Ref: Official "Camp Justice" Update, which is authorized to be used as a News Article, Editorial or Special Report - to be posted and networked to all Camp Justice Web sites, politicians, media and supporters of all Nations. Date: December 6, 1999 From: Camp Justice, Organizers, Leaders and Supporters of: "Camp Justice" and the "March for Justice" to White Clay, Nebraska Camp Justice, c/o Tom Poor Bear, P.O. Box 823, Pine Ridge SD 57770 Web Address: http://www.aics.org/justice/camp.html Contact Tom & Orgainizers: Mike.Wicks@mindspring.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Tom Poor Bear, Camp Justice Leader, Sergeant at Arms, Oglala Sioux Tribe, "Serving the Oglala Lakota Oyate" 605-867-5821* The last paragraph with the list of organizer's names had an omission on the first posting, but it was updated on 12/07/99.
FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE
Camp Justice Statement to the United States Commission on Civil Rights
-South Dakota Hearing & Forums - December 6th 1999-
People of the United States of America & the World
United States Commission on Civil Rights
Rocky Mountain Regional Office
1700 Broadway, Suite 710
Denver, CO 80290
In the Spirit of Justice,
Camp Justice and the Traditional Lakota Nation, along with our many supporters and organizations throughout the world wish to thank the representatives of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Rocky Mountain Regional Office members and staff, President Clinton and his staff, and all advocates who have made it possible for us to have this Civil Rights platform for the world to see.
December 4th marked the 25th weekend of "March for Justice" to White Clay, Nebraska. World attention is drawn to the unsolved murders of Wally Black Elk and Ronnie Hard Heart. Our Lakota brothers were found dead, brutally beaten and mutilated a few feet from the Nebraska/South Dakota border. It was in their honor, and because of all the other unsolved murders of our people, that Camp Justice and the March for Justice to White Clay, Nebraska was established.
All day it has been stated, and it will be proven, that the double standard judicial system that exists here in South Dakota and the boarder towns of Nebraska particuarlly in Sheridan County, is especially double and troubling in regards to our people. There are many injustices and violations against our people that we would like to disclose to you today, however, it would take days to list them all.
Throughout our nation, we have been calling world attention to the many, many injustices and violations against, and lack of support for us in regards to; spiritual, environmental, health, education, social, judicial, business, economics, political and race relation issues affecting us and our future generations. We have been telling Americans that we have great concern for indigenous people, and do not wish to tolerate the "not in my backyard" attitude being displayed. outside our boarders.
Throughout the day, you will hear many testimonials in regards to Human and civil judicial injustices and violations against our people. There have been over 100 deaths & murders of our people in and around our homelands, including Sheridan County of Nebraska & areas around Rapid City, Mobridge and Sisston since early 1973 that remain unanswered and unsolved, the majority being swept under the rug.
Camp Justice will draw your attention to the events that led to the demonstrations and marches to White Clay, and to where we are today.
As family and friends to Wally and Ron we had exhausted all avenues in an attempt to get answers from officials in regards to the investigation of Ron and Wally's brutal murders. We were tired of hearing excuses and wanted answers. We were tired of the disrespect for our rights and feelings that have been displayed by officials and those who think they have power over us.
We told of our community being overrun by exploiters in White Clay and how they continue seeking to destroy us, and continue to intimidate our people. We showed where these exploiters continue selling millions of dollars worth of liquor to our people, causing death in many cases, and we have seen them get angry when we suggest they support treatment for those with alcohol sickness. We told of the promotion of Native prostitution in White Clay as well, and we feel that those involved in the exploitation should be held accountable.
However, some of our people live in fear as they try to protect our community against bigotry and injustices. Some people in our communities are too afraid to stand up against these issues because they fear repercussions from bigot groups and some officials. We have seen people, some responsible for these problems, turn away from facing these issues so that we will have a healthy community, even though they know our children and people are suffering. No, these people have proven to us that they are not friends of the Lakota, as they claim to be, regardless what the media or others say.
As our people have tried to pull together, those of us who chose to speak their minds and language, have been set up, beat up, killed, miss-quoted and pitted against each other by those against our well being, in an attempt to destroy any movement toward the unity of our people and our success. The genocide and war games with our lives continues today.
We have asked for help from various officials and communities, including President Clinton during his visit to Pine Ridge, but no help came. Something had to be done....so our people and supporters came from all over the world to demonstrate and march that first weekend. Unfortunately, a few people got out of hand after we left White Clay, and officials and media capitalized on that, instead of addressing the real issues.
The next weekend, with the help of our Spiritual Leaders, we organized a peaceful, non-violent march to White Clay and invited all Human Rights advocates. South Dakota, Nebraska and federal officials and politicians supervised, watched and participated while over one hundred law officers, riot police, and snipers along with their tear gas and attack dogs tried to intimidate our people, children and women included, to prevent us from demonstrating and marching to White Clay.
