La Framboise Island in the Missouri River - South Dakota
LA FRAMBOISE ISLAND
Protesters vow to 'keep the fire going'
Story by Al Lundy
The number of people living at the encampment on La Framboise Island has dropped to about a half dozen. Members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams have left for the time being. Most of the time since it started on March 22, there have been 10 to 15 protesters living at the camp which includes a sweat lodge and a sacred fire. The Omaha District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of issuing another extension of the permission for protesters to live on the island. (Capital Journal photo by Al Lundy)
The protesters on La Framboise Island will once again be given a 30 day extension of their permission to camp on the island as they protest the Mitigation Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allowed the protesters to camp in the area normally off limits to overnight recreation.
"We're in the process of preparing a letter extending the permission for another 30 days," said Maggie Oldham, public affairs office, Omaha District.
"As far as I know we're not going anywhere," said Barry Cardinal, a Cree from northern Alberta, Canada. "We're keeping the fire going and just being here."
Again last month, in a letter addressed to Oglala Sioux Tribe President Harold Salway, top officials of the corps' Omaha District, extended permission for the camp on the island until Oct. 21.
At this point there are about a half dozen campers on the island. Some are from Pine Ridge and Rosebud, Cardinal said.
"Some of us are younger and are going back to the traditions, retaining our culture.
"I'm here now to retain our way of life which is the land," Cardinal said. "We do that with prayer and sweats and things like that."
The camp was established on the island on March 22 to protest the Mitigation Act which allows the transfer of about 158,000 acres of land held and managed by corps along the Missouri River to the Cheyenne River and Lower Brule Sioux tribes and to the state of South Dakota.
The protesters have said the transfer violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
The Mitigation Act was originally approved by Congress in October of 1998.
The U.S. House of Representatives had voted July 27 to amend the Energy and Water Appropriation Bill to provide for a repeal of the Mitigation Act.
On Aug. 5, just before adjourning for the August recess, Congress again passed the Mitigation Act through an amendment to the Water Resource Development Act of 1999.
When the appropriations bill was finally approved last month the repeal of the Mitigation Act approved a year ago was included. However, the Aug. 5 action still stands and the Mitigation Act remains law.
When told the corps was once again going to grant permission for the campers to stay on the island, Cardinal said, "We don't pay much attention to what they do."
By PATRICK BAKER
Capital Journal Staff April 9
The protest encampment on La Framboise Island in Pierre continues to grow as tribal riders approach and an international peace keeping team pitches a tent. Three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) based out of Chicago have joined the camp which is protesting the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and State of South Dakota Wildlife Restoration Act passed by Congress last October. Two groups of horseback riders from the Cheyenne River and Lower Brule Sioux tribes are expected to join the camp today.
Representatives of the camp claim the transfer of thousands of acres of land along the Missouri River from federal control to the state and two tribes is a violation of treaty rights.
Director of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center Gene Koster said, "(Protest representatives) asked if the Peace and Justice Center could bring in neutral, third party human rights observers."
CPT is a program supported by denominations including the Church of the Brethren, Friends United Meeting, General Conference Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church. According to CPT literature, the group is "committed to faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy." They also have teams stationed in Hebron in the West Bank area of Jordan, in Chiapas, Mexico, and in Richmond, Va.
One of the three CPT members at the camp, Rick Polhemus said they have witnessed the highly spiritual nature of the camp. He said he saw potential protesters turned away when camp leaders determined they were not serious about maintaining a peaceful and spiritual outlook on the protest.
Lisa Martens, from the CPT office in Chicago, said of the organization sending a team, "It's because the leaders were worried about being kicked off of the island and that violence might occur."
Edgar Bear Runner, Oglala Sioux Tribe and a camp spokesman, said the camp has been concerned with some passers-by who have heckled the group. Oglala Tribal President Harold Salway said there had been reported threats against the protesters.
Koster said, "There's potential for conflict there."
But Bill Grode, Federal Bureau of Investigation regional office in Rapid City, said he does not expect any kind of violent conflict. He said officials from the Oglala Sioux Tribe contacted the FBI when the protest first began on March 22 with a sign-carrying march from the Federal Building in Pierre to the Capitol. He said their concern was political, however, not related to security.
"They said they were going to protest and they said they were going to be peaceful," Grode said. "Basically, we're not getting any complaints or expecting any."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a two-week special use permit to the campers when Col. Robert Volz, Omaha District, visited the camp. One of the district's public affairs officers said Salway called and asked for an extension which was granted.
Robert Quiver, Lakota Student Alliance and protester, said the camp did not need permission to camp on La Framboise Island which is normally off limits to campers.
