Crow Creek and Coldwater Spring

The following analysis was written in January 2010, to discuss two important issues, the effort by the Internal Revenue Service to seize land belonging to the Crow Creek Sioux Creek, and the rejection by the National Park Service of claims by the Dakota for Coldwater Spring. Since this was written an agreement was reached between the IRS and Crow Creek allowing the tribe to buy back their own land. But in mid-January the National Park Service asserted that it plans to keep Coldwater Spring and continue to reject any Dakota claims to the land.

In support of a petition on Crow Creek land seizure and National Park Service seizure of Coldwater Spring, under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

By Jason Wakiyan Thunderbird Spears, First Nations United

This petition is for the Crow Creek Nation’s 7,100 acres of land – to stop the Internal Revenue Service from seizing sovereign tribal land; and to preserve and protect Coldwater Spring, a historic habitat and sacred site of the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota. Both of these issues are covered under Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. However, the federal Government is using the older 1805 treaty to try to take what it wants from the remaining Tribal lands because of an error they claim voids the treaty.

Coldwater Spring Sacred and Environmental Site

First Nations United is an intertribal organization that helps care for our Native community. The National Park Service completed a 411 page Environmental Impact Statement on December 12, 2009, which is phase 10 of a 12-step plan concerning Coldwater Spring, with a public comment period ending Jan 11, 2010. We want to make sure that any scheduled demolition of buildings using heaving equipment is done during hard ground freeze to prevent permanently damaging the fault lines over the aquifer that keeps the ancient spring pure. For more than a decade, people have been working to preserve the site, including Senator Paul Wellstone, Governor Ventura, Congressman Sabo, American Indian Movement, Minneapolis Park Board, Mayor Rybak, Minnesota Dakota Communities and Ojibwe Communities; Dakota communities outside of Minnesota, including Crow Creek and Santee. But the daily flow of the spring has decreased since the highway 55 reroute, and continues to lose water; therefore the proper demolition of the buildings is crucial for the fragile state of the fault lines. First Nations United would prefer that the land be returned to indigenous control, but insists that if if it remains park land, the integrity of the spring be the highest priority in the environmental clean-up. When Hwy. 55 was rerouted, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) promised “no adverse impact” to Coldwater Spring, which is losing more than 27,500 gallons daily since construction ended, according to MnDOT’s own measurements. Any further impact to the spring could have devastating results.

Crow Creek- Sovereign Dakota Land

According to the Alaska Intertribal Council: On December 3, 2009 the Internal Revenue Service auctioned off 7,100 acres located on Crow Creek Sioux Tribal land. The land is owned by Crow Creek Tribal Farms, Inc. a Tribal corporation and distinct legal entity from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. According to the recent motion for temporary restraining order, filed by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the IRS seized and auctioned the land to recover $3,123,789.73 dollars in unpaid employment taxes. The federal government is claiming that because of the farm being a corporation, and not “traditional” tribal land, it is not exempt from taxes. However, the tribe was never informed of this previously, and because of this “erroneous” tax advice received from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is considered delinquent in the payment of employment taxes collected by the IRS beginning in 2003. The BIA had informed the Tribe that, because it was a federally recognized Tribe, it was not necessary to pay federal employment taxes.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is consistently documented as one of the poorest reservations in the nation, with 78% of their members living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is over 80% as well, and has been so for decades. This action by the IRS, could ultimately eliminate 20% of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s reservation lands and could ultimately set a precedent, allowing the continual land grab on sovereign tribal lands. We want to prevent and block the transfer of these lands so that they can continue to be used as the primary source of income for the Crow Creek tribal members. Currently, the lands are slated to be part of a wind farm project that will provide employment and power for both the tribe and the people of South Dakota, and if the land is taken, the federal government will reap all the benefits and sell the energy to the local citizens, both tribal and non-tribal.

The federal government is further claiming that due to a technicality in the 1805 treaty, none of the lands thought to be ceded to the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota Tribes are actually legally theirs. They are claiming that since the president’s signature does not appear on the 1805 treaty, that it was never completed. But the 1805 treaty is not even the most current treaty. The one most people are familiar with is the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which was drafted shortly after the creation of the state of Minnesota (1858), and allowed those in charge of the state to send the indigenous tribes to South Dakota to land that was considered “uninhabitable”, which is what we now call the Crow Creek Reservation. This land was not useful for growing crops cr habitation, and is now only of interest to the federal government because of how windy it is there. This follows the long pattern of systematic abuse and theft of any resource controlled by Native Americans.

Connections between the lands in question:

The State of Minnesota has to admit that the state was born from the biood of the innocent. The state and the federal government are guilty of the murder of countless Dakota/Lakota/Nakota peoples, and the theft of their lands. Now the states of Minnesota and South Dakota and the federal government are working jointly to take back the lands that were originally used as prison and refugee camps. The tribes were forcibly marched for 250 miles to Fort Snelling, and were held there until Minnesota decided to forcibly remove them to Crow Creek, via the Missouri river. Eventually the tribes were moved to Nebraska as a gesture of “kindness” after the Crow Creek lands were deemed useless for living on at that time by the federal government.


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