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Land Grab Cheats North Dakota Tribes Out of $1 Billion, Suits Allege

Native Americans on an oil-rich reservation have been cheated out of more than $1 billion by schemes to buy drilling rights for lowball prices — and the federal government failed in its legal obligation to ensure a fair deal, lawsuits claim.

Fort Berthold in North Dakota (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Native Americans on an oil-rich North Dakota reservation have been cheated out of more than $1 billion by schemes to buy drilling rights for lowball prices, a flurry of recent lawsuits assert. And, the suits claim, the federal government facilitated the alleged swindle by failing in its legal obligation to ensure the tribes got a fair deal.

This is a story as old as America itself, given a new twist by fracking and the boom that technology has sparked in North Dakota oil country. Since the late 1800s, the U.S. government has appropriated much of the original tribal lands associated with the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota for railroads and white homesteaders. A devastating blow was delivered when the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River in 1953, flooding more than 150,000 acres at the heart of the remaining reservation. Members of the Three Affiliated Tribes — the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara — were forced out of the fertile valley and up into the arid and barren surrounding hills, where they live now.

But that last-resort land turns out to hold a wealth of oil, because it sits on the Bakken Shale, widely believed to be one of the world's largest deposits of crude. Until recently, that oil was difficult to extract, but hydraulic fracturing, combined with the ability to drill a well sideways underground, can tap it. The result, according to several senior tribal members and lawsuits filed last November and early this year in federal and state courts, has been a land grab involving everyone from tribal leaders accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their people, to oil speculators, to a New York hedge fund, to the federal government's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The rush to get access to oil on tribal lands is part of the oil industry's larger push to secure drilling rights across the United States. Recent estimates show that the U.S. contains vast quantities of oil and gas. As fracking has opened new fields to drilling, and the U.S. has striven to get more of its energy from within its borders, leases from Louisiana to Pennsylvania have been gobbled up. Now the pressure is increasing on one of the last sizeable holdouts — lands owned by Native Americans.

A review of tribal and federal records as well as lawsuit documents reveals a dizzying array of lowball, non-competitive deals brokered by numerous companies, often entwined with the tribal council and with individual landholders on the reservation. But at heart the alleged practices are simple: Tribal leaders and outsiders set up companies to buy drilling rights cheap and flip them later for spectacular profits — in one case earning as much as a 200-fold return in just four years.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost," said Tex Hall, the current chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, in an interview. "It's just a huge loss and we'll never get it back."

At the center of that particular alleged scheme, according to one of the suits, was Spencer Wilkinson, Jr., longtime manager of 4 Bears Casino, a time-worn warehouse of slot machines, swirling cigarette smoke and stained carpets that serves as the reservation's entertainment nexus and its financial hub. Wilkinson also sat on the board of the tribe's development corporation, where he was charged with finding new opportunities to enhance the economy of the reservation.

According to interviews with tribal members, former employees of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and a class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in Bismarck, ND against Wilkinson and others, Wilkinson used his access to casino funds — and to the development corporation — to gain influence and craft an oil deal that would leave him one of the richest men on the reservation.

In 2006 he became an owner of a company, Dakota-3, with Richard Woodward, a white consultant who, records show, was receiving more than $20,000 a month from tribal funds for his work at the development corporation. Together, the suit and other legal filings allege, Wilkinson and Woodward planned to raise money and buy up rights to much of the remaining land not yet slated for drilling, all the while maintaining their work with the tribes and employing Wilkinson's relationship with the council to help get the oil leases approved.

Leases for oil rights generally work like this: A company purchases the right to drill for oil underneath an acre of land by paying a one-time upfront payment, called a bonus, and a percentage of the profits earned on the well, known as a royalty. On Indian lands additional laws also apply, dictating who can negotiate for whom and how the government has to oversee the agreements.

Wilkinson declined to comment and Woodward could not be reached. Wilkinson has filed a motion to dismiss the case. The suit alleges that Wilkinson and others aided and abetted the U.S. government in failing to fulfill its fiduciary responsibility to the tribes; Wilkinson's motion argues, among other things, that the government had no such responsibility. Woodward has not yet filed a response to the suit in court.

Many details of Dakota-3's deals remain murky. There is limited transparency into tribal government affairs, no public access to documents, no annual reporting on accounts, and limited communication about what tribal council members discuss in their meetings.

