The indigenous fight to stop a uranium mine in the Black Hills

Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo.

She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers — “It was a man’s world,” she says — but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back, was on front pages across the country the following Sunday.

Brave had grown up on Pine Ridge, where the standoff emerged from a challenge to the tribal chair, whose alleged offenses included scheming to accept federal money for Paha Sapa, also known as the Black Hills. Brave’s great-grandfather Ohitika had helped negotiate the 1868 treaty preserving Lakota stewardship of the hills, but after white settlers found gold there, the lands were wrested away.

Today, Brave and other Lakota elders are staring down yet another encroachment on their historic lands: a 10,600-acre uranium mine proposed to be built in the Black Hills. The Dewey-Burdock mine would suck up as much as 8,500 gallons of groundwater per minute from the Inyan Kara aquifer to extract as much as 10 million pounds of ore in total. Lakota say the project violates both the 1868 U.S.-Lakota treaty and federal environmental laws by failing to take into account the sacred nature of the site. If the mine is built, they say, burial grounds would be destroyed and the region’s waters permanently tainted.

Read full story…

 

Similar Posts:

The following are paid links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.