Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Issues & News From STSSA Friends & Family 02/16/2011

Cheyenne River: A look inside America's poorest county

Posted by: "Christina Rose" rosepetl5

Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:31 am (PST)

A look inside America's poorest county

Stephanie Davidson, Gerald Davidson

By NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press Sun Feb 13, 8:54 pm ET

ZIEBACH COUNTY, S.D. – In the barren grasslands of Ziebach County, there's almost nothing harder to find in winter than a job. This is America's poorest county, where more than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line.

At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here — a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.

In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent.

Poverty has loomed over this land for generations. Repeated attempts to create jobs have run into stubborn obstacles: the isolated location, the area's crumbling infrastructure, a poorly trained population and a tribe that struggles to work with businesses or attract investors.

Now the tribe — joined by a few entrepreneurs, a development group and a nonprofit — is renewing efforts to create jobs and encourage a downtrodden population to start its own businesses.

"Many, many people make these grand generalizations about our communities and poverty and 'Why don't people just do something, and how come they can't?'" said Eileen Briggs, executive director of Tribal Ventures, a development group started by the tribe. "It's much more complicated than that."

The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, created in 1889, consists almost entirely of agricultural land in Ziebach and neighboring Dewey County. It has no casino and no oil reserves or available natural resources.

Most towns in Ziebach County are just clusters of homes between cattle ranches. Families live in dilapidated houses or run-down trailers. Multicolored patches of siding show where repairs were made as cheaply as possible.

Families fortunate enough to have leases to tribal land can make money by raising cattle. Opportunities are scarce for almost everyone else.

The few people who have jobs usually have to drive up to 80 miles to tribal headquarters. The nearest major population centers are Rapid City and Bismarck, each a trip of 150 miles or more.

Basic services can be vulnerable. The tribe's primary health clinic doesn't have a CT scanner or a maternity ward. An ice storm last year knocked out power and water in places for weeks. And in winter, the gravel roads that connect much of the reservation can become impassable with snow and ice.

Nearly six decades after the reservation was created, the federal government began building a dam on the Missouri River, but the project caused flooding that washed away more than 100,000 acres of Indian land. After the flooding, the small town of Eagle Butte became home to the tribal headquarters and the center of the reservation's economy.

"There are things that have happened to us over many, many generations that you just can't fix in three or four years," said Kevin Keckler, the tribe's chairman. "We were put here by the government, and we had a little piece of land and basically told to succeed here."

But prosperity never came. The county has been at or near the top of the poverty rankings for at least a decade. In 2009, the census defined poverty as a single person making less than $11,000 a year or a family of four making less than $22,000 a year.

Eagle Butte has few businesses and the handful that do exist struggle to stay afloat. The town has just one major grocery store, the Lakota Thrifty Mart, which is owned by the tribe. There's also a Dairy Queen, a Taco John's and a handful of small cafes. There's no bowling alley, no movie theatre.

But a few entrepreneurs are trying to break the cycle of failure, with mixed results.

Stephanie Davidson and her husband, Gerald, started a plumbing-and-heating business in 2000 with a single pickup truck. Eventually, D&D Plumbing started to grow, and they hired several employees.

But the reservation economy, which was never strong, has been hit hard by the economic slump. Many customers don't have the money to pay for work upfront, and the Davidsons have struggled to get contracts in new construction, such as a nearly $85 million federal hospital being built to replace the aging clinic.

They've laid off employees and filled empty space in their building by adding a bait shop and then a deli. Nothing has worked.

"People think you're a pillar of the community because you have a business, and that part of it is good," Stephanie Davidson said. "We don't feel that way right now because we're having such a tough time."

Nicky White Eyes, who owns a flower shop on Main Street, says there are days when she doesn't sell a single flower. Most of her business comes from families who get help from the tribe to buy flowers for a relative's funeral.

"We're getting by with nothing extra," said White Eyes, who said she hasn't taken any salary in the months since she quit another job to run the shop full-time. "But no, I have too much heart in it to let it go quite yet."

