Change and Hope for the Black Hills Land Claim?

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?

32 Replies to “Change and Hope for the Black Hills Land Claim?”

  1. Michael (Constant Conservative)

    Realistic? No. Practical? No.

    Our President has a track record of promising many things to many people, and not following through on them. I seriously doubt that this issue, messy as it is, would be treated differently.

    Doing damage to all of those who own the real estate under dispute by dispossessing them and otherwise voiding their ownership rights is hardly a wrong which should be added to the pile of wrongs (the government’s treatment of the Sioux Nation) which already exists.

  2. MOSES

    President won’t care, like we have all these electoral votes.It would be nice for once to keep our promises, especiall the 1868 treaty.

    1. duggersd

      So, where do you live Moses? Do you happen to reside in a part that was part of the 1868 treaty? If so, why don’t you just deed the title of any land you own over to the Lakota? I think IP could do that as well. That would solve his problem with having land in this God forsaken land that forces him to stay where he is. I think Bill Fleming could do that as well. I know he has advocated in the past that we should abide by the 1868 treaty.

      1. grudznick

        I do not wish my young friend Bill, nor my rare breakfast companion Mr. Newland to give away their land at all. I know I will not give away my small homestead. Not without throwing a lot of rocks. And I also insist that those peoples who live in those nearby “soveriegn nations” buy hunting and fishing licenses and pay road taxes for licenses for any vehicle they buy and drive on roads that my nation pays for. And pay sales tax and things too. Even on food. I say, join up or get out.

        1. springer

          I agree. It’s time that the whole sovereign nation within a nation thing be gone. We are one nation, the USA, and the Native Americans would be a whole lot better off if they became complete participating members of the USA instead of on the gov’t dole in their separate “sovereign nation” within the USA. It hasn’t worked; that’s a given. Time to move on. It’s been generations since all this occurred. It’s now. Live in the present.

      2. Bill Fleming

        From what I gather, there is no argument from any legal quarter as to whether or not we should honor the Treaty. Consensus appears to be that we should. The discussion among the interested parties is instead about HOW it should be honored ? dugger’s lunkheaded comment notwithstanding. Oh was that mean, DuggerSD? Dang. Sorry.

  3. Duh

    And how about Manhattan Island purchased from the indians for beaver pelts? Awe, come on, we got ripped…. redo !!!

    Shoulda had a lawyer look that one over 😉

    1. duggersd

      I believe I recall the late great Paul Harvey’s ROS telling us the people the Dutch bought Manhattan Island from were not even the people who owned it. It was just a group of Indians passing through!

  4. i>p

    The BIA has agreat forestry division. The Custer National Forest should be the first to be changed. Why duplicate services in remote parts of the West where they often abut reservations?

  5. Stan Gibilisco

    For the record, I live in Lead. My house is on about 1/4
    of an acre. I also own a 5.5-acre parcel of land about
    two miles south of Lead.

    No one is talking about taking land from residents, are
    they? The issue is who would own the land currently
    under the dominion of the Forest Service.

    I can’t see why Lakota ownership of that land would do
    anyone here any harm. Oh, agruments about real
    estate values, and this or that — I’d be happy to have a
    Lakota family live on my 5.5 acres and look after it as
    responsible custodians of the environment.

    That said, I don’t think any deal like this is realistic or
    practical. If Obama did anything that the far right could
    remotely demagogue as the seizure or transfer of
    private property rights by government fiat — whether it
    had any truth in it or not — he’d take a big beating.
    He’s having a hard enough time already, what with the
    soaring oil and food prices, and the EPA’s restrictions
    on offshore drilling in Alaska.

    I hope this makes sense. Captain Archer is about to
    light up a dark matter nebula in the other room, and
    it’s quite distracting.

