Monday, May 15, 2006

Melmer: Liquor sales to continue in Bear Butte

Liquor sales to continue in Bear ButtePosted: May 15, 2006by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
STURGIS, S.D. - The expansion of liquor sales andentertainment complexes inthe shadow of Bear Butte continues unabated byprotests, petitions andlawsuits.The commissioners of Meade County, in which Bear Butteis located, rejected alegal petition to put the issue of a malt beveragelicense for Jay Allen'sSturgis County Line bar on the grounds that they madean administrative decisionand it was not subject to referendum. The petitionsincluded 756 signatures.A liquor license was also renewed for Allen's BrokenSpoke bar, which islocated within sight of Bear Butte.An additional liquor license for a new biker bar, theRock 'n The Rally,which is within earshot of Bear Butte, was awarded toGary Lippold on May 2.Lippold also owns a resort near the mountain.Protesters and opponents of expanded entertainmentvenues appeared at twohearings, one held April 4 for Allen's application andanother on May 2 forLippold's.Opposition is coming from more areas than tribalgovernments, members andorganizations. Local ranchers are also protestingbiker bar expansion. Someranchers at the April 4 hearing said they had toretrieve trash in the ditchesalong the highways and roads they travel on a dailybasis during the rally. Onerancher said she was afraid when 30 bikers drove intoher driveway. They weredrunk and lost, she said.The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held in early Augusteach year, attracts some500,000 bikers who tour the entire region for morethan a week. The officialrally is scheduled for only one week.Lippold said his new Rock 'n The Rally will featurenearly 20 majorentertainment events over the five nights of therally. He said Aerosmith, KeithUrbanand Big & Rich are among the bands already booked.Two lawsuits have been filed against bar expansion.Cheyenne River Siouxtribal attorney and state Rep. Thomas Van Norman fileda lawsuit on behalf oftheCheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The Lakota people areamong some 32 tribes thatconsider Bear Butte a sacred mountain and theycontinue to offer prayers at thesite.Van Norman's complaint states that the Meade Countycommissioners actedarbitrarily in its determination of Allen's characterand, according to thecomplaint, the commissioners placed the burden ofsuitability of character onthechallengers, not the applicant.Another lawsuit, filed by Rapid City Attorney BruceEllison, was filed onbehalf of Meade County rancher Jessie Levin and sixothers. That complaintalleges a violation of due process and that thecommission failed to followlegalstandards in the application process. Ten differentgrounds were filed with thatcomplaint.Protesters and opponents are not finished. Protestsare in the planningstages for the rally itself; and a July 4 rally isstacking up to bring innearly5,000 people from all over the country, according toorganizers.The Bear Butte International Alliance, a groupopposing any expansion ofliquor or entertainment in the vicinity of Bear Butte,states on its Web sitethatits initial stand continues: ''No more alcoholpermitting until a buffer zoneis established protecting the custom, culture andtradition of the people whoregard Bear Butte as a sacred site.''A five-mile buffer zone was requested and, accordingto letters from allLakota tribal governments, that is still their stand.''We have a concern for sacred sites; they are a placewhere great leadershave a vision and you are destroying mother earth,''said Arvol Looking Horse,19th generation keeper of the sacred pipe of theLakota.''We want to save our way of life. The energy of lifeneeds to be wellrespected,'' he told the commissioners.Russell Eagle Bear, Rosebud, said the tribe boughtland near Bear Buttebecause they had no other place to pray. A lodge sitson the land and is usedforeducation and spiritual purposes. The biker bars, withliquor, are just downthe road from the lodge.The Northern Cheyenne recently purchased more land atthe base of Bear Butte.The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council also opposes anyliquor near themountain.The Northern Cheyenne origin stories center aroundBear Butte. Sweet Medicinewas given the sacred bundle for the Cheyenne at BearButte.The county commissioners remained steadfast in theirapproval of more andrenewed liquor and malt beverage licenses. Onecommissioner, Dayle Hammock, saidthe commission acted within the legal limits byrefusing to honor the petitionfor a referendum. He told the crowd if they didn'tlike the law, they shouldgo to the state Legislature and have it changed.An administrative decision, according to state law, isnot subject toreferendum of the voters.''The BBIA believes that all who have been engagedwith Meade CountyCommissioners on this land use issue remain committedto living well on thesesacredlandscapes.''We will not silently go away, our work, values anddetermination to supportgovernment policies of local control based on humanrights is stronger todaythan ever,'' according to a prepared statement by theBBIA.NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107,this material isdistributed without profit or payment to those whohave expressed a priorinterestin receiving this information for non-profit researchand educational purposesonly.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

