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(en) STRONGHOLD TABLE CAMP - Tokala Warrior Society Defends Indigenous Lands

From Stefan Christoff <christoff@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Sun, 1 Dec 2002 18:16:12 -0500 (EST)


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Here is a recent article written about Strong Hold Table Camp in South
Dakota where the Tokala Warrior Society have been defending traditional
Lakota lands from development & the US National Parks Services. The lands
are a burial ground for hundreds who were slaughtered in the last 1890's.

>From the Strong Hold Website:

"The area known today as the Stronghold was the place where the Lakota
(Oglala) along with their allies (Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and other bands of
the Titunwe) made a stand to protect themselves from the 7th Calvary who
had just murdered over 200 men, women, and children at a small hamlet that
today is called Wounded Knee (Dec. 29, 1890).  The geographic description
of the Stronghold is unique in how easily it can be defended. There is a
small opening that widens into a huge area with adjoining tables of
smaller acreages.  It has steep inaccessible sides that in the past may
have been land bridges that were used to cross onto other adjoining
tables.  It was this site that provided sanctuary for all the people to
gather during the day long battles occurring across Pine Ridge Indian
Agency and surrounding areas after the murders at Wounded Knee.  Again a
tragedy occurred here at Stronghold Table and today the remains of our
ancestors are telling us their story."

Below is a recent article written about the defense of Strong Hold by the
Tokala Warrior Society & a written explanation of the lands & defense from
the Strong Hold website which is at: http://stronghold.table.tripod.com

Stefan - No One is Illegal Montreal

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Native group prepared to guard sites
BYJODI RAVE LEE / Lincoln Journal Star
http://www.journalstar.com/nebraska.php?story_id=32388

STRONGHOLD TABLE, S.D. -- At first glance, this ancient seabed of shale
peaks and gullies doesn't reveal what lies so close to the surface.

Fossils. Native burial sites. And for a small group of men, the prospect
of a long, cold winter.

This is Stronghold Table, a grassy mesa in Badlands National Park's
80,000-acre South Unit on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The land here is indelibly etched in tribal memory. This is Ghost Dance
land. Wounded Knee survivors fled here in 1890.

"My grandparents are survivors of Wounded Knee," said Nellie Two Bulls, an
Oglala Lakota elder and lifelong Pine Ridge resident. "They always tell me
stories. They said people know that's a sacred place, someone's protecting
them."

Now members of Tokala Okolakiciye, a traditional Lakota police-warrior
society, are taking a stand to protect what's left.

As winter edges onto Stronghold Table, Archie Little, Keith Janis and
George Tall are camping on the mesa, prolonging a peaceful occupation that
began six months ago. That's when the National Park Service announced
plans to begin removing 35million-year-old mammal fossils from the South
Unit.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and the Denver Museum of Science
and Nature were supposed to begin excavating in August as part of the plan
to protect fossils from theft and natural erosion.

But society members, fearing the excavation would disrupt what they view
as sacred land, set up camp.

Their occupation thwarted the school and museum from participating in the
dig.

"They both withdrew from the project," said Badlands National Park
Superintendent William Supernaugh. "We didn't have the staff we had
identified and needed to conduct the excavation."

Supernaugh hopes to resume excavation talks with tribal leaders in
January, he said.

"We hope to continue to work toward an agreement with the tribe," he said.
"Not the demonstrators, they don't represent the tribe."

The occupation will continue despite its violation of federal regulations,
Supernaugh said. He considers the demonstration a First Amendment right,
he said, "although they have never asked for a permit."

Said Tall, a member of the Tokala society and the Lakota Land Alliance:
"We do not plan to give up or back down. We plan to protest any future
excavations."

The land in question belongs to the Oglala Sioux Nation. But the tribe
gave control of the land to the National Park Service in 1976.

Park Service officials have said it would take an act of Congress to
return anything to the tribe.

And that's what tribal leaders will seek.

The tribe has prepared a bill it hopes to have introduced in Congress by
the South Dakota congressional delegation, said Mario Gonzalez, Oglala
Sioux Tribe attorney

Gonzalez said the tribe will seek compensation for hardships created when
the government took land -- now in the South Unit -- for use as a bombing
range in 1942. The tribe will also seek mineral and water rights held by
the federal government.

Meanwhile, society members want Stronghold Table to become a symbol of
courage, an old-fashioned statement of justice for those with little
political clout.

