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Almost two weeks ago on Monday October 7th, protests drew attention to failure by the UK and Canadian governments to uphold 250 year old treaty obligations to First Nations, indigenous peoples, of Canada. First Nations in Quebec have noted  “Our people have seen the wealth taken from our lands in the form of minerals and clear cut logging“. First Nations of Canada have vowed to be “Idle No More”. 

But, Canada is impinging upon an even more recent Treaty. A Canadian based company “Powertech” is trying to force uranium mining on the peoples of the Black Hills with the proposed Dewey-Burdock In Situ Leach (ISL) uranium mine. This land still legally belongs to American Indians under the Treaty of Fort Laramie (the Sioux Treaty) of 1868. This uranium mine is not wanted by them, neither is it wanted by many non-American Indians, such as the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.  Yet Powertech continues to try to force its Dewey Burdock Mine upon everyone, and years of hearings still continue on.    

Lakota portraits
Lakota portraits collage

What is the Treaty of Fort Laramie?

The Treaty of Fort Laramie (also called the Sioux Treaty of 1868) was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation [1] signed in 1868 at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory, guaranteeing to the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The treaty ended Red Cloud’s War.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Fort_Laramie_(1868) (references at link)

The sacred nature of the Black Hills, and that the US government should return at least some of it to the Sioux people, was recognized last autumn by the UN Special Envoy. So why are Powertech, the US government (NRC) and the State of South Dakota still considering the Powertech proposal?  

The problem is clearly set forth by Ricky Good Voice Flute, of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, in his letter to the US NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

“RE: Docket NRC-2012-0277, Comments on the Dewey-Burdock Project SEIS
Please consider these to be my comments regarding the SEIS for the Dewey-Burdock Project to be located north of Edgemont, SD. These comments are submitted to help the NRC meet their regulatory requirements to insure that the Dewey-Burdock ISL Uranium mine ‘may be operated in a manner that is protective of public health and safety and the environment.’

First,the legality of the authority of the state of South Dakota and the United States Federal agencies including the Nuclear Regulatory Agency to be able to authorize a permit in this geographic region is in question. The entire area still is the legal land holding of the Great Sioux Nation and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations. Article 12 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty made between the Great Sioux Nation, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations was never enacted so no changes were ever made to the Treaty. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty is still legal and binding as recently evidenced by the Lavetta Elk versus the United States case of 2009. The enforcement of one Article of a Treaty is proof of the validity of the entire document. The land in question is specifically outlined in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.

Further, a treaty made between the United States and another nation or nations, such as the Great Sioux Nation and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations is protected under Article VI of the US Constitution and the March 3 Act of 1871, In this specific instance, the 1980 Supreme Court decision (United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371 (1980)) which falls under a Fifth Amendment taking also reiterates the fact that the land still belongs to the Great Sioux Nation, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations. Until this issue of legal land title is finalized, no actions of any kind should be taken in this geographic area without the express permission of the members of the Great Sioux Nation and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations. For any federal employee or agency to do otherwise would be a violation of their 0ath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States and federal law.

Secondly, the geographic area that Powertech Uranium Mining Company plans to use in this ISL project contains innumerable cultural sites as evidenced in the SEIS. However, the explanation for the sites was taken from non-Indian ‘experts’ and not from the Native American people themselves.

The people of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, as well as other Native American nations across North and Central America, consider the Black Hills to be a major sacred place. As all of these Nations also operated according to natural law for tens of thousands of years, there were certain areas in the Black Hills that were used to bring the bones of deceased relatives back to the Black Hills. In other words, the geographic area planned on being used for the Dewey-Burdock ISL Project is a place that was a cemetery.

Due to the potential for exploitation of this site, as many Native American grave sites were robbed not just for artifacts but for the actual bones, there is a great reluctance to state that this area is a grave site. There are innumerable graves, tipi rings, sweat lodge circles, and sacred places to pray located in the area planned to be used by Powertech.

For the above two reasons alone, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must not grant approval of the Powertech application for the Dewey-Burdock In Situ Recovery Uranium Project.

Sincerely,
Ricky Good Voice Flute
Oglala Lakota Tribe (Sioux)
http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1301/ML13017A020.pdf (bold added)

Where is the Great Sioux Reservation?  

Siouxreservationmap
Map by Kmusser, via wikimedia Some maps indicate a larger area, as suggested by the wikipedia article.

The UN Special Envoy regarding the Rights of Indigenous peoples in the USA report is here: http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/docs/countries/2012-report-usa-a-hrc-21-47-add1_en.pdf

Among his observations and conclusions are:  
Another emblematic case involves the Black Hills in South Dakota, part of the ancestral territory of the Lakota people that, under the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, was reserved to the Lakota and other tribes known collectively as the Sioux Nation.  Following the discovery of gold in the area, in 1877 Congress passed an act reversing its promise under the treaty and vesting ownership of the Black Hills to the Government. The Lakota and other Sioux tribes have refused to accept payment required in accordance with a 1980 Supreme Court decision and continue to request the return of the Black Hills; this is despite the fact that the people of these tribes are now scattered on several reservations and are some of the poorest among any group in the country.  Today, the Black Hills are national forest and park lands, although they still hold a central place in the history, culture, and worldviews of surrounding tribes and at the same time serve as a constant visible reminder of their loss. 

