Hemp and the Lakota Tribes
The Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1898 is an agreement made between the US Government and the indigenous tribes of Black Hills, a mountainous range extending from South Dakota to Wyoming, guaranteeing the Lakota Tribe land ownership and their rights to govern themselves as a sovereign nation, outside of interference of the United States Government. The treaty maintains tribal rights to cultivate any crop for seed or fiber on the sacred tribal lands designated by borders on the map.
Since the treaty was signed, the Lakota tribes have fought to protect their land and rights, costing money, causing tribal members immense anguish and degrading the environment. Gold Mining interests caused the US Government to seize the land back in 1877, a move that would not be repealed until more than a century later when in 1980 The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the terms of the original treaty in United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians.
Alex White Plume has served in several leadership roles for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation and has been a sole driving force in the Lakota’s dedication to the Hemp plant. Featured in the documentary “Hempsters Plant the Seed” ( now available on DVD now as a part of Cinema Libre’s Earth NOW! Series), Alex has pushed the limits to maintain his Nation’s rights to grow any crop for fiber and seed. Twentieth Century Cannabis Prohibition tests the tribe’s sovereign rights several times as fields of hemp crops are planted only to be cut down and destroyed by United States Federal DEA Agents.
When tornadoes destroyed a large portion of the reservation in 1999, HempCrete houses were constructed to replace some of the homes. In addition to HempCrete walls, the houses feature carbonized hemp panels, hemp roof shingles and hemp insulation, which reduce the homes heating and cooling costs. Alex’s house was destroyed by fire in 1997 and replaced by a hemp house which also featured recycled pieces of the tribal recreation center that were upgraded with hemp building products prior to the accident. Quotes Alex, “If Hemp were grown in the United States, it would take 6% of the land to grow enough hemp to fuel every car and power every house in America.” He was speaking with actress and known environmentalist Darryl Hannah about the many uses of Industrial Hemp.
The Lakota Indians feel that they should be allowed to plant and harvest industrial hemp for the benefit of their people. In a letter addressed to the US Attorney’s office, The Oglala Lakota Nation argue the “Controlled Substances Act of 1970 did not divest the Lakota People of our reserved right to plant and harvest whatever crop we deem beneficial to our reservation. Therefore, we regard the enforcement of our hemp ordinance and prosecution of our marijuana laws as tribal matters to be handled by our Oglala Sioux Tribal Public Safety Law Enforcement Services.” The Lakota Tribes have reserved the right to grow hemp by virtue of their sovereignty which makes the US Drug Laws prohibiting the farming and manufacturing of hemp products inapplicable against Lakota Tribe Members.
The Tribe voted into law Ordinance 98-27, which distinguishes between marijuana and hemp and allows Lakota farmers to plant, harvest, and produce products from hemp under tribal supervision. The ordinance notes hemp as a safe and profitable commodity in international global markets and the benefits for the Sioux Tribal Nations. Mention is made of the fact tribal nations were required, along with American farmers, to grow and produce textiles for the military and the Nation’s past history of compliance.
Every year tribal lands are opened to the general public for hemp awareness and celebration events. Lakota Hemp Days have been happening for more than a decade now and draw visitors from all over for the hemp building material displays, music, and demonstrations highlighting hemp’s sustainable qualities and the benefits for communities. The Hemp Hoe Down 2012 took place in the first week of June and was a huge success. Look for 2013 updates on their website: http://hemphoedown.com/
Ending Industrial Hemp Prohibition is not the only environmental issue that is important to the Lakota People. In March 2012, Lakota tribe members found that trucks hauling equipment from Texas to Alberta, Canada to begin construction on the Tarsands Pipeline, a proposed project with the potential to deplete and pollute the natural environment, were violating Tribal Law. The US Government had not gained permission from tribal leaders to use the trade route through tribal lands protected by The Treaty of Fort Laramie. Everyone from the tribe showed up to form a human chain keeping the trucks from entering Lakota territory including a 92 year old woman. Alex White Plume, his wife Debra White Plume and several other tribal members were arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to jail is Kyle, SD.
In July 2012, Alex White Plume traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to make a presentation to the United Nations Department of Economical and Social Affairs regarding ways to breach communications with indigenous people with treaties allowing governance outside of the Nation State in which is resides. The Lakota Oyate have participated in the United Nations system since 1977 as a sovereign nation and had an important role in conceiving the UN Study on Treaties, Agreements and other Constructive Arrangements. It is the intention of the tribe to help other nations find ways to peaceably interpret such treaties as the Treaty of Fort Laramie and enforce the rights of indigenous citizens of sovereign nations. The presentation helps solidify relations with other countries for support when negotiating sovereign rights and urges Nation States to implement educational programs designed to help improve relations for uninhibited commerce and positive participation in global events.
Alex believes that Hemp can save the World, and that the right for indigenous cultures to govern themselves should be preserved in every country. His people have suffered immeasurably at the hands of United States corporate interests, leaving permanent scars on the Lakota tribes. Righting the situation means making the correct decisions moving forward, so the Earth is available for all future generations.
Treaty of Fort Laramie Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Fort_Laramie_(1868)
Sunday, July 22, 2012 Alex White Plume speaking in Geneva challenging UN Representatives on fair representation of traditions in native cultures.http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/07/lakota-alex-white-plume-challenges-un.html
Tribal members arrested for blocking trucks transporting supplies for Tarsands Pipeline Project. http://www.unitedprogressives.org/pages/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1304%3Aunited-progressives-lakota-activist-tells-story-of-standoff-with-xl-pipeline-trucks&catid=193%3Apress-release&Itemid=80
Pine Ridge Hemp House http://www.plenty.org/pineridgehouse.htm
Lakota Hemp Story from Kentucky: http://kentuckyhempcoalition.blogspot.com/2012/03/hemp-and-story-of-oglala-lakota-nation.html
Alex White Plume Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_White_Plume
Tribal Hemp Ordinance http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/OrdinanceNo9827.pdf
Vote Hemp Information: http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_WP.html
Lakota HempCrete Project http://stash.norml.org/lakota-hempcrete-project