"We didn't ask for any permission, nor did we sign (the special use permit)," Quiver said. "Basically, this is treaty land. This was designated to be returned to the tribes anyway. It's nothing negative, it's just logic."
Quiver said the camp is expecting as many as 40 riders to arrive today.
A press release from Karen Ducheneaux, leader of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Future Generation Riders, said an all-night vigil will take place upon arrival to be followed by activities on Saturday. Activities meant to reaffirm Lakota heritage include dancing, a prayer to the morning star, feasting and ceremonies.
Protesters tell of 'broken treaties'
By Terry Woster
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
April 28, 1999
PIERRE -- A protest camp on LaFramboise Island near Pierre is bringing to life century-old treaty rights, a leader of the movement said Tuesday. Tom Cheyenne of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation told about 25 visitors to the island camp that he joined the protest to draw attention to an 1868 treaty that gave western South Dakota to his people.
"We're still fighting for our land and our water," Cheyenne said. "It's an awakening for the people. It's time. There has to be action."
Cheyenne and six other members of the Lakota Student Alliance established the camp March 22. LaFramboise is an island in the Missouri River midway between Pierre and Fort Pierre.
The protesters want Congress to reopen hearings on a law passed last fall that transfers much of the riverside land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state, and to two of the four Indian tribes whose reservations border the river.
"I came here to stand up for our rights," said Dan Merrival, another Pine Ridge camp leader. "I have three daughters. I'm here to make sure they get justice. Not only them, but all of our unborn children."
The government took the land in question nearly four decades ago when it built the the dams and flooded the river bottom. Later, however, it decided some of the taken land was surplus, not needed for operation of the dams.
U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and Gov. Bill Janklow spearheaded the transfer plan. Both officials have said efforts were made to include all interested people when the transfer plan was being prepared.
The protesters argue that a treaty signed at Fort Laramie in 1868 promised all of South Dakota from the east bank of the river to the Sioux tribes. All the tribes that signed the treaty should have been consulted before the transfer, they say.
Camp members explained their position to Pierre-area members of the Peace and Justice Center, a group that focuses attention on issues involving social justice.
The visitors and the camp members sat or stood around a wood fire in a clearing on the island. Bikers pedaled by on their way to the paths on the island. To the west, the Missouri River reflected the orange of a setting sun. To the east, above a stand of tall, gnarled cottonwood trees, a white, nearly full moon was barely visible.
Robert Quiver Jr. said a treaty has a spirit that can't be destroyed, just as birds and animals and the earth itself have spirits. "You can't own it," he said. LaFramboise is a nature area operated by the Corps of Engineers. Camping isn't allowed. The corps issued temporary permits for the protesters, who say the treaty of 1868 is all the permission they need to occupy the land.
"A spiritual, nonviolent, civil disobedience is what we're calling it," Quiver said.
Jim Ackerman of Pierre organized the Peace and Justice visit. Before the meeting, he said he's aware that federal court decisions and past actions of Congress have diminished many treaty provisions.
"But I can hope for action," he said. "It takes somebody to stand up and start it. These people need to be given the opportunity to explain the issue."
American Indians protest to stop transfer of property along Missouri River
By SCOTT CANON - The Kansas City Star
LaFRAMBOISE ISLAND, S.D. -- Standing near a horseshoe pit amid a mismatched collection of plastic tarps and canvas tepees, Danny Merrival talked with fifth- and sixth-graders about politicians and spirits. He spoke of treaties and history and Congress and tribes. He talked of the sacred fire burning at this protesters' camp, of the cleansing powers of a sweat lodge and of how the earth was their mother.
The schoolchildren, on a field trip from the Standing Rock Sioux tribal reservation, kicked absent-mindedly at the dirt and fiddled with their yo-yos while Merrival tied the political to the spiritual. This land belongs to the Lakota people, Merrival told them, and no United States Congress or South Dakota governor can make it otherwise. That's why he and about two dozen others have occupied La Framboise Island, their tepees clearly visible from Pierre. They hope to stop a deal that hands over hundreds of miles of riverfront property to the state and two tribes.
"We're making our last stand," Merrival insisted.
Less than a mile away in the state capitol, Gov. William Janklow fumed over this latest showdown between South Dakota and its American Indian tribes. Can't they, he wondered aloud, see a good deal when it's handed to them? To his thinking, a recent bargain struck in Congress that wrestles 133,000 acres along the Missouri away from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is all win-win.
"The one resource we have in the central part of the state is water," Janklow said. "Now, finally, we can develop it."