Measures of reconciliation and redress should include, inter alia, initiatives to address outstanding claims of treaty violations or non-consensual takings of traditional lands to which indigenous peoples retain cultural or economic attachment, and to restore or secure indigenous peoples’ capacities to maintain connections with places and sites of cultural or religious significance, in accordance with the United States international human rights commitments.  In this regard,… the establishment of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Park, and current initiatives of the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service to protect sacred sites, constitute important precedents or moves in this direction.”  

The US government has recently stated (date unknown but around 2010):
The United States recognizes that some of the most grievous acts committed by the United States and many other States against indigenous peoples were with regard to their lands, territories, and natural resources. For this reason, the United States has taken many steps to ensure the protection of Native American lands and natural resources, and to provide redress where appropriate. It is also for this reason that the United States stresses the importance of the lands, territories, resources and redress provisions of the Declaration in calling on all States to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories, and natural resources.http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/153223.pdf (bold added)
So, where is the protection and redress in the context of the proposed Black Hills Powertech-Dewey Burdock uranium mine? Why are the State of South Dakota and the US Federal Government Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) moving forward with hearings in the permitting process? The uranium mine is both illegal and unwanted!

Furthermore, although the US revolted against the English Empire one would think that Canada, who stayed in the Empire, would still be bound by the duty to protect lands west of the Mississippi, which includes the land of the Fort Laramie Treaty, as stipulated by King George of England on October 7, 1763. This would mean that the proposed Powertech Dewey Burdock uranium mine is in violation of this October 7, 1763 Treaty, as well as the more recent 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. It also runs counter to the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the US’ National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as it pertains to recognition of impacts to historic and cultural sites, especially sites of significance to Native American tribes. For this last point see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_statement Obviously it also runs counter to the right to clean water, etc.

It is worth noting that if in Russia the government owns the petroleum companies, and the government of France owns most of Areva uranium, in other countries such as Canada, and the US, politicians-government appear owned fully or in part by the petroleum and/or nuclear industries, as well as mining companies.  Canada is so dependent upon resource extraction and penny stock mining that the control appears now almost total. 

References and Additional information especially regarding October 7th, 2013:

Time to fulfill a 250-year-old promise http://www.landclaimscoalition.ca/assets/LCAC_Proclamation_backgrounder.pdf

US position on the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/153223.pdf http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/united-states/victory-us-endorses-un-declaration-rights-indigenous-peoples

Monday, October 7, 2013 – 14:51
By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Today, October 7th, is an important moment to reflect on Canada’s long unfulfilled promise to respect the land rights of Indigenous peoples.
Two hundred and fifty years ago today, on October 7th, 1763, King George of England formally proclaimed that even as the British Crown asserted its control over North America, Indigenous peoples’ lands would continue to be protected for their use
.” http://www.amnesty.ca/blog/time-to-fulfill-a-250-year-old-promise (bold added for emphasis)

Our people have seen the wealth taken from our lands in the form of minerals and clear cut logging, we have felt first hand the environmental, social and spiritual costs that corporations, the Quebec and National governments have externalised onto us and our way of life. We are answering Idle No More’s call for action today and slowing traffic on hwy 117 to educate people about this historic Indigenous led global day of action…When: October 07, 2013 at 12am – October 08, 2013 October 07, 2013 at 12am – October 08, 2013http://www.idlenomore.ca/_oct7proclaim_traffic_slowdown_on_hwy_117

LARGEST CLIMATE CONFERENCE IN BC HISTORY ENDS WITH JOINT IDLE NO MORE DAY OF ACTION
Oct 7, 2013
For Immediate Release
Largest Climate Conference in BC History Ends With Joint Idle No More Day of Action

Hundreds gather in Victoria to push back on dirty energy projects

Victoria, Coast Salish Territories – Today, hundreds of youth attending the PowerShift BC summit joined with local Idle No More organizers and frontline Indigenous organizers from BC and Alberta for a march and public civil disobedience training at the British Columbia Legislature. The action took place along with over 60 others across Canada, the US and beyond marking the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation.

‘Today we gather in mass numbers all across turtle island in solidarity and unity for one common cause – to commemorate the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in which land rights and title promises were made to the original peoples of this land, On this day we assert our rights to self determination and land title as per the CDN constitution,’ said Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation. ‘As First Peoples of this land we are standing up with our brothers and sisters all across the land; in unity we stand together and we say no more will we say yes yes to dirty oil, pipelines, tankers, and poisoned water!’ 

Crystal spoke at PowerShift BC this past weekend about her nation which is currently involved in one of the country’s highest profile litigations against the Canadian and Alberta governments for the over 17,000 treaty violations from the expansion of the Tar Sands. 

‘Projects like the tar sands and their pipelines through BC are driving climate change and devastating communities,” said Kelsey Mech, an organizer with PowerShift BC. ‘We’re taking action in solidarity today to stop climate disaster, but while climate change may be the call that brings us together, justice is the goal.”
Article continues here: http://www.idlenomore.ca/largest_climate_conference_in_bc_history_ends_with_joint_idle_no_more_day_of_action