Tim Giago: Resolving ownership of the Black Hills

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When U. S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote his brief on a case that had dragged on for 60 years before reaching his desk in 1980, a case dealing with the illegal taking of the Black Hills from the Sioux Tribes, he wrote in describing the role of the United States government in the theft of the Hills, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonest dealings may never be found in our history.” Twenty-nine years have elapsed since the Court awarded the Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation $105 million in a case marked as Docket 74A. Although these tribes are among the poorest people in America (three of the reservations in the suit were among the top 10 of the poorest counties in America in the 1980 U. S. Census) they have refused to accept the monetary award. For most of those years they have faced an unfavorable Republican regime and when they did get a Bill introduced by Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) in the early 1980s, the lack of a united front by the tribes caused Bradley to withdraw.


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