The nonprofit Four Bands Community Fund has invested in both businesses and people in Eagle Butte. The group teaches residents basic financial skills — how to open a checking account, how to save money on a budget and how to develop credit.

"You have the most complicated little world here," said Tanya Fiddler, Four Bands' executive director.

Without a viable private sector, federal money permeates every part of life here. The federal government pays for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Service, three of the reservation's largest employers. Businesses rely on the federal money that comes into the reservation.

Federal stimulus dollars are paying for the new hospital, which will create about 150 permanent jobs when it opens this year. Other federal contracts bring sporadic jobs, too.

One tribal success story is Lakota Technologies, which has attracted call-center and data-processing work and trained hundreds of young people since it started more than a decade ago. The company now employs a handful of tribal members on a State Department sub-contract, even though most of its cubicles remain empty.

But other businesses owned by the tribe have run into trouble. Last year, a buffalo-meat processing company was sued by a rancher in federal court. The lawsuit accused the company, Pte Hca Ka Inc., of not delivering on contracts. A federal judge ruled against Pte Hca Ka for $1.1 million when it did not respond to the lawsuit.

Keckler, the newly elected tribal chairman and a former business owner, has pledged to try to fix the problems. He said previous officials have rejected overtures from outside investors because they feared the loss of tribal control or the risk of losing their positions.

"It's difficult for us to get people to come here and have faith in us as a government," he said. "We just had a new election, and there was discussion about, 'Oh, people want to give away things.' Those are kind of the issues that we have."

Still, there are small reasons to hope.

Later this year, the tribe will start to receive payments from a $290 million settlement with Congress related to the farmland that was lost to the Missouri River flooding. The tribe will receive annual interest on the settlement money starting this fall. This year's payment could be as much as $75 million, according to one tribal estimate. A Department of Treasury spokeswoman says the final amount hasn't been determined yet.

That money can be used for infrastructure improvements, economic development and education.

Raymond Uses The Knife, a rancher and tribal councilman, wants the reservation to be "accessible for other companies to come in and invest their money right here."

"We have to attract business. Regardless of how much money we have, we can't set up our own businesses," he said. "We also have to realize that we're all not experts."

Meanwhile, groups like Tribal Ventures and Four Bands continue to look for ways to bring in jobs and help those who are fighting the decades-old obstacles here.

"You can have all the heart you want, but you have to have actual cash and resources," said Briggs, of Tribal Ventures. "All those things play a part in our being able to basically use our greatest asset, which is our people."


Shelley Pierce

Statement on Ecuador Court Ruling Against Chevron

Evidence Prevails Over Oil Giant's Intimidation Tactics

Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 14, 2011

For more information, contact:
Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch (in Ecuador), or 011-593-9-79-49-041
Caroline Bennett, Amazon Watch (in US), or 510-520-9390
Nell Greenberg, Rainforest Action Network, or 510-847-9777

San Francisco, CA – Today a court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador has ruled in favor of the residents of Ecuador's Amazon region who have spent the last 18 years seeking damages for crude oil pollution. Chevron inherited the suit when it bought Texaco in 2001, and has denied the allegations of environmental damage.

Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network, who have spent years working to help the Ecuadorian people and protect the Amazon, release the following statement in response to today's verdict:

"As of today, Chevron's guilt for extensive oil contamination in the Amazon rainforest is official. It is time Chevron takes responsibility for these environmental and public health damages, which they have fought for the past 18 years.

"Today's ruling in Ecuador against Chevron proves overwhelmingly that the oil giant is responsible forbillions of gallons of highly toxic waste sludge deliberately dumped into local streams and rivers, which thousands depend on for drinking, bathing, and fishing.

"Chevron has spent the last 18 years waging unprecedented public relations and lobbying campaigns to avoid cleaning up the environmental and public health catastrophe it left in the Amazon rainforest. Today's guilty verdict sends a loud and clear message: It is time Chevron clean up its disastrous mess in Ecuador.

