Posts Tagged ‘Native Sun News’

By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY – Yet another federally funded “improvement” project threatens to further undermine the sanctity and integrity of a culturally relevant Native American landmark in the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa.

A sweeping vista of Pe Sla, as seen from Flag Mountain, which lies immediately to the west. (Courtesy of Native Sun News)


The Pennington County-initiated undertaking, known as the South Rochford Road Project, seeks to pave an approximately 12-mile graveled stretch of road between the unincorporated town of Rochford and Deerfield Lake, a recreational destination. This particular section of South Rochford Road, which remains as a historical throwback of Rochford’s gold mining boomtown days of the late 19th century, gouges a swath directly through the center of what the Lakota call “Pe Sla,” or the venerated “Old Baldy” of the Black Hills.

Pe Sla is the genuine, living heart of the Black Hills for the region’s indigenous peoples. For thousands of years prior to European invasion, the Lakota prayed and paid ritualistic homage to the earth and sky, as well as to everything in between and beyond, unencumbered at Pe Sla.

The area lies in an isolated northwestern portion of Pennington County, some 25 miles west of Rapid City, as the crow flies, and is home to around two dozen hardy souls, most of whom are ranchers.

Originally implemented in 2004 by county commissioners, the now almost-decade-long project “is considered necessary to improve year-round access to the Town of Rochford from the Deerfield Lake area,” according to a notice of intent published in the Federal Register in January.

According to some local Native Americans and Pe Sla advocates, however, the proposed project apparently began out of a desire to further develop and promote the quiet site as another Black Hills tourist mecca.

In any event, the existing roadway is difficult to maintain, with its gravel surface, steep grades, drainage issues and curved alignment. The three alternatives under consideration include taking no action, improving the existing alignment and making improvements to a new alignment.

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Russell Means (Photo By REUTERS/Joshua Lott/REUTERS)

Russell Means (Photo By REUTERS/Joshua Lott/REUTERS)


By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor

SANTA FE, N.M. – Russell Means says he is still cancer-free and will forever be unaffected by the dread disease.

Means, who is Oglala Lakota, was diagnosed last summer with what was then referred to as “terminal” esophageal cancer. In December, the actor and former American Indian Movement activist claimed victory over his affliction partially by way of “Indian prayer and Indian medicine.”

“The cancer’s gone – I don’t have to worry about that,” Means said from his wife Pearl’s familial home in Santa Fe.

“I beat it, it’s gone,” he said firmly.

As was the case in December, Means’ voice is still clear and robust – a noticeable difference from the height of his throat cancer last August, when his tones were audibly weak.

“None of my doctors believe in the term ‘remission,’” said Means. “Either you got cancer or you don’t – period.”

Means concurs with his physicians in ascribing no validity to the cancer-related state of remission, which is an all-too-common polarity of metastasizing, or actively spreading, cancer cells.

“Remission means there’s cancer hanging around – to me, that’s what it means – and I totally reject that basis. The reason the medical profession uses that word is because they know their radiation, chemo and their meds weaken the immune system to the degree that it invites all kinds of disease. But specifically, it invites cancer to come back, so that’s why they say ‘remission.’ They know, because of how they treat cancer, it weakens you and makes you even more susceptible to disease.

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A proud non-Native hunter poses with his not-so-hard-to-kill “trophy” – a revered white buffalo, or tatanka ska – near Texas Hunt Lodge. In the aftermath of a vociferous attack by Native Americans from near and far, beginning with the Lakota, the lodge abruptly discontinued its pricey white buffalo hunts. (Photo courtesy of TEXASHUNTLODGE.COM, via Native Sun News)


This photo of a hunter standing with his kill, a sacred white buffalo, has been circulated widely across the Internet in recent weeks. It caused outrage from many groups. Now, the hunting lodge in Texas that organizes the controlled “hunts” of white buffalo has apparently stopped offering the white buffalo option.

Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor, has the full story:

HUNT, Texas – A hunting lodge in this small, unincorporated – and fittingly named – community came under fire recently by Native Americans from across the country for its offering of staged white buffalo kills.

Situated in the heart of the Lone Star State, the family-owned Texas Hunt Lodge provides big-game packages to hunting enthusiasts from coast to coast. Rare white buffalo, or bison, packages run upwards of $14,000, according to information once contained on the lodge’s website.

Texas Hunt Lodge, which has been in existence since 2008 and touts access to over 100,000 acres of ranch land, is headed by Aaron Bulkley.

“There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting the White Buffalo, or White Bison, in Texas, which makes it a suitable trophy year round,” proclaims apparently now-excised advertising from the hunting lodge’s website.