But, according to separate lawsuits and records filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State, Dakota-3 partnered with an Oklahoma-based oil speculator named Robert Zinke and his company Zenergy to buy leases and form additional joint venture companies. Documents from two law suits mention the involvement of the New York based hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group but do not specify the firm's role. The hedge fund is publicly traded and, according to its web site, has more than $33 billion under management.

A spokesman for Och-Ziff declined to comment, and Zinke did not return a telephone message.

The interlinked companies, the documents show, purchased drilling rights to some 42,500 acres of lands owned by individuals and families through dozens of separate small deals. Those rights were ultimately controlled by Dakota-3, which also purchased from the tribal council drilling rights to another 44,000 acres of lands managed by the council. Altogether, Dakota-3 accumulated rights to about a fifth of the 420,000-odd acres of leasable land on the reservation, having bought much of those rights for as little as $50 per acre and royalties of around 18 percent. At about the same time, records and interviews show, other companies were purchasing drilling rights to land on and near the reservation for $300 to $1,000 per acre plus royalties as high as 22.5 percent.

One of the lawsuits alleges that the difference in the one-time bonus payments, plus the difference in royalty payments, "could mean billions of dollars" over the life of the oil field.

In late 2010, an Oklahoma-based oil production company, Williams, bought Dakota-3 for $925 million. At the time of the purchase, Dakota-3 was pumping a small amount of oil, but the bulk of its assets were the drilling rights. Two lawsuits allege that by buying Dakota-3, Williams effectively paid more than $10,000 per acre for those rights — as much as 200 times what Dakota-3 had paid for the leases.

At issue is not just the question of how Dakota-3 managed to win the tribal council's approval for the deal, but whether the federal government should have stepped in to ensure that the tribes were paid higher rates.

Reservation lands are still held in trust by the U.S. government. As a trustee, the Department of the Interior has responsibility for overseeing the development of oil and gas on tribal lands, and for ensuring that any leases or sales of that land are made in "the best interest" of the Native Americans. When it comes to leases to drill for oil — even those negotiated directly between the tribal council and the oil industry — the Bureau of Indian Affairs is required to make sure the leases meet this standard.

The bureau did not respond to a list of written questions, but according to interviews and documents obtained by ProPublica, the bureau approved the leases even though some Interior Department staffers expressed misgivings. Other documents show that tribal members appealed to high-level Interior Department officials and others to reject the leases and step in on their behalf.

"Mr. Secretary, this company, Dakota-3, like the other companies in the oil business will turn around and sell the lease," wrote Russell Mason Sr., a tribal elder, to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in a December, 2007 letter. "We are making a plea to you that you exercise your trust responsibilities."

"The United States has uniformly failed in its duties to the Indian landowners," states one lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. that was brought by tribal landowners seeking restitution for the Dakota-3 leases sold to Williams.

The Dakota-3 deals are not the only controversial ones. For example, a company called Black Rock Resources purchased drilling rights to about 12,800 acres of land for $35 per acre and a 16.7 percent royalty. It later sold those rights to Marathon Oil for about $42 million, according to financial documents that describe the deal.

Messages left for multiple Black Rock Resources officials were not returned, and Marathon Oil did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the Black Rock deal, and documents obtained by ProPublica reveal the sometimes-contradictory advice the Bureau of Indian Affairs received from its own staff and other federal officials.

When Black Rock first offered to buy up reservation leases for $35 per acre beginning in 2005, some bureau staff justified the rates saying the cumbersome regulations and past problems with leasing on the reservation had driven down demand. "Unfortunately," wrote one staffer in a department letter, $35 per acre "is what the market will bear."

But in a review dated November, 2005, an expert at the Bureau of Land Management wrote that the offered price "appears to look low compared to those offered recently at both BLM and North Dakota State competitive oil and gas lease sales in the area." He cited other sales that same month for as much as $370 an acre. An Interior Department lawyer in Washington sent a letter to North Dakota BIA officials expressing similar concerns.

Even at the time, the tribe received higher offers. Jerry Nagel is a tribe member, businessman and former program analyst for the tribe who has been outspoken against leases he thought were being sold for too little. In an interview, he said that he financed a venture in 2006 that offered the tribe $140 per acre plus a royalty rate more than twice as high as the tribal council was offered for the big leases it ultimately signed. It's unclear why the tribal council didn't take that offer, but Nagel claims it's evidence that the council gave preferential treatment to certain suitors.

