Tribe to vote on tribal national park plan; resolution evicting some area ranchers rescinded

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PINE RIDGE, South Dakota — The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has decided to allow tribal members to vote on a proposed tribal national park in southwestern South Dakota, after months of controversy.

Tribal officials have been working with the National Park Service on a plan to turn the South Unit of Badlands National Park and surrounding grassland into the nation's first tribal national park, and to introduce a herd of buffalo.

Opponents have argued that the plan threatens the sanctity of sacred land near the Black Hills and also the ranching way of life of the people who live there and have had their land passed down through generations. Some affected ranchers and landowners have sued in tribal court.

The Tribal Council earlier this month rescinded a 2013 resolution that evicted some ranchers from grazing land in the area. A vote will be held within three months on whether to continue working with the Park Service on the creation of the park, Tribal President Bryan Brewer told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1sAg1NH ).

"All the people will decide that," he said.

The Park Service is sorting out the Tribal Council's actions, said Sandra Washington, the agency's assistant regional director.

"We've been working with (the tribe) for some time on the concept for a tribal national park," she said in a statement to the Journal. "We are still working."


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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