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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Update on Bear Butte Hearing

December 2, 2009

Update on Bear Butte: Hearing Meade County Commissioners 12-2 @ 3pm
Written by: Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director Protect Sacred Sites

There is no greater atrocity than the continual violation of our religious freedom and inherent right to partake in sacred ceremonies without being spiritually violated, or suffering from the destruction and blatant disregard of our sacred lands.

These Sacred lands are the bloodline and life way of our people and our traditions.

Whereas traditional American Indian ceremonies have been intruded upon, interfered with, and in a few instances banned;…………… "Joint Resolution American Indian Religious Freedom", approved August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996),

As predicated, the Meade County Commissioners approved all the liquor licenses for the venues surrounding Bear Butte including, Broken Spoke Campground, Glencoe, Buffalo Chip, Full Throttle and Monkey Rock. Commissioner Doreen Creed voted against renewing both Glencoe and Broken Spoke Campground, the other four Commissioners voted to approve all.

Full Throttle originally was on the agenda, proposing to transfer their license to a new location they purchased, however late yesterday afternoon for unknown reasons, they pulled the transfer request. It is not known at this time if they will pursue this in the future or not. They were attempting to relocate a mile directly west of the Mountain, which would be next to Lower Brule Sioux Tribe’s property on the west side.

We had a very good turnout of supporters, and very heartfelt and emotional testimonies. There was a group of Native students from OLC in Rapid that attended. Would like to thank everyone again for taking the time to attend and oppose these licenses.
Whereas the freedom of religion for all people is an inherent right, fundamental to the democratic structure of the United States and is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;……… "Joint Resolution American Indian Religious Freedom", approved August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996),
The struggle to protect the serenity of Bear Butte from continual encroachment has ultimately developed into a religious freedom vs property rights issue.

There are two distinct stipulations that would disqualify a location or person from applying for an alcohol or liquor license in Meade County. These include, “not a suitable location” and/or “lack of character.”

In June 2008 at the Meade County Commissioners meeting, I questioned the Commission regarding the clarification on the “location” classification, and how they determined this qualification.

Commissioner Mallow responded that if the location was near a church or school, the application would potentially be denied.

My response was these locations are near a church, Bear Butte has been considered a church by Native people for thousands of years. Our church is the mountain and mother earth. It is where we go to pray and to seek guidance from the Creator. Our church is not in a building on a street corner, it is the mountain. It is a church, just as much as yours.

Commissioner Mallow’s only response was, “I will not debate religion with you, Bear Butte or this location does not qualify within the County guidelines of a church.” End of discussion. They refused to continue the conversation or provide a reasonable explanation for this ludicrous, insulting and racist statement.

Again at today’s hearing on December 2nd, 2009, I requested from the Commissioners an explanation for their qualifications in which they would deny licenses based upon “location,” in addition to defining their classification for a location being within the boundaries of a church or school. EVERY one of them stared at me blankly and DID NOT RESPOND. I repeated myself and asked if I was going to get a response. Commissioner Aker stated he would respond to my question at the end of all the testimonies. The others never replied at all. At the end of the testimonies, my question was still NOT ANSWERED. For two years now, I have repeatedly asked this question at every hearing, requesting the basis of the “location’ stipulation. Either there really is no definition, or they just don’t know it, or don’t care. It is one of two stipulations for denial of a license, however they have no explanation on definitions, doesn’t this seem strange?

I will be pursuing this further with the Commissioners and States Attorney, filing a complaint as a local resident and voter. If they are going to continue to have these two stipulations, they need to clarify them.

The other strange incident today was from Broken Spoke Campgrounds attorney. There is still a judgment against Jay Allen for $200k, from an unpaid contractor from 2006. When the Commissioners confronted the attorney about the judgment, he danced around answering questions, on Allen’s involvement with the business and if he still had a vested interest or not. The attorney couldn’t directly answer the question. Their own attorney doesn’t know Allen’s involvement? Everyone knows this entire charade since 2007 was simply a paper shuffle of LLC’s. However, their license was approved anyway.

When will it ever end? When will we finally begin to get support and justice in Indian Country? When will policies and laws finally be enforced, ensuring the protection of religious freedom for all the Indigenous people of this country?
Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

Our Sacred Ground is NOT Your Playground!

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our land. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?" ......excerpt from One Nation, One Land, One People by Tamra Brennan, 2006

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