Friday, December 12, 2008

Grass roots group disappointed with ruling

Grass roots group disappointed with ruling
By Babette Herrmann, Today correspondent

Story Published: Dec 11, 2008

STURGIS, S.D. – Meade County Planning Commission granted an on-sale liquor license to owners of the Broken Spoke Saloon Dec. 3. Prior to this approval, the commission granted the owners an off-sale license to sell alcohol to those on the go. The saloon is within the boundaries of the 600-acre Broken Spoke Campground located off Highway 79 in Sturgis.

But the approval came as a disappointment to supporters of Protect Bear Butte, a grass roots organization spearheaded by local resident Tamra Brennan. The group has fought to protect Bear Butte State Park from what they perceive as encroaching development and disrespectful activities near this location held sacred to Plains Indians since time immemorial.

Revelers of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held in August, generate most of Broken Spoke’s primary source of income. Located about one mile from the border Bear Butte, the campground, hosts concerts and variety shows during the rally – and those that oppose liquor sales say this campground – and others like it – threatens the sanctity of Bear Butte.

About 25 people showed up to the late afternoon hearing. Brennan, Eastern Cherokee, said that now the commission has approved the sale of alcohol, it will only fuel the already unwanted noise, lights and raucous behavior during the rally and other biker-oriented events.

“We have been opposing this for three years now, and [the commission] never seem to listen to what we have to say on the issue, she said. “They approve without fail, so it’s actually no surprise that they approved it again.”

Located on the northeast edge of the Black Hills, Bear Butte’s elevation of 4,422 feet was formed millions of years ago by intrusions of igneous rock – creating a majestic loner flanked by golden plains. Natives gather there for ceremonies and send individuals on vision quests. Many more come to pray and leave offerings.

During the meeting one of the seven individuals that spoke in opposition to the license requested a one-mile buffer zone around the mountain, but was quickly rebuffed by Commissioner Chair Robert Mallow.

“I think that whenever you put a barrier around something, you’re taking the livelihood away from some of the occupants,” he said. “And I think you’re taking their right away.”

Commissioners said that they had no grounds to deny the private property rights of Broken Spoke, especially since the bar was nowhere near homes, an apartment building with small children, or across from a church.

Brennan responded by saying that Bear Butte “has been our church for thousands of years.”

Jim Seward, an attorney representing Broken Spoke, said that Brennan’s residence was within one mile of the “church” and that if his clients are in violation, so is Brennan.

“If there was a one mile protective buffer zone around Bear Butte, I expect that the sheriff, or someone, would have to go out and remove Miss Brennan from that one mile protection zone because she lives inside the church; and, I think with that comment she should understand the ridiculous nature of taking away somebody’s private property right,” he said.

In a separate interview, Brennan said that the campground serves as a front for “adult entertainment” activities during the rally, featuring activities such as wet T-shirt contests – something commissioners should have addressed prior to their vote.

Meanwhile, Brennan said that she and supporters plan on seeking legal action to further protect Bear Butte.

And she expects her organization’s release of the documentary “On Sacred Ground” by early next year to further increase public awareness on the importance of protecting and preserving Bear Butte State Park.

For more information visit: www.protectbearbutte.com and/or www.protectsacredsites.com.



http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/plains/35975974.html

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update regarding Bear Butte, Meade County Commissioners Hearing today.

December 3, 2008

Update regarding Bear Butte, Meade County Commissioners Hearing today.
from: Tamra Brennan - Protect Sacred Sites, Indigenous People One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org

First of all, I would like to thank everyone that took a moment to send in their opposition letters to the Meade County Commissioners, opposing these venues surrounding Bear Butte.

Well, it comes as no surprise, the Meade County Commissioners unanimously approved all of the liquor license renewals at today's hearing. Seven people provided oppositions against the venues surrounding Bear Butte. Testimonies requested for the Commissioners and Rally venues to respect Bear Butte as a sacred place, as our church. Requesting a buffer zone around Bear Butte to protect the mountain, as a sacred place. Requesting that these venues take responsibility for their actions, as what they really are, "adult entertainment venues."

During my opposition testimony, I specifically requested for the Meade County Commissioners to explain in detail the criteria they use, to determine "location" and "character," as these are the only two issues that could potentially deny or revoke a liquor license. As many of you may remember, Jay Allen had his liquor license revoked twice in 2007, due to "lack of character" issue. This was based upon the fact, that he failed to pay the local contractors for work completed on Broken Spoke Campground bar. On repeated occasions, Commissioner Wink publicly stated that he felt that these venues were far enough away, that location was not a issue. When I questioned if this was the case, why were venues directly at the base of Bear Butte also approved for liquor licenses. What was the distance criteria? The Commissions response was, "if the location was near homes, a apartment building with small children, or if it was across from a church." My immediate response was these venues ARE across from a church, Bear Butte is our church and has been for thousands of years. The Commission's response was, we will not get into a discussion about religion, so they completely disregarded the question.

Jim Seward, the attorney for Broken Spoke Campground made some appalling and extremely disrespectful statements in regards to all seven testimonies and oppositions. His comments completely disregarded all of our testimonies, as if they were irrelevant or absurd. He stated "that there is no evidence in the record today, there has been no evidence offered or admitted into the record to support the denial of any of these licenses. If there was a one mile buffer zone around Bear Butte, I would expect that the sheriff would have to also remove Ms. Brennan from that one mile protection zone, as she lives inside the church. I think with that comment, she should understand the ridiculous nature of someone taking away someone's private property rights, that is what we would be doing if we were so rude to say that she should move from the base of the mountain, because I want a one mile buffer zone around Bear Butte"

The irony in this statement is apparently Mr. Seward is not familiar with the history of the Black Hills, the broken treaties and the fact to this day, it is still STOLEN LAND! The reality is, they have no property rights, the Fort Laramie Treaty still applies today. They are trespassing. Besides the fact, "in their ridiculous nature" taking away property rights, is exactly what they did to the Indigenous People of Turtle Island.

In addition to the liquor license hearing today, the Commissioners held a special meeting for public comments at 3pm, regarding the four applicants that are candidates to replace Commissioner Dean Wink. Tomorrow they will be officially interviewing the applicants and making a decision after the interviews. One of the applicants, Fred McPherson is a life long well respected local resident, of the Bear Butte district and has stood beside us supporting the cause from the beginning. Several of us, gave our supportive comments to the Commissioners on his behalf. If he is selected tomorrow, this will be a huge step forward for the cause! Keep praying that he is selected at tomorrow's meeting!

Here is a article from KEVN, they were in attendance today

The battle to keep Bear Butte a sacred place, free of alcohol, continues. The Meade County Commission Wednesday voted to renew several liquor licenses for businesses near Bear Butte. But not without a fight from some residents who strongly oppose bars doing business in that area. Many Native Americans consider Bear Butte a sacred site and people who don't want bars located in that area turned out in force again at Wednesday's hearing to voice their opposition. The commissioners said they had no choice but to renew the licenses. They say they could deny a license renewal only in a case in which the business is in poor standing with the county. At Wednesday's hearing, one opponent suggested putting a one-mile barrier around Bear Butte. Commission chair Robert Mallow said - as long as the current group of commissioners is on the board - that won't happen. Robert Mallow says, "I think that whenever you put a barrier around something, you're taking the livelihood away from some of the occupants. And I think you're taking their right away." Opponent Tamara Brennan says she was not surprised by Wednesday's ruling because the commissioners vote this way every time. What upset her most, she says, were comments from an attorney for the Broken Spoke - one of the businesses near Bear Butte. Tamara Brennan says, "He said that I would have to move as well because that would be in the one mile buffer. I'm not the one who is having wild parties and doing strobe lights and helicopters over the mountain. I pray there everyday so there's a big difference between them and myself." Meade County Commissioner Dean Wink resigned from the board Wednesday after winning a seat in the state legislature last month. The commissioners will interview and pick a candidate to fill Wink's position Thursday. Opponents at Wednesday's hearing hope the new commissioner will be more sensitive to their requests. http://www.kevn.com/NewsStories.aspx?StoryID=14340


I am attaching two audio files from Jim Seward's statement above.


Thank you for your continued support for the protection of Bear Butte! For additional information about the ongoing efforts to Protect Bear Butte, please visit our website at www.protectbearbutte.com

Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation is a grass roots organization, working towards the protection of sacred sites across the country. Our organization has been actively involved with the ongoing struggle to Protect Bear Butte for several years. We are continuing these efforts, our organization is currently leading the campaign regarding the new developments and further expansions at Bear Butte. Please visit our main website at www.ProtectSacredSites.org and our dedicated website for Bear Butte at www.protectbearbutte.com

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at Tamra@protectsacredsites.org

Friday, November 28, 2008

Action Alert! Opposition Letters Needed for Protection of Bear Butte - time sensitive

Please forward this email in it's entirety. Thank you.


Hello everyone,

It's that time again! The upcoming Meade County Commissioners hearing for the liquor license renewals around Bear Butte, will be held this coming Wednesday December 3rd at 4:00.

We are asking for folks to PLEASE send in opposition letters to the MCC. I have created a sample letter for folks to use, if they wish. You can use this letter, modify it or write your own, but please take a moment to send one in.

If you live in the area and are able to make the hearing, please join us! We are hoping to have alot of people attend to oppose in person as well.

Since we are on very limited time, please either email or fax your letters, the info is provided below.

The DEADLINE FOR LETTERS is Tuesday, December 2nd by 4:00 pm (mtn time).

