Traditional Lakota conflict resolution and decision-making in the context of conservation

Material Information

Traditional Lakota conflict resolution and decision-making in the context of conservation
Langworthy, Danielle R
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viii, 123 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Lakota Indians -- Government relations ( lcsh )
Nature -- Effect of human beings on -- South Dakota -- Badlands National Park ( lcsh )
Conflict management -- South Dakota -- Badlands National Park ( lcsh )
Conservation of natural resources -- South Dakota -- Badlands National Park ( lcsh )
Conflict management ( fast )
Conservation of natural resources ( fast )
Nature -- Effect of human beings on ( fast )
Lakota Indians -- Government relations ( fast )
South Dakota -- Badlands National Park ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 114-123).
General Note:
Department of Anthropology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Danielle R. Langworthy.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
318447605 ( OCLC )
LD1193.L43 2008m L36 ( lcc )

Full Text
Danielle R. Langworthy
B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2003
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Anthropology
Political Ecology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development

This thesis for the Master of Anthropology
Degree by
Danielle R. Langworthy
has been approved

Langworthy, Danielle R. (M.A., Political Ecology and Sustainable Development)
Traditional Lakota Conflict Resolution and Decision-Making in the Context of
Thesis directed by Adjunct Professor James Igoe
This thesis argues that Badlands National Park and the experiences of Lakota people
exemplify the argument that conservation and conflict resolution are forms of
governance, meant to manage the relationships between people and their
environments, with often negative outcomes for both. The conflicts surrounding the
South Unit of Badlands National Park, which sits both within the boundaries of the
park as well as within the Pine Ridge Reservation, are reflective of broader cultural
and historical conflicts related to the ongoing encounters between Lakota peoples and
the United States government. Because Western-based models of governance and
conservation created and exacerbated these conflicts, the benefits of utilizing
Western-based methods of conflict resolution must be carefully weighed. However,
traditional Lakota methods may not be entirely appropriate either. Ultimately, the use
of hybrid methodologies may be the best path, and most contextually appropriate.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
John Brett

I dedicate this thesis to the people of Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

Many thanks to Richard Sherman, for providing the opportunity to engage in this
work, shelter, friendship, intellectual support and undying patience. Thank you to
Judge Viola Burnett, Vance Blacksmith, Richard Iron Cloud, Wilmer Mesteth,
Loretta Whirl Wind Horse, Darwin Apple, and all those anonymous informants who
participated in the study, for sharing your knowledge and contributing to what I
sincerely hope will help Lakota and other indigenous peoples steward and benefit
from their own resources. Thank you also to those at Pine Ridge and Rosebue who
put up with my endless phone calls, drop-ins, and questions; those who saved me
from the mud and the snow, and who shared not only their knowledge of Lakota
traditions with me, but also their experiences. Your stories will not be forgotten.
Thanks to Kathy Pickering, who provided me with contacts and guidance at Pine
Ridge. Thanks to my advisor, James Igoe, who gave me the tools to articulate what I
saw in the world around me, and for introducing me to Pine Ridge. My undying
gratitude also goes to Kathryn Don, who allowed me to continually bounce my ideas,
frustrations, sadness and excitement off of her in my quest to do justice to the Lakota
people and their traditions. Thank you to Beth Croucher, for commiserating with me
and reading more drafts than anyone should be asked to read. Thank you Michael,
for enduring the writing with me, and cheering me on when I lost hope. Finally but
not least of all, thank you to my family and friends, who put up with my absence
when I couldnt be there, and my stress when I could. Without all those mentioned
above, this would not have been possible.