They led the public to believe there would be violence, although it was mutually agreed by both sides beforehand that we would provide security, and that respected Spiritual and community leaders would be guiding us. The day before, as well as the day of the demonstration on July 3, 1999, most national media headlines and articles indicated, "More Violence Feared" at White Clay during justice march.
These officials denied us access to cross the Nebraska state line to demonstrate peacefully. A trooper dropped an M-16 rifle that day. If it would have accidentally fired, someone could have been hurt or killed, and we would be at war today, with the land grabbers waiting at the door for our demise.
Before the march, officials had assured us that they wanted to help us make the march successful. During negotiations between representatives from all sides, it was mutually agreed that nine of our people would cross into Nebraska that day. When they did step into Nebraska, they were arrested for not following a lawful order; an order that should have never been given, an order that totally denies our human and civil rights.
Instead of lining up in front of the businesses they say they had to protect, they blocked us from entering Nebraska, because of the fear they themselves created. The command was not even a "lawful order" to be given. Now, those who crossed the line are being forced to finance the legal fees caused by officials not working with us as they had originally promised during the rally, and before the march.
We have been treated with much disrespect in front of the world. The non-Indian media helped bring more disrespect and mistrust by trying to portray us as violent and stupid people, and by capitalizing on the violence of a few.
While media coverage was almost non-existent regarding the deaths of Ron and Wally, when a white man was beaten up by four Native American youths in Martin, South Dakota resulted in national TV and newspaper coverage for days throughout the Rocky Mountain Region, and on "Good Morning America" the very next morning.
The fact that this white adult man purchased and brought liquor illegelly onto the reservation, was responsible for our youths drinking in the first place, is being accused of trying to molest one of our youths which was why the fight started in the first place. Sheriff Waterbury immediately stated to the pubic that the incendent was a hate crime knowing full well....the racial tentions and protests throughout the region.
We have sent many messages to officials and media of our needs, as well as our ideas for solutions, including economic sovereignty plans, so our information could be disseminated to the American People. Our press releases, articles and letters to the editor continue falling through the cracks, and it seems that we now must create hard copy news in order to gain any media attention at all.
As the marches continued, more attention was drawn to us. On the 7th weekend march for justice to White Clay, while sniper guns were again focused and aimed upon our unarmed people, just waiting for one false move, law officials approached us to ask us to stop our weekend marches to White Clay.
It seems that our demonstrating was costing officials thousands of dollars to watch us. All this time they have been "watching us," on taxpayer expence, not once did we see them looking for evidence to solve the murders. Instead, they stood around waiting for us to get violent.
Last week, nearly six months after the murders and only one week before these hearings, approximately 30 FBI agents swarmed the Camp Justice area looking for evidence. They have written a Press Advisory release (SEE ATTACHMENT) to us to tell us how much time and money they have spent on the investigation. They did inform me that they did pick up some evidence.
If there was a time and need for specially trained dogs and forensic experts, the time was right after the bodies were found, not six months later. We question the mention of the change of season as the grass was not so thick at the time the bodies were found and before thousands of people have trampled the area. The F.B.I.'s letter sent to us was unsigned, contained no phone number, contact information, or reference file number recorded on behalf of the Justice Department they serve.
The community, and the families and friends of the victims have not yet received explanation or reports from the investigators as to why the previous suspects have been cleared, nor have we received answers regarding pervious leads from the community. Our many questions to investigators continue falling on deaf ears.
Wally and Ron were brutilized just as bad as Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and we all loved our brothers just as much as the world says they loved Jon Benet' Ramsey. Many white victims and their families are afforded top priority by officials spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money to seek justice in their unsolved murders, even though our entire nation, represented by people living throughout the world, are helping pursue this case and deserve the same resources to be available to us.
Most of our people fear or distrust the F.B.I., boarder town officials and the media because for decades some have intimidated and condescended our people and have tried to block attempts of our advocate movements we have established to protect our people. Until they release the thousands of documents complied against the American Indian Movement and other advocates and groups of our people, and start helping us, we will continue to feel that they still intend animosity and to continue their war against us.
We have stated again and again that if these murder victims had been white, officials would have come out in swarms sparing no expense, just as they demonstrated during some of our marches to White Clay to protect the white citizens of White Clay, Nebraska from unarmed, peaceful protesters.
During the 11th march to White Clay we showed treaty documents, executive orders, and the 1889 Dawes Act which includes the town of White Clay, signed on behalf and for the people of the United States of America to the Oglala Lakota Nation. These federal documents provided proof to law officials that White Clay belongs to the Oglala Lakota nation by treaty. We showed where there are statements in these documents that there are to be no liquor establishments within 22 miles of reservation borders, and we asked them to shut the town down.