Phone calls to the Texas Hunt Lodge by Native Sun News went unanswered.

For centuries, the white buffalo has been a potent symbol of cultural preservation for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples of the Great Plains. Hunting and harvesting the hard-to-find icon is considered sacrilegious by many of these “Buffalo People.”

“The company started the white buffalo hunts about two years ago, and there was a big outcry about it then,” said James Swan, founder and president of the Rapid City-based United Urban Warrior Society.

The lodge acquiesced to pressure from Native Americans at the time and ceased its white buffalo hunts, according to Swan.
“But now it’s started back up again,” he said. “It’s a slap in the face for our people.”

Swan is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“(Texas Hunt Lodge’s) argument now is that they’re technically not white buffalo, but inbred beefalo,” Swan said. “But the thing is, if you go to the pictures of what they claim are beefalo on their website – beefalo look more like a Brahma bull than beef or buffalo – but the pictures, those are buffalo.”

However, there appear to no longer be any remaining images of or references to the white buffalo hunting package on the company’s site.

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By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION – In a case eerily reminiscent of the recent turmoil on the Cheyenne River Reservation stemming from that tribe’s near loss of its buffalo herd in a legal battle, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently in search of some missing buffalo.

Reports started circulating last month that the tribe’s buffalo herd count was off by approximately 100-150 head, though estimates are wildly inconsistent. It is also unclear how many total head of the traditionally revered creatures the tribe actually owns.

The tribal administration’s lack of accountability for the livestock has sent a shockwave of disbelief and speculation throughout this large, landlocked island community. Many residents will not speak publicly about the controversy for fear of retaliation by those in charge of both internal and external governmental dealings.

The case is being jointly investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services.

According to some tribal members, deputies from the nearby Sheridan County Sheriff’s Department in Nebraska shot and killed a few of the tribe’s roaming buffalo near Gordon, which lies some 40 miles to the south of the intermingled Pine Ridge Reservation and South Dakota borders.

Not so, says Sheridan County Sheriff Terry Robbins.

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The Wounded Knee Memorial has been neglected for many years until Tribal member steps in to restore it. (Photo by Karin Eagle, courtesy of Native Sun News)

The Wounded Knee Memorial has been neglected for many years until Tribal member steps in to restore it. (Photo by Karin Eagle, courtesy of Native Sun News)


Story and photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer

WOUNDED KNEE – On a cold, windy morning, the mass grave site of the victims of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre is lonely and desolate.

The grave itself is surrounded by a cemetery, and backed by a log cabin church. Trash blows in from the surrounding area, empty beer boxes blowing up against and getting hung up on the chain link fence. There is little honor and reverence to be found in what should be the most revered site of the Lakota people.

With a strong mind and a generous heart, one Oglala man has taken on the responsibility of caring for the resting place of those victims of such a tragic and devastating event in the history of the Lakota people.

Julian Brown Eyes, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and owner of Competitive Masonry out of Rapid City, has taken the initiative in redoing the brick area surround the mass grave.

Donating all the materials needed as well as asking his employees, all Natives, to volunteer for such a poignant task, the renovation is being done at no cost to the descendants or the tribes who have people buried there.

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OST tribal members march in protest of drunk and impaired drivers on the reservation. (Photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News)


Story and photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer:

RAPID CITY – The Oglala Sioux Tribe, the center of many controversies involving the alcohol sales right across the state border, at White Clay, Neb., has taken a step to put a stop to the high rate of deaths due to impaired drivers on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Tribal members, along with the cooperation of the OST Tribal Police force, have created the newest Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, as it is nationally known, on the reservation.

On Dec. 30, 2011, the OST MADD chapter staged a march that ventured from the center of Pine Ridge Village toward the south, in the direction of White Clay, Neb. A quarter of the way to the border town, the march symbolically turned its back on the location of several million dollars of annual beer sales, and returned to the village.

Escorted and supported by the OST police department, the march was led by Lakota singers who offered songs of prayer and encouragement for the crowd of about 30 walkers. All ages were represented, from walkers as young as three years old to the very elderly, who were assisted by younger family members.

Once the march returned back to the village of Pine Ridge, the crowd was escorted into the Billy Mills Community Hall where a meal had been provided by various donors and supporters of the new MADD chapter.

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Incredibly happy to pass along this update on Russell Means, diagnosed this summer with deadly throat cancer:

Russell Means (Courtesy of Native Sun News)


By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In a remarkable turn of events, actor and American Indian activist Russell Means says he has defeated throat cancer.

