Oglala Tribe mulling creation of Tribal National Park

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Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer published an update on efforts to establish a Tribal National Park within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southwestern portion of South Dakota.

The roughly 133,000 acres of tribal land is currently being managed by the National Park Service, but there is a movement afoot to create the Badlands South Unit, essentially an extension of the current Badlands National Park, with the caveat being that this park will be jointly managed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the park service.

Oglala President Bryan Brewer recently penned an op-ed in Indian Country Today Media Network in support of federal legislation that would establish the cooperative management structure called the Tribal National Park Commission.

“The purposes of the (legislation) are to preserve, protect and interpret the cultural, historic, prehistoric, scientific and scenic values of the area, including the history, culture and heritage of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Lakota people,” Brewer said.

If passed the bill would authorize a memorial to honor Lakota World War II veterans, including the Codetalkers, and honor the Oglala families that were displaced from their homes in 1942.

In 1942, the United State War Department announced it was seizing the Northwest corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for an Aerial Gunnery Range and told the approximately 900 Native families to move out.

The dented landscape still shows vestiges of the practice bombing runs carried out by the U.S. Air Force during the war.

In the 1960s, the United States offered Lakota families the opportunity to purchase back some of the land, which many did. The government also authorized the ability to graze livestock on the land.

Since 1976, there has been an understanding that a cultural heritage center honoring the Lakota people would be constructed and the national park would be jointly managed, but a full-fledged agreement is still yet to be hammered out.

According to the Rapid City Journal, the Oglala Tribal Council agreed to issue a referendum, asking tribal members to vote on whether they would like to see the creation of the Tribal National Park.

Oglala President Bryan Brewer has maintained the park is an opportunity to both honor the long and illustrious culture of the Lakota Nation, restore Buffalo to its traditional pastureland and promote economic development in an area that continues to wrangle with a lack of economic opportunity.

“The Tribal National Park offers our Tribe the chance to honor our Lakota culture and heritage,” he said. “We have a chance to restore the buffalo and native species, promote economic development and create jobs through respectful tourism that honors the heritage of our Oglala Lakota Nation.”

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7 thoughts on “Oglala Tribe mulling creation of Tribal National Park”

  1. Media bias sucks! Many are being duped by the false prophets supporting the continuing Oppression of our Lakota People and Wakanyeja! The Park service needs to vacate these lands. If the People want a park here its up to original heirs to these lands. Not the public or the NPS. These lands are firmly within our boundaries of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and continuing the failed relationship here with the NPS is equivalent to the Palestinians allowing the Jewish people to turn the Gaza Strip into a Israeli Park run by Palestinians. The recent reports by Native Sun News and others about the Proposed tribal national park presenting Oglala President Brian Brewer in favor only bolsters the view of the NPS. All the provisions being touted are nothing more than smoke and mirrors to get the people to forget more than thirty-eight years of breaches of the original contract MOA of 1976 that only granted the nps an easement for management. 

    Friends Of The Earth! As many of you know myself and several Tokala brothers occupied the Stronghold in the South Unit of Badlands National Park in defiance of the National Park Service that has wrongfully controlled our sacred white wilderness for more than thirty-four-years. I have been a member of the Oglala Lakota’s core negotiation team for eight-years at a negotiation table with the NPS in attempts to terminate the easement –1976 Memorandum of Agreement–which granted management over reservation lands within our exterior boundaries. Many of you have heard me speak at about this extremely important issue in great detail with a historical overview. There are several alternatives in the GMP that have been developed over these past twelve-years and not without much disappointment I might add. One of the alternatives has been consistently ignored and given little attention. Mandated by our tradition people, elders, treaty council and other bands of the Tetuwan Oyate I have steadfastly pushed for the alternative that represents justice for thousands of heirs forcefully displaced from their Tiospaye’s original allottments — option 6– “Deauthorization.” The stories, the pain, the oral history of now deceased elders and more than sixty-seven years of destruction by the defense department and National Park Service to our beautiful White Wilderness has had horrible consequences on our nations community self esteem. Our tribe stays on high-risk economic status as a result of the easement. Someone has to carry the huge economic burden of sustaining so many thousands of heirs who have absolutely nothing. As a result, the tribe cannot create jobs or raise the standards of living for most because of this arrangement with the NPS who raises tens of millions off our land for government employment. The solution is clear, alternative 6 is our job creation program. There are a handful of people within our ranks that are for keeping this bad relationship going with the NPS–the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority. However, compared to the thousands of heirs who live well below the poverty level a few ranger positions is mute. Thank you for your patience dear friends of the Lakota, but time is of the essence. Pass this along far and wide for this humble cause of justice. Your comments are extremely important to what will transpire at our next meeting with gov. officials when we sit down to hash it out over the proposed “bill”Let’s show them that the Lakota are not invisible or alone in this struggle. Most comments made here at this site are not based on a education of this sensitive issue. Please don’t believe everything you read in the papers. They are most often biased towards the “haves” but neglect the independent voices of the Oyate. Peace be with you. For Justice!

    1. As an Irish Citizen I understand the stealing of a Culture. Lands that are sacred. Heritage that no books could contain let alone explain. Wealth of Blood lines that Washington tried to crush by every means known to mankind. Despite this the Nations have survived and will once again heal the damage done through decades of Ethnic Cleansing and claim what was always their Birthright.I wish only blessings to the Tribes and continued success in all they strive to achieve for their people. Mitakuye Oyasin. John Byrne.

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