A recent KELO TV story suggests the Black Hills Reparations Alliance (BHRA) has hope that President Obama will bring change in land ownership they believe in:
South Dakota Native Americans think the political winds are blowing in their favor for a settlement in a land dispute that goes back more than a century.
They’re hoping the White House will play a key role in the return of their Black Hills homeland….
Members of the Black Hills Alliance think they can get favorable terms with the help of President Obama, who has expressed support of resolving Native American land claims.
“History shows that every president that ever has had that particular demeanor, or that particular feeling about native people, has returned land,” Afraid of Bear-Cook said.
To briefly review the facts in the land claim issue: In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of U.S. Court of Claims that U.S. Government violated the 5th amendment when it seized the land under the 1868 & 1877 treaty from Sioux Nation and awarded them approximately $106 million dollars for the land.
Following that decision, a dispute emerged between the tribes and their lawyers. Ultimately, tribal leaders were concerned that by accepting the money it would confirm the sale of the land and lead to them losing their land, culture and identity. The monetary award was placed in trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Subsequent unsuccessful law suits were filed that asked the U.S. Government to return approximately 7.3 million acres of the Black Hills.
In 1987, the NJ Senator Bill Bradley introduced a bill to return 1.3 million acres of U.S. Forest Land to the Sioux Nation. After much political wrangling and no support from the South Dakota Congressional delegation, the Bradley bill died.
In 2009, a group of tribal leaders filed a class action law suit to force the Sioux Nation to take the money. But other tribal leaders oppose this — maintaining that the Black Hills are not for sale.
Clearly the BHRA has hope that President Obama is inclined to support the land claim over the monetary award. Is it realistic or practical?