Wounded Knee Landowners Reply To Wasichu's Proposal
Wounded Knee Landowners Association
P.O. Box 199
Wounded Knee, SD 57794-0199
March 20, 1995
RE: Proposed Wounded Knee National Tribal Park/Bill S382 - HR877 (the "Bill")
Note: If you wish to receive a copy of the Tribal Park proposal, don't hesitate to
We, the landowners of Wounded Knee and other interested parties, have reviewed the Bill and find many things objectionable contained therein. In order to open an intelligent, rational discussion between us, we have placed the points/questions we would like to raise below. Please note that the numbers below correspond to the page and line
number of the Bill to which the point correlates.
What exactly are the "other purposes" alluded to in the opening title? If the purposes are contained in the Bill, what paragraphs specifically delineate these purposes? If the purposes are not contained in the Bill, will the landowners be able to fight
these purposes on a point-by-point basis in the name of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the Indian Religious Freedom Act, etc., as the case may be?
1.10 Section 2(a)(1):
Why is Chief Spotted Elk constantly referred to as "Chief Big Foot"? This was not his name but a derisive nickname given him by the soldiers he fought against.
The phrasing of the line is misleading. "Chief Big Foot journeyed" seems to indicate an orderly and common journey from one place to another. In truth, he was leading his band on a desperate flight from the soldiers after the assassination of Sitting
Bull. His band was cold, starving, and believed they were running for their lives. This was not far from the mark as "termination" of the tribe was the calvalry's orders. We believe the word "journeyed" perpetuates the great lie that is the government's version of the history of Wounded Knee.
Again, we object to the phrasing. "...at the invitation of Chief Red Cloud to help make peace between the non-Indians and Indians" is misleading for the same reasons given in subparagraph (ii) above. The reality is the people were fleeing for their lives, not to participate in a powwow with other tribes or the Army. This paragraph distorts
historical reality and must be revised.
2.5 Section 2(a)(2):
For a third time, we object to the phrasing of the paragraph. It leads the reader to believe that the Lakota and the white ranchers were involved in violent confrontations. This is not true. Actual accounts from that time prove that, while not friendly, relations were stable. Much of the trouble came from reporters creating the fictional
confrontations in order to make headlines which would sell their papers back on the East Coast. There is evidence that the reporters were encouraged by the government and the U.S. Army to write such stories in anticipation of government policy of that time. Again, this paragraph distorts historical reality and must be revised.
2.11 Section 2(a)(3):
The word "intercepted" does not present the reality that Chief Spotted Elk and his starving, ill-dressed people were chased by a well-fed, warmly-dressed, well-armed cavalry unit until they could not flee anymore.
2.14 Section 2(a)(3):
The word "escorted" does not present the reality that these starving, freezing women, children, and elders were herded like animals under guns at all times and were never fed, warmed, or rested.
2.17 Section 2(a)(4):
The Bill has reduced the illegal and inhumane slaughter of 375 unarmed women, children, and elders to an "incident". Should something similar to this "incident" happen today
in a foreign country, the U.S. government would be among the first to condemn the action. Yet, here the action is downplayed and largely ignored. We also believe the language of this paragraph does not lay blame for the "incident" on anyone and has largely absolved all participants (governmental representatives, Army officers, soldiers, etc.) of any responsibility for their actions.
"There is nothing to conceal or apologize for in the Wounded Knee Battle - beyond the killing of a wounded buck by a hysterical recruit. The firing was begun by the Indians and continued until they stopped - with the one exception noted above.
"That women and children were casualties was unfortunate but unavoidable, and most must have been [killed] from Indian bullets...The Indians at Wounded Knee brought their own destruction as surely as any people ever did. Their attack on the troops was as treacherous as any in the history of Indian warfare, and that they were under a strange religious hallucination is only an explanation not an excuse." Excerpts from "...an official investigation of Wounded Knee, initiated at the behest of Congress, written by General E. D. Scott.
2.22 Section 2(a)(4):
The Federal law referred to herein should be specified as 19 Stat. 254. Art 8.
2.23 Section 2(a)(5):
Again, we object to the phrasing of this paragraph as it distorts reality. The impression given to the reader is that, at the time of the Massacre, a state of war existed between the cavalry and Lakota Nation. The truth is the Massacre occurred during the illegal suppression of religious ceremonies.
The phrase "last military encounter" is inaccurate. Perhaps a better phrasing would be that the Massacre marked the end of active military occupation of the Lakota Reservation by the U.S. Cavalry. This, of course, was not the last military encounter on the Reservation as the 1973 Occupation included the presence of all branches of the U.S.
military forces with the exception of the Navy.