    1. duggersd

      No Stan, nobody is talking about removing residents, yet. At this point it is talk about public land. However some people believe we should be abiding by the 1868 treaty. In that treaty any white people who live there live there in violation. So, if they believe we should abide by the treaty, then they should turn the land they “own” over to the Lakota. But do not be surprised if this were to become reality (I really do not believe it will), then the next step will be to get rid of all of you “trespassers”.

    2. grudznick

      Let me clarify. I was not HAR HARing at Mr. Obama.

      I think, if it would make you happy, you should advertise in the newspaper that a family could come and live free on your 5.5 acres and be custodians in a green tree hugger way. If it would make you happy. HAR HAR HAR


    Indians broke the treaties same as the govt did. It wasnt a one sided deal. When are the Sioux going to pay the Cheyenne for the Hills? Our biggest mistake was being civilized to uncivilized people.

  7. Stan Gibilisco

    Grudz, in a perfect world, what you suggest would happen! There are plenty of trees on that place to hug! Plenty of scrap wood to burn too, so those Greenie Freebies could keep warm in the Battered Old Trailer House after a Rogue Old Sol decides that its third son Terra has dealt with enough of humanity’s Virtual Truths and hurls a Gamma-Ray Burst at the ionosphere. Oh wait, I bought that place so as to go there myself when the Big One hits. By that time Money will have no meaning so there’ll be no point in charging any rent. The Almighty Dollar will be worth Zero.

  8. anonyster

    The federal government can give the tribes the forest service owned land in the black hills back or it could give them $1 billion. Which makes more sense? The government’s broke. The forest service has ruined the hills and let the pine beetle take over. Tribes couldn’t do any worse with it than the federal government. Maybe China would take a mortgage and loan us $1 billion to pay the tribes?

    Shall we let the forest service kill it all off and let it go up in smoke? Shall we return it to the tribes and save millions $$ in management costs? Or should we mortgage it to the Chinese and default like Noem wants us to do? Pick your poison political junkies.

    1. Ron

      So at this point everybody can use the Black Hills, including members of various Sioux Tribes. Do you think that would continue if they were given ownership? If you believe that the tribes would still allow public use, then what is the point of giving it back to them?
      As to whether it can happen—who thought that the government would take over health care?

      1. Stan Gibilisco

        If federal lands were given back to the Tribes, then I suspect that those lands would become, in effect, like a reservation.

        Back to the 5.5 acres south of Lead … I must cross a small strip of BLM land in order to get to my parcel. The BLM has “grandfathered” me the rights to cross that strip (but not to develop it or anything). If that land were to go to the Tribes, I’d probably have to negotiate with them to keep that access. I don’t know what they’d do, but I’ve heard of similar situations on the Wind River reservation around Riverton, Wyoming. Maybe Larry has some ideas as to how it would affect me in this case.

        All of that said, I don’t think that even the federal lands will be granted to the Tribes “just like that.” And if all the current residents of the Black Hills were dispossessed, the blowback against the U.S. government administration would ensure a massive defeat for them in the next election. It would constitute the equivalent of the TransCanada eminent domain issue — on steroids. Glenn Beck would likely explode as if he’d been placed in a huge microwave oven.

        1. (larry)

          There are some really smart people working on this, Stan. Recall that the Grizzly Gulch fire burned through BLM ground where aspen is making an eruptive recovery recycling carbon dioxide now that the bug-killed ponderosa pine is now producing methane.

          The challenge is that the committees funding the Forest Service and the BLM are heavily lobbied by the people that want the resources and could give a shit about the effects on the watersheds leaving the FS to pick up the pieces. The BIA is more resource protective.

          The Forest Service should come out of the USDA anyway. Completely in conflict with what ag does.

  9. Arrowhead

    I’d like to start off by firing all the white people who work at the BIA. I don’t understand why the fed hires white people to tell indians what to do. Hire an indian to handle indian affairs.

  10. CaveMan

    AMEN GRUD! You nailed it.

    Give me twenty years; 1/20 of the separate nation BS goes away every year, and we get to all AMERICAN’s; finally!!!!


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