1. INTRODUCTION..........................................1
2. METHODS..............................................17
Research Design....................................17
Sampling......................................... 18
Data Collection....................................19
Data Analysis Mid Interpretation...................21
Research and Data Problems.........................22
3. GOVERNING THE LAKOTA.................................24
4. GOVERNING THE SOUTH UNIT.............................42
5. CONFLICT RESOLUTION..................................53
6. ANALYSIS.............................................71
Post-IRA Governance................................72

Mainstream Conflict Resolution at Pine Ridge and Rosebud.76
Traditional Organization and Decision-Making.............83
Traditional Decision-making........................84
Traditional Conflict Resolution....................89
Traditional Ways Currently in Use........................97
Further Implementation of Traditional Ways..............101
7. CONCLUSION................................................109
A. INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE..................................112

1.1 Map of Pine Ridge Reservation and Badlands National Park

I set foot on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for the first time as part of a
class trip. This trip put me face to face with the impact of protected areas on
Indigenous communities. Having read about both Native American history and
conflicts between Indigenous peoples and conservationists globally, I was eager to
see what a North American Indian reservation tangled up with a National Park looked
We stayed with Richard Sherman, former Tribal Wildlife Biologist, and current
Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSPRA) board member. He
introduced us to the Badlands of South Dakota, as well as an Indigenous Stewardship
Model (ISM) he had developed. This model is a comprehensive blueprint of natural
resource stewardship, including education, small-scale economic opportunities,
wildlife stewardship, and conflict resolution and decision-making, all based on
traditional Indigenous methods and values.
During subsequent trips, I gathered data for this thesis and had the good fortune of
being welcomed by Richard to contribute to the ISM by gathering knowledge of
traditional conflict resolution and decision-making. I spent a total of 2 months at both
Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, interviewing Oglala Lakota and Sicangu
Lakota people on such practices. I hoped that the knowledge I gathered would
enhance the ISM and benefit the people of these reservations, as well as answer the

need for conservation conflict management in a way that protects Indigenous peoples
rights to define and manage their landscapes and livelihoods, thus honoring their
sovereignty and cultural autonomy.
Incorporation of conflict resolution and decision-making into the ISM is appropriate
given how conflicted conservation is at Pine Ridge, as it is around the world.
However, there are deep-seated connections between conservation and conflict
resolution that must be understood and addressed. Both are global industries, both
are forms of governance, and both use assimilation and the guise of participation to
render their respective subjects more manageable, which is a legacy of colonial
administration. Conservationists seek to manage the relationships between people
and environments by attempting to assimilate indigenous and local peoples values to
those of western conservation through narrowly defined and tightly controlled
processes of participation. Conflict resolution, especially in the form of Alternative
Dispute Resolution, seeks to manage relations between different groups of people by
attempting to assimilate their ideas and traditions regarding conflict and
communication to those of a model, and increasing stakeholder participation in
reaching resolution.
The assumptions of colonial administration are part of the legacy shared by
conservation and conflict resolution. They include the idea that participation
engenders commitment to the process and collaboration of efforts, and builds
capacity. This commitment to process is called buy-in or what Cooke (2003) calls
psychological ownership, in the process. Collaborating efforts and building
capacity entail the realignment of subjects values, so that they match those of the
powerful entity, be it the colonial power, the organization, or the conflict resolution
model. The 1997IUCN pamphlet describing their mission to influence and
encourage societies to conserve points to this sort of assimilation. (MacLeod

2001:226) This means that the ownership people have in the process is more
symbolic than actual, and existing power structures are maintained. (Cooke 2003:52)
These connections, between the assumptions of colonial administration models and
current Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) models, show that the same
management of social relations continues, re-packaged and sold anew, its history
obscured from view.
In this thesis I argue that Badlands National Park and the experiences of Lakota
people exemplify the arguments that conservation and conflict resolution are forms of
governance that often have negative outcomes for the environment and local
livelihoods. I argue that practitioners and models of conservation should use
contextually appropriate conflict resolution methods and analysis in order to more
effectively engage with socio-environmental conflicts in ways that are equitable and
beneficial to both the environment and local livelihoods.
The conflict in question at Pine Ridge Reservation surrounds an area known as the
South Unit. This section of land, where Badlands National Park consumes 10% of
Pine Ridge Reservation, is held in trust for the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) but
managed by the National Park Service (NPS). (Burnham 2000:143, Igoe 2004:137,
139, MOA 1976)

