On February 9th, 1992, while driving to the South Dakota Miss Basketball banquet to accept an award, SuAnne Big Crow perished in a car accident. Big Crow, who hailed from the Pine Ridge Reservation, was known as a remarkable basketball player as well as her advocacy for Lakota history and culture.
Big Crow’s advocacy and sportsmanship were not forgotten, either. Seven years following Big Crow’s untimely death, President Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge Reservation. Following his visit, President Clinton called both Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo to discuss the creation of a youth center in Pine Ridge.
In August 2000, the youth center became a reality with the dedication of the SuAnne Big Crow Youth Wellness and Opportunity Center, a Boys and Girls Club of America. The building aimed to meet the dreams of SuAnne Big Crow by providing area youth with a drug- and alcohol-free environment.
While the facility is no longer a member of the Boys and Girls Club, it remains committed to serving youth in Pine Ridge. In 2016, the facility offered health-related services to adults on a fee basis, including water aerobics courses.
In addition to the facility bearing her name, Big Crow was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on March 25, 2017.
To read more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently selected Scott James to fill the position of attorney general, reports KOTA News. James was previously a prosecutor for Kiowa County in Kansas, where he was elected to serve two terms. This will be James’ first time working as an attorney in Indian Country.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Attorney General position has been vacant since March 2017. The position was previously held be Tatewin Means.
To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
As part of its effort to highlight small and mid-sized museums across the United States, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently honored the Woksape Tipi Archives at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota. As reported by KOTA News, the archives host a variety of cultural and historical materials pertinent to the Northern Plains region.
The Woksape Tipi collection is accessible to community members as well as college students. Individuals interested in the collection can view a variety of materials including administrative records of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, artifacts, manuscripts, microforms and more.
To learn more about the Woksape Tipi Archives, visit the Oglala Lakota College Library’s website. For more information on the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
On December 14, 1935, the Oglala Sioux Tribe narrowly accepted an Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) constitution, followingly various lengthy discussions. The Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes passed IRA constitutions that were similar in content, although their political district boundaries varied.
Passage of the IRA constitutions was strongly encouraged by the Office of Indian Affairs, which had not previously been heavily involved in the creation of or revisions to tribal constitutions. Previously, the Office of Indian Affairs chose not to insert itself into tribal governance decisions, believing instead that revisions were better made by tribal community members and not outside governmental forces.
The adoption of the IRA constitution was not the first form of constitutional governance approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Having a keen knowledge of constitutional governance, the Tribe adopted its first written constitution in 1921. Drafters the first constitution hoped the new form of governance would encourage political participation among tribal members. When completed, James H. Red Cloud submitted the document to reservation agent Henry Tidwell, who thought Red Cloud and his supporters were “troublesome, unprogressive old men.” Tidwell did not approve the constitution, as its terms fell outside of the philosophy of the Office of Indian Affairs.
A new constitution—which later became known as the Committee of 21—was adopted after Superintendent Jermark noted that the council meetings under the first constitution were called sporadically and believed tribal members to be disillusioned with the document. After the new constitution was written, Indian Affairs Commissioner John Burke revised the governing document to include a provision to allow the reservation superintendent to call special meetings of the tribal council. The constitution was later overwhelmingly rejected by tribal members and council delegates in favor of the first constitution which had been written by the tribe without external involvement.
Efforts are currently underway to reform the Oglala Sioux Tribal constitution. Read more about this process on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Oglala Sioux Tribal police officers have noticed a significant rise in bootlegging in the Pine Ridge Reservation, reports KOTA News. The rise in bootlegging follows the decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court which resulted in end of beer sales Whiteclay, which is located just outside of the reservation.
Police officers have reported finding water bottles filled instead with clear alcohol such as vodka and even hairspray and rubbing alcohol. Those purchasing the bootlegged alcohol pay as much as $10 per bottle.
The Pine Ridge Police Department has just 32 police officers to patrol the reservation, which is similarly sized to the state of Connecticut, making enforcement of the ban on alcohol difficult at best.
Learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
The Oglala Lakota County School District is envisioning the creation of a vocational-technical high school in the Pine Ridge Reservation, according to KOTA News. The school would be the first public high school within the reservation. The cost of building such a school is estimated at $20 million.
Currently, the reservation hosts four high school which all have a traditional focus on college preparation. With just 23 percent of eighth graders completing high school, Oglala Lakota County School Board Members are looking for a way to prepare students for careers that require technical training. Training in information technology, agriculture and hospitality would be included in the curriculum.
To learn more about education and training in the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
On November 20, 2013 American Indian code talkers from 33 tribal nations were honored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. During the ceremony, 67 South Dakotan Native American code talkers were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for the their efforts in World War II. The code talkers hailed from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe.
In 2008, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Code Talker Recognition Act. This act authorized the creation of the gold medals to honor the Native American code talkers. Each tribe designed their own medals, which were produced by the U.S. Mint. The Congressional Gold Medal of Honor is the highest award that Congress can give.
