While Native American activists successfully lobbied the Obama administration to act against an NFL team accused of using a derogatory name, recent reports show the federal government is responding with its own – much more direct – insult.
Following publicized disputes over federal land grabs in states including Nevada, Texas, and Utah, the Department of the Interior is reportedly looking at Sioux tribal reservations in South Dakota as its next target.
According to a report by Global Research, the agency intends to transfer ownership of a significant area of Oglala and Lakota Sioux property into a Tribal National Park under the operation of the National Parks Service. Despite the name, however, those Native Americans being affected will have no control of or claim to the land being taken.
Congress is now reportedly considering a bill that would allow federal authorities to make an offer to both Native and non-Native American landowners for the property. If residents refuse the deal, the government can then declare eminent domain and simply take ownership of the land, the report states.
Compounding the issue is the fact that the average income of tribal residents in the area is just $8,000 per year and thousands of tribe members will be affected by the land-grab. Some residents will be forced to relocate, and many more others will lose their income from grazing allotments on the land – a result which will ultimately force any remaining independent cattle ranchers out of business. In addition to all this, Tribal members will lose their share of income from entrance fees collected at the adjacent North Gate of the Badlands National Park – a punitive measure which will further compound the existing economic depression on a reservation.
Some in the community feel this is just the beginning of a protracted battle between local and federal forces.
“There is a feeling of common cause between attached parties on this issue,” tribal rancher Bud May said, “namely tribes and other reservations. The bottom line is we’ll all be under dictatorial control if something is not done quick.”
‘Cowboys and Indian’ in Common Cause
The federal land-grab crisis was elevated to national news in April when Nevada independent rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters stood toe to toe in an armed standoff with the the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over Bundy’s private property and land rights which trace back to 1870′s.
Lory Storm, a Nebraska radio host who has been following recent developments at Pine Ridge describes the synergy now happening between what were previously strange bedfellows. Storm explains,
“The difference between this situation and the Bundy Ranch conﬂict? It will be the ﬁrst time in the history of our Country that the Cowboys and Indians pose a united front against a federal government that is used to winning battles by first dividing and then conquering.”
Already, many land owners are taking the position that they will not comply with the latest order from the government – leaving many to wonder whether this potential standoff will become the third ‘Wounded Knee’ incident involving a standoff between the Sioux Nation and the US Federal government.