The tribal council's office did not immediately respond to questions about why the council passed over Nagel's offer.

Kyle Baker is a tribe member, geologist and former environment official for minerals and energy for the tribe. He said that his family struck deals to lease its acreage on and near the reservation for as much as $700 per acre around the same time as the Black Rock deal.

"Companies will come and find your weaknesses and then drive themselves in," Baker said on a recent wintery morning in his living room overlooking Lake Sakakawea. "Our laws, our setup wasn't ready for it."

Companies and the U.S. government have long known that the Ft. Berthold reservation lay in the heart of the oil-rich Williston Basin, a reserve thought by some to contain as much as 20 billion barrels of oil. But previous efforts to lease and drill on the Indian lands stalled in the 1970s, and again in the late 1990s, thwarted by a dense bureaucracy and a tangle of laws governing leasing on reservations.

Only after the advent of modern fracking — and after Congress passed a handful of laws to ease corporate access to the Ft Berthold reservation — did companies begin to invest seriously in drilling there.

Today it's estimated that the three tribes and individual Native American landholders are receiving some $50 to $80 million a year from the drilling leases and royalties, compared with revenues of about $5 million a year before the boom began in about 2006.

But that money has brought allegations of sweetheart arrangements that have left a few tribal members with disproportionate profits from oil development.

In 2011 a team of elders audited the tribal council's activities. They found widespread financial inconsistencies that they said indicated systemic misconduct. "We saw millions of dollars going out and hardly anything coming back" to the Three Affiliated Tribes, said Tony Foote a forensic auditor who chaired the team. "We're not just talking about cash. It's rooms, food, travel, donations, and there's only a handful of people that can get all this stuff."

Hall, the tribes' current chairman, had previously held that post from 1998 until 2006. He didn't deny that there had been corruption, but he said that since he came back into office in 2010 he has focused on reform and on making sure that the oil revenues benefit the broader tribal community. He said he has formed tribal entities to directly control a pipeline and refinery project, set up a $100 million trust fund for the tribes, and begun to sign lease agreements that are more favorable to the Native Americans on the reservation. He also demoted Wilkinson, who is now an administrative officer at the casino, not its CEO.

"I was called back because people were concerned about sweetheart deals, so we have totally changed the dynamic," he said.

Charles Hudson

Feb. 24, 2013, 2:04 p.m.

ProPublica should have seen fit to disclose that Tex Hall, Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman is himself a defendant in oil-related civil litigation initiated by tribal members against several of their own tribal council members

Nice. This is like when people in Africa sold other African people to slave traders.

Mark Bosworth

Feb. 25, 2013, 9:58 a.m.

Charles Hudson’s comment is correct.  I am appalled on whats been taking place on the Three Affiliated Tribes council.  This is JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.  Self Economic Gain is running rampid through tribal council board members.  This is a big self induced poison that is killing off all respect for the Three Affiliated Tribes.  Not only their self destruction but embarrassing all tribes across america. More to come with NAMES.

Hang on a second…

First, I want to be clear, here:  I am not defending this.

However, I suspect the premise of this investigation is flawed.  To my knowledge—and I admit that I’m far from an expert, here—is that there’s not really any such thing as “tribal lands.”  Native American descendants living on reservations are on United States land set aside to house them, which is a far, far cry from the sovereignty assumed, here.

It’s scummy, sure, but not because we’re drilling oil and gas out from underneath them (which I would think is entirely legal with or without their permission, as long as the EPA doesn’t cry foul) so much as that they’re basically prisoners of forgotten wars that we pretend are sovereign and “refuse” to accept our “generous” settlements.

@John:

While I share your cynical view of what Native American Reservations in practice have amounted to, which is a sad state of affairs, you are incorrect in your assessment.  In fact, by treaty, the reservations, which are “tribal lands” are in fact sovereign, and are governed as such.  This necessarily means that they own all the oil, gas, and mineral wealth beneath their lands. 

Further, because of the way oil and gas rights are treated in this country, which is far different from other countries, land owners are the proper owners of the oil and gas under their lands, unless they sold those rights to someone else.  So, even if the native tribes were not sovereign, they would still own the oil and gas under the lands which they own.

Sam in Texas: You have it right.