Several Senators and Representatives spoke during the November 2013 ceremony, including then Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. A member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Johnson delivered remarks honoring the code talkers he was able to meet during his time as an elected official. During his remarks, Senator Johnson noted the valiant efforts of the Native American code talkers during the war, although many were not yet citizens of the United States. While some American Indians were granted citizenship through landownership, marriage to a non-Native, and by other treaties and special agreements, all Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently selected Grace Her Many Horses to serve as police chief, reports KOTA News. Her Many Horses is currently working in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota as police chief for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes).
The Oglala Sioux Tribe also hired Charles Abourezk to serve as the tribe’s chief judge. With the hiring of Abourezk, all five judgeships in Pine Ridge have been filled for the first time in more than a year. Prior to coming on board as chief judge, Abourezk had been serving the tribe has a special judge and handled backlogged cases.
Police in Pine Ridge are receiving additional assistance in mapping crimes with the new Leica 3D imaging machine. The new technology helps officers map out the scene of a crime or accident in fine detail.
Images created by the machine will assist the police department in presenting evidence to prosecutors and jurors alike.
Previously the police department made use of 2D imaging software. The state-of-the-art Lecia machine creates 3D recreations of crime scenes.
Ideas for cooperation between Pennington County and Oglala Sioux Tribal law enforcement officers was recently discussed a public forum meeting in Kyle, reports KOTA News. The law enforcement agencies are hoping to craft an agreement that would prevent offenders fleeing from one jurisdiction to another in order to avoid criminal penalties.
The meeting was held in part to discuss a potential agreement between the agencies, as well as to solicit public feedback and provide education on the measure. Future meetings will be held to discuss jurisdictional issues.
On June 29, 1911, President Taft signed a proclamation which opened over 450,000 acres on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, as reported by The Evening Times in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The proclamation also opened approximately 150,000 acres in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Just six years earlier, the Burke Act was signed into law. The Burke Act amended the General Allotment Act to allow for the relinquishment of tribal lands for sale to non-Native individuals. Policymakers of this time believed that Native Americans would not make adequate use of the land, and so excess land was parcelled off to non-tribal members.
While the proclamation was issued at the end of June, the lands would not be available to non-Natives until October of 1911. Those seeking parcels of the land could request it at several locations, including Rapid City, Gregory, Chamberlain and Dallas.
Removing parcels of land from tribal jurisdiction and placing them into fee status resulted in a checkerboard effect in both Pine Ridge and Rosebud. The intermingling of trust lands, fee lands which all lie within reservation boundaries creates a myriad of jurisdictional issues and often hampers tribes’ ability to use the land for traditional and other purposes.
Over half of the cases handled by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota were comprised by violent offenses within the boundaries of the state’s reservations, according to KOTA News. Assaults comprised the largest percentage of crimes on tribal lands handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office at 37 percent, followed by drug charges at 18 percent. Of the total number of defendants charged on each reservation, 29 percent were from Pine Ridge, 28 percent were from Rosebud and 22 percent were from Cheyenne River.
Under the Major Crimes Act of 1885, many violent crimes (including most instances of assault) on tribal lands fall under federal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of crimes committed on tribal lands also varies by whether or not the perpetrator and victim are Indian or non-Indian, as defined by federal law. More information on jurisdiction on tribal lands is available from the Tribal Court Clearinghouse, a project of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.
Additionally, tribal courts have limited sentencing authority. Until recently, tribal courts could not impose more than 1 year of imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both per the Indian Civil Rights Act. However, under the Tribal Law and Order Act tribes can opt to be able to impose sentences up to three years and fines of $15,000. Several conditions must be met in order to impose the higher fees and imprisonment terms. More information on the Tribal Law and Order Act is available at the Justice Department’s website.
The U.S. Attorney also handles crimes outside of tribal jurisdictions. Drug charges off the reservation comprised 11 percent of the total cases handled by the U.S. Attorney. Immigration comprised 7 percent of cases filed, and white collar crime and official corruption each comprised 5 percent of total crimes not committed in Indian Country. The full contents of the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota’s 2016 Annual Report are available on the Justice Department’s website.
At the April 18 meeting of the Fall River County Commission, the Oglala Sioux Tribe requested a section of land, known as Flint Hills, be placed into trust, reports the Hot Springs Star. The land is located near the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe made a request to place the Flint Hills land into trust seven years ago. Fall River County as well as Attorney General Marty Jackley denied the request. The Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as the Tribe objected to the request, but no formal appeal was made.
Fall River County Commissioners raised concerns about jurisdictional issues for law enforcement if the land were placed into federal trust status. State’s attorney Jim Sword indicated that a federal arrangement was made for law enforcement at Pe Sla in the Black Hills, which was recently placed into trust.
While the county did not issue a decision on the trust issue, the Flint Hills land was placed into agricultural status for 2017 at the subsequent equalization hearing.
To read more about Fall River County and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit each community’s profile on the Black Hills Knowledge Network. You can read previous news articles about the Oglala Sioux Tribe at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
During a recent meeting, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council decided to have the South Dakota Department of Social Services administer its Child Protective Services Program, reports KOTA News. The Council also made the decision to place the management of tribal judges under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Law and Order Committee is tasked with negotiations with the SD Department of Social Services as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the transfer of powers.