They Don’t Want Indians Praying at Bear Butte

They Don’t Want Indians Praying at Bear Butte 24 April 2006
by Debra White Plume, Bring Back the Way, writing from the banks of Wounded Knee Creek
This letter is regarding the Meade County Commissioners decision to approve the alcohol application of Mr. Jay Allen who proposes to build a 22,500 sq foot bar, 155,000 sq foot asphalt parking lot, and an amphitheater to seat 30,000 near Bear Butte. Bear Butte is a Sacred Mountain to our Lakota People and many other Native Nations. We pray there, learn there, and receive healing there. Bear Butte is our church, school, and hospital.
While some people may believe that since there is no development actually ON THE MOUNTAIN, it is ok to build nearby. However, elected officials such as the Commissioners have a responsibility not only to the people who vote candidates into office, but to people everywhere who depend on the judgment of officials to take care of social responsibility. There are laws in place all over the United States which protect the integrity of churches, schools and hospitals. The Meade County Commissioners have the power to demand by example that all people, businesses, organizations, and governments show their respect for a Sacred Mountain by their ability to enact a vote of No to Mr. Allen's application. This is a great responsibility that the Meade County Commissioners have. The eyes and ears of the whole country and many other nations watch their action regarding this issue.
Through my work with Treaty Councils in Lakota Country and at the United Nations regarding the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, I know that the Lakota People and many other Native Nations have the inalienable Human Right to pray at sacred places. This Human Right becomes denied when the decision-makers approve of action, which in essence, sanctions the desecration of sacred places. Many people urged the Commissioners to consider the future when making decisions, to think of the coming generations of not only Lakota People and other Native Nations, but of Meade County residents’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well. A good leader is visionary for his people, and for all people, who will be effected by his decision making. Bear Butte is a sacred place, it is a National Historic Site, it is a State Park, and the nearby Bear Butte Lake is a National Wildlife Refuge. With such highly esteemed designations, the Meade County Commissioners had all these reasons, these good reasons, to vote in such a manner as to protect and preserve Bear Butte for the people of today and generations to come.
Many of us attending the April 4, 2006 hearing urged the Commissioners to take courage and vote for the environment, the natural balance of Creation, the coming generations. We urged them to stand together as a Commission against the powerful raging money machine that often drives small towns into making disastrous, regrettable decisions, that in the end benefit no one except the one capitalist owner and the recipients of the pitifully-few dollars he/she may spread around town while taking home the millions, violating the rights of others, contaminating the environment and the society impacted by the driving force of wanting to make the dollar, in disregard for the destruction he leaves behind for others to clean up and suffer from. Indeed, as elected officials, the Commissioners must be aware that the decision to allow Mr. Allen the one tool he needs to make a profit from his endeavor, will in fact, result in great suffering for the Lakota people and other Native Nations who need and cherish Bear Butte, as well as environmentalists who respect Bear Butte for the special place that it is. Isn’t 60 bars enough?
Indigenous People all over the world, and environmentalists all over the world, could have celebrated the Commission’s decision to protect and preserve the Sacred Mountain, Bear Butte, if the vote was to tell Mr. Allen, "No, the location of your establishment is inappropriate for an alcohol license. Such a location would be damaging to too many people, too many generations, too many species of the environment. Your application is denied." However, the decision was to approve Mr. Allen’s alcohol-license application. The power was there for the Commission to enact an honorable decision, yet without any discussion, the vote was unanimous to approve. Many people, including residents of Meade County, feel the Commission’s action was not only dishonorable, but premeditated. The decision did not surprise many, for not many expected to receive justice in the Meade County Courthouse. Yet, the construction of Mr. Allen’s bar has been halted, for the moment, by the many days and nights of falling rain, hail, sleet, and snow; by a power greater than the Commission.