3.4 Section 2(a)(6):
The U.S. government has NEVER apologized to the Lakota people; they have merely sent "regrets" over the incident. No action was ever taken by the government or military to reprimand the soldiers involved. No effort was ever made to retrieve or renounce the
medals awarded to the cavalry unit which was so lauded for its participation in the Massacre. The Lakota Nation is severely insulted.
3.6 Section 2(a)(7):
Who will provide the information relating the "historic significance of the events at Wounded Knee"? Will the Lakota Nation be consulted on this information? Will they be given censure rights as to what will be told about them? This paragraph also needs
to be more specific. It clearly states that "Congress expresses its support for the establishment of a suitable and appropriate Memorial...." As written, this paragraph seems to express support for the entire project of a national park at Wounded Knee. In reality, Congress supports the creation of a Memorial, for which the creation of a national park is not an absolute necessity. To us, this appears to be another ploy by which the government will reclaim valuable treaty lands.
"...ever more humane, enlightened and just society for the future..." What exactly does this mean? "...more humane...": Will
conditions on the reservations be improved? Will they get better food, running water? Many homes on the reservation doe not have what every American considers basic necessities: electricity, indoor plumbing, a toilet. "...enlightened...": Who is going to give spiritual or intellectual insight to the Lakota? One of their own or non-Indians? Does this mean that the Lakota are unenlightened now? "...just society for the future...": Does this guarantee that the Lakota and all other Native Americans will receive fair justice now? For example, will Leonard
Peltier finally be released or, at the very least, re-tried? Or is this paragraph just another attempt to assimilate the Native American peoples and reclaim all treaty lands?
4.1 Section 2(b)(1):
Is it necessary for the entire area to be declared a national park in order to erect the Memorial so provided for in this paragraph?
Why is the Memorial currently standing (which was authorized and approved by the real survivors of the Massacre and their families) no longer considered adequate? Will this monument be destroyed (since it was not on the land in 1890)? This would be a tremendous insult to the real survivors who designed, created, preserved, and funded this
Monument on their own.
4.17 Section 2(b)(1)(A):
Define "sites relating to the Massacre and Ghost Dance Religion." We must be informed as to the exact location of all sites currently under consideration for Park appropriation. How can one identify where a dance was held more than 100 years after the event? We demand consultation rights on creating the criteria. The way the Bill currently reads seems to indicate that any site where a ghost dance, sun dance, sweat lodge, vision quest, or any other religious ceremony may have taken place will be added to the Park lands.
4.18 Section 2(b)(1)(B):
Same comments/questions as in 4.17 above.
5.1 Section 2(b)(3)(A):
Define "national historic trail." Who establishes and verifies the route Chief Spotted Elk and his people took? Will the Lakota Nation be consulted as to the verification? Will this trail be paved? Will new business be formed around it (i.e., tour guides,
eateries, etc.)? Who will own these businesses? Will the Lakota Nation have any say in these businesses? Is this trail anywhere close to the proposed Crazy Horse Highway? Will the National Park include Crazy Horse Highway or will it quash this issue?
5.20 Section 3(4):
Why mineral and water rights? Does the
government plan to lease the mineral rights? Will the legal owners of the land, water, permanent structures and easements be compensated for their property? What will happen to the residents currently on the land? Will they be evicted or moved to another reservation? Will they be consulted as to their preferences? What if they do not wish to move? Will family needs be taken into consideration? Will tiyospayes be taken into consideration? Is this paragraph merely another wording for eminent domain and/or condemnation?
6.11 Section 4(a)(1):
"Draft Study of Alternatives, Environmental Assessment, Wounded Knee, South Dakota" dated January 1993. Please immediately provide us with a copy of the Marla and William Powers Study referred to in the Draft Study of Alternatives. We have been informed that a copy of such Study was not available to Wounded Knee residents per a request from the Tribal Council to the National Park Service. This is a direct violation of federal law.
6.23 Section 4(a)(2)(A)(i):
"...considers necessary to include in such unit." What if the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe decides that it is not necessary to include any sites? Who will be representing the Cheyenne river Sioux Tribe in the consultations with the Director? What if there are opposing factions? The same considerations should be extended to the Oglala Sioux (they are not currently listed specifically in the Bill).
7.5 Section 4(a)(2)(A)(iv):
Who decides what is a "suitable and appropriate national monument" and where to place it?
7.11 Section 4(a)(2)(B)(i):
"1990 boundaries studies authorized by the National Park Service..." Please immediately provide us with a copy of this Study. Again, it seems the governmental agency involved does not wish any residents of Wounded Knee to see this document. Was this Study
conducted on reservation lands with the approval of the Lakota Nation or were the surveyors trespassing?