There have been several additional changes in the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s law enforcement. Attorney General Tatewin Means recently resigned, and the Council recently removed the tribal police force from oversight of the Department of Public Safety Board of Trustees. The Council will now oversee the tribal police force.
For more news on the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Following a recent ruling by a Nebraska Court which revoked liquor permits in Whiteclay, Nebraska; and the subsequent appeal of that decision by Lancaster County District Court Judge Andrew Jacobsen, alcohol sales will not continue, reports the Rapid City Journal. Following the appeal by the district court judge, the Nebraska Attorney General challenged the judge’s ruling, which places the judge’s ruling on hold for up to six months.
The original decision by the Nebraska Liquor Commission to deny beer sales by four stores in Whiteclay cited lack of adequate law enforcement as a primary concern. However, Whiteclay is infamous for its connection to beer sales to tribal members from the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. According to the Nebraska Radio Network, the four stores have sold the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer which arrive in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which prohibits the sale and passion of alcohol.
To read recent news about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn about the civic life and history, government and citizenship, work and economy, demographics and population and more about the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation is installing solar panels, reports KOTA News. Gen Pro, a renewable energy company based in Piedmont, SD along with Solar Mosaic, Sun Power, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation are assisting Thunder Valley with the installation.
Thunder Valley is striving to meet the energy needs of the Pine Ridge Reservation in an affordable and environmentally-friendly manner. Thunder Valley Executive Director Nick Tilsen stated that the organization’s goal is to produce 100 percent of the community’s needs for energy that have less of an impact on the environment than current methods.
Nearly 20 staff members at Thunder Valley are learning how to install the solar panels. Thunder Valley plans to celebrate the installation of the solar panels on Earth Day, April 22nd.
On April 19th, 1893, over a hundred Lakota men, women and children, including many notable figures such as Red Cloud, Kicking Bear, and Short Bull, arrived in Chicago to participate in Wild Bill’s Wild West Show which was to be showcased during that year’s World’s Fair. The Lakota performers would spend nearly six months in Chicago captivating spectators from around the world.
Much like the modern-day Olympic games, the World’s Fair was a grand spectacle that gave countries an opportunity to showcase its wonders and grandeur to the rest of the world. In 1893, Chicago was chosen to host this grand amusement. The 1893 Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World and was thus dubbed the World’s Columbian Exposition. However, the six hundred acre fairgrounds would host attractions from a myriad of nations including Germany, Japan, Syria, and Egypt, drawing in millions of visitors. With such a grandiose event attracting so many, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody saw this as the perfect opportunity to present his Wild West Show, which had just returned from a successful tour of Europe.
After presenting the idea to the fair’s committee, they informed him that he would have to relinquish 50 percent of all money received in admissions as a concessions tariff. Cody refused this outrageous cost and instead decided to spite the committee by leasing plots of land directly adjacent to the fairgrounds so that fairgoers would have an easy stroll to the Wild West Show. This was not the only thorn Buffalo Bill put in the Fair’s side, however. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show opened a month before the Fair opened its doors and would also give the poor children of the city a free admission day to enjoy the show as well as all the candy and ice cream they desired.
The show lasted for six months until closing just days before the fair. When all was said and done, the Lakota performers loaded their belongings and boarded a train headed west for home. While the fair itself turned out to be only a minor success for the city of Chicago, Buffalo Bill walked away with the profits from one of his most successful shows.
Oglala Lakota County is planning to expand an elementary school and looking to build a public high school, reports KOTA News. The high school would be the first public high school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Wolf Creek school is currently in desperate need of expanded facilities. The school was originally build to accommodate 350 students, but Anthony Fairbanks, superintendent of the school, believes enrollment may be as high as 900 by the end of this school year.
Currently, Oglala Lakota County does not have a public high school. Officials are currently conducting a needs assessment which includes soliciting community feedback through a survey. School leaders are also exploring options for funding the high school.
Due to a low number of tribal police, five Bureau of Indian Affairs police offers were sent to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2016. However, the officers are scheduled to leave in January, reports KOTA News.
In 2016, the Oglala Sioux Tribe had funding for 44 officers on the reservation, but recruitment and training issues prevented hiring and maintaining a full staff. Oglala Sioux Tribal officials are currently discussing next moves for the police force to ensure officer retention.
To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
On Dec. 29, 1890, U.S. Calvary soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed members of the Miniconjou band of Lakota at Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Accounts of what incited the massacre vary, but most include the accidental firing of a gun. Estimates of lives lost range as high as 300, many of which were women and children.
Anxiety regarding the Ghost Dance movement drew government forces into Pine Ridge ahead of the massacre. Adherents to the Ghost Dance religion believed that following an apocalyptic event, Euro-Americans would be gone and tribal members could return to their way of life before the arrival of Europeans. The Ghost Dance sparked alarm in government officials, who believed an uprising would occur if it was allowed to flourish.
To learn more about the history of Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s civic life and history page on the community.