| South Dakota Governor Declares
War on Indians
Black Hills AIM
April 5, 2000
Calling a U.S. Civil Rights Commission report "garbage" and "fiction," Gov. Bill Janklow blasted the week-old report that labels South Dakota race relations a crisis.
Increasing already explosive tensions on the State's 9 Lakota Sioux reservations, where grassroots natives have taken over the Tribal Council administration building in Pine Ridge for 2 months, prompting Asst. Interior Secretary Kevin Gover last week to threaten economic and military force to remove the hundreds of protesters, the Governor's angry denunciation of the CRC report amounts to a further declaration of war.
The report, titled 'Native Americans in South Dakota: an erosion of confidence in the justice system', was released March 29 after 6 months of investigations into a series of unsolved murders of Indians throughout the State.
A hearing in Rapid City in December by the Commission, headed by President Clinton's appointee Mary Frances Berry, heard testimony not only from scores of Natives but also local, state, and federal cops and lawyers about the many suspicious deaths: 6 Indian men have been found dead in Rapid Creek over the last 2 years and are being investigated as homicides; 2 Indian men were found dead in a field near Pine Ridge; another Indian was stuffed head first in a trash can in Mobridge and died; and another was run over in Sisseton by a white man. No suspects have been arrested in the Rapid City and Pine Ridge cases, but 4 young whitemen were released in the Mobridge case and another whiteman got a light sentence for the hit-and-run in Sisseton. All the cases involved alcohol.
The CRC report cites extensive data about the racist makeup of the problem, including as much as 85% unemployment on the reservations compared to 2.7% unemployment for the non-native population; American Indian violent victimization statistics that are double that of the national Black population and well over twice the national racial numbers; 4 times as many Indians in jails in SD as whites where Indians are 8% of the State's population; 4 times the rate of teen suicides and fetal alcohol syndrome.
"On any given day," the report states, "an estimated one in 25 American Indians 18 years old and older is under the jurisdiction of the nation's criminal justice system. This is 2.4 times the rate for whites and 9.3 times the per capita rate for Asians but about half the rate for blacks.
"The number of American Indians per capita confined in the state and federal prisons is about 38% above the national average.
"On average men in Bangladesh can expect to live longer than Native American men in South Dakota. A study by the Harvard School of Health in conjunction with health statisticians from the Center for Disease Control found that Native American men living in six South Dakota counties had the shortest life expectancy in the Nation.
"In an October 1997 report, the Justice Department's Criminal Division concluded 'there is a public safety crisis in Indian Country'. According to the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs headed by Gover), no reservation in South Dakota has a fully staffed, adequately trained law enforcement program."
The data goes on and on, citing numerous reports and studies over the last century since the massacre at Wounded Knee and a second occupation there by AIM in 1973, but Gov. Janklow said. "I'm so sick of these people who bad-mouth my state. They just come rolling in here, throw out a lot of allegations and don't offer any proof that it's true."
His fellow Republican Attorney General Mark Barnett also chimed in, "I do not believe there is a racist crisis in South Dakota. There are a lot of examples where the state, counties, tribes and individuals are working together."
There are a lot more examples of systematic racial profiling around the state that brags it is the home of Mount Rushmore and 'Dances With Wolves', and every Indian knows it every time they are followed by clerks in stores or stopped by police routinely in the ghettoes in every border town. The CRC reports includes scores of testimony from these people (and it can be read in its entirety of 42 pages on their website at www.usccr.com/pubs).
Janklow said he had not read the report but he dismissed the recommendations for a statewide Indian-white Reconciliation Summit, or a federal Task Force with full subpoena power of law enforcement, or an expansion of FBI, or more funding for tribal courts, or a reconstituted Indian section within the Civil Rights Division, or hate-crime legislation, or more research into whether there is bias in the court system and law enforcement agencies, or a statewide public defender's office, or civil rights offices on the tribal reservations, or an advisory committee to focus on the alcoholism epidemic and complete lack of detoxification centers on any reservation.
Janklow rode to his 4th term as Governor on the heels of the AIM Occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973 when he said, as a candidate for attorney general then, "The only way to deal with these AIM leaders is to put a bullet in their heads." He has also been convicted twice of rape, in 1956 as a juvenile, and 1967 on the Rosebud Reservation of a 15 year old Indian girl Jancita Eagle Deer, who later died under suspicious circumstances. He became nationally notorious when he sued author Peter Matthiessen and Newsweek for repeating the rape story, but the courts threw out his $24 million libel suit citing "insufficient cause."
With the conjoined threats of the BIA and Janklow, as well as the ever-present FBI terror (see websites on Leonard Peltier case, still serving 2 life sentences for self-defense against the FBI in a shootout on Pine Ridge in 1975, and hundreds of other uninvestigated murders of Indians here including Anna Mae Aquash), Indians see the latest hateful outburst by Janklow and Gover and the FBI as no less than calls for open warfare on Indians. Again.Jordan S. Dill
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