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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Announcement of Gathering to protect Bear Butte

My name is Carter Camp, I'm a Ponca Indian and I have been chosen to be the "Eyapaha" or "Traditional Speaker" for the Inter-Tribal Coalition to Defend Bear Butte. (www.defendbearbutte.org).

As such, I would like to announce a major effort by over thirty (30) Sovereign Indian Nations in America to stop the obscene developments which are being built all around the Mountain each of our Nations hold sacred and inviolable. For over a century our Nations have attempted to explain to the encroaching Americans that this Sacred Mountain is a place where we come to pray and it holds an exquisitely important place in the ancient religious ways of each of our Nations. For example, during each of America's World Wars, plus Korea and Viet Nam, our Nations and our Veterans pilgrimage to Bear Butte to pray for the victories of American Armed Forces and the safe return of our tribal warriors who fought in those wars in such great numbers. In fact all year around hundreds of Indian people make their pilgrimage to Bear Butte to pray, fast, and hold religious ceremonies. The Mountain holds such tremendous meaning to our people that many of us believe our entire way of life will be destroyed if the continued exploitation of the land around Bear Butte is allowed to continue by local and State governments.

Now because those same local and state governments refuse to hear our pleas to mitigate the developments or in any way cooperate with our requests for a five-mile buffer zone around her base, we must attempt to convince them in a more direct way. Therefore we have decided to hold another "Great Gathering of the Nations" such as the one Hunkpapa Chief Sitting Bull held in the mid 1800's for the same reason… to protect our sacred grounds. Chief Sitting Bull gathered 6,000 of his people; we plan on gathering over 10,000 native people on Bear Butte during this year's "Sturgis Bike Rally" to stand and march in witness and protest to the destruction of our most holy site. Each day of the "Rally" we plan on exercising our Constitutional right to assemble on Bear Butte and march to the Sturgis City Hall and/or the various scenes of noisy, drunken debauchery taking place around the slopes of our sacred mountain.

Our people will begin gathering to hold ceremonies on the Fourth of July and we will continue to gather our people until August when a "Grand Council of the Tribes" will be held to determine our future course of actions. All Traditional Societies will take their place in the grand circle; Traditional Chiefs will lead societies of Kit Fox, Dog Soldiers, Ponca He'Thuska, and other Lakota Tokala and Akicita to take their places at the front of the people. Our effort will be led principally by American Indian Veterans who have fought for America in all of her wars.

The second effort will be an International boycott of the Broken Spoke Saloon and all booze serving campgrounds within the five-mile buffer zone. This effort will be spearheaded by the newly formed biker group "BIKERS FOR BEAR BUTTE" who will take it upon themselves to inform the biker nation that Meade County and South Dakota are turning a deaf and racist ear to Indian people and only the bikers themselves can take the proper steps to enforce the buffer zone by asking all bikers not to patronize any campground, booze party, or concert venue within the buffer zone. They will "request" in the strongest terms that their fellow bikers stay off Highway 34 and 79 within five miles of Bear Butte. This effort has already begun and will grow much stronger before the "Rally".

In closing I would like to assure the people of South Dakota that our gathering and marches will be peaceful and within Constitutional bounds. We will seek permits for our marches and gathering places and we intend to comply with existing laws. But in the end, we fully intend to protect the sanctity of our sacred mountain no matter how long it takes; we have done so for hundreds of years and we intend to continue as long as she is being shown disrespect and remains under attack.

We further ask the people of South Dakota to help us by writing or calling their legislators and asking them to enact the five-mile buffer zone as law.

In 2001 the World Trade Center ruins became "Sacred Ground" to all Americans so it seems America can understand the concept with which our people have regarded Bear Butte from time immemorial.

All we're asking is that South Dakotans give our sacred mountain the same respect given to New York's sacred site.

Carter Camp, Eyapaha
Inter-Tribal Coalition to Defend Bear Butte.


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