LAND STEWARDSHIP PUBLIC MEETING
Jan. 26, 2017 Spearfish Park Pavilion
It was a cold evening – temperatures drop rapidly in the winter after the sun goes down.
As I walked towards the park pavilion, I could see vehicle after vehicle going towards the park. In Indiana, you could only get this kind of attendance on a cold winter’s night for a basketball game. And very few care about what is happening to Indiana’s environment…mercury being dumped into Lake Michigan by BP being one of them and the other being 15 million pounds of toxins being poured into the waterways every single year…
..but I digress…
Needless to say, I was surprised and delighted at the over 400 persons in attendance.
People care! People care!
Briefly, the governor of South Dakota along with Senator Thune want to make Spearfish Canyon a State Park. In order to do this, they must first exchange some land so that it can then be turned over to the state. Right now, Spearfish Canyon is in the National Park System and the Forest Service is in charge of it.
Joleen, a member of those proposing the Spearfish Canyon land exchange, gave a canned speech about how good it will be to take this land away….so the state can make it more accessible and clean it up. What a joke. This is the most natural of spaces and what it needs is to be let alone without more human interference nor more human and vehicle traffic to spoil the ecosystem.
Joleen didn’t get very far into her spiel before a member of the audience spoke up about how she was trying to steer the conversation away from what the audience wanted to talk about — the land grab — er, I mean the “land exchange”. They like to use nice words when trying to pull a fast one, don’t they?
She immediately characterized what this man said, who spoke with passion but not hysteria, as “very emotional”. They also like to put down anyone who speaks with passion as “emotional”, which in Freud’s psychological misogyny, that characterized women as emotional, and emotions equal weakness in Freud’s view. I thought I should bring that up for those unfamiliar with subtle communications ploy of attacking a person instead of attacking their argument. Ad hominem is what it is called. It is a sly way of portraying someone as weak, so no one will listen to them.
Katie was the next speaker –I believe she is head of State Parks. She also characterized this land grab, er exchange, as “emotional.” Why are people upset? Because Governor Daugaard was trying to slip this by the Dakota public without giving them the opportunity to voice opposition to it.
A member of the audience got up to say that Daugaard had introduced legislation, SB114, the night before (1/25/17) as “emergency” legislation. Where’s the emergency? Is the land going to get up and walk away..? /snark
Katie went on to say that this was at the D.C. Congressional level. Several in the audience were surprised at that. Later, a member got up to state that the federal land is much harder to get rid of by politicians…they want the land returned to state control because the people in the state have no say in what happens to the land. Federal land, however, belongs to the American people. They get a say in what happens to it.
Another audience member stated she had worked for the Forest Service for 30 years, and they have devalued federal land to zero so that the land will not show as a loss to the American public. Sneaky.
Katie went on to say how ten years previously, the State had improved Spearfish Canyon by enhancing access. Enhancing and enhancement are words the land grabbers like to use. However, a member of the audience got up and stated that a 16 foot bridge that helped the disabled to enjoy the park had been washed out some time ago (2014) and it still had not been replaced. He said they went to all the trouble of spending money on making a sign saying that the Dakota State Parks could not afford to replace the bridge. He asked how they could manage Spearfish Canyon if they couldn’t manage a bridge? Lots of audience applause.
Next, Katie stated that Sen. Thune introduced legislation in 2016 that proposed the land grab, but it died before getting to the floor.
Now it appears Thune’s legislation is back again.
Katie went on to say that they were in talks with the Forest Service. Several people spoke out and said that was untrue. One asked if the Forest Service was here to confirm what she was asserting? She said no. (Also not true)
People were grumbling about that and a man came to the microphone to address it. He said that the Forest Service was involved with the litigation, and they were under gag order because of that. I looked across the room, and I could see several National Forest Service employees in attendance. It was clear to me that they were interested in what was happening, but were not allowed their constitutional right to free speech as American citizens. Several people would say that they supported the Forest Service and that they were pleased with the job they did taking care of Spearfish Canyon.
They went on to say that the Native tribes were also being consulted for their input. Yeah, riiight….
A member of the audience spoke out “Like they were consulted at Standing Rock…?” Unfortunately, some jerk in the audience told her to shut up. She had as much right to speak out and call them on it as the others did.
They kept emphasizing call elected officials — that they were accepting and monitoring comments. Yeah, it’s the word monitoring that made me sit up. They’re not interested in the public will, but who in the public is speaking out. I have to say that as I walked towards the building, I was struck with the thought “at least there are no officers here dressed in riot gear” like at Standing Rock. And a gentleman at the end of the public comments voiced the same thought — but methinks he is too complacent in that he thinks it won’t happen.