I have a hard time understanding peoples point of view on the history of Government in this United States. The pilgrims had no way other than the Kings rule of government back 500 years ago to live their lives. The local Native tribes in those days had government in their tribes. Through the generations tribal government was adopted into the pilgrims lives and the colonies were formed. The british despised the colonial governments. The pilgrims fought the british who shared our ways of government. Native tribes fought side by side with colonials fighting the rule of kings. So when someone comments about Government they should remember where the History of this countries government started.

Charles Hudson

Feb. 25, 2013, 3:10 p.m.

Land within the boundaries of a reservation, and the minerals beneath, are typically of three types: tribally owned “trust” lands, allotted lands (individually owned by tribal members) or fee-patent (privately owned by indian or non-indians).  In this case, the lease pertained to tribal “trust” lands that require the federal government to approve, or disapprove, the lease terms in its role as trustee to the tribe.  In that respect, the claim of failure of the federal government to exercise that responsibility is valid.

Oil, gas, water on private land has historically been allowed to be raped no matter who owns the land.

@John:  I think ProPublica’s readers would be interested in knowing where and how you garnered your opinion - which appears to consist of a belief that Native American reservations are nothing more than huge government-owned housing projects.

I know I would be; I believe when someone learns of a source that feeds disinformation to the American people, that source needs to be…addressed.

Clark Daniels

Feb. 25, 2013, 5:24 p.m.

Charles Hudson’s comment isn’t as correct as you might think.
“The result, according to several senior tribal members and lawsuits filed last November and early this year in federal and state courts, has been a land grab involving everyone from tribal leaders accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their people, to oil speculators, to a New York hedge fund, to the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

In that comment read “...involving everyone from tribal leaders accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their people… ”

Charles Hudson

Feb. 25, 2013, 5:35 p.m.

Clark Daniels - landscape language may suffice to you but not me.  I’m a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes…it matters.  If a story quotes somebody and they are a defendant in relevant litigation, it should be stated, explicitly.

@Clark Daniels:  Re your: In that comment read “...involving everyone from tribal leaders accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their people… ”

You seem to be trying to imply that crooked deals cooked up with or through one or two tribal leaders abrogates the fiduciary duty of the government of United States of America.  You are wrong…

You might correct that inadequacy (or is it wishful thinking?) by referring to

http://www.bia.gov/FAQs/index.htm

and the 1942 Supreme Court case Seminole Nation v. United States, an overview of which can be found on Wikipedia

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminole_Nation_v._United_States

In short, crooks have been targeting the country’s native Americans for a long, long time.  I suppose we all owe native Americans a “thank-you”, for the industries and individuals who try to cheat them are thus too busy to devote more time towards cheating the rest of us.

At least as individuals…as taxpayers, we will of course have to pay for any prosecutions that result from any crooked dealings.

Come to think of it, that is one case (the only one, I reckon) where native Americans get a sweeter deal than the rest of the American people:  If one of their leaders sells ‘em out, they have some recourse.

There are more than a few Americans - no doubt to include many native Americans - who wish some of the raw deals that past American (nominally) leaders (nominally) have inflicted upon our country and our people could be undone.

Byard Pidgeon

Feb. 25, 2013, 9:38 p.m.

Cheating Indian Tribes, and complicity between greedy, unscrupulous Tribal leaders and their counterparts in the mainstream is a long standing, multi faceted American tradition that is exposed every few years, and is so commonplace that it often doesn’t make any national news.
Depending on how good, or bad, local media are, it may not even show up locally or regionally, so many of such incidents are unknown beyond Tribal members…and the perps.

“I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government,” said U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth - as he ordered payment of $625,000 for the “disobedience” of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin in withholding documents of a lawsuit involving the mismanagement of Indian trust funds.”

“Judge Lamberth had sought the records and other materials involving more than 300,000 individual accounts and 2,000 tribal accounts managed by the Interior and Treasury departments. The departments manage money from, among other sources, land settlements, royalties from minerals and other resources, and companies that use Indian land. Officials have not produced accounting records or statements to verify how much cash has been collected. An audit by the accounting firm Arthur Andersen said the Bureau of Indian Affairs could not account for $2.4 billion in transactions involving the funds.”

(see article By Jerry Seper, 8/11/99, front page of THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

I think anybody wanting the whole story on the case (Cobell v. Salazar) @kate mentions needs to at least read the Wikipedia article

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobell_v._Kempthorne

in which Judge Lamberth’s removal is of interest

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobell_v._Kempthorne#Lamberth_removed

Clark Daniels

Feb. 26, 2013, 2:25 a.m.