20 Mi
Figure 1. Map of Pine Ridge Reservation, Badlands National Monument, and
surrounding area, courtesy
This arrangement is neither amicable nor satisfactory for any of the parties involved,
and doesnt even ensure the protection of natural and cultural resources.
Furthermore, Lakota activists see this arrangement as threatening to and disrespectful
of the sacred landscapes of the Badlands and the historical struggles inscribed upon it
and in Lakota cultural memory. (Personal communication 1 Pine Ridge Reservation
As I will show below, conflicts surrounding the South Unit are reflective of broader
cultural and historical conflicts related to the ongoing encounters between Lakota
peoples and the federal government of the United States, in which the federal
government has attempted to govern Lakota people by managing their relationships
with one another and the environment. This tension came to a head in June 2002,

when a group calling themselves the Keepers of the Stronghold Dream, (hereafter
Strongholders) occupied the South Unit and declared it off limits to all.1 2 (Wilkinson
This action was only the tip of the iceberg. Not only is there strife between tribal
members and the NPS, there is disagreement within the Tribe over the fate of the
South Unit. In fact, turmoil over this issue recently escalated due to the Tribal
Councils passage of two apparently contradictory resolutions. The first established a
Task Force mandated to develop a management plan for the South Unit and begin
work on a lawsuit against the NPS. The second, which passed three months later
without recognition or dissolution of the existing Task Force, gave the job of
developing a management plan to the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority
(OSPRA). Initially, the members of the Task Force refused to relinquish the job,
arguing that because OSPRA receives half the Badlands National Park gate receipts,
it would be a fundamental conflict of interest for them to develop a management plan.
(Personal communication 6 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, also see Igoe 2004:141)
Now Task Force members are attending district meetings, being held by the NPS and
OSPRA, in order to disseminate information on the South Unit. (Personal
communication 8 Denver 2008)
1 The name Keepers of the Stronghold Dream refers to the original Strongholders,
those who fled the US Calvary during the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 and hid
in the Badlands. Todays Strongholders argue they are camping on the very same
table, however, there is disagreement over the original location. (Personal
communication 2 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005)
2 The lawsuit is for funds the NPS agreed to pass onto the OST for building a cultural
heritage center on the reservation. The Tribe has never received this money, however
the NPS argues that the OST was to put up half of the funds, which they have yet to
do. (Personal communication 6 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)

In addition to the ongoing struggles between the OST and NPS, and the Task Force
and OSPRA, there are numerous other groups and individuals with interests in the
South Unit. These include individual Lakotas extracting and selling fossils from the
South Unit, often in cooperation with outsiders, an activity the NPS is eager to curtail.
(Personal communication 2 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Wilkinson 2004:73)
Additionally, there are Tribal members who hold allotments within the park. Some of
these individuals graze cattle on their allotments while others lease their allotments to
outside cattle operators. (Personal communication 7 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Each of these interest groups has a different vision for the South Unit; each is vying
for access to power and resources, and the struggles over the South Unit are reflective
of conflicts with the federal government.
As such, these frictions are not new to Lakota people, but they have been altered
through contact with Anglo settlers and the federal government over the past 150
years. Federal policies altered Lakota social organization and governance, the types
of resources available and how they were accessed, and attempted to shift Lakota
views of the environment, all as a means to manage and civilize them.
Prior to federal interference, Lakotas organized themselves in a number of loosely
affiliated hunting bands. (Biolsi 1992:105, Price 1994:453, Schusky 1986:68-9)
Lakota social and political organizations were extremely flexible and characterized by
high levels of autonomy. (Alfred 2002:34, Biolsi 1992:35, Price 1994:449, Walker
1982:5) Bandleaders could not force their decisions on the people, who were free to
remain un-impacted by those decisions with which they did not agree. (Alfred
2002:34, Schusky 1986:66)
When Anglos arrived on the plains, they attempted to transform Lakota social and
political structure in order to make them compatible to centralized administration by