Every thing they have done to the most vulnerable– such as the poor, the Natives, the children, the soldiers (forced vaccines) and on — is a dress rehearsal for what they have in store for white people. Up to this point, white folks have been insulated from the turmoil going on. But they will be challenged. They won’t be able to sit on the sidelines when the fit hits the shan. They will have to decide whether Spearfish Canyon is worth fighting for — for standing up to police in riot gear and being maced and being shot with water cannons and so-called non-lethal bullets. I have no doubt it will come to that. The greedy want this beautiful land. They want to placate Native folk by making them feel included, but they also know that the traditional Natives are willing to lay down their lives for this land. They looove this land. Daugaard, Thune, and Co. don’t want them too much involved because of their passion for this land. Native folk see it as gift of the Creator and that demands respect and living sustainably in harmony with it.
Katie went on to say “We don’t know it all, but we will find out information for you.” To me, “we don’t know it all” sounded like a backdoor for them to escape responsibility. They can always say they didn’t know when people start calling them on their shell game.
Inclusion is another word they like to use. And she emphasized they had organized “focus groups” and “stakeholder meetings”. Both of those terms are loved by the neocons/neolibs to take away a person’s right to represent themselves in public discussions.
This is exactly how they got the land away from the Native folks. See, in Native society, they did not have “representatives” or electoral votes. They voted for something and they had to have 3/4 agreement before it would be accepted. This meant that each individual had a vote that mattered and no one person got to say they represented the whole tribe.
The Black Hills was seceded by Red Cloud but he did not have the authority to do so, according to Native law. Three-fourths of the natives did not agree with giving away the Black Hills, which they consider sacred. But the greedy ones got Red Cloud to agree. They deemed him as representative of all native folks and that is how the land grabbers got the land away from the native folk.
The thing is — the native folk were the best stewards of the land. They took care of this land for over 10,000 years. It was beautiful and lush and provided all their needs of housing, clothing, tools, and the most important — spiritual connection to God, the Creator.
Several folks also mentioned the Creator and how God designed it just fine without interference. It should be left alone. Period.
Public comments are as follows:
Man: Government did not seek public opinion BEFORE introducing legislation. State Parks are acting like it’s a done deal.
He emphatically opposed the land exchange and against bringing in more human and vehicle traffic. Increased traffic along with paved roads will degrade the creek.
Man: Do not want more traffic in the area. State land is not protected like Federal land. State land is subjected to politicians. I don’t trust my politicians.
Man: Keep it as God created it. We don’t need it “improved” or asphalted.
Man: I don’t trust the system.
Man: Government was saying everybody agreed with land exchange. He asked everyone there who was against the land exchange? Nearly everyone there (400+) raised their hand.
Young man: The land acquisition is for Spearfish Canyon, LLC, which would give them a monopoly. That’s about as un-American as one can get.
Young man: He greeted everyone in the traditional Lakota greeting. Nice. He asked for more than token comments and asked for recognition of brutal history of the land acquisition.
Man: Spearfish Canyon is a land grab. Why didn’t they ask us? Because they don’t care. let’s make them care.
Woman: Make sure everyone knows what is happening. Across this whole state — let everyone know, because when East River goes on vacation, they come here.
Nancy Helding of the local Audubon Society stated that they were against the land acquisition. She stated that the Thune Bill (SB3254) would value the land at agricultural prices, not its true value. (This is another way for the greedy to acquire land without paying fair prices for it. Again, this is what they did to the Native folk. The Native folk did not see the Earth as something they could sell. They did not create it, therefore, they had no right to ask for money for it. They actually thought the English were crazy for wanting to sell land. The concept was as unfathomable as what we feel now for someone wanting to sell water.)
Foreign lady: This is an attempt to privatize. They grab this piece, and then come back and grab more. (BIG applause)
You might recall that was my feeling, too. I could not shake the feeling that they were going to privatize the National Parks.
Another related feeling that I can’t shake is something I learned at Wind Cave National Park last summer–they once used those caves for fallout shelters against nuclear bombs during the 1950-60s. Are they going to privatize them so that they can use them as bomb shelters? Remember, Dick Cheney was linked with a nuclear missile that disappeared from an Air Force flight somewhere between North Dakota and Louisiana. He popped into my head when I read of the caves being used for bomb shelters.
Here’s the fart book page for the effort against the land grab: facebook.com/Spearfish-Canyon-Land-Grab-1624952284478168/