights are
Human Rights."

The Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the land in
question, has "granted" the camp-in protestors 14 days to be on
La Framboise Island. The protestors did not ask the Corps'
permission since the 200-acre island is a part of the land
mentioned in the 1868 treaty. The "permission" lasts until
Friday, April 9 (since extended for a further 14 days), and the campers are
uncertain of what will happen then.

An FBI agent checking in on the camp told CPTer Rick Polhamus
that, "This is federal land. We're just here to look after the
rights of the people who are here."

Written by CPT Peacemaker Corps member Joanne Kaufman and Reservists
Rick Polhamos and Kathy Kern.