"We're doing this for our people, so my people won't be scared so they can
speak up for themselves," Little said recently from a cramped camper
trailer. "We want to speak up for the future generations."

The men on the mesa admit some people don't like them. That's because
they're hampering grave and fossil looting by locals and outsiders.

"We are very unpopular ... but the silent majority is very proud of what
we're doing," Tall said. "They let us know by bringing us up food and
stuff like that."

Two Bulls has never been to the Tokala camp, but she does know many
stories of the land.

"They say, over there, a lot of people died," she said. She recounted her
grandmother's stories of scaffold burials and other deaths in the area.
"So that place is a sacred burial grounds, too." She added: "There's
probably more skulls there than anyone can think of down below in that
basin."

But many of the human remains were already disturbed.

"All the skulls are missing from these bones we find," said Little, who
regularly patrols the Badlands from its table rims.

Janis described the area as "a staging area for grave robbers and bone
stealers."

Thievery can be big business here. It can also be costly for those caught.

Last spring, four Wisconsin residents were fined as much as $1,000 after
pleading guilty in federal court to stealing government property from the
Badlands, according to published reports.

And a tribal citizen was convicted of violating the Archaeological
Resource Protection Act for selling shell beads found near 800-year-old
human remains in the South Unit. He was sentenced to six months in prison,
probation and restitution.

Society members say they plan to occupy Stronghold Table until they feel
its future is safe.

"We want our own people to hear us," Tall said. "If we don't manage (the
land) now, it will be almost impossible in the future."

Reach Jodi Rave Lee at 473-7240 or jrave@journalstar.com

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Tokala Ta Onakinjin
Tokala at the Stronghold
http://stronghold.table.tripod.com/

The area known today as the Stronghold was the place where the Lakota
(Oglala) along with their allies (Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and other bands of
the Titunwe) made a stand to protect themselves from the 7th Calvary who
had just murdered over 200 men, wo men, and children at a small hamlet
that today is called Wounded Knee (Dec. 29, 1890).  The geographic
description of the Stronghold is unique in how easily it can be defended.
There is a small opening that widens into a huge area with adjoining
tables of smaller acreages.  It has steep inaccessible sides that in the
past may have been land bridges that were used to cross onto other
adjoining tables.  It was this site that provided sanctuary for all the
people to gather during the day long battles occuring across Pine Ridge
Indian Agency and surrounding areas after the murders at Wounded Knee.
Again a tragedy occurred here at Stronghold Table and today the remains of
our ancestors are telling us their story.

My name is George Tall.  I am an Ikce Wicasa (common man) and am bound
under the oath of a Tokala warrior (traditional police).  With this as our
authority we dispatched a Tokala group to protect the sacred burial
grounds of our ancestors and also to investigate the burial sites.

In 1976 the national park service (NPS) and the Oglala Sioux Tribe entered
into an agreement (MOA, 1976) on how to manage over 200,000 acres of
tribal land (badlands south unit). The NPS never implemented the
stipulations of the agreement e.g., 3MM dollar buffalo fence, Cultural
center, 100% staffed by Indian employment, and others that I cannot
remember at this time.  Recently the NPS, DOD, DOE, and OST proposed to
amend the MOA of 1976.  Instead the OST wanted their tribal lands back.
NPS argued that by congressional act the south unit was now a part of
Badlands National Park. To the Oglala people this was a treaty violation
(1868 Treaty, Art. 12).  Furthermore, NPS verbally refused to recognize
the moratorium imposed by the OST at a meeting with John Steele, President
of the OST. NPS plans an excavation from Aug. 12-23, 2002.  NPS's interest
stems from the richness of fossils in the area.  As you drop over the edge
of the badlands you can immediately see bones and fossils in large
numbers.

For the past three weeks we have been finding remains that were halfway
down from the top. With shocking reality we knew immediately that these
remains were never buried and in fact may have been murdered on top and
thrown over the edge.  We came to this reasoning because we were finding
remains mixed with horse bones.  At one particular site we found a foot,
an arrowhead, and horse bones mixed with the ribs of a child.  We feel
there is an untold story here that may equal the murders at Wounded Knee
in terms of genocide and human violations of high degrees.

At this point we are continuing to keep people away from these sites as
well as to continue the tokala investigation.  The next update will
probably be in a news packet submitted by our media staff.

Ho Le Miye Yelo, George Tall.

http://stronghold.table.tripod.com/


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