the federal government. (Ross & Pickering 2002:191,205, also see Biolsi 1992) Early
treaties required the signature of a representative who could speak for their entire
Tribeyet Lakotas had neither a corporate body such as a Tribe, nor a leader who
could speak for everyone. (Price 1994:453, Schusky 1986:68-9) By the mid-twentieth
century, federal policies put additional pressure on the Lakota to create a government
modeled on that of the U.S. (Ross & Pickering 2002:205) These measures were based
on the assumption that Lakota people would eventually assimilate to Anglo values,
reorganizing themselves and their economies. (Pickering 2004:87)
However, Lakota people did not simply conform to federal policies and assimilate to
mainstream Anglo culture, yet they also did not simply resist these processes. Rather,
there was interaction between pre-contact Lakota practices and federal policies,
which essentially created some new traditional practices. This process is not
unique to Lakotas; it is acknowledged that tradition is not static, but rather changes
over time, even intentionally in response to colonial pressures. (Crehan 2005:55,
Niezen 2003:10, Povinelli 2002:39) As one informant put it, tradition isnt something
in a museum; it is a living thing. (Interview 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Yet
distinguishing between pre-contact practices and traditional practices reveals some
of the history of encounters between Lakota peoples and the federal government.
What several informants described as traditional were certainly post-contact
creations. The addition of post-contact practices to pre-contact traditional practices is
the result of federal policies piling up and contradicting treaty stipulations, which had
become traditional ways for many Lakota. (Biolsi 1992:46) In fact treaty adherents
mostly describe themselves as "traditionalists." I discuss the changes to Lakota social
organization in further detail in chapter two.
Altering Lakota social organization and governance was but one stumbling block for
federal management of Lakota people. Relationships between people and the

environment were an additional challenge. In indigenous views of the environment,
humans and nature are not separate, and there is no sense of people as masters over
the environment. Rather, humans and their surroundings have a reciprocal
relationship, bearing mutual responsibility to each other, and are inseparable from one
another. Human activities, such as hunting, gathering, farming, and herding
according to indigenous stewardship principles are all important for the functioning
of the environment. Survival is dependent not only upon resource use, but on careful,
sustainable use, ensuring the livelihood of generations to come. (Alfred 2002:19,
Berkes 1999:88, Fixico 2003:53, Personal communication 2 Pine Ridge Reservation
2005, Watkins 2001:41)
In many Native American cultures, the land and everything in it and on it is alive, can
communicate, and is aware of human behavior. (Mander 1991:273) During a
discussion of the Lakota concept of Mitakuye Oyasin, meaning all my relatives, an
informant explained it thus:
[I]t goes beyond that where ah, youre related to um, all creation. So
you address creation as a relative, you know, and ah, like we dont
have a word for animal, ah, as I understand animal means ah second
class citizen that doesnt have a mind, and we dont have that concept
because we work with creation as a relative. And like the Deer
Nation, Buffalo Nation, and so forth you know, we can communicate
with them through ah what we call would be the medicine men, theres
certain chosen individuals who have that ability to communicate so,
with that, with that belief system, ah, you try to keep a balance of ah,
good relationships... (Interview 11 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Western views of the environment stand in stark contrast to this view of the world.
Early Anglo settlers had inherited a European view of the environment in which
landscapes were divided between resources that could be developed for economic
gain, and wilderness to be protected from development to maximize visual and

