Kirsten Carlson’s “Priceless Property”

Kirsten Matoy Carlson recently published “Priceless Property” in the Georgia State Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

In 2011, the poorest American Indians in the United States refused to accept over one billion dollars from the United States government. They reiterated their long-held belief that money–even $ 1.3 billion–could not compensate them for the taking of their beloved Black Hills. A closer look at the formation of the Sioux claim to the Black Hills helps us to understand why the Sioux Nation has repeatedly rejected compensation for land taken by the United States over 100 years ago. This article seeks to understand why the Sioux view the Black Hills as priceless property by studying the formation of the Black Hills claim. It constructs a new, richer approach to understanding dispute formation by combining narrative analysis with the sociolegal framework for explaining dispute formation. The article argues that narratives enrich the naming, claiming, and blaming stages of dispute creation. It illustrates the usefulness of this new approach through a case study of the Black Hills claim. It uses the autobiographical work of an ordinary Sioux woman to provide a narrative lens to the creation of the Sioux claim to the Black Hills. American Indian Stories by Zitkala-Sa presents a narrative of Sioux life around the time of the claim’s emergence. By contextualizing and humanizing the claim, my analysis provides insights into why the Sioux claim to the Black Hills emerged into a legal dispute and helps to explain why the Black Hills remain priceless property to the Sioux Nation today. The article concludes with a suggestion for successful resolution of the Black Hills claim based on acceptance of the Black Hills as priceless property to the Sioux Nation.


New Census Figures Allow South Dakota to Avoid Offering Language Support Services to Indian Voters



Here is a news article on the issue. An excerpt:

State Rep. Kevin Killer, whose district represents the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said people do use the language services.

“We do have fluent Lakota speakers that do vote, and their preference is to have an interpreter there,” said Killer, D-Pine Ridge. “It’s better to err on the side of caution rather than make an assumption that nobody speaks Lakota.”

Fewer than 6,000 of the 120,000 members of Sioux tribes, who often identify themselves as Lakota, speak the language or its less common but closely related Dakota dialects. The average age of a Lakota speaker is 60, according to the Lakota Language Consortium.

But tribal schools such as Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University and Sitting Bull College have been reintroducing Lakota to a new generation through the schools’ language immersion programs, Killer said.

“So they’re going to be, at some point, hopefully fluent speakers,” he said.

Poll workers on Todd County’s Rosebud Indian Reservation have had to publish ballots in both English and Lakota and reprogram the AutoMark voting machines for each election, said Tripp County Auditor Kathleen Flakus, who also supervises the neighboring county.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

NYTs: Debate over Little Big Horn Battlefield on Crow Land

An excerpt from yesterday’s NYTs article (full article here):

Nearly 30 years ago, a group called the Custer Battlefield Preservation Committee began buying up land around the monument — some 3,300 acres in all — in an effort to stave off development. The group has since tried to donate the land, which it bought for $14 million that was raised through donations, to the Park Service.

But the service has said that unless Congress or the president changes the battlefield’s boundaries, it does not have the legal authority to accept the land.

Moreover, any land deal would need approval from the Crow tribe, which has considerable political influence in Montana and has resisted such a large land transfer.

The tribe cites a 1920 federal law, known as the Crow Act, which it says limits nontribal members to ownership of about 2,000 acres on the reservation, which is almost 2.3 million acres.

“We are trying to explain the advantages of adding on to the historical site right in the middle of their country, which would bring tourists — who need to eat, sleep and buy souvenirs — and produce jobs for Crow people,” said Harold G. Stanton, president of the Custer committee.

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Lakota Exhibit at the Peabody Museum (Harvard)

From the Crimson:

Metal arm bands are neatly arranged by a pipe bag underneath a looming five-foot portrait of its owner: Sitting Bull, the former Lakota Sioux holy war chief who famously led the Lakota and Cheyenne troops to victory in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Nearby, old arrows are suspended in mid-air—as if shooting out from a propped bow—under an airbrushed banner depicting “thunderbirds,” mythological messengers of thunderstorms revered by Lakota members as spiritual sources for energy in battle.

