RAPID CITY, South Dakota — A Lakota minister is trying to stop plans by the National Park Service and Oglala Sioux tribe to create a tribal national park in southwestern South Dakota.
The plan threatens the sanctity of sacred land near the Black Hills and the ranching way of life of the people who live there and have had land passed down through generations of their families, Robert Two Bulls told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1gbmTGW ).
"I'm not going to sit idle when people are oppressed," he said. "I'm not going to lose my land to those people."
National Park Service officials hope to complete draft legislation early this year to eventually bring the park plan to Congress for approval. The plan includes the reintroduction of bison to the South Unit of Badlands National Park.
Two Bulls has petitioned the tribal court to issue an injunction stopping the Tribal Council from moving forward with the plan, which would include using grasslands surrounding the proposed park to provide forage for the bison. Two Bulls' petition asks the court to void the resolution the council passed last June that started the process of cancelling cattle grazing leases.
Supporters of the park plan see it as an economic development opportunity, with a Lakota cultural center and a large bison herd drawing visitors. Chuck Jacobs, a tribal representative working with the Park Service, has said the cultural center could become the nucleus for other development including a hotel, convenience stores, powwow grounds, campgrounds and possibly a racetrack with pari-mutuel betting.
Badlands National Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann also has said that individually owned allotments of land would be fenced out by the National Park Service. That does not appease some landowners, however.
"With a fence, I'd live in a concentration camp, locked in with the buffalo," said Two Bulls' daughter, Twilla Two Bulls, who lives with her father.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com