leisurely consumption. (Igoe 2004:81, quoting Frykman & Lofgren 1987) Wilderness
as a concept in the American context was eventually cleansed of human beings or any
evidence of their activities. (Spence 1999:4) Landscapes in which human activity is
not immediately visible are mistaken for wild and pristine. Often these
landscapes have long been stewarded by indigenous peoples, who have both
conserved and utilized the resources present simultaneously. (Cronon 1983:51-53)
Therefore landscapes devoid of people were created through removal of Indigenous
peoples. (Spence 1999:4, West 2006:260)
The South Unit demonstrates this divergence between Anglo and Indigenous views of
nature. Once a place where people lived, hunted, gathered, engaged in spiritual
activities, and protected sacred places, the South Unit is now devoid of human
habitants, hunting and gathering are restricted to arbitrary caps set by the NPS, and
sacred sites are at risk of being damaged. (Burnham 2000:144, Personal
communication 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Personal communication 2 Pine
Ridge Reservation 2005) In fact the NPS is hard pressed to even protect nature in
the South Unit; off-road recreation is common and damages the delicate soils of the
Badlands, but there arent enough park rangers to manage both the North and the
South Units. (Burnham 2000:222,231) Lakota peoples relationship with the area has
been altered in the name of conservation, yet this shift has done little to protect the
resources found there.3
The NPS version of the history of the South Units inclusion in the park begins in
1976, with the Memorandum of Agreement (MO A) signed by the OST allowing the
NPS the right to manage the land. What they do not disclose is that the MOA was the
culmination of a protracted struggle between the NPS and the Tribe. The struggle
3 The fact that the area is commonly known as the South Unit is telling; the name is a referent from
the perspective of the NPS, not of the Oglala people.

began in the 1920's, when conservationists began eyeing the Badlands as a potential
protected area. (White 2002:272) When conservationists got their wish and Badlands
National Monument was created in the 30's, it was placed adjacent to Pine Ridge
Reservation to the north. This apparently wasnt sufficient for the NPS, which was
intent on incorporating a portion of the Badlands still within Pine Ridge Reservation
boundaries. Their effort was aided by the War Department, which had condemned
and then leased the land from the Tribe for use as a bombing range during World War
II. This made the task easier for the NPS, as the land was already out of the Tribes
hands. As the expiration of the lease approached, the NPS began negotiations with
the War Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and legislators, in order to
be sure the land would end up in Park Service holdings. Negotiations went on for
years, stopping and starting based on the political climate both on the reservation and
in Washington. With each transformation of this unit of land, Lakota relationships
with it were altered as well, a history I will discuss in more detail in chapter three.
This history is compelling in and of itself, but even more so when one considers that
the western ideal of wilderness has been used to justify the dispossession of people
from their homelands because it demands the separation of people and nature, and the
careful management of the relationship between them. (Igoe 2004:82) Human activity
is seen as interference and a detriment to nature, and only its complete curtailment
can prevent damage to wildlife populations and landscapes.4 Yet excluding all
human activity has caused immeasurable hardship for indigenous and local peoples
around the world, whose use was and is based on sustainable practices so as to ensure
the livelihoods of future generations. (Berkes 1999:91) The history of the South Unit
4 This idea translates into ecological debates between equilibrium and non-
equilibrium ecosystem models, and has very real consequences for all species
(including humans) depending on which model an ecosystem is managed under. (See
Briske 2003 and Wallington 2005)

