Bill Means, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the founder of the International Indian Treaty Council, speaks at a Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association special meeting in Rapid City, South Dakota, on October 7, 2017. Photo by James Giago Davies

Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe refutes rumors of Black Hills 'sale'

‘The Black Hills are not for sale’ assert Gonzalez and Means

Allegations by James Swan discarded
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RAPID CITY—“How can you sell your homeland?” Bill Means asked the gathering in his closing remarks at the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association special meeting hosted by the Oglala Lakota Tribe. The meeting was held last Saturday and Sunday at Rapid City’s Ramkota Inn.

“How can you sell your place of creation?” Means said. “Everybody knows that in their heart and their mind. After you experience the spirit and power of the Black Hills you are not gonna sell it. Keep that in your minds, spread that in your Facebook, in your posts.”

Facebook was rife with rumors that the Oglala Lakota Tribe had passed a resolution to sell the Black Hills, which flabbergasted the Oglala Sioux Tribal leaders, because this was the first any of them had ever heard of it. Ironically, the special meeting was not called to address this issue, but the calling of the meeting created this issue, largely due to the Facebook efforts of James Riley Swan, who heads up an organization called United Urban Warrior Society (UUWS), whose community involvement ranges from caringly providing Thanksgiving turkeys to the poor and homeless of Rapid City, to spreading what appear to be blatant lies about tribal actions, individuals and objectives.

Native Sun News Today attempted to find any source corroborating Swan’s Facebook accusations that the meeting at the Ramkota Inn was a scam fronting for the Black Hills Initiative, which Swan claims is a scam to steal the Black Hills, another accusation for which he provides no supporting evidence.

Swan posted a meme on Facebook which read: “MEETING at Ramada Inn, Rapid City, SD, to sell the Sacred Black Hills Sat. 10/7/17, 9am.” The meme was proceeded by this message: “This is the Black Hills Initiative scam! To make a deal on the sacred Black Hills and needs to be stopped! Everyone who stands to defend the Black Hills should rally against these fools!”

Mario Gonzales, an attorney and citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, speaks at a Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association special meeting in Rapid City, South Dakota, on October 7, 2017. Photo by James Giago Davies

While he attended the meeting, Swan sat far in the back and did not contribute or object to any part of the proceedings. No spokespersons or protestors came forward to assert the Black Hills were being sold, save for one woman who quietly and respectfully laid down a Black Hills Are Not For Sale sign on the papers of Oglala Tribal attorney Mario Gonzalez.

Swan also accuses Gonzalez of trying to sell the Black Hills for personal profit and that Gonzalez has profited underhandedly in the past. He asserts he has documents proving such, but when asked by many people, including this reporter, he cannot produce these documents, and admits he has never seen these documents, but promises they will be forthcoming soon.

In more direct language, Means told the gathering: “It’s all a load of crap. Nobody is selling anything. I don’t know where these people get this, because they couldn’t have been here, or they would know we are not selling the Black Hills.”

“The problem is people are so misinformed on these land claims,” Gonzalez said. He points out that any attempt to sell the Black Hills would have to be agreed upon by all nine tribes involved in the settlement. “Just one tribe can’t get an agreement. Let alone nine. The point is the Sioux tribes don’t want this money.”

Support Native media and read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: ‘The Black Hills are not for sale’

James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at