In addition to the liquor license hearing, at 3pm (at the same location) The Meade County Commissioners will also having public comment and review of candidates to replace Dean Wink on the MCC seat for District 1, which is the Bear Butte District. Dean Wink successfully won the State Representative District #29 seat, in the November election and will be vacating his seat as Meade County Commissioner.

This is also a important meeting to attend, so we can voice our opinions and suggestions about the applicants. Normally this is a public vote position, however since it is in the middle of a cycle, the MCC will appoint a candidate.


When:

December 3rd

3pm - Public Comment for MCC District 1 seat
4pm - Liquor License Renewal Hearing


Where:
Meade County Commissioners
1425 W. Sherman St.
Sturgis S.D. 57785

(605) 347-2360 (Phone)
(605) 347-5925 (Fax)

Email the letters directly to

meade@meadecounty.org


Copy and paste the sample letter into a new email document. Please remember to add today's date and your personal contact info (full name and address) below the signature line. Thank you!


Sample Letter:

*begin



Add Today's Date: ____________


Attn: Meade County Auditor
Meade County Board of Commissioners
1425 Sherman Street
Sturgis, SD 67625

Via fax: 605-347-5925
via email: meade@meadecounty.org


Dear County Commissioners:

I oppose the annual on-sale & off sale liquor license renewal's for all Rally locations surrounding Bear Butte, including but not limited to, Broken Spoke Campground, Glencoe Campground/Rockin the Rally and Buffalo Chip.


The annual on-sale & Off sale liquor license renewal should be denied because the locations are not suitable.

Bear Butte is sacred land. There is extensive documentation of the spiritual and historical significance of Bear Butte to the area. Each summer for thousands of years, people have traveled hundreds of miles, to Bear Butte to worship and conduct their sacred ceremonies. People travel to Bear Butte for healing, guidance, spiritual renewal and to fast on the sacred mountain.

The Meade County Commissioners have arbitrarily decided location is not a issue, over the past three years. There is NO justification for this continual decision, the failure to take into account the Tribes repeated requests in regards to location, is not acceptable. Location IS a ISSUE for the people that continue to travel to Bear Butte to pray, and for the generations yet to come. This will never change and we will continue to oppose until the MCC realizes that location, is in fact, a issue.

This decision is a direct violation of the, American Indian Freedom of Religion Act of 1978, in addition to Executive Order 13007 Protection and Accommodation of Access to "Indian Sacred Sites" signed by President Clinton on May 24, 1996.

These large scale commercial developments invite noise and cumulative impacts of increased traffic and travel, which all stand to adversely impact the natural serenity and tranquility needed for cultural, ceremonial and other visitations to Bear Butte. They also negatively impact the experience of people who enjoy the spiritual, cultural, and natural resources at Bear Butte. Issues include, the unsuitability of this location, unacceptable noise and disturbance that this location continues to cause, to those who travel to Bear Butte who need solitude and serenity.


The application should be denied on the basis that the applicants are not suitable characters to hold license(s) as proposed.

On Monday, August 4th 2008 these venues created complete chaos with noise, helicopters and several hours of gridlock traffic from Interstate 90, through Sturgis onto Highway 79. Tens of thousands of people, traveled onto Highway 79 to attend these concerts being held at these locations on the same night, all directly next to, and effecting Bear Butte.

These venues fail to take into account local concerns of impacts to the spiritual, cultural, and natural resources at Bear Butte. Bear Butte is a place of prayer where the natural environment needs to be free from negative influences of alcohol that could affect religious beliefs and practices of those who travel to Bear Butte to pray.


I respectfully request for the Meade County Commissioners to DENY ALL of the liquor license renewals for the renewal's for all Rally locations surrounding Bear Butte, including but not limited to, Broken Spoke Campground, Glencoe Campground/Rockin the Rally and Buffalo Chip.



Sincerely,
PLEASE INSERT YOUR full legal name
and address here

*end



Thank you for your continued support for the protection of Bear Butte! For additional information about the ongoing efforts to Protect Bear Butte, please visit our website at www.protectbearbutte.com

Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation is a grass roots organization, working towards the protection of sacred sites across the country. Our organization has been actively involved with the ongoing struggle to Protect Bear Butte for several years. We are continuing these efforts, our organization is currently leading the campaign regarding the new developments and further expansions at Bear Butte. Please visit our main website at www.ProtectSacredSites.org and our dedicated website for Bear Butte at www.protectbearbutte.com

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at Tamra@protectsacredsites.org


In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

PROTECT BEAR BUTTE!

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. 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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meade commission OKs controversial liquor license

Hello everyone,

Well, its just more of the same, but we still made attempt. This hearing was held at a out of the ordinary timeframe, usually they are in December and June. It just came to our attention that the hearing was being held at the end of last week, so there was no time to put together a opposition letter writing campaign. They will have to re-apply again in December and June, so we will get a early start for the letter writing then.

This article is actually incorrect, there were four of us (all locals), that made oppositions at the hearing, not three. Sure wish that more folks would show up at these hearings to oppose, hopefully in December, we can get a better show of support!???? I see alot of posts on the comments section of RCJ, for this article, but nobody ever seems to show up to oppose in person.

There were two license issues held yesterday, a tranfer and a new license. All they are doing is shuffling corportations around. When asked about the status of the ownership transfer and Jay Allen's status, David Shoe, General Manager for Broken Spoke Campground stated that Corporate Officers of Target Logisitcs, Joe Murphy owns 10%, Bryan Lash owns 58%, Jay Allen owns 30% and David Shoe owns 2%. Jay Allens only involvement at this time is as a "promoter," he is in charge of the "entertainment." Shoe also stated that Broken Spoke Campground, LLC now owns everything.

We each opposed the location and charachter issue, the Meade County Commissoners refuse to acknowldege either as a issue. It was also brought up again, about the adult entertainment issue that occurs at these venues, that nobody in this county seems to acknowledge is happening.

Since the Commisoners continually state these venues do not effect Bear Butte. I brought up about the insanity that was brought out to Bear Butte with traffic and noise, with the three hours of gridlock traffic thru Sturgis, down Hwy 79 towards Bear Butte, that occured on the first day of the rally. That was brought by the KISS concert that occured at Glencoe, which is just one mile the opposite direction down hwy 79, and McCain being at the Chip, which is just off the junction of Hwy 79 & 34.

The Commissoners also continually state that the noise does not effect the mountain, that there are no issues with these venues and the lude behavior and disrespect they bring out to the mountain. We spent this summer filming it, which will released in our upcoming documentary "On Sacred Ground", which is for the protection of sacred sites, including Bear Butte. We got all the choas, noise, lude behavior and traffic all on film. I offered to show it to them to prove these things DO exist, but they blankly stared at me with no response....surprise, surprise.

Keep in mind that Broken Spoke has also stated that they will be opening year round effective in 2009. Shoe stated yesterday, they are a business and do what it takes to keep the business going. It could be various motorcycle events or something else, they would not committ to their intentions.

For more info about the ongoing efforts to Protect Bear Butte, please visit our website(s) at www.protectsacredsites.org and www.protectbearbutte.com

Thank you!
Tamra

Meade commission OKs controversial liquor license
By Jason Gross, Meade County Times Wednesday, October 08, 2008
2 comment(s) .

Meade County commissioners unanimously approved transfer of a retail on-off sale liquor license Tuesday afternoon to Broken Spoke Campground LLC. The board also approved a new retail on-off sale malt beverage license for the campground company, Bear Butte Sunsets LLC Sturgis County Line LLC.

The 600-acre campground and saloon has operated during the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August. There are several other rally-related businesses in the S.D. Highway 79/34 area east of Sturgis.

Commissioners heard from three local residents who opposed the transfer and application. They focused on the establishments' proximity to Bear Butte, which many Native American tribes consider sacred, but others consider the state park scenic.

"By statute, we're limited to either approving or denying the transfer based on location and character," Commissioner Dean Wink said. He said the Broken Spoke's location, while controversial and much-discussed at previous hearings, is far enough away from Bear Butte to not interfere with spiritual rituals.

The Broken Spoke Campground itself is two miles from Bear Butte, and the company's property boundary is a mile from the landmark, company attorney Jim Seward said.

The overall operation is owned by Target Logistics of Boston. Wink said nothing in background checks on the company or its officers would keep the commissioners from granting approval.

Managing member David Schuh said he is one of four owners. He said that although former owner Jay Allen holds 30 percent ownership interest in the campground, he is not the managing member.

Seward told the commission that the liquor license transfer follows through on a promise that ownership would become centralized. He cited tax and business reasons that a limited liability corporation was needed.

"Obviously, we'll be back here in two months on our renewal, and back again and again," Seward said. "The county will always have the right to say no."

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/10/08/news/top/doc48ec40fac1b5f059691306.txt?show_comments=true#commentdiv



In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rounds disappointed with tone of opposition

Rounds disappointed with tone of opposition
Seth Tupper , The Daily Republic
Published: 10/04/2008

Gov. Mike Rounds thinks antipathy toward American Indians may be complicating efforts to secure a protective easement near Bear Butte.

Rounds said in a recent phone interview with The Daily Republic that he has been disappointed by the tone of some of the opposition to the proposal.

“I don’t mind a good discussion about the economies or a discussion about the budget on a program or a discussion that’s based on whether or not it’s a good idea to protect parkland,” Rounds said. “But it really boiled down to, ‘You’re doing this for the Indians.’ And you know what? That kind of turns my stomach to have that become part of the debate.