As they have for generations, the tribes and the state of South Dakota stand at odds over who controls the land they share. On one side of the fight are Janklow, U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and the Lower Brule and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes. Bonded in their dislike of federal control of the riverfront, they savor the pending land transfer like the recovery of a stolen legacy. The protesters, who include members of several tribes, want just as badly for the Corps to surrender the land. But they suggest the deal -- in their minds the work an unholy alliance between Janklow, Congress and the two tribes -- wrongs them by handing over part of the land to the state.
As so many times before, the disagreement springs from dueling ideas about treaties dating to the early 19th century. The core of this particular dispute began in the mid-1940s when Congress decided to reduce Missouri River flooding in states such as Kansas and Missouri by damming up the waterway in the Dakotas. That submerged vast areas in reservoirs, stealing away much of the best farm soil in South Dakota. Some of that land was on Indian reservations and some was under the control of the state and private landowners.
"The people who benefited are the people down below in the flood plain," said one tribal leader. "We got paid peanuts."
That takeaway covered not just the new lakes -- really more like broadened stretches of the river -- but also more than 152,000 acres of riverfront property in South Dakota. People in the state have griped about the Corps ever since.
The state's white ruling majority -- the nine Sioux tribes in South Dakota account for about 8 percent of the state population -- has gradually developed a tourism industry dependent on hunters and fishermen.
But the Corps, an institution geared for flood control and power production, has disappointed the locals by failing to cater to the tourist trade. That means, for instance, that boat ramps become buried in silt for months because federal regulations don't allow the Corps to easily contract with a local farmer to plow them clear.
"We want to do it ourselves," said John Cooper, head of the South Dakota Fish & Game Department.
Likewise, tribes want more control of the riverfront to protect various cultural assets. As the dams widened the river, for instance, they moved its shores and erosion closer to the ancient villages and burial grounds of the Mandan tribe on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation.
"Protecting that is very important to us," said Mike Jandreau, who has been tribal chairman of the Lower Brule for 20 of the last 27 years.
Federal ownership also spurred more state-tribe brawls over things like who licenses nonIndian hunters and fishermen on Corps land within an Indian reservation.
In June 1996, Daschle convened a meeting of state officials and leaders from the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, who all had uncontested borders along the Missouri.
"It was the beginning of a coalition to pull the land away from the Corps," said one congressional source. "That much, everyone could agree on."
Over the next few years, that alliance shrunk and solidified until the state and the Cheyenne River and Lower Brule tribes rallied behind a measure muscled through Congress by Daschle last year. The legislation establishes a trust fund -- $165 million to be divvied among the state and tribes on a dollars-to-acres formula -- to pay for things such as preserving wildlife habitats and the various cultural assets on the land.
It also arranged for the Corps to relinquish about 91,000 acres to state control, some 33,000 acres to the Cheyenne River tribe and nearly 9,000 acres to the Lower Brule.
Because the Standing Rock, Crow Creek and Yankton tribes opposed the deal, the Corps remains the owner of roughly 20,000 acres of riverfront along their reservations. Those tribes chose not to join in the legislation partly because, they said, it was brokered by the state. Some think the land destined for state control should instead go to the greater Sioux nation.
The state doesn't belong in the negotiations, said David Archambault, a member of the Standing Rock tribal council.
"Why is the state doing this? They're just trying to use us," he said.
Those tribes also worry that the land transfer might not preserve their Missouri River water rights and leaves unclear their ability to control hunting and fishing. Even though language in the legislation promises no changes to water rights or reservation boundaries, the skepticism remains.
"We've been bringing up the treaties for 100 years now and we've had very little luck," said Stephen Cournoyer Jr., chairman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
The opposition includes other South Dakota tribes who don't even border the river. They cite to a treaty penned in 1851 that promised the Sioux nation reign over all land in South Dakota west of the east bank of the Missouri River.
"We have that right," said Mel Lone Hill of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. "And they didn't even consult us on this."
But a series of subsequent treaties and laws passed by Congress have shrunken that Indian territory, Janklow argues.
"The federal government doesn't keep its word with us, either," the governor said. "At some point, life goes on. You've got to make the best of what's available to you now."
Yet it is Janklow's get-over-it attitude toward treaty violations that discourages some tribes from joining the land transfer. Indeed, at the camp where the field trip students were schooled by protesters, Janklow is viewed as the chief villain.
"He doesn't care about tribal people or tribal ways," Angelo Horse said. "Whatever he does, it makes you want to go the other way."
Seven at the start
The occupation began in late March, after protesters came to the capital demanding the land transfer -- which still requires a federal appropriation to pay for land surveys -- be halted.