This reversal of fortune is nothing short of a miracle. Means was diagnosed this summer with what was then essentially referred to as incurable, or inoperable, esophageal cancer. His physician gave him mere days to live at the time, he said. “The prognosis was grim,” Means told Tom Lawrence of the Mitchell Daily.

In a Dec. 8 telephone interview from his seasonal home in Scottsdale, Means spoke in a clear, robust voice – a stark contrast to his last Native Sun News interview in August, when his tones were made fragile and husky by the disease.

“I won the battle, man – I’m cancer-free,” he declared victoriously. “The doctor told me the day before yesterday that ‘Mr. Means, you will not die of cancer’.”

The triumph in Means’ voice was unmistakable.

Means, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, partially attributes his amazing recovery to the outpouring of support – in the form of supplication – from all of the multifaceted corners of the globe.

“I beat it with prayer – prayer from all over the world from all the different disciplines,” he said.

“And Indian prayer,” Means added. “Indian prayer and Indian medicine,” he said, in referencing his primary spiritual and cultural connection to his Lakota brethren.

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By Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY – The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council approved a resolution endorsing the Oglala Lakota College’s efforts in developing a police academy to be located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Council voted to support and endorses the Oglala Lakota College in spearheading the development of a 3-5 year Oglala Lakota College Police Academy demonstration project in association with the Oglala Lakota Department of Public Safety.

The goal of this endeavor is to produce public safety officers that meet the federal, tribal and South Dakota training standards.

Recruitment and retention of trained officers is expected to increase as the training, which currently requires the tribe to send their officer recruits to Artesia, New Mexico. According to Judiciary Committed Coordinator, Bruce Whalen, the cost of the training is picked up by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the only cost to the tribe is the mileage to and from Artesia.

“The Tribe approached the college about developing a pre-academy to prepare our tribal members for the training down in Artesia, and the idea for the academy grew from there,” Whalen said.

James Toby Big Boy (Courtesy of Native Sun News)


To date, there has been around three hundred hours of work put into the project by Oglala Lakota College. OLC President Tom Shortbull, along with Director of Applied Science, Doug Noyes are spearheading this project in association with council representative James “Toby” Big Boy, Chairman of the OST Judiciary Committee.

According to Short Bull, the current situation with the recruits attending academies at either Artesia or in Pierre puts a strain on recruitment considering the length of time that the recruits are required to separate from their families for. Twelve weeks is the current length of training.

“Having our own academy will allow us to add four weeks of pre-academy giving us the time to provide the mentoring needed to get them prepared for the actual training, specifically in reading and writing skills. We will be able to produce more graduates than are currently being produced in Artesia and in Pierre,” he added.

“The Judiciary Committee led this effort in response to community concerns in wanting a culturally relevant Public Safety presence and also to encourage the recruitment and retention of qualified officers seeking a community service career with Public Safety,” Big Boy said.

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By Ernestine Chasing Hawk, Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY – Less than two weeks after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited the Rapid City community and spoke about measures to curb violence in Indian country, three Rapid City Police officers were shot by Daniel Tiger, a 22-year-old Native American male.

James Ryan McCandless, 28, died at the scene and Nick Armstrong, 27, later died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained during a shoot-out with the suspect. Tiger also died of gunshot wounds.

Another officer, Tim Doyle who was shot in the face during the armed altercation is currently recovering from his injuries.

According to the Rapid City Police Department on Aug. 2 at about 4:30 p.m., during what was termed a “routine stop” a Rapid City police officer patrolling on a bicycle came into contact with a group of four individuals at the intersection of Anamosa and Greenbriar streets.

Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender reported that there had been complaints of underage drinking in the area and an officer was responding to the call.

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By Talli Nauman, Native Sun News, health and environment editor

ROSEBUD – A Canadian company failed to notify the Rosebud Sioux tribal government of a meeting July 25 to inform community members about mining proposed near the Native American sacred site of Mato Tipila, or Devil’s Tower, according to the tribal historic preservation officer.

“They didn’t tell us about it,” Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Russell Eagle Bear said on July 29. “If it’s on federal land, they should contact us. They need to have a consultation with the tribes,” he told the Native Sun News.

The Vancouver-based Rare Element Resources Ltd. scheduled the informational meeting in Sundance, Wyo., to explain its plans for mining gold and lesser-known metals called rare earth elements (REE) at Bull Hill, located in the federally administered Black Hills National Forest on a site 15 miles southeast of the landmark.

The tribe had warned in February that federal and state authorities will be taken to task if the laws protecting American Indian religious, cultural and historic rights are not followed in the mining development process there.

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