can therefore enhance our understanding of what is a global problem.
The wilderness idea has been used to dispossess indigenous peoples and create
National Parks throughout the American West, and in fact conservation has its roots
in encounters between Anglos and Native Americans. Yellowstone, the first National
Park and the model for parks globally, was widely in use by a multitude of Native
American groups both before and after the creation of the park; boundaries and
settlement on reservations did little to curb that activity. Indigenous groups did avoid
settled and high traffic areas, but continued to pass through, camp, hunt, and gather
within the park. BIA officials, intent on keeping Native Americans on reservations,
began to express concern. (Spence 1999:52) The military got involved, and several
armed struggles broke out between the US military and Native Americans near
Yellowstone, causing park officials to become concerned as well. Yellowstone
became a militarily guarded park; it was even managed by the military during the
1880s. Military force was used to keep Native Americans out of the park and on
reservations. (Spence 1999:62) Brockington (2002) coined the term "fortress
conservation" to describe this model of conservation, where static boundaries are
protected with deadly force5
5 Another example is Mesa Verde National Park, which was created out of the 1906
Antiquities Act. It allowed the president to seize land held by the US government for
protection purposes, which was a threat to all Tribal lands held in trust, as well as
land Tribes had ceded but still retained usufruct rights to. In this case ancestral Hopi
dwellings sat on trust land held by the Ute. The US government had a newfound
appreciation for relics of Indian life, and so wanted to protect the ruins from white
looters who had been raving them for years. In a land swap with the Ute, the
government managed to gain Mesa Verde while giving the Ute lands they already
held. The NPS tried to push further into Ute landholdings, but given how badly they
had been burned, they never even considered negotiating. (Burnham 2000:54-60)
Eventually the Tribe established their own Tribal Park, where tourists can take guided
tours of cliff dwellings with a Ute guide. (Igoe 2004:164)

Fortress conservation is a global phenomenon, as it has been exported to the rest of
the world and resulted in enclosure of 11% of the earth's surface, and severely limited
human activity on 4.3% of the earth. (West 2006:252) Much as in the US, it is
people who are already marginalized that are forced to make way for protected areas.
(Tyler 1999:266) Disrupted livelihoods lead to economic hardship, existing conflicts
are exacerbated and new ones created, traditional use of natural resources is
criminalized, and control over resources is concentrated in the hands of a few
powerful entities. (Campbell 2002:30, Carpenter 2001:106-107, Chapin 2004:18,
Haro et. al. 2005:286, Tyler 1999:265, West 2006:257-261) Thus those most
heavily impacted by the creation of protected areas don't see many benefits, while
bearing the brunt of the costs. Separating people from their land is not just a change
of location. For people who are deeply connected to the land in economic, familial
and spiritual ways, removal from your home, oftentimes the location of origin of your
people, is socially and economically disorienting, traumatic, and damaging. Niezen
underscores the level of trauma here; Cross Lake, a Cree community in Manitoba,
experiences recurring clusters of suicides, 9 taking place during his two years in the
community, which he points to as "an expression of the cumulative histories of
political annexation, suppression of knowledge, and economic disadvantage..."
Because of the central place of the wilderness ideal in western conservation, these
human costs have been concealed and ignored for most of its history. The idea that
wilderness is devoid of people shapes understandings of die environment, and thereby
justifies the removal of people from the environment. Their removal fulfills the
initial expectation, the idea of unpopulated wilderness. (MacLeod 2001:221, West
and Brockington 2006:609, also see West et. al. 2006) This sort of mental gymnastics
is described by Carrier as a "virtualism," an attempt to make the world, or some

aspect of it, over according to a concept of how the world should be. (1998:2)
Because virtualisms are based on a partial understanding shaped by ideas that reflect
some sort of conceptual filter, when what happens on the ground diverges from the
expectation, it can't be accounted for; it must be concealed or ignored. (Carrier
Because conservationists create what it is they expect to see, that is, landscapes
devoid of people, human conflicts related to conservation, though ubiquitous, have
been poorly addressed. (MacLeod 2001:225, also see Brockington and Igoe 2006)
More and more, however, indigenous and local peoples, forced out of the environs in
which they sustain themselves and the generations to come, are getting their issues
onto the table. (Brosius 2004:609, Niezen 2003:29-52) As conservationists have made
cursory attempts to address indigenous and local peoples' needs in models such as co-
management and community based conservation, conflict resolution interventions
have become a salient idea within the conservation industry, and some
conservationists are incorporating dispute management into their projects. (Carpenter
2001:105, Fay 2007:81)
However, conflict resolution presents many of the same difficulties as conservation,
and is constituted of the same background. As with conservation, conflict resolution
is rooted in encounters between Anglos and Indigenous peoples. Conflict resolution
stems in part from the work of John Collier, who co-founded and sat on the board of
the Institute of Ethnic Affairs. This institute was created to explore conflict stemming
from ethnic or racial tension, and Collier maintained that such tensions could be
alleviated if people were self-determining and allowed to use their own abilities to
reach resolution. (Cooke 2002:9) Through the IEA Collier was able to co-develop
action research along with Kurt Lewin, which is based on the principle of
participation. (Cooke 2002:1) He was also a scholar and advocate of a form of British