That day, we asked the Nebraska and South Dakota law officials present, to remove the establishments at White Clay, but they claimed to have no jurisdiction, so therefore they could not comply. Federal officials have been scarce in all this. We continue to show officials legal documents as well and ask officials, that as United States Citizens, to uphold and enforce the documents and treaties. After all, it is written in the treaties that the Lakota Nation shall have a special relationship, sovereign nation to sovereign nation between the two. It is written that we are to be under special protection of the people of the United States of America, yet America continues to try to turn away from these most important issues.
Most notably, the White Clay businesses can't produce land documents that supercede Lakota treaty documents we have shown to them; documents that I have hand-carried into White Clay.
As representatives of the United States of America, law enforcement and politicians have a duty to protect our people either by letting us take what is rightfully ours, or by shutting the town down until the land dispute is settled. Instead, they arrest us for "trespassing," forcing our people to raise bond for questionable charges, and refuse to address the actual legal issues.
If this incident had happened anywhere else in America, the law would have prevailed and we would have our injunction today. The four youth who walked away from prosecution for their part in Boo Many Horses death in Mobridge, would be in jail today for what they did. We are outraged at the continued disrespect and arrogance against Lakota people by those against us.
Many of our people and council members are in fear of repercussions of loss of funding if we "rock the boat." We feel this is why they will not file the injunction in Federal Court.
Throughout your investigation you will find that white criminals are treated to lower bonds, shorter sentences, less brutality and more respect than native people arrested for the same type offences. Here in Rapid City, official or politician should help our people organize th Camp Strong Hold Citizens Patrol to protect the community.
These issues of Human and Civil rights violations and injustices we are presenting today are most serious and important to us. These lists of violations affect our families, our people, our nation and our survival as human beings. We challenge this commission to become more than a "symbolic jester" on our behalf.
Action needs to be taken immediately to open and fund Human/Civil Rights offices, staffed by native people who are known and respected within our communities for doing what's right and caring for our people. The offices need to be located in areas known for bigotry and violations against our people. Then we would feel comfortable knowing that our many issues are being addressed.
We are sure that family and friends of the victims, tribes, advocates and supporters for Justice will help you seek Truth. The people responsible for these many violations should be punished. This would be a good faith start toward addressing the many problems and issues we are facing today.
Most of our people do not have money or vehicle to travel far distances to attend meetings and forums, and many have been forced to live away from our homelands for various reasons, mainly because of economic hardships.
We are told that there is no funding available from your department to set up these offices, however, we see there is, and that other minority and organized groups, religious groups included, and other countries are being funded by America to protect their rights.
Most important, for public record, we ask those who could not attend this hearing and the forum, to prepare and mail their documents and exhibits, stating these injustices and violations to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office listed above. It is important that these documents are received prior to the December 20, 1999 hearing deadline.
To our people: On the strength of your statements and exhibits, we will make our case. Camp Justice web pages are setup to keep people informed of our advocacy efforts at http://www.aics.org/justice/camp.html
Further, we ask the United States Commission on Civil Rights to extend the hearing deadline date to the middle of January as we have not had enough time to meet and continue to gather and compile our; statements, exhibits and petitions we are being expected to submit during the most busiest national holiday season of the year.
We all agree that if we feel that Truth does not prevail after this investigation, and attempts aren't being made to do what's right by our nation according to treaty, promises and commitments, to protect our people, we will join other advocacy groups in seeking world tribunal hearings to investigate human and civil rights violations occurring to us by the people of the United States of America.
In honor of our people, our children and our ancestors, we will continue marching and living in teepees and tents at Camp Justice for as long as it takes for the world to seek Truth and demand justice, accountability and respect for the Lakota.
Mitakuye Oyasin, Respectfully,
Tom Poor Bear, Camp Justice Organizer
c/o Tom Poor Bear Camp Justice P.O. Box 823, Pine Ridge SD 57770
Written and Presented on behalf of: Camp Justice Organizers, Volunteers and millions of Supporters
Camp Justice & March for Justice Organizers: Tom Poor Bear, Loren Black Elk, Ben Black Elk, Faye Cedar Face, Ede Sherman, Tom Clifford, Dave Clifford, June Little, Marlin Hawk Wing, Alberta Black Bear, Chaz Little Bear, Moses Thunder Hawk, Lloyd Fire Thunder, Marlin Hawk Wing, Rose Beane, Billy Beane, Robin Mesteth, Webster Poor Bear, Tony Brave, Dale Looks Twice, AIM Arizona, Mike Wicks, Kathy Morning Star, Sandra Matchen, AIM leaders Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Vernon Bellecourt.