"Today's case is historic and unprecedented. It is the first time Indigenous people have sued a multinational corporation in the country where the crime was committed and won.

"Today's historic ruling against Chevron is a testament to the strength of the Ecuadorian people who have spent 18 years bringing Chevron to justice while suffering the effects of the company's extensive oil contamination."


Chevron Runs from Judgment in Ecuador

by Greg Palast - Exclusive for Truthout
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chevron petroleum Corporation is attempting to slither out of an $8 billion judgment rendered yesterday by a trial court in Ecuador for cancer deaths, illnesses and destruction caused by its Texaco unit.

I've been there, in Ecuador.

I met the victims. They didn't lose their shrimp boats; they lost their kids. Emergildo Criollo, Chief of the Cofan Natives of the Amazon, told me about his three-year-old. "He went swimming, then began vomiting blood." Then he died.

See Palast's report from the Amazon for BBC , War Paint and Lawyers: Rainforest Indians versus Big Oil

And then I met Chevron-Texaco's lawyers.

When I showed Texaco lawyer Rodrigo Perez the epidemiological studies tracing childhood cancers to their oil, he sneered and said , "And it's the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States, in Europe, in Quito? If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by the petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude — which is absolutely impossible."

The Texaco man stated, "Scientifically, nobody has proved that crude causes cancer."

President Barack Obama has said that the British-based BP must pay for all the damage it caused in the Gulf.

I've just returned from the Gulf and I can tell you, it's grim, it's terrible. But compared to the damage caused by Chevron-Texaco, the Gulf blow-out is a picnic.

So now, Mr. President, will you stand by your words and tell this renegade, deadly US corporation to pay for the damage they have done?

At the end of my meeting with the oil company lawyers, I showed them a document in which Chevron-Texaco directed its underlings to destroy evidence.

The oil company men said they would get back to me with an "explanation." It's been three years, and I'm still waiting.

There is another insidious game being played by Chevron. The oil company's ethically-challenged law firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has attempted to block the Cofan and other victims of Chevron from having legal counsel. They have even convinced some pinhead judge to block collection of Ecuador's judgment because harming Chevron would be a blow to "global business."

It would - and it should.


Read the original investigative report: War Paint and Lawyers: Rainforest Indians versus Big Oil

Greg Palast's investigation of Chevron's oil drilling operations in the Amazon for BBC Television Newsnight is included in the DVD compendium Palast Investigates.
Get a signed DVD or download the film.

Palast's investigations are supported in part by the Puffin and Cloud Mountain Foundations and the Palast Investigative Fund, a 501c3 charitable trust.

Subscribe to Palast's Newsletter and podcasts.
Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.


ACTION ALERT ~ BEAR BUTTE>>>>>Letters needed for HB1119

Sorry about last minute. The Senate just put this on their agenda yesterday, I have had no computer the last few days to get this out until now. Please take a moment to send the letter in today.




By: Protect Sacred Sites

HB 1119 will go to the Local Government Senate Committee for vote on February 16, 2011.

Please copy, paste and send the opposition letter provided below to each of the following referenced Senators. Feel free to add your own comments to personalize the letter.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


February 14, 2011

Dear South Dakota Senators,


By: Protect Sacred Sites

The Senate will vote on House Bill 1119 this Wednesday, February 16th.

HB1119 – FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to revise the procedure for reissuing certain alcoholic beverage licenses This Bill revises the State of South Dakota’s liquor license renewals, eliminating the hearing process unless a violation has occurred with said licensee.

This Bill would deny local residents, voters and concerned citizens the right to oppose liquor licenses based upon “not a suitable character” and/or “not a suitable location” which is the criteria set forth in the regulations for proposed applicants. The Commissioners may not be aware of significant information regarding an applicant, until the public brings the issue to the Commission’s attention during the hearing process. This has been the case on multiple occasions in Meade County, in some cases renewals were revoked based upon information provided by concerned citizens. The approval of HB1119 would limit the right to public hearings.

