Editorial: Badlands cleanup good for Oglala Sioux

"Last week, an Oglala Sioux tribal leader and an Air Force commander sat crossed legged in a Native American tipi and, in a show of good faith, signed an agreement for the cleanup of several acres of bombing range in the Badlands.

This move has been long overdue and we’re glad to see the cleanup — and the land being restored to its original owners — addressed.

The tribal consultation plan to finish the cleanup of 2,486 acres of the Badlands Bombing Range was signed by Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele and Col. Scott Vander Hamm, 28th Bomb Wing commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The area was used as a World War II bombing range and aerial gunnery range. Later the South Dakota National Guard used the area to place artillery targets. That ended about 35 years ago.

Using the land for the 15-mile-wide, 40-mile-long bombing range made sense at one time in history but it came with a human cost — several Native Americans were displaced by the range when the government took control of the land. Yellow Bird Steele, whose own family was displaced, said it was an example of tribal sacrifices and commitment to freedom."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Badlands cleanup is a good development (The Rapid City Journal 7/2)

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Oglala Sioux Tribe debates return of parkland (6/9)