In the South Dakota Plains, surrounded by snow and temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, Crow Creek Tribal Chairman Brandon Sazue is fasting to protest the recent IRS auction which stole 7,100 acres of his people's territory; supporters are bringing additional supplies and helping to occupying the vast plains acreage.
The federal government has auctioned off 11 square miles of the Crow Creek Reservation without consent from the tribe which owns the land. The land has been selected for use as an industrial wind power generating center and stands to make lots of money.
The Crow Creek Indians already lost their land to white armies back in the 1800s, when white Minnesotans publicly hung 38 of the Dakota tribe -- the largest mass execution in US history -- and forced the rest of the tribe to march at gunpoint to concentration camps, and then onto their present location in Buffalo County, South Dakota. More than half of the tribe perished during the long walk; upon arrival at the foreign lands of the Crow Creek Reservation even more died of starvation, cold, and direct murder.
"The heartbreak from those [past] events are still felt today. The people of Crow Creek live with that legacy, as do the rest of us with ancestors who were subjugated on these lands. After 1862, the United States government left our people with so little. Now, even what little we have is under attack again." said Waziyatawin, Ph.D. in a press release issued by the Crow Creek Tribe on December 11. "Sazue's stand in defense of the land is a rallying cry to the rest of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) of the Dakota Oyate (Nation)."
Yet again, the Dakota Crow Creek Indians are having to fight the federal government's goons. Today the fight is for part of the land onto which they were forcibly relocated. If the Crow Creek Indians and their supporters refuse to leave their land, the white men with guns will soon be arriving to enforce the "debt" the Crow Creek Indians supposedly owe the American nation.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that the tribe "owes" the American government the money which came from the land auction, but would not permit the Tribe to pay for the debt in cash. The IRS has also refused to disclose the name of the new landowner.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), an agency which is notorious for their consistent violation of Native Americans' land and sovereignty (see footnote), informed the Crow Creek tribe that income tax did not have to be paid on the land. As income tax debt accumulated without the knowledge of the Tribe, the BIA allowed the IRS to auction off the land without Tribal permission. The Tribe has enough money in a tribal trust account to pay off the false debt. Evidently, the IRS and BIA didn't want to steal money from the Crow Creek Tribe, privatizing and industrializing the land will certainly give much more money and power to the occupying nation called America.
The civilized ones have come again, forcing Indians off of their land because they want something that doesn't belong to them; but Tribal leader Sazue and the Crow Creek Indians are courageously defending what is left of their homeland.
"The fight for our land is at the core of our existence, as it has been for the last two hundred years," says Mary Crow Dog in her autobiography "Lakota Woman." "Once the land is gone, then we are gone too."
* NOTE: The BIA has historically been a primary facilitator of the expropriation of Native Americans' land and soveriegnty, including facilitating a federal land grab of 76,200 acres of the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975 for uranium mining. (see the "Status of Mineral Resource Information on the Pine Ridge Reservation" BIA Report No. 12, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C. 1976 which discusses rich deposits of uranium in that area; also see Public Law 90-468 of 1975 which allows the Oglala Sioux surface rights but not mineral rights to the land)
Crow Creek Press Release: http://twincities.indymedia.org/2009/dec/call-action-crow-creek-land-not-sale