This Bill could be detrimental especially within Meade County. For the past six years, local residents and concerned citizens have opposed the approval and renewal of liquor licenses for large concert venues and bars encroaching upon Bear Butte, a sacred site to the Northern Plains Tribes.

I respectfully request the Senate DENY HB1119.





Justice for Brisenia

Justice has been served. Send your message of support to Brisenia's mom.


Over the weekend, we told you about Brisenia Flores, the child murdered in her Arizona home by anti-immigrant vigilantes.

Yesterday morning, a Tucson jury found Shawna Forde guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and on one count of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Brisenia's mom, Gina Gonzalez.

The death of this little girl was largely ignored by the mainstream media, the same media that gives anti-immigrant groups a platform from which to express their extremist views.

While we are satisfied with the jury's verdict, nothing can replace the loss that Brisenia's mother has experienced. Together with people around the country, we express our condolences to her family. Gina Gonzalez has yet to endure two more trials, set to begin this spring, for Jason Bush - the alleged gunman - and Albert Gaxiola, an accomplice in this horrible crime.

We wish to honor Brisenia's memory by providing you with a way to share your prayers and thoughts with her mother through this difficult time. You can do so by clicking here:

The murder of Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, will not be forgotten. The guilty verdict provides an opportunity to both raise awareness of growing anti-Latino hatred and loudly echo an entire community’s demand for justice.

The murder in Arizona, ground zero for anti-Latino, anti-immigrant hatred in the United States, inspired many in our community to say, “No te olvidaremos / We will not forget you”

Tell Gina, that you too will not forget Brisenia by clicking here to share your thoughts and prayers with her:

Thank you y ¡adelante!

Joaquin, Laurie, Favianna, Roberto & the rest of the team

From Ray Martin:!/note.php?note_id=10150109576563147



P.O. BOX 151
401 FORT RD.


Write John Graham
The new address to write John Graham
He is still in transition but and can be held there for another
few weeks. He is in lock down for most of the day. He is
allowed one call a day.

To write to John Graham,
address envelope as follows:
John Graham
John Graham, ID #55101,
Jameson Annex, South Dakota State
Penitentiary Box 5911 Sioux Falls
SD 57117-5911.

Very important to include ID #

Thank you all for your support you have shown in the
last couple of months.
Chusia Graham
Prayers Needed for my Aunt Loraine
Dear family,

Please pray for my aunt, Loraine Iocovino. She is having catarac surgery today. Pray that all goes well and she experience no pain during this procedure.

Thanks from my heart, star

Adoptees Have Answers (AHA)

First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI) and

Metropolitan State University Department of Social Work

are pleased to invite you to attend

A Transracial Adoptee

Truth, Healing & Reconciliation Forum

History: Truth Healing, Reconciliation Forum model was developed by the founding members of the First Nations Orphan Association for First Nations adoptees/fostered individuals, their families and communities. This model addresses grief and loss caused by separation from family and culture.

Who: For the first time at the March 26th Forum, FNRI facilitators will welcome all transracial adoptees/fostered individuals to share their stories and participate in a Forum.

Why: This is an opportunity for adoptees to meet other adoptees and fosterees. It is also a unique opportunity for family members and professionals to hear first-hand how adotoption and foster care impact our families and communities.

Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Time: 8:30 A.M to 4:30 P.M.

Location: Metro State University

St. Paul Campus, New Main Building

700 East 7th Street

St. Paul, MN 55106

Cost: $5 for the day, includes lunch. For info about scholarships please call Anne Johnson, 612-747-7122

Parking: $2.50 all day in lot; free street parking

Registration: Please go to the Community Calendar at and click on the event

For more information, map & directions go to: http:/

Questions? Contact Julia Decker at 612-746-5133

Sandy White Hawk
See attached flyer
If not attached, send your email address and I will forward the flyer to you.

