Environment | National

Oglala Sioux Tribe delays decision on role on national park land






Palmer Creek in the South Unit of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Photo by Steven Donley / National Park Service

A decision by the Oglala Sioux Tribe to manage a portion of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota remains on hold.

The 133,300-acre South Unit lies entirely within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The federal government unilaterally took the land from the tribe during World War II, giving more than 800 people just a week's notice to get out in order to make way for a gunnery and bombing range.

While the land is still officially a part of the reservation, efforts to turn the site into a tribal park have generated controversy. The council at one point agreed to put the issue to a vote of the people although it's not clear whether a referendum ever took place.

Supporters of the effort believe a tribal park could bring more tourists and more revenue to the region. And they say it would recognize the true history of their people.

“If the South Unit of Badlands was designated a Tribal National Park, it would be managed and staffed by the Oglala Sioux tribe," Ivan Sorbel of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce told The New York Times. "The designation as a national park would provide federal funding separate from Badlands National Park, and it could be developed similar to Badlands. The layout would have a different look than Badlands and would most likely center around the history and culture of the Oglala Sioux tribe.”

Read More on the Story:
In the Badlands, Where Hope for the Nation’s First Tribal Park Has Faded (The New York Times 12/14)

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