“We shouldn’t be having a debate like that. We should be having a debate about whether or not this is good for South Dakotans in general, regardless of their race, and sometimes I think this has kind of turned a little bit in that respect.”

Rounds declined to identify the specific people or groups to which he attributed those attitudes.

Last winter, Rounds proposed spending $250,000 in state money to help fund an easement that would prevent development on land near Bear Butte, some of which already is protected by a state park designation. Legislators rejected the proposal, and some restated their opposition last week during a meeting of the Legislature’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks Review Committee.

When asked if he thinks racism is derailing the easement proposal, Rounds said “I don’t think there’s anybody in South Dakota that wouldn’t agree with the fact that racism still exists in South Dakota, and if we try to walk away and suggest that racism does not exist, we’re just hiding from it.”

“But once again, just because someone might disagree with my approach does not mean that they are a racist,” he continued. “There are folks that truly just believe the state shouldn’t buy more land, and I respect that. I disagree with it, but I respect it.”

http://www.northlandoutdoors.com/index_articles.cfm?id=29396&property_id=4

Friday, October 3, 2008

Alone on S.D. prairie, surrounded by controversy

Alone on S.D. prairie, surrounded by controversy
Seth Tupper The Daily Republic
Published Saturday, October 04, 2008

If other mountains surrounded it, Bear Butte might not be remarkable.

But Bear Butte is not surrounded by mountains. It is surrounded, quite starkly, by the prairie. The incongruity of the butte has made it a landmark recognized for its beauty and, by some, for its spiritual value. Prayer cloths and tobacco pouches tied to trees are evidence of the spiritual ceremonies that American Indians still conduct there.

The blessing of Bear Butte’s geographic isolation is also something of a curse. Exposed as it is by the surrounding landscape, the butte is viewed by some as vulnerable to development fueled by the motorcycle rally that roars annually into Sturgis, less than 10 miles down the road.



BEAR BUTTE STANDS alone on the prairie just outside of Sturgis. The mountain is a popular site for tourists and American Indians who practice religion there, but also is being hemmed in by private ownership. A proposed easement could help reverse that, but it won’t likely be paid for with state money, despite suggestions from Gov. Mike Rounds to do so.
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Seth Tupper Archive
Last winter, Gov. Mike Rounds suggested pairing $250,000 of state money with $344,000 in private donations and a $594,000 federal grant to purchase an easement on private land adjacent to Bear Butte State Park. His goal was preventing development near the mountain.

State legislators declined to provide an appropriation for the proposal, and it languished out of the public eye until last week’s meeting of the Legislature’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks Review Committee in Pierre.

Some legislators on that panel said the state should not be involved in holding or funding an easement at Bear Butte. No formal action was taken by the committee, but GF&P Secretary Jeff Vonk said later during an interview that the message was clear. He now sees no chance of securing state funding for an easement.

“I don’t expect that we’ll be asking for state funds,” Vonk said in reference to the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 13. “I think it’s really up to a question about whether there’s some other entity that wants to step forward and provide funding.”

Vonk said he is not currently in talks with any such entity. Potential candidates could include national and international organizations like The Conservation Fund or The Nature Conservancy, he said, or local or regional groups interested in protecting Bear Butte.

The onus, apparently, will be on individuals to prevail upon such groups.

“We’ve got it on our list of potential projects,” Vonk said, “but I can’t tell you we’re out spending a lot of time beating the bushes to find funding sources.”

Gov. Rounds said his approach to the issue will depend on the state budget, which so far is not looking good.

“The early indications are that I’m going to have to scrape real hard just to make ends meet,” Rounds told The Daily Republic. “At the same time, if someone comes up with a foundation or someone like that comes up with the funds, I’d still be very supportive of a well-written lease that would protect the beauty of that land.”

Private vs. public

Bear Butte, called Mato Paha by Lakota Sioux Indians, is so named because of its resemblance to a bear sleeping on its side. The butte is actually a mountain formed by an unexploded volcano.

The elevation of Bear Butte’s peak, which is accessible by a hiking trail, is 4,422 feet above sea level. A state park visitors’ center at the foot of the mountain attracts about 40,000 people annually, and a small herd of bison roams nearby. The Black Hills can be seen in the distance.

Maj. George A. “Sandy” Forsyth encountered the Butte from the south in 1874 during the return trip of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s Black Hills Expedition. Forsyth wrote that, “Compared with the hills in the range, it is a pigmy, being only 1,140 feet above the level of the plains; but, standing alone as it does, it looms up quite grandly, especially when first seen by parties approaching the hills on this side.”

Today, most of Bear Butte is state-owned and designated as a state park. Some of the surrounding area is tribally owned. A portion of the mountain itself, and the rest of the area immediately surrounding it, is privately owned.

If an easement were established on privately owned land near the Butte, the landowner would retain ownership and rights to use the land for agricultural purposes. As part of the easement agreement, the landowner could not allow the land to be developed for commercial or residential purposes.

The term of the easement would be indefinite. It would remain in effect until such time as the state no longer wants it, much in the way railroad easements remain in effect until the tracks are no longer utilized.

A question of focus

Some legislators oppose a state-involved easement near Bear Butte because they don’t want the state tying up privately owned land for future generations.

Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, who said he can see Bear Butte from his home window, is one of those legislators. He said easements only restrict landowner rights and provide no real rights for the public, because the land cannot be hunted or otherwise used by visitors.

“It serves no benefit in my mind,” Brunner said at last week’s committee meeting, “but quite the opposite, it prevents any practical use of this land.”

Vonk and Gov. Rounds disagree. They think an easement would provide the benefit of a protected “viewshed” for visitors to Bear Butte State Park. An easement would also keep the land privately owned and avoid perceptions of a government land grab, Vonk said.

“I think we’re looking at this in more of a narrow focus,” he told the legislative committee last week, “and I think a bigger focus would generate the public benefit that’s intended.”

Rep. Brunner said that despite his objections regarding easements, his main objection is the state’s involvement. He acknowledged, apparently reluctantly, that he would not oppose a privately held and funded easement at Bear Butte.

Rounds said the reason for having state money and involvement in an easement is to protect the state’s interest in its park.

“If the state has some money in it, we can kind of lay out the terms as to how the easement might be put together,” Rounds said. “If you don’ t have the dollars in it, in many cases you’re kind of outside the discussion.”

Motivations

Another objection to state-involved easements at Bear Butte is grounded in the doctrine of the separation of church and state.

State Rep. Betty Olson, who hails from the remote, far-northwestern corner of the state, believes the state-involved easement proposal would unconstitutionally involve the state in a religious matter.

Article VI, Section 3 of the state constitution states that no preference shall be given by law “to any religious establishment or mode of worship. No money or property of the state shall be given or appropriated for the benefit of any sectarian or religious society or institution.”

“The sole reason for the easement,” Olson said in an interview this week, “is to protect the Indians’ right to worship on Bear Butte, and I don’t think that’s a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars.”

Vonk disagrees. He said the public, via state government, has a significant investment in Bear Butte and should protect that investment.

“We acknowledge certainly that Bear Butte is an important cultural area for American Indians,” Vonk said. “It’s also a state park, and our motivations are basically to provide protection to a public resource that all of our citizens have ownership in.”

Without legislative support, the protection of Bear Butte as a public resource may now be truly a responsibility of the public.

Vonk said the GF&P has scaled back its easement proposal and is focusing on a smaller piece of land on the mountain’s southwest side. The proposed easement area includes the chunk of the mountain that is not within the park boundaries, and some additional land stretching out to nearby state Highway 79. The landowner is agreeable to an easement, Vonk said, but is not willing to sell the property outright.

The parcel is about 250 acres, and the cost to purchase an easement on the land is estimated to be $350,000. Vonk believes some federal grant money will be available, but if the easement is going to be secured it will require private groups and citizens to raise money and possibly volunteer to hold the easement.

‘Some respect’

There are people who are working to protect Bear Butte, but their efforts could be described as loosely organized.

Among them is Tamra Brennan, who lives near Bear Butte and identifies herself as a Cherokee tribal member. She runs Protect Bear Butte, an offshoot of Protect Sacred Sites. Both organizations are grassroots in nature and lack official nonprofit status.

Protect Bear Butte’s activism has so far taken the form of public information campaigns. Group members e-mailed thousands of bikers prior to this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and handed out fliers at the event. The intent was to educate bikers about the sacred nature of the mountain.

“All we’re asking is if bikers come to the area, please use some respect,” Brennan said.

Brennan also has argued against development near Bear Butte, including plans for bars or other biker-focused businesses in the mountain’s immediate vicinity.

She and others fear, however, that the privately owned land around Bear Butte could be sold at any time and converted to any use.

“We could have another ‘World’s Largest Biker Bar’ directly across from Bear Butte, or even at the base of Bear Butte,” Brennan said.

Brennan said she has hiked to the top of Bear Butte many times. She thinks that if everybody involved in the debates about development around Bear Butte would take time to make the hike, the mountain would win them over.

“It’s a very powerful and spiritual place,” she said. “Anybody that doesn’t feel that, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Rep. Olson, who opposed the easement, has been to the summit. She thinks the mountain is worth protecting, but said it is sufficiently protected by the park designation.

