The federal government is planning to take the South Unit of Badlands National Park and turn it over to the Department of the Interior, to have it administered by the National Park Service. The NPS was in the news last year when they barricaded our national monuments and prevented elderly WWII veterans from seeing their memorial during the sequester. The NPS put up barriers along scenic look-outs so drivers couldn’t see Mt. Rushmore, and closed park entrances across the country. These brown-shirted federal agents now intend to take and control thousands of acres of Sioux land.
This intended seizure by the Obama administration reads like something out of the history books, and not the part that makes you want to wave the American flag:
“Thousands of tribe members will be affected by the land-grab. Some residents will be forced to relocate, and many more others will lose their income from grazing allotments on the land – a result which will ultimately force any remaining independent cattle ranchers out of business. In addition to all this, Tribal members will lose their share [of] income from entrance fees collected at the adjacent North Gate fees of the Badlands National Park – a punitive measure which will further compound the existing economic depression on a reservation where the average annual income is around $8,000 per year.”
The Black Hills once belonged to the Lakota Sioux in a treaty signed by the U.S. government. These sacred lands were taken from them in 1877 after gold was discovered there by an expedition led by General George Custer. This shameful act by the U.S. government can be somewhat explained away by the history of the times, when a fierce war raged between Native Americans and new settlers and bigotry about the rights of non-whites ruled the day.
What excuse does the Obama administration have for their actions today? And if Congress passes this bill, what excuse will they give to the voters who put them in office?
Here’s a petition. Here’s your representative. The Obama administration shouldn’t get away with acting like a 19th century thug and the U.S. Congress shouldn’t allow it to. The Lakota Sioux deserve better. We all do.
Photograph courtesy of Cumulo Nimbus