Charles Hudson, your point’s well made; I see the what’s your saying and agree with you.

ibsteve2u, I think Charles Hudson’s reference to my acceptance of ‘landscape language’ was nicely put and opened my eyes to what I was missing in his own previous comment. I think he’s right in his criticism of the article.

And I had no intention of implying crooked deals by tribal leaders abrogates the fiduciary duty of the government of the USA.  But thanks for the websites. I’ll have a look.

Self Economic Gain-Conflict Law and Self-Dealing on the Tribal Council.

THIS IS HAPPENING TODAY, not 500, not 50 and not 20 years ago. NOW. 

Names as I promised:

Mervin Packineau (council member)
Judy Brugh (council member)
Scott Eagle (council member at the time of the incident)
Arnie Strahs (council member at the time of the incident)
Tex Hall (CHAIRMAN of Three Affiliated Tribes)

Ask yourself:  What companies do these council members own?
What companies are they affiliated with?

By the way, not only are the council members on the criminal seat, but the individuals that persuade this type of activity to go on. (Names later).

Three Affiliated Tribes located on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation has the power (the people), monies (oil and gas) and the intelligence (honest Chairman and Tribal Council) to become one of the richest tribes in North America.  But… it is NOT.  Greed, Selfishness and corruption at the top of the food chain.  Why not do something?
Well there is that one thing called punishment.  “Eye for an Eye”..
NO, “Eye for a Life”’ YES.  Afraid?  “You better be after saying something. INTIMIDATION, all the time! 
Now that sounds like the Tribal Council AND Chairman mentioned above.
More to come and please answer those questions I put down.

Edmund Singleton

Feb. 26, 2013, 5:55 a.m.

Here we go again, I’ve heard all these stories before…

Has anyone considered the land grab of China, 600,000 acres, sold to them by Chesapeake Energy and approved by our government. Chesapeake has a long history of acquiring land leases on private property then in a most egregious way trying to renegotiate robbing people of money. Admittedly I have not done any research to find out if Indian land leases are part of their behavior. Wouldn’t be surprised if it has been. I think this issue goes well beyond just Indian land although in and of itself is disgusting. I think the issue Pro Publica has written about is just a starter article and needs more research and then reporting.

vance gillette

Feb. 26, 2013, 9:49 p.m.

Good coverage.  Your story has sparked a lot of interest here on the ft berthold indian reservation.  Many did not know about the 2007 IMDA oil lease flipped by Dacotah 3 for $925 million in 2010. 

  Update:  tribal members sued the BIA in Two Shield v. BIA for
damages for the cheap lease ($50 an acre).
    In nov 2012 members sued in Two shields v. Spencer Wilkinson Jr in federal court, north dakota.  case is pending.  Alleges Jr. and co.
“induced the BIA” to approve the cheap lease.

Update. In February 2013 a suit filed in tribal court to cancel a lease to
Spotted Hawk oil co, due to cheap rate $300 per acre.  Now, oil acre
leases for $5,000 (per acre) on up.  SOAR v. Mervin Packineau, No.
2013-0083.  The council approved the lease on only “two votes” plus conficts of interests.  Stay tuned.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost,” said Tex Hall, the current chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, in an interview. “It’s just a huge loss and we’ll never get it back.” Hall, you plastic Indian We are not supposed to sell the land to be allowed to ripped apart, torn up and bled to feed a hunger that is obviously evil!! This is why we lost so much land in the first place. The whites would find a few lowlife Indians that would sell their mother for a buck and here they have….Does this nightmare never end??? To allow them to defile the land fouls everything we stand for, what our ancestors stood for and to bewail over the money is odium. Hall, your a plastic indian and a disgrace to your people, our history, our future and a monument to the mistakes we shouldn’t make with the greed you process which is no less than the whites who come here. We all know now that the fossil fuels are poison and you wail not about the extracting, the usage of an evil thing but the fact you lost the money in the rape of the land! Hall, you should be sent off the land to live with the locusts in the dirty city where you belong…...Dan Banks! Russell Means!Great Spirit! Help!

