Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

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.

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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.

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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.

To learn more about Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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According to a ruling issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge, South Dakota has been placed on “immediate jeopardy” status. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, actions taken by the hospital have caused or are likely to cause death or injury to its patients. While on immediate jeopardy status, the hospital will not be able to bill Medicare and Medicaid eligible services to the government.

Documents released by CMS indicated the immediate jeopardy status was invoked following the death of a diabetic male patient who was incorrectly diagnosed at the Pine Ridge hospital.

To learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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Fifty-two years ago, Billy Mills charged across a rain-soaked track and set a new record pace for the Olympic 10,000 meter race in Tokyo, Japan. Not only did Mills set a new record, but he also became the first American to win gold for the race, and still holds the title today.

Billy Mills was born in 1936 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Orphaned at a young age, Mills frequently recalls advice given to him by his late father, who told Mills he could “rise from broken wings and one day fly like an eagle.” Mills discovered his running ability in high school and was determined that the Olympic games are where he would soar.

Some credits Mills’ win to the heavy, soddened track. The 1964 Olympics was the last before all terrain tracks were utilized. A period of heavy rain had muddied the track, disabling many runners who were accustomed to ideal running conditions. During the final stretch of his race, Mills also made the decision to run on the outermost lane, which was not as sodden as the rest of the track.

Mills ran the 10K race in 28 minutes and 24 seconds, outpacing the previous record by over seven seconds. Only four other Americans have ranked highly in the 10,000 meter race: Max Truex  who placed 6th in 1960, Frank Shorter who placed 5th in 1972 and Galen Rupp  who placed 2nd in 2012.

You can watch Mills’ winning moment on the Running Strong website. To learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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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.

To read more about Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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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.

To read more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.  

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017 18:14

Fire Near Wanblee Burns 5,000 Acres

A fire located near the intersection of Highways 73 and 44 has consumed approximately 5,000 acres, reports Keloland News. Firefighters have estimated that the fire that began on Sunday evening is nearly 50 percent contained.

High winds and dry conditions in the area have made combatting the fire difficult, and have endangered homes in the region.

To read more news about wildfires in the region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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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.

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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.

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Oglala Sioux Tribal President Scott Weston recently held a meeting between tribal and federal law enforcement officials to discuss violent crime and methamphetamine use on the reservation, reports KOTA News. Held at the Little Wound High School in Kyle, the group discussed measures to promote safety.

President Weston discussed his previous meetings with U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler. Their conversations resulted in the first public presentation held in Kyle. President Scott also noted that there would be additional informational sessions held across the reservation.

To learn more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile. To read more recent news from Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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Individuals looking to thwart public safety officials often cross across the borders of sovereign tribal nations, taking advantage of a complex jurisdictional system. In order to combat this issue, officials from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Rapid City Police Department are currently discussing collaborative efforts, reports KOTA News.

The three entities are exploring extradition agreements which would allow county, city, and tribal officials to turn offending criminals over to the jurisdiction in which they committed a crime. Such an agreement would prevent criminals from running to a different law enforcement jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.

The Rapid City Police Department met with the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s law and order committee in late April in which a 90-day study period was agreed upon to work on the jurisdictional agreement.

To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile. For more news about law enforcement in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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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.

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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. 

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Saturday, 22 April 2017 02:57

Thunder Valley Invests in Solar Energy

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.

To read more about Thunder Valley, visit their website. To learn more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile or online news archive

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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.

To learn more about Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or visit the Oglala Lakota County or Pine Ridge Reservation education and training issue hub pages. 

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The Oglala Sioux tribe filed a lawsuit this week asking the Army Corp of Engineers to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline until an environmental impact statement can be completed, reports the Rapid City Journal.

Under the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 the Oglala Sioux have protected property rights to the waters of the Missouri River.  Several tribal and non-tribal communities are supplied drinking water from the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply System, which draws from the Missouri River; and this water system is not equipped to treat contaminants from an oil spill. The lawsuit states that the Oglala Sioux were never consulted by the Army Corp about how a leak would impact the rural water system. The court has previously denied a similar request from the Cheyenne River Tribe.

For more information about the environment, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archive.

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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

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Thursday, 29 December 2016 16:42

IN HISTORY: Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890

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. 

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Mark Meersman, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, is the new chief executive officer of the Pine Ridge Indian Health Service Hospital, reports KOTA News. As CEO, Meersman will be responsible for administrative and health care activities at the hospital.

During his time with the U.S. Air Force, Meersman served as chief of the Health Benefits Branch in the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. As chief of the Health Benefits Branch, he was responsible for health policy for 75 hospitals and clinics.

To read more about the Indian Health Service, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive

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