“There’s nobody who’s going to be digging a hole in the top of it or trying to tear it down or anything.”

http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/articles/index.cfm?id=29395§ion=news&freebie_check&CFID=96608354&CFTOKEN=40203313&jsessionid=8830deefb31e73446347

Bear Butte ~ State should stay away from easement

State should stay away from easement
By the Journal Editorial Board Friday, October 03, 2008
State lawmakers made it clear last week they had no intention of providing state dollars to secure easements around the butte to deter development to the west.

Last year, Gov. Mike Rounds proposed providing $250,000 to buy an easement around the site to ensure a future without encroaching development.

Lawmakers said no. And they’re saying it again this year.

We can’t fault lawmakers for putting a halt to the state-sponsored easement idea this year. Funding an easement shouldn’t be high on the state’s priority list. This year, more so even than last year, money is scarce and the burden on taxpayers could quickly become too heavy a load.

Would taxpayers give the nod to this state spending at Bear Butte? We don’t think so.

Today the landowner has no interest in developing the land beyond its agricultural use and we see no need for the state to get involved with the easement at this point.

While the Native Americans are rightfully concerned about development around the sacred site, there is a better option. The Native Americans could purchase the land in question. If the owner isn’t interested in selling, surely a deal could be crafted to offer the tribes the first right of refusal should the owner decide to sell.

That simple deal would keep the state out of the purchase and still guarantee the Native Americans interested in the site would have some control over future development.

Beyond the financial aspect, however, there may be merit to the state taking an interest in Bear Butte. First, it’s a state park. The state should have an interest in the development (or in this case, lack of development) at the state parks. Secondly, Bear Butte is considered a sacred site to the Native Americans. That doesn’t obligate the state to act but it should be part of the conversation as the state considers the future of the area.

Considering that, the future development should be under the watch of the Meade County Commissioners. We’ve said it before – the commissioners need to step in with zoning to protect Bear Butte from encroaching commercial interests.

The state, however, can’t pick up where the county is falling short. Any state revenue directed to securing easements at Bear Butte this year would be money misspent.

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/10/03/news/opinions/doc48e153f0baf67852163365.txt

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association approves Bear Butte resolution

Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association approves Bear Butte resolution
By Babette Herrmann, Today correspondent

Story Published: Sep 15, 2008

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Tamra Brennan, founder/director of the grass-roots organization Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation, has dedicated her life to protecting Bear Butte, known as Mato Paha to the Sioux, and countless other sacred sites across the nation.


One of her recent endeavors comprised of drawing up a draft resolution that entails guidelines for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association to refer to in their quest to protect Bear Butte and sacred areas listed in the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1868.



Since time immemorial, Plains tribes have held vision quests and an array of ceremonies and rites of passages at Bear Butte, especially during the summer months. American Indian veterans have left prayer offerings in gratitude of their safe return. Numerous other Natives simply go there to pray.



The threat of encroaching development and the raucous annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally were the main reasons Brennan drew up the resolution, and just a couple of the reasons why the area needs watchdog groups such as Protect Sacred Sites and its subsidiary, Protect Bear Butte.



Brennan submitted the draft copy to GPTCA in June, which approved it in early July. It was the perfect organization to coalesce, as it consists of 16 tribal chairmen from the Great Plains, covering North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.



“This helps show people that tribes are in the loop and they are active in what’s going on in the protection of Bear Butte,” she said.



GPTCA Executive Director A. Gay Kingman said that some minor revisions were made and legal terminology added to the resolution to make it an official document for the organization to call upon when making decisions that directly impact Bear Butte.



Kingman, Cheyenne River Sioux, said the GPTCA was formed about 25 years ago (it was formerly known as the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman’s Association) and that each chairman shares the common bond of working together on issues that affect their people, including the protection of sacred sites.



When it comes to tribes working with state government on Native issues, Kingman said legislators need further education on the indigenous people of South Dakota. But she was impressed when Gov. Mike Rounds introduced legislation to establish a buffer zone around Bear Butte. The measure failed earlier this year, but it was the thought that counted.



“The tribes would have been supportive, but it was a five-mile buffer zone and it encroached upon the town of Sturgis,” she said. “I think if it could have been three or maybe even four miles, it would have been more acceptable.”



Meanwhile, Brennan and volunteers work on discouraging new development, while watching the actions of businesses that already exist. A total of 10 businesses encroach upon the site – consisting of bars and campgrounds – most of which were built within the past several years.



The Northern Cheyenne, Lower Brule and Rosebud Sioux tribes own land bordering Bear Butte and primarily utilize it for gatherings and ceremonies. Kingman said that other tribes within the region would like to buy up the remaining land, but they consider the asking prices exorbitant and unaffordable.



The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally wrapped up its 68th year in August. Each year, the event features concerts around the clock, and revelers crowd local bars, hotels and campgrounds. Sturgis is located about eight miles east of Bear Butte.



For the past three years, Brennan has made it a point to educate bikers before, during and after the motorcycle rally on the significance of Bear Butte and surrounding sacred sites as a part of the “Bikers for Bear Butte” campaign. This year, volunteers sent out flyers to more than 6,000 motorcycle clubs and dealers across the nation prior to the event.



“What we heard the last couple of years from the bikers is that they had no idea that this is a sacred site because no one ever told them,” she said. “When we were walking around and passing flyers out in town, we never got a single negative response.”



The biggest challenge came this year when she learned that four local campgrounds were going to offer helicopter rides. She was worried that pilots would fly over Bear Butte, so she garnered the support of the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials from the FAA met with helicopter pilots and instructed them not to fly over the site. Out of the four campgrounds, only three ended up offering the rides and just one flew over the mountain on an evening flight.



As for next year’s rally, Brennan, Eastern Cherokee, wants to host educational forums at a venue in Sturgis. “You have to reach out to everybody for the protection of these sites. You don’t want to alienate any particular kind of group.”



For more information, visit www.protectbearbutte.com and www.protectsacredsites.org.

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/plains/28417374.html

Lawmakers oppose easement at Bear Butte

Sep 23 2008 6:33PM
Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) Some South Dakota lawmakers say they continue to oppose any state involvement in a proposed easement that would protect the west side of Bear Butte from development.

During a legislative committee meeting in Pierre, Representative Thomas Brunner (BROO'-nur) of Nisland said he believes the Game, Fish and Parks Department should not be involved in any easement at Bear Butte.

The Legislature earlier this year rejected Governor Rounds' plan to use state money to help finance an easement that would prevent development on ranch land near Bear Butte, which is a sacred religious site for many American Indian tribes.

State officials are still looking for an alternate source of money to finance the easement.

By AP Writer Chet Brokaw (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APNP 09-23-08 1827CDT |

http://www.kxmc.com/News/278498.asp

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

1,200-year-old home found

1,200-year-old home found
It contains pit house, hearth and broken pots
By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 08/20/2008 10:21:51 PM MDT


Posted: 10:14 PM- KANAB - For a nearly 1,200-year-old home, it's held up pretty well.
"Amazing" and "pristine" were the words archaeologists used to characterize the site of the ancient settlement just north of Kanab in southern Utah. It is believed that the single-family dwelling belonged to the Virgin Anasazi, who once flourished in the region, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Kitchen. The Virgin Anasazi was a prehistoric American Indian culture that lived along the Virgin River.
The culture predates other American Indian tribes who inhabited the area.
Kitchen said surveyors first found the site just east of US Highway 89 in 2006 while preparing for a possible road project on US 89. He doubts the discovery will influence plans for the road project.
UDOT archaeologist Pam Higgins said Wednesday research completed last week confirmed an "amazing find."
"My adrenaline was through the roof," she said.
The site, found amid deep red, sandy soil, was apparently home to a single family, Higgins said. No remains were found and it's unknown how many people lived there or for how long. Crews identified a pit house used for shelter, which measured about 13 feet in diameter, several storage containers and a hearth in what appeared to be a covered communal area.
Higgins said
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several broken pots were also found and that they could easily be repaired.
"What is so amazing about the site is the pristine condition it is in," she said.
The site sat undisturbed just below the surface for centuries and extended several feet beneath the ground about 300 yards east of Kanab Creek.
When the road project was being planned earlier this year, excavation plans were granted and digging began this summer for the data recovery work, as required by federal law.
Jody Patterson, a vice president for Moab-based Montgomery Archaeology and who worked at the site, said Wednesday the dig took about 30 days to complete.
Several years ago during a pipeline operation nearby, a similar site was excavated, Patterson said.
"The [new site] was extensive, but not unexpected," Patterson said.
State archaeologist Kevin Jones said the find is indicative of how populated the area once was.
"There were probably more people living in the area at one time than now," he said.
The discovery also revealed rabbit and deer bones, indicating hunting activity, along with stone drill bits for making jewelry and clothing and numerous stone tips.
"What was interesting was finding shells and what appears to be turquoise," Patterson said. The origin of those items will be determined and could shed light on trading patterns among southern Utah's former inhabitants.
After being inventoried and documented, the area was buried again last week.
A final report on the study of the site could take two years, Patterson said.
"Now the real work begins," he said
mhavnes@sltrib.com


http://www.sltrib.com/ci_10259444

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain offends by not meeting Great Plains tribes

McCain offends by not meeting Great Plains tribes
Posted: August 12, 2008
by: Rob Capriccioso

Photo courtesy Tamra Brennan -- Traffic was backed up more than normal at Sturgis as Sen. John McCain made a stop at the annual event. Area Natives took offense to his visit which did not include meetings with any tribes.