colonial administration called indirect rule, since he saw it as a way for Indigenous
peoples to be self-determining while still assimilating to American colonial culture.
(Cooke 2003:56, Schwartz 1994:514)
Collier brought these perspectives with him to his position as Commissioner of the
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1933. Collier wanted to put a stop to the ills of
federal Indian policiesland and cultural lossby allowing Native American tribes
to be self-determining. However, he also saw his commission as a chance to
experiment with new social forms, and introduced Native America to indirect rule
through the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, taking on the role of colonial
administrator. (Cooke 2003:57, Schwartz 1994:516) The IRA was voted on by each
reservation across the US, and those that passed it developed a Tribal constitution and
government. This arrangement fostered Tribes participation in their own
assimilation to US mainstream governance, and thereby altered their traditional ways
of organizing. (See Biolsi 1992)
Unfortunately, Western-based models of conflict resolution, built initially on ideas
found in colonial administration, have similar pitfalls to those of western
conservation. Fundamentally, they seek to manage the relationships between people
according to Western ideas about conflict and how it should be dealt with. In the case
of mainstream models, conflict is seen as an aberration that must be resolved, even if
resolution is imposed by a third party. (Brigg 2003:289, Chevalier and Buckles
1999:18, Fay 2007:83, Nader and Grand 2002:574)
Conflict resolution models are also virtualisms. They reflect an idea of what social
relations should look like that shapes the methods used to attempt to reach the desired
relations. In this case the idea is that social relations should be harmonious, and
certain behaviors and ways of communicating are related to that harmony. When

engaging in conflict resolution practices, parties are expected to behave and
communicate in a particular, controlled way. (Brigg 2003:295)
This doesnt work for indigenous peoples who have a different view of conflict, ways
of relating to one another, and of resolving conflicts. In the case of Lakota people, it
is acceptable, and even optimal, for some conflicts to remain unresolved.
Traditionally, councils would deliberate on matters, but if a consensus could not be
reached, no decision was made, and no action taken. (Price 1994:451) If the matter
were important enough, it would arise again, and maybe then the correct path would
become clear through deliberation. No decisions were made quickly, and none were
forced on people. (Alfred 2002:34, Price 1994:451) Furthermore, engaging in conflict
may be the only tool people in a position of powerlessness have at their disposal, or it
may be in their best interests to perpetuate a conflict. (Fay 2007:84) In chapter four I
contrast Western-based conflict resolution methods with traditional Lakota ways of
resolving disputes in detail.
At Pine Ridge, we can see through these virtualisms. The situation there is complex,
and the imposition of policies shaped by ideas about how Lakota people should relate
to one another and to their environment has not resulted in the intended material
actuality. The ideals of self-governance and self-determination have fallen short of
the expectation, and the reservation economy has not flourished, (see Pickering 2000)
Tribal politics are more complicated than before 1934, and there is intense resistance
to the IRA government. Furthermore, fortress conservation did not result in an
unpopulated wilderness. In fact, human activity continues in the South Unit. Cattle
ranches still operate there, limited hunting and gathering by Tribal members is
allowed, and tourists or locals can 4-wheel through the area unobstructed. Finally,
there is little reason to believe that the imposition of a conflict resolution model based
on Western ideas of conflict and its resolution would be successful.

