13 January 2006

Saving Mato Paha...


Bear Butte is "Nowah'wus" to the Cheyenne Nation.

It is "Mato Paha" to the Lakota.

Across the Great Plains over thirty indigenous Nations acknowledge the sacredness of this Butte and it's surrounding area. It is a mountain inhabited by spirits and spiritual powers that are well known to our people. For this reason Bear Butte is central to our ceremonial life as native people of the Great Plains and is necessary for the continued health and well being of our people. All life on Bear Butte must be respected and defended. No people have a right to destroy or disrespect our sacred mountain.

While we all as a people hold the entire Black Hills to be sacred, Bear Butte is under direct attack at this time and we are preparing to do our best to defend the sacred mountain again. We have learned of plans to build enormous biker bars and campsites all around our sacred mountain. In addition existing beer bars and ! concert venues are expanding and edging closer and closer into sacred grounds.

Today one has dug outdoor toilets on the very slopes of the north side of our Sacred Mountain for their annual drunken binge! Over 600,000 motorcyclists are expected to attend the "Sturgis Bike Rally" in 2006 and they pay millions of dollars into the local economy of the people who claim to license and permit them on behalf of the public. Never since Custer discovered gold has our Mato Paha been threatened by such a combination of greed, government and legal adversity.

Our struggle to preserve Bear Butte has lasted for centuries. In 1876 Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota gathered over 6,000 Indian people at the Butte to urge them to defend our sacred lands. Chief Crazy Horse spoke from the mountain to remind his people that the Paha Sapa is not for sale. In each year and decade since those days our people have engaged in efforts to save and protect the sacred mountain. In the early 1980's Chief Fools Crow of the Oglala Lakota fought to save the mountain in the U.S. court system (Fools Crow vs. Gullet, 706 F.2d 856 [1983] ). He lost after taking it all the way to the Supreme Court (464 U.S. 977 [1983]). Traditional Indian people have fought to save the mountain from treaty times until now.

The "INTERTRIBAL COALITION TO DEFEND BEAR BUTTE" is a group made up of the Tribes and their "Traditional Societies" who are joining together to unite our people and our Nations to protect and defend our right to pray and have our ceremonies in peace. We are calling on all who value the heritage of our people and still practice the ancient ways of your tribes to join with us in defense of our ways. If you, your society and/or your Tribe want to join us, our invitation is open. In the traditional way of our people we know that our circle will begin small and grow as the people hear our words and respond to the threat. In the summer, at a time we will ! all decide, we will ask the people to gather in a "Great Inter-Tribal Gathering of the Nations" to sit in Council and decide what our people and their Nations can do to defend the Sacred Mountain.

Our various Nations have acquired land for the ceremonial use of their people near Bear Butte. This land is an important part of our sovereign Nations because with it we preserve a link to the sacred mountain even though it has been taken from within our borders. We bought the land with the intention and right to utilize it in peace and quiet and this right predates the city of Sturgis, Meade County, the State of South Dakota, and in particular the "Sturgis Bike Rally". We have a right to use our land for sacred purposes during the entire year without interference from the above named entities.

Therefore, we intend to ask our Nations and their Traditional Societies and People to preserve these right! s by gathering together during the summer months of July and August upon our own sovereign lands at Bear Butte to convene a Council of Nations. As a people we will gather together to form a spiritual encampment as a place for our Societies to once again sing their ancient songs and renew their vows. Within our encampment we will ask our holy men and women to bless us with their ceremonies and prayers and give us guidance in our quest to defend our sacred mountain.

In asking for the support of Tribal governments we do so with the knowledge that we the people will be the ones engaging in the effort. We ask our tribal governments to support us by passing official resolutions of support and providing material and financial support as you see fit. We also ask you to participate by naming a tribal liaison to interact with the coalition and provide input on behalf of the tribe. Each Tribe and Society will have a seat at the Council.

Both as individuals and as an organization we continue our support for environmental organizations that are working to protect Bear Butte. The efforts of the "Defenders of the Black Hills" (an Indian-led coalition of environmental groups) and the "International Alliance to Save Bear Butte" (an Indian-led alliance of local people and concerned people worldwide) have taken the lead in organizing state and national opposition to the proposed developments around Bear Butte. It is our hope that we can work in harmony and support their efforts by adding our voice to theirs. In the future it may be our privilege to join them and the Tribes in further legal actions or in providing testimony in American political subdivisions and courts.

As an inter-tribal organization we intend to concentrate on informing our own people and our Tribes about the danger infringing upon the sacred mountain and asking them and our traditional societies to use all their resources to defend Her. We believe our traditional spiritual ways can have a tremendous beneficial effect for the Sacred Mountain and we seek to help gather traditional people together to use those spiritual ways on our sovereign lands at Bear Butte. We are asking our traditional tribal societies to come add their prayers, songs and ceremonies to those of the other Nations so the powerful unity of our sacred ways can guide our steps.

We ask you all to come sit in Council with us and join our growing Circle of traditional Indian people who are determined to save the "The Mountain that Teaches."

In beginning this effort we were advised by respected Elders to construct a traditional "Staff" which is to be blessed and dedicated to defending Nowah'wus. This sacred staff will be taken to the Tribes, respected Elders, Chiefs, Society Headsmen, Headswomen and Clan leaders to explain our message and to seek their help.

In July the "Sacred Staff"! will be taken to the Sacred Mountain to be placed in a "Ceremonial Tipi" and the Societies and youth will begin to gather to prepare meeting grounds, ceremonial areas and campgrounds. Each Tribe and Society can move into camp on their own timetable during July to prepare themselves for the coming Council and Ceremonial Gathering. By the time the "Rally" begins in August we must be unified in a plan of action to peacefully and spiritually defend Nowah'wus, Mato Paha, our Sacred Mountain, BEAR BUTTE.

For all our Relations.

Carter Camp, Ponca Nation

I have been asked to act as a coordinator along with Debra White Plume, Oglala Nation

"Owe Aku" a tradit! ional group working on the Oglala reservation at Pine Ridge has been given the task of preparing the "Sacred Staff" and taking it to the Tribes. "Owe Aku" means "bring back the way" in Lakota and in this beginning they will act as our contact point and fiscal agent for fund raising.

As a 501 c-3 organization, Owe Aku is able to receive tax exempt donations from individuals and Tribes and to be accountable for using it for the encampment and Council. A larger meeting of all concerned is planned for early spring, at that time a more formal organization can be formed to be more inclusive and to make the decisions necessary for the Gathering. If you or your society wishes to join with us in defending Bear Butte this summer feel free to contact us.

Contact information for Owe Aku is as follows
Debra White Plume, Director
101 Lonesome Valley Rd.
Manderson S.D. 57756
Ph # 605-455-2155

Vic Camp
P.O. Box 95
Manderson S. D. 57756
Ph# 605-455-1122

Please visit JohnnaRyry's Broomwagon!


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