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Native Sun News Today: South Dakota seeks transfer of treaty lands






South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to carve out pieces of the Black Hills National Forest and serve them up as state-owned recreation areas threatens Native American children’s access to a long-established summer camp and sets a nationwide precedent for restricting everyone’s access to public lands, critics said January 26. Photo courtesy Indian Youth of America

Daugaard’s $2.5-million state park threatens Indian youth camp
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor
nativesunnews.today

SPEARFISH –– South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to carve out pieces of the Black Hills National Forest and serve them up as state-owned recreation areas threatens Native American children’s access to a long-established summer camp and sets a nationwide precedent for restricting everyone’s access to public lands, critics said on January 26.

“The camp has provided Indian Youth of America and other groups a camp experience for 50 years. We had 1,200 campers last year,” said Leo Orme, one of the all-volunteer crew at Camp Bob Marshall in the Southern Black Hills.

“We are concerned that they [the state] can’t afford to run it in the way we do and they will need to increase our fees,” he said.

Skeptics like Orme were in the majority among some 500 people who turned out on an icy night for the first state Game, Fish and Parks (GF&P) meeting to hear and comment on what might be in store if Daugaard’s Senate Bill 114 receives legislative approval.

The bill, introduced in the state Legislature the day before the meeting, calls for taxpayers to contribute $2.5 million to the School and Public Lands administration to purchase property it manages for a trade with the U.S. Forest Service to obtain federal holdings in Lawrence and Custer counties.

Daugaard wants a 1,400-acre chunk of Spearfish Canyon and Little Spearfish Canyon in Lawrence County, as well as the 525-acre Bismarck Lake and Camp Bob Marshall site adjacent to Custer State Park.

In exchange for the high-profile visitor destinations characterized by evergreen woodlands and streams, the governor would offer some 2,000 acres of badlands and short-grass prairie the school system leases for grazing in the midst of national grasslands areas in Lyman, Pennington and Perkins counties.

The Spearfish meeting was the initial public input session in GFP’s master planning process for the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake. The agency is planning another meeting for Custer.

GF&P has selected 20 volunteers to serve on an advisory board, but has no tribal government input yet. “The state is reaching out to our tribal nations to provide a representative on this committee,” she said landscape architect Jolene Rieck at Peaks to Plains Design, under contract with GF&P. We want to consider all of the options.”

Spearfish resident Jacksyn Bakeberg called on the GF&P to put more emphasis on consultation with Native American constituencies. “I was frustrated with the minimal amount of tribal representation in the planning process,” he told the Native Sun News Today.

“I feel that it isn’t representative of the religious significance of the Black Hills to indigenous groups, and that it shows a lack of regard for the dark and brutal history that led to federal (and state, for that matter) ownership of Paha Sapa,” he said.

Frank Carroll, former tribal liaison officer for the state of South Dakota and former Forest Service spokesman, told the Native Sun News Today that taking the land out of federal hands would remove it further from Sioux Nation claims for return of the Black Hills under the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty.

Tribal government representatives’ need to participate in the decision-making process should be a “no-brainer,” he said.

South Dakota U.S. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem sponsored supporting legislation in the 2016 U.S. Congress to enable the federal side of the land swap.

Their proposed Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake Land Exchange Act died, so no hearings occurred, but related legislation is now before federal lawmakers.

“I appreciate what they’re doing. However, we should have had this type of meeting a year ago,” Lawrence County Rep. Chuck Turbiville said during the standing-room-only Spearfish meeting.

“I have a major problem with Gov. Daugaard having GF&P running around the state conducting their sales pitch for all the great things they will do with this land before the land swap has occurred or public comment elicited,” said Black Hawk resident Jerry Myers, the first to comment at the meeting.

“As I see it, this is a land grab by the state of South Dakota to wrest title from the Forest Service to expand the South Dakota state park system,” he said.


Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Daugaard’s $2.5-million state park threatens Indian youth camp

(Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

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