January 1, 2000 Issue 29 - Special Edition

"The First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin"
(rewritten by Garnet1654 from Press Releases provided by Robert Quiver of the Lakota Student Alliance)

(Artwork: ChanelWlkr, courtesy Turtle Island Libraries, AOL)

On March 27, 1999, a meeting reminiscent of the 19th century took place between US Army officers and members from several Sioux Nation bands. US Colonel Robert Volz and the Corps' tribal liaison, David Vader, joined Native Sioux on the Missouri River's La Framboise Island just south of Pierre, SD. Dressed in combat fatigues, Colonel Volz entered the tipi and joined Sioux members around the sacred fire to field questions about the Mitigation Act.

The Mitigation Act calls for the Sioux Nation to transfer nearly 200,000 acres of Missouri River land to the state of South Dakota. Governor William Janklow (R,SD) and Senator Tom Daschle (D,SD) coauthored the controversial legislation. They are pushing for a quick land transfer.

On March 22, seven young Oglala warriors established a tipi camp on La Framboise Island and have named it "The First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin" (Seven Council Fires.) The young warriors state their camp affirms both aboriginal rights and Sioux Nation treaty rights (1851 and 1868) to the Missouri River land. But Colonel Volz claims La Framboise Island is under federal jurisdiction.

In his message, Volz assured Seven Council Fires members and supporters that the Corps is committed to a fair and comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to land transfers. An EIS study could last from nine months to several years. He also presented a letter permitting camp members to remain there fourteen days after his visit. He indicated extensions may be authorized.

Rick Two Dogs, a Lakota spiritual leader, differed. He reminded Volz that the "The First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin" camp exists under treaty rights, which is the only authority needed.

At this printing, one extension has been issued.

Oceti Sakowin Update:
(By Garnet1654, rewritten from a press release by Charmaine Whiteface and information shared by Paul and Eileen Robertson)

On April 20, amid drum beats and sacred songs, the seven Lakotas who are occupying the island of LaFramboise, on the Missouri River, were inducted into an ancient warrior society.

After four weeks of tending the First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin ( the Seven Council fires of the Lakota Nation ), these young men were named members of the "Most Dependable Warrior Society," because of their great dedication to the Great Sioux Nation, as shown by their presence on the island.

The purpose of the occupation is to build awareness of the transfer of almost 200,000 acres of tribal land along the Missouri River, to the state of South Dakota. Although the seven Lakotas were the original inhabitants of the camp, it has now grown from one to six tipis, with between 20-30 regular inhabitants.

Joining these warriors are about a dozen horseback riders from Cheyenne River Reservation. These riders are known as Oomaka Tokatakiya ( Future Generations ). Two adult volunteers who have been very active with youth were also honored and will receive eagle feathers.

The ceremony was conducted by Harry Charger of the Sans Arc band which is located on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Although most of the seven warriors are Lakota, from the Pine Ridge Reservation, members of the Great Sioux Nation say the land along the Missouri was once held by all of the Sioux bands.

The Army Corp of Engineers has granted another extension until May 20, 1999.

Another gathering is planned on LaFrambois Island on April 29, the 131st anniversary of the signing of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868. The camp is on record as noting that the authority to be on LaFramboise comes from this treaty.

for more updates visit their website at:
www.fireonprairie.org

LaFramboise Update
(By Garnet1654 from information provided by Fire on the Prairie)

The originial "Mitigation Seven" on the morning of March 23, 1999, the day after the camp was established on La Framboise Island on the Missouri River, just south of Pierre, South Dakota. La Framboise Island, a wooded remnant similar to much of the wetlands that bordered the Missouri River before it was channelized and turned into a series of reservoirs by the Pick-Sloan dam project that took large areas of land belonging to native peoples in North and South Dakota. Much of the land was flooded by the dams, and many native sites and burials have been destroyed by the flooding and by the erosion along the banks of the Missouri.

Pictured left to right are Robert Quiver, Jr., Clint Yellow Bird, Tom Cheyenne, Richard Shangreaux, Danny Merrival, Charles Yellow Bird, and Loren Black Elk. Their sign reads "The 200,000 acres belongs to the Teton Nation."

On March 22, 1999, the First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) Camp was established on the Missouri River just south of Pierre, South Dakota.

Established by seven young Oglala warriors, Oceti Sakowin has grown from their single tipi to a six tipi village manned by several Sioux tribes. Their presence expresses the Sioux Nation's rights to land along the Missouri River, rights guaranteed by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 recognized Lakota ownership of the Missouri River and millions of acres to the West. Less than a decade later, the US government violated treaty rights and took most of that land, forcing the Lakota onto reservations. Five reservations lie along the river.

In the 1950s, the US Army Corps of Engineers [A.C.E.] built five huge Missouri River dams on the best reservation lands.

"They built the dams just above the white town," says Wounded Knee tribal councilman Emmett Kelly. "They flooded the Indian towns and grave sites with reservoirs."

In 1996, US Senate minority leader Tom Daschle (Democrat/S.D.) invited South Dakota's Governor William Janklow (Republican) and several Sioux tribal chairmen to Washington, DC. There, they began negotiations with government officials to transfer excess A.C.E. lands back to the Sioux Nation and South Dakota. The result: The Wildlife Restoration Act, which would return some lands to the Lakota but give South Dakota the recreation sites developed inside reservation lands.

The Standing Rock, Oglala, Rosebud, Crow Creek, and Yankton Sioux Tribes, and the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Councils, are calling for Congressional oversight hearings to amend Title VI and prevent the transfer of Sioux treaty lands to the state of South Dakota. They also request a comprehensive EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) before the US Army Corps of Engineers transfers Missouri River lands to the state.

Reinstating the Great Sioux Nation's treaty lands is the ultimate goal of protesters on LaFramboise Island. Lakota spiritual leader Rick Two Dogs emphasizes the spiritual nature of Oceti Sakowin.

"We don't have a word for 'political' in the Lakota language," he says. "Everything we do is with prayer."

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