Tim Giago writes about the Black Hills settlement in which the Sioux Nation was awarded lots of money for the Black Hills that federal courts held were illegally taken from the Sioux people by the United States. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed an award of $105 million to the 7 tribes that are the successors of the Sioux Nation. The tribes refused to take the money because they want their sacred lands back. That judgment award has now risen to $1 billion because of interest.
Giago writes in part: “When one travels around the communities on the reservations that make up the Sioux Nation, it immediately becomes apparent that there is an abundance of poverty there. But the people calling themselves Lakota, Dakota and Nakota still hold their heads high and, against all odds, still find pride in their poverty.”
The leaders of three South Dakota reservations met in Washington, D. C. with Jody Gillette and Kimberly Teehee, officials of the Obama Administration, to discuss the background of the Black Hills Claims Settlement.
“Chairman Trudell suggested that Senate Bill S.1453 that was introduced by New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat, in 1985 was the best starting point when discussing the monetary award allocated to the Sioux tribes in 1980.
. . . The Bradley Bill called for the transfer of 1.3 million acres of Black Hills National Forest land to the Great Sioux Nation, lands that excluded Mount Rushmore National Memorial, private lands, municipalities and other park lands. Interest from the judgment award would be distributed amongst the tribes as compensation for the loss of use of the land; the principle would remain in the trust fund. Appropriations would be provided to assist the Sioux Nation in managing the returned lands.
. . .
So far it seems that extreme poverty has not entered into the equation, but the steadfast refusal to accept any of the funds by the treaty councils has diminished over the years and a younger generation sees the settlement through the prism of the 21st Century and as they gain the political power within the ranks of the tribal councils, the decisions of the settlement will gradually fall upon them. To a people steeped in perpetual poverty, one billion dollars offers many alternate possibilities.”
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