PIERRE, S.D. - After Sen. John McCain made a campaign stop Aug. 4 at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, much attention was paid to a joke he made about having his wife, Cindy, run for the Miss Buffalo Chip beauty contest crown - a feat that would require her to wear a skimpy bikini and perform risque dance moves in front of the rally's thousands of rowdy partygoers.

Several tribal leaders were not only taken aback by the statement, but were also let down that McCain would choose to visit a rally featuring nudity and drunken behavior while not trying to schedule a meeting with a single tribal nation. And many Natives have long been asking for a halt to the very rowdiness in which McCain chose to participate - out of respect to the nearby Bear Butte Mountain, a sacred site for multiple tribes nationwide.

A. Gay Kingman, director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, said that she extended an invitation to the McCain campaign in mid-July, soon after she learned the presumptive GOP candidate would be traveling to the area. The idea was to have McCain meet with the more than a dozen elected chairs and presidents of sovereign Indian nations in the Dakota region that are represented by the association.

Tribal leaders wanted to talk with McCain on several areas of substance, including the need for reservation jobs and improved tribal resources, as well as law enforcement and judiciary issues.

''It's a total disappointment,'' said Kingman, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. ''Many of us have known Sen. McCain - and even testified before him when he was chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.''

She noted that McCain's schedule even allowed for him to spend the night in the region, so she feels he couldn't have been that pressed for time.

''I think the presidential candidates are very protected. I don't know if the senator himself even knew that the Indian tribes wanted to meet with him. I just can't see him purposely choosing not to meet with us.''

John Tahsuda, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma who used to work for McCain on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, tried to help Kingman with her request but was unsuccessful. Tribal leaders also contacted staffers of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., since he has been a strong backer of Indian issues and is close to McCain, but nothing came of that outreach, either.

Tom Steward, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said it was his understanding that the candidate did not schedule time to meet with tribal leaders while in the region because there ''was not much local time overall for meetings.''

He added that McCain has been a longtime leader on Indian issues, and ''had in mind'' American Indians who served in the military during his Sturgis appearance.

Earlier in August, McCain faced strong criticism from members of the Native American Journalists Association, who noted that he skipped a long-planned minority journalist event.

Some Indians feel that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, has done a better job at reaching out to Great Plains tribes, noting that he met with tribal leaders in the area during the primary season this spring.

The Sturgis Rally is held each summer on private grounds. It, along with several other venues in the region, annually plays host to tens of thousands of bikers and tourists. Many come decked in leather, and some tend to overindulge in drinking and noisemaking.

Several Native activists tried unsuccessfully in June to get the Meade County Commission to deny alcohol licenses for the nearby Broken Spoke Campground, which they said was one of the most disruptive developments in the area. Since then, other bars and venues, including Buffalo Chip Campground, home to the rally, have begun offering helicopter rides near Bear Butte.

The 4,422-foot peak has been used for thousands of years as a religious and commemorative place for vision quests, ceremonies of passage and renewal, spiritual offerings and medicine gatherings.

Instead of standing up for Indian religious rights and sacred beliefs, McCain was seen by some Natives as actually harming them with his visit to the area. While the senator from Arizona stated publicly he wanted to pay respect to the many veterans who attend the rally each year, some Indians felt he could have done so at any number of nearby veteran facilities that do not disrupt Bear Butte.

''I think he could have gotten his message out in support of the veterans at a venue that was more generic,'' Kingman said. ''He just didn't make a good show of respect to Indians.''

Tamra Brennan, founder of the grass-roots organization Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation, said McCain's event caused much more ''wall-to-wall traffic'' to the area than she's seen in the past. She described his appearance as contributing to an atmosphere of ''absolute chaos.''

''For him to come to a venue such as Buffalo Chip - which is very well known for its nudity and drunken behavior - seems a little strange,'' Brennan said. She's been working overtime this summer to raise awareness that noise from motorcycle rallies and drunken partiers, as well as fireworks and flashing strobe lights that are sometimes shone onto the mountain, have disrupted the sacred lands.

Brennan, who lives near the base of the mountain, said she doesn't think McCain cares about sacred site issues at all, especially considering that he didn't visit any reservations.

''I don't think we even had a chance at being on his radar,'' said Brennan, Eastern Cherokee. ''I feel that the Native community was shunned. And we won't soon forget it.''

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/content.cfm?id=1096417931


In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cindy McCain as Miss Buffalo Chip?

Cindy McCain as Miss Buffalo Chip?
Vigilant Ticket readers know we always are on the alert for historic firsts. This presidential campaign has provided us our fill -- most recently, the chance to reflect upon the unprecedented age gap between the two major-party White House contenders.

Now comes another barrier shattered, noted by The Times' Bob Drogin.

As he delineates in a delightfully written piece elsewhere on latimes.com, John McCain on Monday became the first presidential aspirant to attend the annual Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, an event dating back to 1938 that each year attracts hordes of enthusiasts for a week of celebrating biker culture.

The candidate basked in a warm welcome; as Drogin put it: "It was almost as if McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was a celebrity -- a dirty word in his lexicon since his campaign last week ran ads mocking rival Barack Obama for his celebrity status, comparing him to Britney Spears."

Along with making history with his appearance, McCain came close to breaking new ground as he introduced his wife, Cindy McCain (who, Drogin wrote, "wore the equivalent of a nun's habit here: black jeans and a long-sleeved shirt").

McCain, Drogin relates, told his rowdy listeners "that he had encouraged his wife to enter the annual Sturgis beauty contest, one in which nudity is not uncommon. ... 'I told her with a little luck she could be the only lady to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip,' he said with a broad grin."

Mrs. McCain has been doing yeoman work on the campaign trail. Just this last weekend, she expertly mingled with a NASCAR crowd at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania (and took a short spin in the pace car). Showing excellent judgment, however, she passed on her husband's latest suggestion.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/cindy-mccain-as.html

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

McCain policy should uphold Native religious freedoms, sites

Column: McCain policy should uphold Native religious freedoms, sites - Wednesday, August 6, 2008
By JODI RAVE of the Missoulian



“I believe the federal government has a special ethical and legal responsibility to help make the American Dream accessible to Native Americans.”

- John McCain, Native policy statement

It's with some irony that Sen. John McCain has touted the federal government's “ethical and legal responsibility” to help Native people live the American Dream, a statement that smacked against the backdrop of the sacred Bear Butte as McCain paid tribute Monday to veterans attending a nearby biker rally.


While McCain has a strong record of championing Native causes, his legislative coups don't reflect the need to protect sacred sites and indigenous people's religious freedom.

McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, spoke to several thousand motorcycle enthusiasts at an annual tribute to military men and women attending the Sturgis Rally, the country's largest biker extravaganza. He greeted the crowd at the Buffalo Chip Campground, about four miles south of Mato Paha, a sacred butte rising 1,253 feet from the surrounding prairie.

Traffic to the campground was backed up for hours Monday night as people drove to the rough-and-rowdy, leather-and often-barely-clad venue for the night's headliners, featuring motorcycle stunts, Kid Rock, female wrestlers, the Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant - and McCain.

“I find it strange that he would come to a venue such as the Sturgis Rally that is very well known for nudity and drunkenness,” said Tamra Brennan, founder and director of Protect Sacred Sites.

“I understand he was there to honor the veterans, but it seems there's a lot of other ways he could have honored veterans.

“And why didn't he come into Indian Country while he was here?” she said. “During the campaign process, he didn't come to any of the reservations like the other candidates did and talk to people about Indian issues.”

Brennan, who lives at the base of Bear Butte, is among Native sacred site advocates campaigning to protect Bear Butte from continual encroachment, mostly by big biker bars within eye- and ear-shot of the ceremonial mountain, a religious area in the foothills of the Lakota Nation's revered Black Hills.

In the campaign quote from his Native policy statement, McCain acknowledges the U.S. government's responsibility to help Native people live the American Dream.

While Natives and non-Natives' idea of the American Dream may vary, they share a dream for religious freedom.

Even though the United States has a history of using its military might to strip Native people of their religious freedoms, other world leaders acknowledge a need to restore what's been lost.

In 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states indigenous people have “the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites �”

The Arizona senator's 25-year legislative record shows he knows Native people are far from living the American Dream.

McCain has twice been chairman - and remains a member - of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The leadership position has given him keen insight into the needs of tribal communities, allowing him to sponsor and enact legislation to improve the lives of Native people. He sponsored the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994, a law to strengthen Indian self-determination and allow for government-to-government relations.

He has also championed legislation to support law enforcement, health care, trust resources, economic development, housing and education initiatives throughout Indian Country.

“As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and in his home state of Arizona, Senator McCain has long been a leader on issues important to Native Americans,” Tom Steward, regional campaign director, said Monday. “Senator McCain's speech in Sturgis is to honor current military members and veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, including Native Americans.”

Native people, indeed, have made the ultimate sacrifices to maintain any semblance of freedom.

They were forced to surrender tens of millions of acres of homelands, including Bear Butte, which has remained central to prayers and ceremonies. Indigenous people of North America have the religious distinction of embracing nature as a church. Their holy altars are laid upon natural landscapes, including prayer and fasting sites spread across the slopes of Mato Paha.

Indigenous people from more than 30 tribes visit the butte throughout the year, mostly in the summer months. Their peaceful prayers and vision quests often clash with fireworks and music blasting from nearby Sturgis venues, such as the one visited by McCain.

The presidential candidate's Native policy statement doesn't make a pledge to protect the religious freedom and sacred sites of Native people.