7.19 Section 4(a)(2)(B)(ii):
Please explain how construction of a cultural center, museum, and amphitheater can be justified if the land is to be returned to 1890 conditions? Who will verify the facts being disseminated therein? One built by the government could be considered unfair business practice and/or monopoly of business located on the Reservation.
7.24 Section 4(a)(2)(B)(iv):
Who decides what is a "suitable and appropriate national monument" and where to place it?
8.4 Section 4(b)(1):
"...each of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe...and Oglala Sioux Tribe..." What exactly is meant by this statement? Who will represent the Tribes? Tribal Council? Or will it be necessary to obtain the permission of the Tribe itself? In the 1869 Treaty with the Sioux Nation, Article 12 stated: "...No treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the reservation herein described which may be held in common shall be of any validity or force as against the said Indians, unless executed and signed by at least three-fourths of all the adult male Indians, occupying or interested in the same and no cession by the tribe shall be understood or construed in such manner as to deprive
without his consent any individual member of the tribe of his right to any tract of land selected by him, as provided in Article 6 of this Treaty...." What treaty are you basing your laws on and will you follow it to the letter?
8.13 Section 4(b)(2):
"...manner acceptable to the Secretary." Why only him? This should be mutually acceptable to both the Secretary and the Tribes. Anything less would be a prime example of governmental injustice to Native Americans in direct violation of their own statement contained in paragraph 2(7)(B) of this Bill.
8.18 Section 4(a)(2)(A)(ii):
If there are to be contracts awarded, the Lakota Nation should be meaningfully consulted. Lakota preferences in contractees should be given preference. These contractees will have to be given access to reservation lands. The people should have a say in who will be allowed access to their homes. Who will provide supervision for these contractees? Will they be subject to tribal law or federal law? Will tribal police be responsible for any problems arising out of the contractees presence on the reservation or will federal agents be placed on the reservation during this period?
9.3 Section 4(b)(2)(C):
What happens if neither unit is ever brought to a condition to satisfy the requirements for Park affiliation? Will the land return to the Lakota landowners or will the government retain ownership?
9.5 Section 4(b)(2)(D):
"a general management plan..." -- devised by whom? Run by whom? Paid for by whom?
9.7 Section 4(b)(2)(D)(i):
Again, this paragraph must be made more specific as to exactly what constitutes a religious site. We demand a list of each and every site the Parks Commission now considers a "religious site" which is being considered or has been listed as a site which will be appropriated for the Park. Furthermore, who will decide how to preserve the religious sanctity of these sites? The National Park Service or the medicine men and elders of the Tribes? What happens to these sites? Will the Lakota people be given access without gawking tourists watching them pray or perform ceremonies that are not to
be seen outside of the Tribe? Will someone be watching over the preservation of these sites on days or times that tourists are allowed access? Who will be responsible if the sanctity is destroyed by contractees or tourists and how will reparation be made?
9.11 Section 4(b)(2)(D)(ii):
We have a great many problems with this paragraph. If you wish to restore the sites to their conditions during the time of the massacre, how can you justify the building of a museum, cultural center, and amphitheater? What about the graves on the sites? There is more than the one mass grave of Massacre victims. What about more recent graves that are of no historic significance but of much significance to the families of the interred? Will the residents and landowners be evicted or relocated? Who will bear the expense of the relocation? What if the residents/landowners fight relocation? The reservation may not be much, but it is all they have and many will not want to give
up their homes. What about sites that related to the 1973 Occupation? These are of great historic significance and yet are deliberately excluded from any and all considerations in this Bill. This item is of particular concern to the Wounded Knee landowners. We believe that the government may use this paragraph as a mandate to eradicate evidence of what was an extremely embarrassing episode of American history. A close look should be taken at the national park at Medicine Wheel Site in Wyoming where there are only a certain number of days per year set aside for private ceremonies. The national park at Pipestone Quarry in Minnesota has non-Indian pageants and makes a great deal of money from Indian-related items, yet the Indians of this area do not benefit from this.
9.18 Section 4(b)(2)(D)(iii):
Why must the zoning ordinances be changed? If you are putting the land back to 1890s condition, there should be NO commercial development and exploitation. Who decides what ordinances will be changed and by what degree? Will the government be allowed to issue mining leases or use the land as toxic waste dumps (again) or for Military uses.
The Lakota people must have a say in this, if it needs to be done at all. Sen. Pressler was working on a bill to help bring business to the reservation. Has this been shelved because of this bill?
9.22 Section 4(b)(2)(D)(iv):
Who plans and implements this program? Will the history taught there be the truth or the same old whitewash non-Indian children have been hearing for the past century?
Wounded Knee Landowners Association Letter,