On the mind of many people at the rally and the hearing was the remembrance that April 4 was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenges and controversy.” The world watching that day certainly saw where the Meade County Commissioners stood, and now understand the ultimate measure of these men as individuals and as a collective. Who do they represent? Many residents are against further destruction of the environment of Bear Butte.
The many people who marched on Sturgis, closing down Highway 34, included several Traditional Healers (Medicine Men), elders, Treaty Councils, many Sun Dance Societies, Headsmen, Matriarchs, elders, school children, high school and college students and faculty, Warrior Societies, United States military Veterans, elected officials, ikce wicasa and winyan (common men and women), drum groups; bikers from several states, South Dakota Senators and Congressional Representatives, Civil Liberty Attorneys, church groups, Tribal Police, and local and Black Hills area residents. We engaged in a collective action. We stood in solidarity.
At the Protect and Preserve Bear Butte Rally the Lakota and other Tribal Nations, and our many brothers and sisters of all races and walks of life stood together in solidarity with one prayer, to protect and preserve Bear Butte. The prayer strengthened the people, which was in the heart of those who organized the Rally: Intertribal Coalition to Defend Bear Butte, Lakota Action Network, Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), Mennonite Central Committee, Bear Butte International Alliance. We all understood that the Commission is guided by a system of oppression, the capitalist system. Some felt that the Commission was also guided by another system of oppression, racism. We understood that environmental racism (policies/laws which most greatly impact a group of people-Lakota and other tribes, in this case) would also probably rear its’ ugly head, and it did. Yet, we recalled the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We could not be silent that day, we had to make a stand for our Sacred Mountain. It was a peaceful stand, there were no arrests, not criminal behavior, no riot broke out. The Lakota Security (Warrior Society) on duty that day protected the Rally participants, and kept a firm hand on the crowd at all times. The only people who got out of hand were the towns folk peeking out of stores who yelled insults at our youth. We did not throw insults back, our voice was our March and our Rally, and we were not silent that day when we made a stand for our Sacred Mountain and our Way of Life.
Our work is not done, we will continue to resist the desecration of Bear Butte. April 4 was just the beginning of our resistance. We will continue to make a stand for our Human Right to pray, for our Sacred Mountain, with the establishment of an encampment, with Opening Ceremonies on July 4 at Bear Butte. We will camp there with our Tribal Nations, organizations, and societies, and our allies will join us. We will have a peaceful Gathering of Nations to Defend Bear Butte. In this organized resistance to the desecration of our Sacred Mountain, and the accompanying destruction to our Way of Life, we will host many learning experiences from traditional medicine and food to international Human Rights law. The Meade County Commissioners have stated that they are concerned and worried about so many “Indians coming to town.” We wonder why they do not worry about the drunken, drugged tourists, a higher crime rate, enormous mounds of trash, people urinating in the ditches because there are not enough toilets for half a million people, increased police calls, and the many social problems testified to by county residents at the hearing (not to stereo-type the bikers, just repeating the residents’ testimony!). We wonder why the Commission would choose to be faced with such an outcome, but they don’t want Indians praying at Bear Butte?

Commission Decision May Be Challanged

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Commission Decision May Be Challenged

STURGIS (AP) -- The attorney for a group challenging a beer license for a campground biker bar near Bear Butte says the Meade County Commission's decision to reject petitions calling for a public vote on the issue will not stand up in court. The South Dakota Supreme Court has struck down similar moves by county commissioners in the past, said Bruce Ellison. American Indians and some rural neighbors of Bear Butte circulated a petition last month to put the liquor license issue on the ballot. The Meade County Commission decided it was an administrative decision that is not subject to a public vote. Indian groups have protested campgrounds, bars and other commercial operations that are being located two to three miles from Bear Butte during the Sturgis motorcycle rally. They say the noise and activity interferes with their religious activities at the Butte.