At first, there were just seven men at the camp. Now, with the weather warming, the numbers range from 20 to 40. The protesters cook in a picnic shelter and buy groceries with money donated mostly by their tribes.
Rather than pick a fight, the Corps issued a permit for the protesters to occupy the island -- a wooded spit of land connected to the state capital by a paved causeway.
"But we don't recognize their permit," Tom Cheyenne said. "We don't need their permission to stay on our land."
They gather firewood from a nearby campground, draw water from spigots and shower at the homes of supporters in Pierre.
Many sport T-shirts boasting allegiance to the American Indian Movement, a group best known from the bloody siege of Wounded Knee in 1973. They have left behind, for now, schooling or the scarce jobs available on and around South Dakota's impoverished Indian reservations.
Evenings pass with songs chanted in the Lakota tongue to a drum beat and in conversation in English on lawn chairs circled around the campfire.
The campers believe an 1868 treaty requires that any hand-off of land requires the signatures of three-fourths of all Sioux men.
They concede, too, that such a pact is not imminent and that Congress is unlikely to grant riverfront property to tribes like the Oglala Sioux whose reservations don't touch the river.
Will they stay through summer, through fall, for years?
"We will not budge," said Robert Quiver, who heads to the Pierre Public Library most days to spread the protesters' message on the Internet.
"We are here for as long as it takes."
To reach Scott Canon, national correspondent, call (816) 234-4754 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.orgAll content - 1999 The Kansas City Star
Link provided by David H. thanks..:)
June 22, 1999
A member of the Indian encampment on La Framboise Island in Pierre said he finds it hard to believe offices in Washington D.C., are unaware of the group's protest of the Missouri River Land Transfer Act.
A goal of protesters is to garner congressional oversight hearings concerning legislation passed last October that allows for the transfer of land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to South Dakota and the Cheyenne River and Lower Brule Sioux tribes. Such hearings would have to be scheduled by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, headed by Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., which has jurisdiction over corps activity.
Spokespeople from Chafee's office and the committee office said it is possible that they have received correspondence concerning the protest but no oversight hearings have been scheduled nor are being planned. Camper Boots Quiver said organizers have made a point in the last month to flood Chafee's office with literature about the protest. "Either they're deaf or they're very isolated � or they're told not to say anything," Quiver said in response to Washington's seeming lack of attention to the protest. The transfer act was passed as part of the 14,000 page Omnibus Bill that made it through Congress in the fall.
Quiver said the camp has received attention from all over the world including the British Broadcasting Company and news sources in places like San Diego, New York City and Chicago.
"We're in all these big newspapers all across the country," he said. On the local and state level, Quiver said, "Every morning they wake up and see our protest camp."
He said the camp, likely to receive another month's permission to be on the island from the corps, is not going anywhere.
Quiver said, "It's at the point where they can't ignore it. They think, 'ignore them.' We're going to get cold and go home. They don't know how far from the truth that is."
The camp has served as a visual symbol of a protest backed by members of several tribes throughout the state, including some from Cheyenne River and Lower Brule. The Black Hills Sioux Treaty Council is also behind the protest, according to representatives' past statements. The protest hinges on the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 which campers have said is constitutionally supposed to supersede all subsequent laws.
Spokespeople from Sen. Tom Daschle's office and Gov. William Janklow's office, co-authors of the land transfer act, have said in the past that Supreme Court decisions have eroded many aspects of the treaty. They have said that the transfer is legal and in the best interest of citizens of the state including tribal members, whether beneficiaries of the transfer or otherwise.
Quiver said he believes the protest is gaining media support on a state, national and international level which can only aid the group's cause. He said he does not believe oversight hearings are out of the question down the road and that protesters will stay on the island as long as it takes.
Senate Contact Info:
P.O. Box 1554
Aberdeen, SD 57402
Toll-Free: 800-537-0025 [District Address - Rapid City]
P.O. Box 1098
Rapid City, SD 57709
Toll-Free: 800-537-0025 [District Address - Sioux Falls]
715 S. Minnesota Avenue
P.O. Box 1424
Sioux Falls, SD 57101
Toll-Free: 800-537-0025 [Washington DC Address]
502 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
20 Sixth Avenue SW, Suite B
Aberdeen, SD 57401
Toll-Free: 800-424-9094 [District Address - Rapid City]
816 Sixth Street
Rapid City, SD 57701
Phone: 605-348-7551 [District Address - Sioux Falls]
810 South Minnesota Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Phone: 605-334-9596 [Washington DC Address]
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4103
Gov. William Janklow SDGOV@gov.state.sd.us
Contact information for the committee that needs to hear from us in support of the La Framboise Island Protestors:Environment And Public Works Committee Web Site
John Chafee, RI, Chairman
Daniel Moynihan, NY email@example.com
Frank Lautenberg, NJ firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Reid, NV email@example.com
Bob Graham, FL firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Lieberman, CT email@example.com
Barbara Boxer, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Wyden, OR email@example.com
From: Pat Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
August 11, 1999
Pierre Capital Journal
The protesters who have been camped on La Framboise Island since March have no plans to leave the island any time soon.
