TOKALA @ STRONGHOLD
On Thursday, August 29, 2002 a meeting took place concerning the south unit which is located within the boundaries of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The meeting between the NPS and the OST also included 70 Oglala people with members of Lakota National Guard as well as the Tokala warrior society currently living on Stronghold table.
The meeting was scheduled at 10:00 AM at the NPS visitors center north of Rocky Ford, SD., but the facilities were not large enough to accommodate the large crowd. So a 4x4 visit to the excavation site (which conveniently eliminated most of the attendees) was the first agenda of the day.
At the site a park ranger begin by explaining the excavation process by showing a picture of a titanother (fossils at site) at which time a representative of Lakota National Guard showed his own picture of a titanothere in the form of a coin (visit website) depicting a calvary shooting a chief in the head at point blank range on one side and a picture the badlands and a titanothere on the otherside. The representative clearly articulated the hidden message that the coin really depicts and that is blatant disregard for a race of people and their lands. The spokesman for the Lakota National Guard also clearly articulated that the theft of tribal resources in an area with an unemployment rate of 85% was just another form of economic racism by the NPS intended to keep the Lakota People at the bottom of the economic ladder. He further stated that on the opposite side of the coin represents a message of higher authoritive attitudes such as the continuation of the excavation projects in the south unit regardless of a tribal moratorium (Incidently, the picture of the skeleton is of a titanothere). Next, a representative of the Tokala society articulated the reason for the Tokala at the Stronghold.
The Tokala addressed the group by declaring the intentions of the Tokala which is to guard the Stronghold and its surrounding areas from any type of exploitation at the moment. He further stated that the lands on which we stand on is treaty land and that the Lakota people own allodial title to this land regardless of the alledged congressional act that proposedly was enacted in 1968 and reaffirmed in 1992 by the NPS. No matter what the treaty issue is, it must be dealt with and the Oglala people need these lands to prosper and grow in all areas. The lands of the south unit belong to the future of our people including the unborn. The wishes of the people are that NPS get off of the south unit and that the south unit be controlled by the Indian people from now on. We will no longer stand for the inhumane treatment of Indian people throughout the 1800s, 1900s, and now today in the 2000s to spawn itself into the future and into the lives of the unborn Lakota to come.
Afterwards, Russell Means addressed an issue put forth by a decedent of the original allottees who where forced off of their lands when in 1942 the United States Army acquired the Badlands bombing range located within the boundaries of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This individuals ancestors were told that they had only ten days to move off their land or they would be shot. And that next the government had the nerve to make them buy back the land that was stolen! He further stated that in order to regain lost lands they have 30 days in which to come up with a large sum which was totally unheard of in those days and also that they were to buy it back at a different location. Russell Means articulated this absurdity to a representative of NPS region 8 named Schenk who seen the irony of it. This was followed by several individuals such as Lovey Two Bull who is also involved in the struggle for the south unit and who gave an emotional and accurate history of events leading up to today. Robert White Mountain of a Cante Tinze organization gave a historical view of what may have happened to the burial sites on Stronghold table. There was in the past an epidemic of small pox which is a very contagious desease to the Indian people that may have been buried on Stronghold table. If these sites are reopened then the diseases will resurface.
Through out the summer months there was representation from other warrior societies such as Cante Tinsa (Braveheart) from Minnesota and Marvin Young Dog and his Cante Tinsa Society from Arizona. There is also a volunteer group from Colorado who are building a Hogan made out of lumber. Currently we have a lot of film that needs to be developed so we can include them on the site as pics. Also we thank the people responsible for the existence of the camp on Stronghold table in terms of helping out with food and all other support.
Currently, there is quite a bit of activity in terms of military choppers who it seems have access to the area with total disregard to the air space of the people of Pine Ridge. There is constant surveillance by the Tokala on the Stronghold and we have seen only two days ago a military chopper that carried out a large crate the size of a small car from the NE point of Galligo Table which is the one next to the Stronghold Table. We reported this to the OST Public Safety and also the Park Service who called Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, SD to see if there was any activity on the part of the Air Force near Stronghold table, the answer was no. We are faced with the fact that there is a lot of activity in the badlands that should be public information but is not. The Tokala on the Stronghold will continue to monitor the activity in and around the south unit areas as well as the whole northern half of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in terms of informing the people what is going on at the badlands. We are currently preparing for winter. Thank you for allowing us your time. Hoka! Tokala Ta Oonakinjin