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Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe eyes land claim talks

Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele. Photo from Bureau of Indian Affairs / Twitter

Letter to Obama from OST surfaces
Black Hills Land Claim front and center
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

PINE RIDGE -- A letter from Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellowbird Steele to United States President Barack Obama regarding the Black Hills land claim has surfaced and has left many wondering.

In a letter signed by OST President John Yellowbird Steele on March 16, 2016, the Oglala Sioux Tribe formally responds to a statement made by Obama regarding the Black Hills land claim.

In 2008, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama stated through his campaign that he intended to settle the land dispute between tribes and the federal government regarding the Black Hills of South Dakota.

"Barack Obama is a strong believer in tribal sovereignty. He believes the courts nor the federal government should force Sioux tribes to take settlement money for the Black Hills. He believes the tribes are best suited to decide on how to handle the monetary award themselves. Obama would not be opposed to bringing together all the different parties through government-to-government negotiations to explore innovative solutions to resolve the Black Hills land claim," wrote Obama's campaign.

In response to the statement, President Steele praises Obama for the statement.

"The Oglala Sioux Tribe greatly appreciates the stance you took in this policy statement on the Sioux Nation's rejection of the Black Hills Claim," wrote Steele. "The Oglala Sioux Tribe feels that there are innovative solutions that can fulfill our sacred obligation to protect our aboriginal homelands for the next seven generations of our people, and still enter into a mutually agreeable accord with the Federal government to resolve all the issues involved in the Black Hills Land Claim to the satisfaction of all interested parties."

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The letter would go on to request the White House appoint a contact person to meet address the issue and that the Oglala Sioux Tribe would work to bring in other vested tribal-nations to participate in the "collaborative talks."

The letter would also state that the Fifth Member's office of the Oglala Sioux Tribe would be the point of contact regarding the issue.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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