But if he is to continue touting the federal government's ethical and legal responsibility to helping Native people live the American Dream, he can start by upholding their religious freedoms.

Jodi Rave covers Native issues for Lee Enterprises. Reach her at (800) 366-7186 or at jodi.rave@lee.net.

http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/08/06/jodirave/rave40.txt

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Update Bear Butte 7/31 ~ Helicopters on site already






July 31, 2008

Sturgis is already insane with people, bikes and vendors, lots going on already. The helicopters have already started arriving. Took this one at the Lamphere Ranch today, which is on hwy 34 & just west of hwy 79. Attempted to talk with the pilot, but he wasn't anywhere around, so will keep trying. Didn't see any helicopters at the other three campgrounds, so far. I am going to try and talk to all of them, if possible, just to see what their intentions are. Spoke with FAA again today, he is going to be out here all weekend talking with these guys and monitoring what is happening.

Will keep you all posted as we go along...........

It's gonna be a longgggggg next 10 days!


In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Monday, July 28, 2008

FOUR Campgrounds near Bear Butte NOW offering HELICOPTER rides



Hello everyone,

Many of you may be aware that the past couple months, we have been battling a new attack of helicopters over the mountain. A couple of months ago, Broken Spoke Campground, formally known as Sturgis County Line were the first to announce they were offering helicopter rides during the rally.

There are now FOUR separate campgrounds near Bear Butte that are offering helicopter rides during the Sturgis Rally.

Just this afternoon, this banner "Helicopter Rides" went up on the side of this trailer, at Ride -N- Rest Campground, on Hwy 79 just a mile or so South of Bear Butte.

I called my contact with the FAA, he is going to give them a call and discuss the issue with flying over Bear Butte. Again, all FAA can do is make "suggestions and guidelines" and request the pilot not fly over Bear Butte. Any of these campgrounds can decide at any point, to fly over the mountain during the rally, and legally we can't stop them. We have made a attempt to take legal action, however since Bear Butte is a State Park, instead of Federal we are limited on what recourse actions we can take.

In the conversation with the FAA, he stated that there are two additional campgrounds that have contacted him, that will be offering helicopter rides during the rally. He also spoke to them about not flying over Bear Butte as well.

This is now a total of four campgrounds which include; Buffalo Chip, Lamphere Ranch, Ride-N-Rest and Broken Spoke Campgrounds all offering helicopter rides during the Sturgis Rally.
Weather they all stay away from flying over Bear Butte, and listen to the FAA's suggested guidelines or not, will remain the question. The other three have not specifically stated that they would be flying over Bear Butte, but until the rally is over, we wont know for sure. Broken Spoke is now claming that they will not be flying over Bear Butte.

We will believe it when we DON"T see it in all four cases.

However, even if they do not fly over Bear Butte, keep in mind, these campgrounds are all within a few miles of Bear Butte and the noise pollution of all four of these helicopters is going to be horrendous. The Speedway is almost four miles away and we can hear all the noise, when the car races are going on.

This helicopter issue has gotten completely out of control. Weather it is pure coincidence that all of a sudden three additional campgrounds are now offering helicopter rides, and they all got this brainstorm at once. Or, is this the typical show down of these venues, trying to compete and out do each other. Once one offers something, all the others have to jump onboard with the idea.

Take a look at this map and see for yourself all of the encroachment going on around the mountain.

For anyone possibly reading this, that may not be familiar with the ongoing struggle to protect bear butte, please visit our website at www.protectbearbutte.com





In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Update on Bear Butte issue 7-20-08






Update on Bear Butte issue 7-20-08

The rally is two weeks away and the tents are already up and running in Sturgis. They say with the economy, the rally could be down by half this year. Don't get to excited about this, that is still potentially 250,000 people! Sturgis is normally a community of about 6,500 people, so this influx of people all at once is overwhelming.

With the new developments and issues with Broken Spoke Campground, we are dreading this upcoming rally. They will be offering concerts every night this year. The helicopter issue is still pending. Our organization Protect Sacred Sites and Parks, filed a complaint with FAA, they did make recommendations to BSC to not fly over Bear Butte, and gave them other suggested flight patterns. The challenge is all FAA can do is make suggestions and recommendations, what they say is not mandatory. This makes no sense, believe me I know! We have been working with NARF for legal assistance, they hopefully will be filing a legal letter to Broken Spoke in the next few days about this issue.

Our org submitted a Tribal Resolution to the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association for the protection of Bear Butte and the helicopter issue. They unanimously approved the resolution on July 10th, (Resolution 52-07-10-08) . This will also be submitted to NARF as additional documentation of support for the issue. I will post a copy of the resolution on our website and blog, as soon as I get a digital copy of it, within the next couple days.

We will be walking around each day during the Rally, reaching out to the Biker community about the Bear Butte issue. We are continuing the campaign "Bikers for Bear Butte" and will be passing out the fliers during the rally. Over the past couple months, our organization and volunteers have sent out approximately 5,000-6,000 emails and still counting, the Bikers for Bear Butte flier, to various biker websites, message boards, dealerships, organizations and clubs.

We will be documenting what transpires during the rally, sending out updates during that week.

On a good note, with all the rain we have had, Bear Butte Lake is actually full. It is actually a wildlife refuge, however it hasn't been at this level for about ten years. This is a good thing! I took the picture above last week. Enjoy......

Thank you to everyone that has helped us with getting this info and the fliers out there! Your help is greatly appreciated, we couldn't have gotten all this out without your help!

What's new on Protect Bear Butte website

Detailed timeline summary of Bear Butte issue from 2003 shooting range issue, to today's struggle with the bars.

new design, new pages, new posts to the blog and more............

For up to date info about the ongoing efforts to Protect Bear Butte, visit us at www.protectbearbutte.com


Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation is a grass roots organization, working towards the protection of sacred sites across the country. Our organization has been actively involved with the ongoing struggle to Protect Bear Butte for several years. We are continuing these efforts, our organization is currently leading the campaign regarding the new developments and further expansions at Bear Butte. Please visit our main website at www.ProtectSacredSites.org . We have a dedicated website for the Bear Butte issue at www.protectbearbutte.com


In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Timeline for Bear Butte Issue

Timeline for Bear Butte


February 2003 - The Northern Cheyenne, Rosebud Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux and Yankton Sioux tribes and Defenders of the Black Hills file lawsuit to stop shooting range four miles north of Bear Butte.

During his time in office, Governor Janklow provided faulty information in order to obtain money from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The program also received an illegal grant of $825,000.00 from Housing Urban Development (HUD) program.

January 2004 – Sturgis Industrial Expansion Corp. (SIEC) and the City of Sturgis announce they are abandoning plans to develop shooting range near Bear Butte.

Governor Rounds, now in office and returns the funds to HUD.

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August 2005 – Jay Allen announces developing the world’s largest biker bar, calling it “On Sacred Ground” just north of Bear Butte. Also, erecting a 80 foot Indian statue pointing towards the mountain and tipi’s. The property will include a bar, concert venue, restaurant and RV park.

October 2005 – After objections from local tribes and Native people, Jay Allen changes the name of bar from “On Sacred Ground” to “Sturgis County Line”

January 2006 - Paul Valandra, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Jim Bradford, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, sponsor HB1233. The bill would create a four-mile buffer zone around Bear Butte, the bill would prohibit liquor licenses from being issued for establishments around Bear Butte.

February 2006 – House Local Government Committee voted 9-3 to reject HB1233

March 2006 – Jay Allen breaks ground with the new development of Sturgis County Line.

April 4, 2006 – Over 1,000 supporters, both Native and non showed support to protect Bear Butte for the protest gathering held at Meade County Commissioners courthouse.
The Meade County Commissioner’s unanimously voted 5-0 to approve Jay Allen’s liquor license.






May 2006 – Meade County denies submitted petition requesting a county vote on approval of Jay Allen’s liquor license. The Commissioners determined the approval of the license was an "administrative action" therefore, the issue cannot be referred to a vote. More than 750 signatures were collected within Meade County, which was more than enough votes to overturn the Commissioners decision.

July 4, 2006 – Gathering of Nations to Defend Bear Butte encampment begins, running through August 7th.

August 2006 – Sturgis Bike Rally Week. Jay Allen’s Sturgis County Line opens its doors.

Protest walk from Bear Butte encampment to Sturgis is held during the rally. Approximately 500 people are in attendance.

December 2006 – on sale license renewed

June 2007 – Jay Allen’s, Sturgis County Line, off sale license revoked due to poor character, based upon unpaid bills to local contractors. Meade County Commissioner’s warn Allen if bills are not paid, his on sale license in December will be in jeopardy.

August 2007 – 2nd year open for Sturgis County Line.
Two organizations, Protect Sacred Sites, Indigenous People One Nation, BBIA, a few private citizens and Northern Cheyenne’s hosted a prayer camp at the base of Bear Butte on the Northern Cheyenne property off hwy 79. A smaller presence than 2006, is held from August 1st – 15th, during bike week.

December 2007 – Meade County Commissioners revoke Jay Allen’s Sturgis County Line on sale liquor license due to poor character, based upon the continued unpaid bills to local contractors.

Governor Rounds proposes House Bill 1275 to the 2008 state Legislature. This bill would enact a conservation easement for the area around Bear Butte. A request for the state of South Dakota to purchase 743 acres of land that adjoined Bear Butte State Park.

