Environment | National

Lakota Country Times: Bureau of Indian Affairs seizes more cattle from Oglala citizen

Curtis Temple. Photo by Connie Smith / Lakota Country Times

BIA Seizes OST Citizen's Cattle
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

PINE RIDGE --A citizen of the Oglala Sioux Nation feels that his rights were violated after the Bureau of Indian Affairs seized more than 250 of his cattle over a dispute regarding grazing rights.

Curtis Temple has raised cattle on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for decades on the same grazing units monitored by the BIA and on privately owned lands in his possession located near each other on the north end of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As part of planning process leading up to a potential Tribal National Park, Temple lost the lease to three of his grazing units in 2012 by tribal council committee action.

Temple claims that he has multiple tracts of privately owned land within the undivided grazing lands where he lost the original three units. After his lease to three of the units were cancelled his cattle continued to graze on the private and undivided land but were said to have been trespassing by the BIA. In August of 2015 the BIA would seize 124 of Temple's cattle and transport them to a private ranch in Nebraska where they were eventually sold. Temple has asserted that the decision to revoke his grazing rights came about through nefarious means.

Although the grazing leases were cancelled, Temple and his lawyers argued last week in a full page ad in LCT that not only was the process illegal, there was no attempt by the tribe to allow for Temple to bid on the grazing rights to alternate pastureland as required by tribal law.

The BIA would again move to seize more of Temple's cattle just a few weeks ago on June 21, 2016, this time taking 264 head of cattle that they moved across the state to the Mitchell Livestock Auction where they are pending sale.

"I feel like this is a violation of my rights to due process," said Temple. "We are currently going through the appeal process on the land and by taking my cattle before it is finished it a denial of my rights to due process.

Temple said that the land in question is undivided meaning that several range units blend together without fence line dividing them. In the full page ad published last week Temple asserted his position on the matter.

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"In summary, two herds of cattle have been seized. One herd had been sold, and the other is currently pending sale. However, the ownership of the cattle has never changed. If these cattle are sold, all receipts should go to the brand owner," wrote Temple. "​It has become blatantly clear that unelected Federal Bureaucrats can seize private property and confiscate the proceeds, without 5th and 14th Amendment protections of due process, nor court orders, but can simply steal private property in violation of Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution."

Calls to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs went unanswered as of press time. LCT will provide updates on this story as they become available.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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