Last April, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University opened an exhibit called “Wiyohpiyata,” Lakota for “west,” which alludes to the tribe’s idea that thunderstorms originate in the west; to the cultural belief that thunderstorms fuel warfare; and to bloody Western expansion. The center of gravity for the exhibit is a ledger inscribed with the work of several Lakota artists. The ledger—which has been in the possession of Harvard’s Houghton Library since the 1930s and was only discovered to be of artistic value five years ago—contains seventy-seven color drawings of Lakota war exploits, several of which are displayed alongside ancient artifacts and contemporary art pieces.

While each of these artifacts tells a story—in the case of one drawing, the tale of a Native American warrior who rescued his friend in combat—the exhibit itself is the product of an intricate interweaving of stories and cross-cultural negotiations. The product of a 30-year friendship between Peabody Museum Associate Curator of North American Ethnography Castle McLaughlin and Lakota tribe member Butch Thunder Hawk, the Wiyohpiyata exhibit explores the tribe’s culture and traditions with genuine Lakota perspective.

“Together we wanted to come up with the key Lakota concepts that would form the backbone of the exhibits and [decide] how to best express those concepts,” McLaughlin said.

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New Book: “Buffalo Inc.” by Sebastian Braun (UND)

From the University of Oklahoma Press:

Buffalo Inc.
American Indians and Economic Development
By Sebastian Felix Braun
<!–By Sebastian Felix Braun
Buffalo as a business on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation

Some American Indian tribes on the Great Plains have turned to bison ranching in recent years as a culturally and ecologically sustainable economic development program. This book focuses on one enterprise on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation to determine whether such projects have fulfilled expectations and how they fit with traditional and contemporary Lakota values.

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“Why Tribes Should Not Withdraw From Treaties”

From RezNet’s TriBaLOG:

Following is a statement from the office of Rodney M. Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe:

On December 19th, 2007 four individuals calling themselves the Lakota Freedom Delegation held a press conference at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington DC where they announced a plan to withdraw from all Treaties signed by Indian Tribes with the United States.

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Lakota Independence from the US?

From Indianz:

Lakota Freedom Delegation withdraws from US

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A group called Lakota Freedom Delegation is withdrawing from the treaties their ancestors signed with the U.S. and is setting up their own independent nation. Four activists, including Russell Means, were in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to announce their plans. They said the federal government has failed to abide by 33 treaties that promised land, health care, education and other services. “Our people want to live, not just survive or crawl and be mascots,” Phyllis Young said, Agence France-Press reported. Members of the new nation won’t pay taxes. The new nation’s territory covers western parts of North and South Dakota and Nebraska and eastern parts of Wyoming and Montana.

Get the Story:
Lakota group pushes for new nation (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 12/20)
Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US (AP 12/20)
Lakota group declares sovereign nation status (The Rapid City Journal 12/20)

Relevant Links:
Lakota Freedom Delegation –

NCAA Press Release on Fighting Sioux Settlement

From the NCAA website (H/T Indianz):

NCAA Statement on Settlement of University of North Dakota Mascot Lawsuit


Monday, November 19, 2007


Bob Williams

Managing Director of Public and Media Relations



INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA recognizes the University of North Dakota’s many programs and outreach services to the Native American community and surrounding areas.  The University of North Dakota is a national leader in offering educational programs to Native Americans.

The University has indicated that it intends to use the current name and logo with the utmost respect and dignity, and only for so long as it may do so with the support of the Native American community.  The NCAA does not dispute UND’s sincerity in this regard.

The NCAA believes, as a general proposition, that the use of Native American names and imagery can create a hostile or abusive environment in collegiate athletics.  However, the NCAA did not make any other findings about the environment on UND’s campus.  The NCAA also acknowledges that reasonable people can disagree about the propriety of Native American imagery in athletics.  The NCAA believes that the time has come to retire Native American imagery in college sports.