CRST Chairman Harold Frazier was in North Sioux City, Iowa last Thursday and served as a Witness Panelist at a field hearing for the Senate Committee on Enviroment and Public Works.
The primary focus on the hearing was to examine what has happened along the Missouri River in the five years since the 2011 Missouri River flood.
The chairman’s testimony was critical of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers management of the the Missouri River and it’s tributaries since the creation of the Oahe Dam in 1961.
“Although the topic of this hearing is the flood event of five years ago any discussion about the Corps’ management of the Missouri River cannot be limited to only one incident in avacuum, because there have been decades of policy decisions that have affected this river, some of which led to the events in the spring of 2011,” said Frazier in his testimony.
Frazier continued, “One of the saddest days in the history of Cheyenne River Sioux people was in 1961 when the Army Corps of Engineers inundated 105,000 acres of the best lands we owned, and certainly our best agricultural lands, in conjunction with the construction of the Oahe Dam, turning the Missouri River into the Oahe Reservoir or Lake Oahe as it is called. Of course this was on top of the millions of acres of land lost by the Great Sioux Nation when we signed treaties with the United States only 80 years earlier in which the US promised that the remaining reservation lands would be for our exclusive use. So I hope you can understand that we all get a little emotional when discussing this issue.”
Frazier was the only tribal official from any of the South Dakota reservations to provide testimony.
Other officials providing testimony included Jeff Dooley, Manager of the Dakota Dunes Community Improvement District, Steven Primer, Secretary of South Dakota Department of Enviroment and Natural Resources, and David Ponganis, Program Director of the Northwest Division from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds provided the opening statement at the hearing.
In his statement, Rounds recounted the 2011 flood as being the worst flood in 60 years for towns and their residents all along the Missouri River.
Rounds stated that the flood caused more than $2 billion in damage and resulted in five fatalities 4,000 homes were destroyed.
“Proper management of the Missouri River is vital to life in the Midwest,” added Rounds. “We depend on the Missouri River not only for recreation, but for agriculture and irrigation, shipping and hydroelectric power. The Missouri River is vital to our livelihood and our economy.”