The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council recently passed a resolution to support the proposed mineral withdrawal, which will ban mining around the Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills, preserving the land and drinking water.
The ban would cover about 32 square miles encompassing the Pactola Reservoir and areas of public land upstream that drain into the reservoir via Rapid Creek.
Organizers at NDN Collective have been working with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to foster support for the proposed mineral withdrawal. Organizers are looking to the other 15 Tribes as having a legal say to stand behind the resolution to protect the sacred land from the destructive mining operations.
The potential impact of the mining areas have cultural significance to Native Americans in South Dakota, a region that figures prominently in Native American history and spirituality.
“Any mining company that tries to desecrate the land or water of the sacred Black Hills will be entering a battle that the Lakota have been waging for over two hundred years,” Mark K. Tilsen, action organizer at NDN Collective, said in a press release. “We are honored that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council is committed to fighting for the Black Hills. We all love our sacred lands.”
Indigenous people protect 80 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity in the forests, deserts, grasslands, and marine environments in which they have lived for centuries, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
“The Pactola withdrawal is a way for this entire community to protect lands and a critical drinking water source from powerful international mining interests,” Taylor Gunhammer, local organizer at NDN Collective, said in a press release.
The next step is to get the Mineral Withdrawl expanded to the Black Hills. NDN Collective will continure mobilizing local communities to protect the drinking water for Rapid City, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Cheyenne River, and the Pine Ridge reservation.
“Tribes going forward together in this way, united in our message concerning the upholding of our treaty rights and the protection of our water, land and air is of the utmost importance right now. It is absolutely paramount,” said Reno Red Cloud, Director of the OST Water Resource Department, in a press release.
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