Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Eagle Butte

Protecting land and sacred sights: CRST Chairman introduces bill to SD State Legislature, requests BIA assistance in protecting Pe Sla

According to a press release from the CRST Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier, Frazier requested that lawmakers introduce Bills in the 2018 South Dakota Legislative session to protect the Treaty Territory lands and sacred sites within the state.

HB 1223 is an “Act to create moratorium on oil pipeline construction, and HB 1224 is an “Act to prohibit certain extractive activities in the Black Hills.”

HB 1223 is in response to the Keystone spills along the Keystone Pipeline in western South Dakota and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is “positioned to threaten South Dakota crossing the Missouri River just miles north of the South Dakota border,” the press release said.

HB 1224 was requested in response to the Rochford Gold Mine project, Uranium Fracking project near Edgemont and other extraction activities, the press release said.

While the initial response to the proposed bills was immediate and positive, On Monday Feb. 5, the chairman’s office learned that HB 1223 was sent into a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives headed by Representative Tim Rounds without giving the tribe a chance to attend and defend the bill, but according to Chairman Frazier’s office,  a county commissioner was given an opportunity to provide testimony over the phone.

“Again the Lakota people get overlooked for the profit of those that live off the land they occupy at our expense,” Chairman Frazier wrote.

“I applaud Representative Bordeaux and Senators Heinert and Killer for introducing this needed legislation, but I condemn the Energy and Commerce Committee for not allowing this bill the opportunity to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, or even allowing Tribes to explain the importance of this bill,” Frazier wrote.

On Feb. 1, the Chairman published a public letter to the Acting Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent Russell Hawkins requesting his support to “honor our trust relationship and hold this request as a moral obligation of the highest honor to our unique and continuing relationship.”

The request is for the federal official to act as a trustee for the benefit of the tribe and think of the best interest of the tribe.

The letter goes on to ask Hawkins to exercise his authority and use his discretion to ensure the survival and welfare of the Lakota people by protecting and enhancing Lakota lands, resources, and self-government.

No information was given concerning a response to the letter to Hawkins or the status of HB 1224.