(1)

woksape     wokita  
by michael hall

When you first came to this land
It was full of life, energy, Spirit and all that you needed
From ocean to ocean, from the arctic to gulf it was paradise
After tens of thousands of years that you were here, it looked like it was the first day you arrived

Then the whites came and they were hungry
insatiable like a swarm of locust they swarmed and consumed till they burglarized it all
Look at them now as they go overseas to steal the rest of the world and they will never stop till they consume it all and then in finality; themselves
They are addicted to their greed, to their hunger and in 400 years look what they’ve done here

They burned down most of the forests and replaced them with sterile fields of corn and wheat, dirty cities of toxic reek, stripped the mountains,  hills and laid everywhere their ugly roads, wires and pipes
Sprayed their crops with pesticides and herbicides until the poison was in every river, every stream, every gulp
They polluted the air with their foul spewing factories and disgorging black smoke plants
They wiped out all the game and made it a desert and then smiled as they sold the lots for parking and scenic routes

What of you and yours
What did your culture do here in the thousands of years of occupation?
don’t ever forget
Yours is the superior society

What did they do at Sand Creek?
What happened at Wounded Knee?
What did they do to Crazy Horse?
And why did Black Kettle dive out a hospital window?

(2)
What happens to your children now?
Where are your young men?
Who takes care of the Elders anymore?
Why are your women beaten and abused?

So many have joined their armed forces
And this is the worst cut of all
As plastic Indians tell me like little big man and standing bear
We fight for America now and it makes us proud while our children are beaten down

They tried to make you white and be like them outside and in
But do you hate the air, earth and sky like they do?
Do you only think of toys and your belly?
Is that what you want to be always angry, narcissistic and addicted to what you never sate?

Their violence and hate is the core of their purpose
Can anyone walk the streets of their cities at night without fear?
Look at their hungry and needy forgotten and destitute while their rich drive right on by oblivious
Mansions iron fenced and guarded and gated next to parks full of tents of the homeless and jobless and its against the law to feed them

Yet in the success of their raping of the land, air and water
The whites has signed their own death sentences
What gave them their power is also their poison
For they now turn on themselves
The violence of their soul is eating them alive

Look at their religion
It speaks of love and compassion
It talks of justice and ahimsa
Do they practice what they preach, have they done what they said they would?

They throw their kids, mentally ill and needy into horrible prisons
They feed their young poison processed ‘food’  just for profit
(3)
They pass forward their bills to their kids future and then say; “ kids come first”
They send their warriors to die for $, lies and markets and make all pledge allegiance to a stained bloody flag that rises atop dead upon the millions

They are psychotic suicidal maniacs hell bent on their own negative self-destructive demise
They are ravenous locusts heading like lemmings to the sea of their own annihilation and will take the world with them
They only defeated you because they had the numbers, unity in their racism, lies, guns and violence
Not by their faith, not by their culture, not by their moral or spiritual superiority

You have the far more advanced culture
You care about the land, air and water
You care about the earth and all life upon her
You care for the great spirit who gave us all everything

They foul their own nests
They are self-indulgent selfish materialistic temper throwing spoiled children
They consume beyond the need while the fat and rich steal from the lean and deprived
The rich rob the poor and they call this the american way

False charities and agencies throw you spoiled bones and second hand throw away’s
Tourists drive by and say; ‘my my isn’t that sad that they live like that’
They buy a few trinkets and then go home to their pools and mortgages and they then forget
But these days are coming to an end ghost dancers are coming home again

You are Human Beings and the Great Spirit has heard your suffering
Endure and stay true to your faith for a day is nigh
The day when redemption is at hand
The first shall be last the last first and what is wrong will be turned right for once and for all

And let us not forget Leonard Peltier who was wrongly accused of doing what america has been doing since before it was born and still doing’ murdering,stealing, committing injustice upon all those who’ve had the displeasure of dealing with it…

In case anyone who has forgotten as they chase dirty dollars and sell out their souls:
http://www.aimovement.org/moipr/onrussellmeans.html

@totohanthala

As I read this article I wondered why the Dakota were not mentioned. As I read these comments I wonder why the invaders no not their own history. Perhaps they should ask the Lakota about the POW camps deemed reservations; mineral rights and uranium; fracking for oil and gas. Perhaps they should ask why 20 “Medals of Honor” were given in the “Battle” of Wounded Knee and the government to this day refuses to rescind them. Or better yet, perhaps they should learn that their “conquering” these lands is all a bunch of papal BS known as “The Doctrine of Discovery.”