There is hereby appropriated from the general fund the sum of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($ 250,000 ), or so much thereof as may be necessary, and five hundred ninety- three thousand seven hundred seventy-seven dollars ($593,777), or so much thereof as may be necessary, of federal fund expenditure authority, and three hundred forty-three thousand seven hundred seventy-seven dollars ($343,777), or so much thereof as may be necessary, of other fund expenditure to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks for a portion of the costs related to the acquisition of easements adjacent to Bear Butte State Park located in Meade County, South Dakota.


January 2008 –Jay Allen appeals revocation of liquor license due the character issues.

February 2008 – Governor Rounds, House Bill 1275 An act to make an appropriation for a portion of the costs related to the acquisition of easements adjacent to Bear Butte State Park and to declare an emergency. FAILS YEAS 24, NAYS 44




April 2008 – Jay Allen’s appeal was held before Judge Bastian, at the Meade County Courthouse. Allen testified he had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, purchase agreement on February 26, 2008 with Target Companies, a travel corporation from Boston, MA. The agreement terms were to be finalized on May 3, 2008. Allen stated upon completion of the agreement, his only role in the Sturgis County Line would be as a promoter, and because he was no longer the owner, his character could not be basis for license revocation. Judge Bastian remanded the decision back to Meade County Commissioners. His instructions asked the Commissioners to reconsider their decision to revoke, based upon the new information that Allen would no longer be the “owner” of Sturgis County Line.

The Meade County Commissioner’s held an Executive Session Meeting on April 24, 2008. They unanimously voted to appeal Judge Bastian’s decision. It has been directed to South Dakota Supreme Court for further clarification, to determine if Judge Bastian had the legal authority to make such a decision. A court date will be scheduled in the upcoming months.

May 2008 – Supreme Court denies appeal, sending it back again to Meade County Commissioners to make final determination.

Target Logistics states they have made a legal decision to “lease” the Broken Spoke Campground property from Jay Allen, until the pending litigation is completed.

June 2008 – Meade County Commissioners defer the Broken Spoke Campground liquor license issue to the July meeting.

Broken Spoke Campground announces they will be hosting concerts every night during the rally and are now offering helicopter rides over Bear Butte during the rally.

Complaints are filed regarding helicopter issue and violation of Native American Freedom of Religion Act, to the FAA by Protect Sacred Sites Organization and South Dakota State Parks. Protect Sacred Sites, submitted a request for legal action and assistance to the Native American Rights Fund.

Request for resolution from NCAI regarding opposition to liquor license issue is requested by Protect Sacred Sites and approved from NCAI. Resolution is submitted to Meade County Commissioners.

July 2008 – Meade County Commissioners approve 3-2, Jay Allen’s previously revoked on sale liquor license. New investors Target Logistics have paid all the previous debts off in full, with the exception of one currently in litigation.

Protect Sacred Sites organization, submits a draft resolution to Greater Plains Tribal Chairs Association, for protection of Bear Butte. Approved by Tribal Chairs on July 10, 2008.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bear Butte bar gets nod for liquor license

Bear Butte bar gets nod for liquor license
By Andrew Gorder, Journal staff Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The 3-2 vote came after about an hour and a half of testimony from representatives of Target Logistics -- a Boston-based company that intends to buy the embattled campground -- and Native Americans, concerned citizens and other activists who support a development buffer or an alcohol ban near Bear Butte.

In recent years, opponents have regularly testified before the commission about their opposition to alcohol near the mountain. It is a sacred landmark and prayer site for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and other Native American tribes.

"I'm really disappointed that the Meade County commissioners did not take all of us into account," said Tamra Brennan, director and founder of grass-roots group Protect Sacred Sites.

The Broken Spoke Campground, formerly known as Sturgis County Line, has been in a fight to renew its on-sale liquor and beer licenses since commissioners voted to deny them last year. The campground, northeast of Sturgis, is within 1-1/2 miles of Bear Butte.

Former owner Jay Allen lost the beer license for his campground last June after commissioners received complaints from local contractors who claimed they had not been paid by Allen.

Alcohol licenses can be denied on the basis of the character of the owner-operator or the location of the venue.

In December, the commission also rejected Allen's renewal application for an on-sale liquor license, again citing unsettled debts with contractors.

Allen appealed the decision, and on April 4, Circuit Court Judge John Bastian ruled the county commission must reconsider its decision because of the proposed change in ownership.

Target Logistics is an international company that provides housing, transportation and hospitality services. It intended to buy controlling interest in the venue several months ago but was leasing the property until the liquor license issue was settled.

Representatives of the firm said that, when the sale is final, Allen will have a 30 percent, noncontrolling interest in the campground.

During Tuesday's hearing, commissioners heard from several character references for David Shue, an employee of Target Logistics and the newly hired managing officer for Sturgis County Line LLC.

Shue, a former director of operations for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, spoke on his own behalf, highlighting his service in Iraq and Afghanistan and promising to be a "good neighbor."

Commissioners also heard from several concerned Meade County residents and Native American activists who urged them to deny the alcohol licenses.

Opponents mainly voiced concerns about the growing size of the campground and its encroachment on Bear Butte. They said they believed the new owners will only continue the expansion.

"The new investors, Target Logistics, have already proceeded with plans for additional development and expansion," Brennan said. "We've had a drought for the last eight years, and here they're building the world's biggest biker pool," she said.

"We love this land, and we don't want anything to happen to it," said Jace DeCory, another concerned resident.

After hearing testimony, Commissioner Dean Wink said he sympathized with opponents but did not agree that the location of the venue was the issue at hand. Wink said most of Allen's debts being settled was reason enough for him approve the license.

"I think that probably shows a good faith effort on the part of Target Logistics, to be a good business for this area," Wink said.

Commissioner Dayle Hammock said he did not feel comfortable with Jay Allen's continued involvement with the company and sponsored a motion to deny the license. That motion failed, and the committee then voted to renew the license.

"They're basically standing behind corporate America," said Brennan, who also said her organization plans to appeal the commission's decision. "We're not done."

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/07/02/news/top/doc486afab8cafaa463592499.txt?show_comments=true#commentdiv

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Corporate America ~vs~ Sacred Sites

Please forward in its entirety.

Press release

Corporate America ~vs~ Sacred Sites
Decision on Bear Butte issue 7-1-08
written by: Tamra Brennan


On July 1st, 2008 the Meade County Commissioners voted 3 - 2 to approve Jay Allen's liquor license, for the Broken Spoke Campground located at Bear Butte.

There were two separate issues discussed regarding liquor license applications. The initial license for Jay Allen, which was revoked on December 5, 2007, appealed in January, then remanded back to the Meade County Commissioners by Judge Bastian on April 14, 2008. Meade County Commissioners appealed the judges decision, in June the South Dakota Supreme Court, denied the appeal, again sending it back to Meade County Commissioners.

The second issue was the new liquor license application filed by David Shoe, General Manager for the new investors Target Logistics, Broken Spoke Campground LLC.

Target Logistics has paid off all of Jay Allen's outstanding debts for Broken Spoke Campground, LLC with the exception of one that is currently in litigation. They have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, into this place already. Jim Seward attorney for Target Logistics also stated that Jay Allen still owns 30% of the stock, which contradicts everything that they have testified to previously, which was that Jay Allen is no longer involved. These people change their story at every hearing.

Target Logistics Corporation showed up at the hearing with 12-15 suits, including the CEO, various attorneys and military personnel. They spent a hour of the hearing testifying about military issues, and praising David Shoe, since he was previously involved in Blackwater, had been in Afganstitan and Iraq and apparently has secret service clearance, even today. They actually brought previous military personnel here to testify on behalf of David Shoe's character, for a liquor license at a bar located at Bear Butte.

They used the war, they used the military service to gain sympathy and support from the Meade County Commissioners, to acquire the license license.

Does anyone see the irony here? Can someone please explain what the military has to do with a bar, at a sacred site and what they are doing here?

The supporters for the Bear Butte issue were sitting listening to this testimony, wondering what any of this had to do, with Meade County and a bar at Bear Butte?
Several people stood up and questioned these statements and motives.

Jack Doyle, a local Meade County resident continually testify's against our side, and always includes disgusting and racist comments, stated "Indians do not own Bear Butte mountain, they are their as guests, if its not suitable for them they can go somewhere else."

Another local, life long resident and Bear Butte supporter stood up and addressed the Commissioners and Target Logistics, stated she felt that Target Logistics was making a bad business decision, and they obviously had not done a business marketing analysis, that there have been two local campgrounds go bankrupt over this past two years, maybe they should go invest in one of the bankrupt campgrounds, there is one available in Whitewood. She received a huge applaud from the Bear Butte supporters.

I did record the hearing and will be cutting it down, its a hour and a half, once I get that done, I will be posting it on our new blog talk radio show. It should be up within the next day. I will send out a link, once it is up and running. It will also be posted on our website www.protectbearbutte.com

Because it was the appealed license that was approved, I am going to be doing some checking and see what actions, if any, that we can take next to appeal this decision.

Needless to say, this is simply another case of Corporate America ~vs~ Native American people and sacred sites, and we lost, yet again.

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Friday, June 27, 2008

'I'm not afraid to speak on behalf of the mountain'

If you have not had a chance to sign our online petition to Protect Bear Butte, please take a moment to sign! The petition is to oppose the liquor licenses for Broken Spoke Campground. Deadline is Monday June 30th. Hearing is Tuesday, July 1st at 3:30 Meade County Commissoners Building.
http://www.petitiononline.com/BBappeal/petition.html

Thank you for your continued support to Protect Bear Butte!