National NAGPRA Program - Save the Date
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 17:13:00 -0700


NAGPRA Consultation/Documentation grants are due March 2, 2011. All grant applications must be postmarked by this date. Repatriation Grants are accepted on an ongoing basis through June 30, 2011.

Additional information on NAGPRA Grants:

Tribal Consultation Meeting

REGISTER BY MARCH 11: Government-to-Government Consultation with Indian Tribes on the NAGPRA Regulations

The National NAGPRA Program has scheduled a government-to-government consultation with Indian tribes on possible amendments to the NAGPRA regulations (43 C.F.R. Part 10). The telephonic consultation will be held on March 25, 2011, from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. EDT. Depending on the length of the comments, the meeting could end earlier. A letter of invitation to the consultation has been sent to the tribal leader of every Indian tribe that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, along with a request that the tribal leader make the information in the letter available to his or her tribe. The March 25 consultation supports both Executive Order 13175-Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments and the President's Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the implementation of Executive Order 13175.

Additional information and registration details for the tribal consultation meeting can be found at:

Publication of the Federal Register notice for a public consultation meeting on 43 C.F.R. Part 10 is pending. Please check the National NAGPRA website for updates on this upcoming telephonic consultation.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation

Review Committee Meeting

44th Meeting of the Review Committee

Syracuse University College of Law, Syracuse, NY

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 21-22, 2011

45th Meeting of the Review Committee

National Judicial College, Reno, NV

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 8-9, 2011

Additional information will be available soon.

NAGPRA Basics Training

National Judicial College, Reno, NV

Monday, November 7, 2011

Additional information and registration opportunities will be available soon.

NAGPRA Notices

Check the National NAGPRA Program home page for a new template for disposition of culturally unidentifiable Native American human remains, 10.11(c)(1), exhumed from tribal or aboriginal lands. More templates will follow to address disposition not based on land relationship, 10.11(c)(2).

NAGPRA Webinars

The National NAGPRA Program is offering a series of webinars that are free and open to the public. These practical, hands-on webinars will assist you in your NAGPRA efforts. Consider signing up for one or all of them. Additional information and registration information on NAGPRA webinars is available at:

February 24, 2011; 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EST) – NAGPRA Notices: Types, Process & Content (registration full)

March 23, 2011; 1:30-2:30 p.m. (EDT) – NAGPRA Databases: An Overview

April 13, 2011; 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EDT) – NAGPRA Open Forum

May 18, 2011; 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EDT) – NAGPRA Databases: Culturally Unidentifiable and Culturally Affiliated Inventories

Sept. 15, 2011; 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EDT) – Coordinating Compliance with Section 3 of NAGPRA and Section 6 of the National Historic Preservation Act

Note: Some webinars will have a registration limit. Please check the Training page for details.

NAGPRA Training – National Preservation Institute

The National NAGPRA Program has partnered with the National Preservation Institute (NPI) to offer in-depth training on various issues related to NAGPRA implementation. Open to Federal agencies, museums, Indian tribes, Alaska Native corporations, Native Hawaiian organizations, and others interested in NAGPRA, these seminars are designed to provide participants with practical knowledge and tools needed to support their NAGPRA efforts. The following seminars will be offered in Fiscal Year 2011:

May 4-5, 2011; St. Paul, MN – NAGPRA: Writing and Managing a Successful Grant

May 11, 2011; Seattle, WA – NAGPRA: Determining Cultural Affiliation

May 12, 2011; Seattle, WA – NAGPRA: Summaries, Inventories, and Federal Register Notices

Registrants for these and certain other NPI seminars might qualify for financial assistance. To see the list of seminars for which financial aid is offered, go to the National NAGPRA Program Training page at:

The complete list of NPI seminars, registration forms, and scholarship information are available on theNational Preservation Institute’s website,


"When crazy people call you crazy,
you know you're sane.
When evil people call you evil,
you know that you are a good person.
When lairs call you a liar,
you know that you are truthful.
Know who you are and don't let
others tell you who you are."
- Dave Kitchen

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