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Native Sun News: Tribes take on Air Force over expansion plan

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

The U.S. military is proposing to expand an airspace training area over four reservations. VIEW: Larger Map

Tribes take on Ellsworth AFB
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY - During a historic meeting, the Coalition of Large Tribes (COLT), the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association have banded together to support the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in protecting culturally significant sites and reservation lands.

In response to the proposal to expand the Powder River Training Complex connected to the Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, which would include airspace over four Great Plains Indian reservations and additional ancestral lands in four states, the meeting resulted in a joint resolution on the 22nd of July.

As previously reported in the Native Sun News by Talli Nauman, the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, as well as the Northern Cheyenne and Crow tribes, have raised objections since 2008 in negotiations with the 28th Bomb Wing on the proposal to extend the geographical area for B-1 bomber training missions currently operating out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota and B-52 bombers operating out of Minot Air Force Base in central North Dakota.

The Joint Resolution in part requests that Ellsworth AFB consider a No-Action Alternative that eliminates the expansion of airspace. They would not fly over reservation lands nor sites considered sacred and culturally significant to the tribes, such as Bear Butte and Devil’s Tower.

The resolution also requests the support of the U.S. Congress in this matter.

COLT is comprised of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Crow Tribe of Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Spokane Tribe of Washington, with more expected to join.The entity, according to a press release from the tribes, “was formed to address the unique land, economic, jurisdictional and funding issues faced by tribes with large reservations, treaties and large populations.”

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter@nsweekly.com)

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