Seated, from left: Pat Lee, Dr. Craig Howe, Tatewin Means, Ted Hamilton and Mario Gonzalez. Photo by James Giago Davies
National | Politics

Native Sun News Today: County once again seeks compensation for Indian trust lands

Bennett County resolution racist?

County demands compensation for services offered to Lakota residents
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

KYLE—Back in July the Bennett County Commission passed a resolution calling for more “federal impact aid funding in lieu of property taxes on Indian trust lands.”

Such a resolution is nothing but a request, the Commission having no power to actualize the resolution, but it does give a window into the mentality and objectives of the Bennett County Commissioners, none of whom are Lakota, in a county 61.5 percent Lakota.

A panel discussion was held at Woksape Tipi last Friday, on the Oglala Lakota College Three Mile Creek main campus, to discuss the Bennett County resolution. Each paragraph of that resolution was addressed, point-by-point, by Dr. Craig Howe, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, and the Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies.

Also on the panel were former tribal judge Pat Lee, former tribal attorney general Tatewin Means, former Red Cloud Indian School Superintendent Ted Hamilton, and Indian law expert, Mario Gonzalez. The discussion was moderated by KILI radio’s Tom Casey.

Howe opened up by saying he met with the Bennett County Commission “a year ago. They said they would not pursue this issue…they have not kept their word.”

Howe also said “there is solid archeological evidence” Indians have been on Bennett County land for almost 13,000 years. He pointed out how the Dawes Act of 1887 began a reduction of Lakota land in Bennett County, starting from 100% Lakota 104 years ago, to just 20% Lakota in 2017.

The unprincipled ingeniousness of the method whereby this Lakota land was taken bears mention. First, 160-acre family allotments are assigned tribal members, with full knowledge once these allotments are completely assigned, the majority of tribal lands will remain un-allotted. Next, the remaining land is opened up for Wasicu settlement.

These Wasicu settlers did not say, “Hey, wait a second…it is underhanded to steal the Lakota land this way, and the government does not have the authority to mete it out to us.” Most never knew the circumstance whereby their opportunity came, nor would most have batted an eye had they known, such was the systemic contempt for all things Indian at the time.

The first paragraph of the Bennett County resolution claims the county is in “imminent danger of bankruptcy.” However, this panel points out that not only is that not the case, in any event, the county racks up no expense providing services for trust lands, meaning all county expenses are a consequence of normal county expenditure, and not especially made worse by the presence of Lakota or the land they hold.


Support Native media and read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today:

Bennett County resolution racist?

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today
James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at