BEAR BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA: Gathering of Nations encampment begins; Sheriff's department says permit required
6 July 2006
BEAR BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA: Gathering of Nations encampment begins; Sheriff's
department says permit required
by Mark Frey
On 3 July, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) placed a small team at Bear
Butte, SD to provide a supportive presence for n Inter-Tribal Coalition
encampment. People organizing the encampment are trying to prevent the
development of the Bear Butte mountain area. The Coalition invited CPT to
assist with camp logistics, provide observation and documentation of
activities, and possibly intervene if pro-development people threaten the
nonviolent encampment with violence.
The United States agreed in an 1868 treaty that Bear Butte--along with much
of western South Dakota--was the territory of the Lakota. The U.S. very
soon violated that treaty when European American settlers discovered gold in
the Black Hills; today Bear Butte is a state park.
The Gathering of the Nations encampment kicked off on 4 July at the base of
Bear Butte with sacred ceremonies, speakers from a range of Native and
non-Native allies and meetings among tribal leaders. One of the meetings--
between the Lakota chief and the chief of the Northern Cheyenne Nation--was
the first meeting between these Nations' chiefs since 1868.
Although the encampment is on land owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, on 5
July, Sheriff's authorities told participants that they needed a $500 permit
to camp there. Camp leadership is discussing how to respond.
Over 100 people have participated in the encampment so far.
Bear Butte mountain, sacred to many Native peoples, is located just outside
Sturgis, SD, host to the annual Sturgis Bike Week motorcycle rally which may
draw more than half a million people 7-13 August 2006. Arizona developer
Jay Allen is building what he boasts is the largest biker bar in the world,
including a concert-venue amphitheater, within easy sight of Bear Butte
Tribal Organizers explained the importance of Bear Butte in a statement:
"While all of Mother Earth is Sacred, while all the Black Hills are sacred,
Mato Paha (Bear Butte) is under the most direct threat, so we will gather
there to send our voice to our Creator and our Ancestors and ask them to
stand with us, ask our Sacred Mountain to stand with us, to protect the
Lakota people and the many other Tribal Nations who hold Bear Butte as
Sacred . . .
"Our identity is interwoven in our Creation Stories with our Sacred Places;
if they destroy our Sacred Places, they wipe out the Lakota Nation. Without
our relationship to Mother Earth and our Sacred Places, we cannot be Lakota.
We go to a peaceful camp, to gather our relatives from the four directions
to make important decisions, together, about our future and our generations.
We go in a respectful way to our Sacred Mountain to protect Her and to
protect our Human Right to pray there, learn there, receive healing there.
This pivotal moment in history is a time for Indigenous People and our
Allies to come together, to take courage, to stand together to protect our
Sacred Places and our destiny."
More information is available at http://defendbearbutte.org/