Tamra



'I'm not afraid to speak on behalf of the mountain'
Posted: June 27, 2008
by: Rob Capriccioso
Click to Enlarge

Photo courtesy Tamra Brennan -- The two-story bar at the Broken Spoke Campground is one of many developments that have popped up around sacred Bear Butte over the last two years.
PIERRE, S.D. - A group of impassioned Indians gathered at South Dakota's Bear Butte State Park June 21 to pray for healing and to highlight what they call ''horrifying'' commercial developments around their revered mountain.

The gathering was attended by more than 40 Natives, with some traveling from as far away as Canada to pray and honor the lands. Bear Butte is considered sacred to dozens of Native nations, including the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho tribes, some of which own small sections of land near the mountain.

The 4,422-foot peak has been used for thousands of years as a religious and commemorative place for vision quests, ceremonies of passage and renewal, spiritual offerings and medicine gatherings.

In recent years, economic development in the form of bars, concert venues and campgrounds has become increasingly upsetting to Indians who have long made religious pilgrimages to the site. About a dozen developments currently operate in close proximity to the mountain, many of which have been built since 2006 in an attempt to lure bikers and tourists to the area.

Tamra Brennan, founder of the grass-roots organization Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation, lives near the base of the mountain. She said that noise from motorcycle rallies and drunken partiers, as well as fireworks and flashing strobe lights that are sometimes shone onto the mountain, have disrupted the sacred lands.

''The struggle has gotten difficult over the last few months,'' Brennan, Eastern Cherokee, said. ''It's been hard to keep people informed on new developments. The issue is a lot more critical now than even a few years ago.''

Brennan and others are urging the Meade County Commission to deny alcohol licenses for the Broken Spoke Campground, which they say is one of the most disruptive developments in the area.

Originally called Sturgis County Line Bar, the two-story, 25,000-square-foot venue is in transition to be operated by Boston-based Target Logistics, an international company that provides housing, transportation, life support and hospitality services. The property was previously under the sole management of developer Jay Allen, who lost his alcohol license last year due to character issues.

Developers with Broken Spoke recently expressed interest in offering helicopter rides over the mountain, which further angered Natives in the area. The Native American Rights Fund has consulted with local Indians on helping to legally stop the rides under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Developers have also pursued plans to build a concert stadium and an RV park in addition to the bar already on the grounds.

''It's going to make it practically impossible to pray in peace,'' Brennan said.

Target Logistics President Joe Murphy has said in the past that he is ''happy to sit down and listen to our critics'' and that he is ''respectful'' of his critics' religious views. He could not be reached by press time for further comment.

The commission's meeting to determine whether the campground will get its alcohol license is scheduled for July 1. Brennan's organization is encouraging tribal members from throughout the region to make their voices heard prior to meeting day. Organizers believe that visitors will be discouraged from frequenting the venue, if liquor cannot be served.

The National Congress of American Indians is opposed to the alcohol license application submitted by Broken Spoke.

''Both the location and the character of the applicant are unsuitable for any alcohol licenses,'' according to a letter sent by NCAI to the Meade County Commission.

The organization also recommended that county commissioners ''use their broad discretion over alcohol licenses to begin government-to-government consultation with affected local Indian tribes to establish notification and consultation procedures for decisions that affect religious practice at Bear Butte and all American Indian sacred sites.''

Republican Gov. Mike Rounds and some state legislators have also tried to conserve and protect lands around Bear Butte, but have been unsuccessful to date.

Alberta Fischer, a Montana-based Northern Cheyenne elder, said she is hopeful that the damages she's seen as a result of the developments will one day end. She first started making treks to the mountain as a young girl when she watched her grandparents and parents pray and perform religious ceremonies there.

''I grew up with it. I know the true significance of that mountain. It's been a part of my life, which is why I'm opposed to any development. I'm not afraid to speak on behalf of the mountain.

''There's going to be somebody who will listen to us one of these days. And that's what I pray for.''

Bear Butte was listed as a National Natural Landmark in 1965, as a National Historical Place in 1973 and as a National Historic Landmark in 1981. It has been on the National Historic Landmarks threat level watch list since 2004.

http://www.indiancountry.com:80/content.cfm?id=1096417592


For more information, visit www.ProtectBearButte.com.

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Founder/Director
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bear Butte alcohol license hearings sure to draw opponents

Bear Butte alcohol license hearings sure to draw opponents
By Joe Kafka, The Associated Press Thursday, June 12, 2008
7 comment(s) Normal Size Increase font Size

Alcohol license requests for a sprawling campground, bar and concert area near a Black Hills butte that's sacred to Native Americans will be opposed at a July 1 hearing in Sturgis.

An opponent of the Broken Spoke Campground, formerly known as Sturgis County Line, complains it will disturb Bear Butte's tranquil aura.

For centuries, members of various Native American tribes have gone to Bear Butte to pray, fast and hold religious ceremonies. They say noise from large campgrounds and bars in the area, which have sprung up over the years to cater to the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, disrupt the normally peaceful setting.

Joe Murphy, president of a Boston firm that plans to buy the Broken Spoke Campground and is leasing it until the alcohol license issue is settled, said Thursday the business will try to be sensitive to qualms about noise and commotion.

"We want to make any accommodation we need to to work with anybody's beliefs," Murphy said. "We respect their religious views and hope we don't disturb them. We're happy to sit down and listen to our critics."

Murphy is president of Target Logistics, an international company that provides housing, transportation, life support and hospitality services. He said Target Logistics wants to buy the campground from Jay Allen, who lost his beer and alcohol licenses last year.

Allen also owns Broken Spoke properties in Laconia, N.H.; Daytona Beach, Fla., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Murphy said his firm is negotiating for them, too.

Tamra Brennan, founder of a grass-roots group seeking to protect Bear Butte, said she will urge the Meade County Commission to deny alcohol licenses for the Broken Spoke Campground. Brennan, who lives near the base of Bear Butte, said she complained about noise during last year's motorcycle rally and was shrugged off.

Campground noise was so loud one night that it rattled the windows in her house until 2 a.m., she said. Brennan said strobe lights were shone on Bear Butte at night, and the campground manager didn't understand why she would complain about it.

"There are people trying to pray in solitude and peace that are up on the mountain at all hours," she said.

Bear Butte, an ancient volcano that never erupted, is not like a church that has services only on Sundays, said Brennan, an Eastern Cherokee Indian and founder of Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation.

"The land is our church," she said. "We don't just go into a church once a week and spend one hour and then that's it. This is not a religion; this is a spirituality."

The 4,422-foot peak has been a state park since 1961 and is protected as a National Historic Landmark. It has a special area set aside for Indian ceremonies, and regulations prevent other visitors from interfering with those who are praying.

However, the butte is surrounded by private property and growing commercialization.

Joell Romick, the county commission's administrative assistant, said both an on-sale liquor license and a beer license are being sought for the Broken Spoke Campground.

The campground features a 25,000-square-foot bar, or the equivalent of a building that's 250 feet long and 100 feet wide.

In 2006, Native Americans and others opposed initial approval of a liquor license for Jay Allen because the campground is within three miles of Bear Butte.

Allen lost the beer license for his campground a year ago after commissioners received complaints he was not paying his bills.

Alcohol licenses can be denied on the basis of character and location.

Commissioners said 10 months of unpaid bills spoke to the character of Allen, an Arizona-based motorcycle rally entrepreneur.

In December, the county commission rejected Allen's renewal application for an on-sale liquor license, again citing character issues after some contractors who did work at the campground claimed he had not paid them.

Allen said the campground had been a financial headache and that some contractors overcharged or didn't finish their jobs.

Later, a judge said the county commission must reconsider denial of the liquor license because of the proposed change in ownership. The commission balked and requested an intermediate appeal from the state Supreme Court, but that has been denied, Romick said.

Murphy said plans are in the works to keep the campground open all summer, beginning next year. A swimming pool is being added along with other improvements for campers, and it will be geared to families at times other than rally week, he said.

"We want to make it a nice, quality family experience," Murphy said.

"We want to make a solid commitment to the Sturgis area," he added. "We're hiring as many local contractors as we can, and we're trying to bring jobs and money into the area."

Brennan said the nearly one-square-mile campground is a blight on the area. It will feature noisy concerts during the Aug. 4-10 motorcycle rally and will offer helicopter rides over the butte, she said.

"To add helicopter rides over Bear Butte is just appalling," Brennan said. "This is complete disregard for Native American beliefs and the respect of the people who are in ceremonies on the hill."

Helicopter rides over the mountain will violate two federal laws dealing with freedom of religion for Native Americans, she said.

But Murphy said he doubts many helicopter rides will be staged.

"If we had someone who wants to go for a helicopter ride, we would make the helicopter available to them at the campground," he said. "If someone asks to fly over Bear Butte, we'd take them unless it's not allowed."

Murphy noted the area has several other large campgrounds and bars.

"The rally period is a very intense, and whether we're there or not, we're not having any more effect on Bear Butte than the other campgrounds in the area," he said.

On the Net:

www.brokenspokecampground.com/schedule-of-events.cfm

http://www.protectsacredsites.org/

http://www.protectbearbutte.com

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/06/12/news/top/doc4851a08e3740e147427725.txt


In peace & solidarity,
Tamra
www.protectsacredsites.org
www.protectbearbutte.com

PROTECT BEAR BUTTE!

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"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"