Oglala Sioux Tribe
Pine Ridge, S.D. 57770
July 18th, 2001
Dear Ms. Tapken, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota:
I respectfully request that you direct the law enforcement agencies under your authority to refrain from further contact with our tribal members regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp, or encroachment upon our reservation for the purpose of enforcing your Controlled Substances Act. That Act does not apply to our reservation or our People.
The powers of local self-government enjoyed by the Lakota people existed prior to the United States Constitution. Our local governmental powers were not created by the Constitution. Our nation, our culture and laws, precedes your nation, your "culture," and your laws. Before non-Indians came to our country, the Lakota had a rich history, language, religion, culture, and civilization; we had our own customs and laws by which we lived. We were, and continue to be, a sovereign nation.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 did not divest the Lakota People of our reserved right to plant and harvest whatever crops we deem beneficial to our reservation; nor did the Act abrogate Congress's ratification of the reserved to write in the 1868 treaty. 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. As such, I respectfully request that you direct the law enforcement agencies under your authority to refrain from further contact with our tribal members regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp, or encroachment upon our reservation for the purpose of enforcing your controlled substances act. That act does not apply to our reservation or our people.
We ask for your government's compassion as we try to ease the pain of our poverty through hemp manufacture. We asked that you take a look at all of the hemp legislation being introduced around your country and realize the growing support for hemp by your nation's people as well. I would add that during World War II your government signed contracts with members of the Pine Ridge Reservation to grow industrial hemp for your war effort. In other words, when your government needed the benefits of growing hemp to aid your war effort, and encouraged its growth on the reservation, we supported your government by doing so. Now my nation needs to grow industrial hemp to aid our efforts at becoming more self-sufficient. We would appreciate your support in our endeavors.
I must reiterate that hemp agriculture on reservation land is a tribal matter to be handled exclusively by tribal law. If you or your law enforcement agencies have questions or concerns relating to enforcement of our laws, I must insist that you direct them to the Oglala Sioux Tribal offices and not our individual tribal members. Again, the proper procedure is to contact the tribal offices with your questions and concerns, not our individual members.
Thank you in advance for what I anticipate will be your respectful consideration in this delicate matter. In addition, thank you for directing any further hemp related questions to my office. I remain,
Oglala Sioux Tribe
John Yellow Bird Steele
cc: The World