Edmund Singleton

March 1, 2013, 6:16 a.m.

And then they went on to cut their hair, ban their language, alter their religion and called it progress? For shame, shame..

dave.mcfatridge

March 1, 2013, 4:53 p.m.

If you want to know how the ‘white-man’ stole the Indians land simply research the ‘Dawes Act’. Sadly this has been left out of the history books. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act
Responsible for enacting the division of the American native reserves into plots of land for individual households, the Dawes Act was created by reformers to achieve six goals:
breaking up of tribes as a social unit,
encouraging individual initiatives,
furthering the progress of native farmers,
reducing the cost of native administration,
securing parts of the reservations as Indian land, and
opening the remainder of the land to white settlers for profit.[11]

If we leave out the discovery of lands of the indigenous and the real fact that our for bearers were ruthless that is a given. Now can we not also say that many in charge natives are making decisions that hurt their own people.

@dave.mcfatridge

Try 500 years of Injustice:
http://ili.nativeweb.org/sdrm_art.html


Then take a look at:
http://www.usdakotawar.org/history/dakota-homeland

Then click on this thread within the link directly above:
http://www.usdakotawar.org/history/newcomers

Maybe, just maybe you will then understand. The US demanded during the Treaty of Paris that the lands be under The Doctrine of Discovery. How else to open lands in the Ohio Valley; to build the transcontinental railroad while opening unseeded lands to homesteading that was protected by Treaties? Treaties that the US sued for. Those four lying racist faces on Rushmore should be blasted into oblivion as well as the myths that surround them.

How do you ‘discover’ an occupied continent? How do you ‘give’ land to People that already own them?

Edmund Singleton

March 2, 2013, 5:44 a.m.

A posting should not be more then a thousand words, keep it short…

Elizabeth Scott

March 2, 2013, 5:55 p.m.

dave.mcfatridge

Try 500 years of Injustice:
http://ili.nativeweb.org/sdrm_art.html


Then take a look at:
http://www.usdakotawar.org/history/dakota-homeland

Then click on this thread within the link directly above:
http://www.usdakotawar.org/history/newcomers

Maybe, just maybe you will then understand. The US demanded during the Treaty of Paris that the lands be under The Doctrine of Discovery. How else to open lands in the Ohio Valley; to build the transcontinental railroad while opening unseeded lands to homesteading that was protected by Treaties? Treaties that the US sued for. Those four lying racist faces on Rushmore should be blasted into oblivion as well as the myths that surround them.

How do you ‘discover’ an occupied continent? How do you ‘give’ land to People that already own them?

Unless you find that you need more than a thousand words to convey what you know or feel, of course.

One thing I’ve noticed:  “Short” assertions, allegations, refutations, representations, exhortations, and interpretations are, too often, lies; they must be short lest they reveal themselves.

Whatever it takes to tell the truth is…just right.

Lakota Sioux - The Bravest Americans

By Kathryn A. Graham

12/25/07 “Tribe”—- - And So It Begins

In an incredible irony, the very people that the United States have most oppressed throughout our history may hold the key to freedom for all of us.

Few Americans remember the siege at Wounded Knee in the mid-1970s, but perhaps they should. Members of the AIM, or the American Indian Movement, occupied parts of Pine Ridge in protest over the brutal killings of two of their own, the disgustingly mild prosecutions for those murders, and the beating of the mother of one of those two when she attempted to seek justice from the U.S. government. The AIM were seeking their rights under U.S. law and for the U.S. government to honor treaties with the American Indian that had been ignored for more than a century. It was a lawful - and a peaceful until attacked - protest.

In response, the FBI fired almost 200,000 rounds at the protesters (the protesters did fire weapons in their own defense, but only over their attackers’ heads) in an illegal show of force that betrayed every ideal of real freedom. The siege at Wounded Knee lasted 71 days. This was Waco decades before Waco, largely ignored by the U.S. population due to media indifference and the fact that the victims were not white Americans.

Later, the defense team for Russell Means and Dennis Banks was infiltrated by a government informant, which led to perjured testimony and a very angry judge who stated that the government was more interested in convictions than in justice. South Dakota Judge Nichols was quoted as saying, “It’s hard for me to believe that the FBI, which I have revered for so long, has stooped so low,” and dismissed all charges against the defendants.