"We will stay here until this comes to a conclusion," said Clayton "Boots" Quiver, Pine Ridge, spokesman for the encampment.
The camp was established on the island on March 22 to protest the Missouri River Land Transfer Act which allows the transfer of land held by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Missouri River to the Cheyenne River and Lower Brule tribes and to the state of South Dakota. The protesters have said the transfer violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
On July 27, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the act sending the issue to a conference committee made up of members of both the House and the U.S. Senate. "We feel something is going to happen pretty big in September when the Senate comes back," Quiver said.
"The attitude of the people here is that we need to keep moving forward. The repeal (in the House) has given us incentive," Quiver said.
"People told us it was a done deal. You're wasting your time. It's a losing cause," Quiver said. "We have proven it's not a done deal.
"It proves that if you oppose something that Congress or the government is doing, if you get together, stand up and say something you can make a difference."
The protesters on La Framboise Island have permission to camp on the island until Aug. 21 as they protest the land transfer. The corps has allowed the protesters to camp in the area normally off limits to overnight recreation. The members of the encampment are likely to ask for another extension of that permission, Quiver said.
La Framboise Island is managed by the corps as a natural area with limited day use facilities. Overnight camping or other overnight recreational activities are normally not allowed.
The encampment "isn't causing any major burden to our operation, said Phil Sheffield, lake manager, corps of engineers, Pierre.
"They are moving their tents, except for the teepees surrounding the sweat lodge and sacred fire," Sheffield said. "If there is damage to grasses they have agreed to replant. If they don't and we have to replant it ourselves, it's not a big deal." The cost of replanting would probably be less than $100, he said. "It's a matter of going to Wal-mart or Kmart and getting a bag of seed."
The public toilets on the island normally have so little use that they are pumped out only once a year, Sheffield said. With 10 to 15 people there on a regular basis "We've had to pump them out one extra time," he said.
Nothing that members of the encampment are doing is having any impact on the wildlife on La Framboise Island, said Ron Catlin, law enforcement staff specialist, South Department of Game, Fish and Parks. "The deer move freely off and onto the island usually using the causeway. It's not closing anything off," Catlin said.
Members of the encampment have been using electrical appliances and have planted a vegetable garden. They have also asked to have a telephone line installed at the camp.
"It would be beneficial to both the people here and to the public generally," Quiver said. Not everybody has cell phone and with use of the island by the public, a telephone would be beneficial, he said.
Sheffield isn't sure of the cost of the electricity the camp is using. As to the safety of increased electrical use, "We have a good breaker on the circuit," he said.
The encampment on the island is probably discouraging normal public use of the island some officials said.
"Just the presence tends to discourage people from using it," Catlin said.
"I don't know how many people have used it," said Pierre Mayor Gary Drewes. "I don't think there is any doubt the camp has deterred some use by the public," Drewes said.
At this point Quiver doesn't know why people would be intimidated. "When we first came to the island I can understand that people might be intimidated," he said. "With all of the people who come to the island and are using the trails now, I am not sure why they would be uncomfortable."
A letter dated July 20, addressed to Oglala Sioux Tribe President Harold Salway and signed by Lt. Col. Bryan S. Vulcan, deputy commander of the corps' Omaha District, extended permission for the camp but as before with some conditions.
"With increased demand for public use of the area, we expect the camp will not interfere with the public's access to the hiking trail throughout the island," Vulcan said in the letter.
According to Pierre Police Chief Al Aden there were some issues that needed to be worked out early on. "The island isn't really in our jurisdiction but because we are close, when we are called, we respond.
"There have been no problems in recent weeks," Aden said. "As far as we're concerned they've been good neighbors," Aden said.
The island is used extensively by hunters during deer and turkey hunting seasons, Catlin said. There are only archery seasons on the island. "La Framboise is closed to fire arms," he said.
Archery deer season is the first to open, Sept. 25. "There is no conflict that I am aware of," Catlin said, when asked if the encampment poses a safety problem when the archery deer season starts.
"People use the island for hiking and biking as usual during the season," Catlin said. "A hunter could be sitting up in a tree and a hiker could walk under him and never know he is even there," he said.