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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wasson Says Give Black Hills Back; Hickey Supports U.S. Apology to Tribes

By turning a South Dakota spotlight toward Aaron Huey's disturbing photo essay and commentary on our Pine Ridge Reservation, Dr. David Newquist generated some valuable conversation about one of the biggest and most ignored problems in South Dakota. (His post also provoked some predictable hot air.)

Among some of the noteworthy comments elicited:

U.S. House candidate Thad Wasson wins the award for gutsiest politician in South Dakota by declaring he supports returning land to the Sioux Nations. Not just a few more scraps of land in or around existing reservation boundaries, but prime turf like the Black Hills. "[T]he reason no politician wants to address this is greed," says Wasson. The man from Piedmont (yes, Wasson lives in the territory he would consider giving back) may have guaranteed himself expulsion from the South Dakota GOP, but he has proven he can shake up any political discussion.

Pastor Steve Hickey, who is to me as ACESA is to John Thune (i.e., something I fight with every fiber of my being), points to some good things happening in Indian country. He also celebrates—yes, celebrates—the formal apology to American Indians Congress has passed. "I'm sorry" may not seem like much after five centuries of cultural decimation, but Pastor Hickey says the apology "will have spiritual implications that few realize." Pastor Hickey never ceases to surprise me... sometimes in a good way.

Dr. Newquist himself follows up with more commentary. The Brown County Democrat supports the Pennington County Republican's call to give back the land.


  1. The purpose is to have a strong and vibrant Sioux Nation. I believe you could frame this similiar to Israel. They went back to the Holy Land after WWII and are now have a viable democracy and economy.

    The Sioux are a devasted group. They are committing violence on themselves and I believe returning them to their spiritual land would help.

  2. retributive and restorative justice. i love 'em both.

    -- rob regier

  3. Steve Sibson10/25/2009 8:09 AM

    Spirituality can happen in any land.

  4. But Sibby, that wasn't the response we gave to the Jews when we returned Israel to them. Thad makes a really interesting analogy that deserves more discussion. Do we have an obligation to the Lakota that is similar to the obligation we feel toward Israel?

  5. What would actually happen if all the federal land in the Black Hills were returned to the Tribes?

    How would the return of these lands affect current residents?

    How would the people who live in, say, Rapid City or Deadwood react?

    Would the Tribes take better care of the land than the U.S. government does?

    Has anyone asked the leaders of the Tribes what action we should take in order to have them feel that true and final justice has been served?

  6. I believe the Sioux would manage the National Forest Land better than the feds. The forest service is content to let the Pine Beetles destroy every last tree.

    Transfer of the federal land to tribal hands will accomplish goals set by the Republican party (1) Reduce the size of the federal government (2) Allow natives the ability to have natural resources to sell on the open market, thus reducing their federal handouts.

    BTW, I see U.S. Aid to the Nation of Senegal is 540 million dollars, the same U.S. Aid that South Dakota is getting from the stimulus package.

  7. How is the Forest Service allowing the beetle to destroy every tree? And how would transferring the Black Hills to the Native Americans change anything in this regard? Trees have been thinned by the forest service, which is one way to help control this. And according to info, this beetle is a naturally occurring cycle every certain number of years. How would Native Americans change this?

    Looking at how many Native Americans take care of their personal lives and property at this time, I seriously doubt that they can take better care of the Hills than is presently done.

    People world over have been conquered by other peoples. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it happened. Then is then and now is now. Giving the Black Hills back to the Native Americans will solve nothing and will never happen. Go on from here.


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