Apparently, all those years ago, at least a portion of our justice system still operated as it was designed to do.

Leonard Peltier was not so lucky. He was tried in North Dakota, and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison. He remains there today, even though evidence recovered after the siege clearly showed that the two FBI deaths were attributable to friendly fire. During his years in prison, through his art and letters, Peltier has continued to work for oppressed people everywhere.

Russell Means has remained free, and he has not been idle in the intervening decades. A committed libertarian, he has written several books, run for office on the Libertarian ticket, and continued to pursue a film career that has made him a household face and name. Apart from that, he has bided his time, waiting for just the right moment in history.

That moment has come. In September of this year, the United Nations passed a non-binding Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Naturally, Canada, the United States and Australia refused to sign, but this resolution paved the way for a move that has been waiting in the wings, so to speak, since the 1970s.

On Wednesday of this week, Russell Means led a delegation of the Lakota Sioux people to the U.S. State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Chile, South Africa and Venezuela, declaring their secession from the United States of America.

Means stated, “We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us.” The lands of the Lakota Sioux encompass portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. In the coming weeks, they will take their diplomatic mission overseas to seek further support.

Means also stated that anyone willing to renounce their U.S. citizenship would live on Lakota land tax free, and that the Lakota would issue their own passports and driving licenses. Since a large group of libertarians have recently moved to Wyoming, this opens up some interesting possibilities for a free society growing up in our midst.

The coming road will not be an easy one. I cannot see the U.S. neo-conservatives leaving this alone. I imagine that there will be another bloody and vicious siege taking place on Lakota land, but I also believe that Means has timed his move correctly. If this happens as I fear it will, the neo-conservatives will be the clear authors of their own destruction. The American people have had enough!

You go, Russell!! You are the bravest and best of us, and the sanest and best of America stands with you in the trials you will face over the coming months and years.

Kathryn A. Graham, author of Flight From Eden and America Hijacked!

A post or your comment should be no longer nor shorter than what it needs to be in order to convey what the what the author is trying to get across. If someone cares enough to want to say something and is passionate enough and energetic enough to put it down and if it gets a bit ‘longwinded’,  than who are we to complain?  It is a gift,is it not? We should be thanking the author not complaining because it is not at a depth or length that we can swallow or understand. Like beauty it is a matter of an individual’s objectivity or subjectivity and everyone has a right be different. If you don’t ‘like’ the length then don’t read it but to impose your subjectivity on length is impolite and not a right.
Humbly submitted for your approval or disapproval at your convenience…your welcome…

Edmund Singleton

March 3, 2013, 4:49 p.m.

Thank you, you are right. I stopped reading posts that are more then five sentences. I suggest one write the germ of the post with a link to the rest for those that want to read more.

“Mitaku Oyasin” (Lakota)
“We Are All Related

Edmund Singleton

March 3, 2013, 5:07 p.m.

Write a book or a short story if you will, get a publisher, but don’t post it this forum for comments and ideas not a thesis for academic credit…

Ed unless you own this site, its really none of your business or right to say who can post what or to the length of a post. As i’ve said before, if you don’t like the length of what is posted or the subject matter then DON’T READ IT. You have the right to ignore or not read what you don’t want to. It’s really not that complicated…This is what freedom is all about. Your free to read,not to read,ignore or to disagree and comment. Everyone has the right to do as they please within the guidelines of this site. Unless this is YOURS, then you have no right, to complain,especially to dictate what is written here.  Do you understand or should i go into more depth?

Edmund Singleton

March 3, 2013, 5:39 p.m.

You missed my point, if you want your thoughts to be considered, keep it short and to the point and not go on and on to no known end…

This is a direct quote from this sites ‘Privacy Right And Other Terms’:

Your Reader-Submitted Content may be edited for length or clarity or for any other reason either before or after it is published, and it may be attributed it to you and may include your name and city. We reserve the right (but not the obligation) to remove any Reader-Submitted Content for any reason from our site.

So to repeat for the third time eddy,this site,know as ‘they’, they have the right to edit for length, NOT YOU…

Kind of what your doing here over and over and over. Rambling the same whine again and again over what you have no control over, no say in and for the last time Edwardo if you don’t like what is read; DON’T READ IT….Move on. Get over it. You must drive your mother crazy with your thickheadedness. Seriously..Quite obtuse…

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Fracking

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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