The central point of this thesis is that mainstream conservation and conflict resolution
are out of step with Lakota ways of relating to the environment and each other. Their
frameworks are placed over what is an exceedingly complex cultural-historical
situation at Pine Ridge. This explains why many Oglala people are resistant to NPS
management of the South Unit, but also why there is so much disagreement over the
issue among the Oglala. The tools used in conservation and conflict resolution
governance, assimilation and participation, are technologies of power, meaning
they replicate existing power disparities, a process I will discuss further in chapter
two. Their use does not make for effective, just conservation of resources nor
sustainable, satisfying resolutions to conflicts. Utilizing the methods of local peoples
may circumvent the processes in which those with power continue to define the rules.
Richard Sherman, through the Indigenous Stewardship Model, is taking steps to
protect and use Lakota resources according to traditional values. I hope that the
findings of my research on conflict resolution, detailed in chapter five, may contribute
to Lakota people being able to use traditional methods of conflict resolution in
navigating disagreements with each other and the National Park Service over the
South Unit.

I was invited to contribute to an Indigenous Stewardship Model (ISM hereafter)
designed by Richard Sherman of the Oglala Lakota at Pine Ridge Reservation. The
ISM is a comprehensive model for the use and management of resources of the South
Unit, and includes educational and economic aspects as well. Sherman decided that
conflict management and decision-making should be an integral part of the model,
and upon inviting a student to research traditional conflict management and decision-
making methods for their incorporation into the model, I volunteered Because
Sherman wanted to include the practices of as many indigenous groups around the
world as were documented, and because there were two purposes to the research, the
study outcome became twofold: information for incorporation into the ISM, and
research for this thesis.
Research Design
I used an emergent, naturalistic inquiry study design. Such a design was particularly
appropriate because of its flexibility; while researching traditional practices for
incorporation into a model, I could have no idea where the data would lead me in
terms of the questions I asked of the data. Furthermore, I had no idea which
individuals in the field would have the knowledge I sought, and therefore I could not
predetermine the sample size, type, geographical distribution, or any other aspect,

prior to setting foot in the field. The primary purpose of the research was applied.
Applied research seeks to understand a problem, look for solutions, and has limited
application. (Patton 2002:224) Because I was looking specifically at governance of
Lakota people and their relationship with the South Unit, and arguing that traditional
conflict resolution and decision-making should be utilized for this context, there is
limited application of the data. However, looking at the theoretical aspects of
governance, conservation, and conflict resolution may contribute, even if minutely, to
the existing body of knowledge. Going into the field, I preferred to conduct as many
interviews as possible, however, the circumstances were such that the study focus
became one of depth rather than breadth. (Patton 2002:227)
I took four trips to Pine Ridge independently, three of one week each and one of three
weeks, in addition to the two trips I took with classmates and my advisor.
I employed two methods of sampling: opportunistic or emergent sampling, and
snowball or chain sampling. (Patton 2002:237,240) Opportunistic sampling involves
interviewing whoever is available whenever they are available. If a new informant
arises suddenly, that person can be added to the sample. This strategy provides the
flexibility needed when entering an unfamiliar community. (Patton 2002:240)
Opportunistic sampling was absolutely necessary given these circumstances, and I
had to interview whoever claimed to have knowledge of traditions. Because it was
more likely that elders would have said knowledge, I began by contacting the handful
of elders towards which early informants directed me. I also contacted the Grey
Eagle Society, an elders association on Pine Ridge, and visited a senior center to talk
with elders. I sought out Lakota studies teachers at both the Oglala Lakota College

on Pine Ridge and Sinte Gleska University on Rosebud. I looked for possible
informants at the Tribal government buildings, Tribal Courthouses, domestic violence
centers, and legal service centers.
Snowball sampling is the best way to locate subjects with certain attributes and
characteristics necessary in a study. (Berg 2004:36) I employed snowball sampling
by asking each individual I interviewed or spoke with if they knew of anyone who
might have the knowledge and be willing to be interviewed for the study. Many
informants provided numerous possible contacts.
These methods were warranted because upon entry to the setting, I didnt know which
individuals in the community would have knowledge of traditional conflict resolution
and decision-making practices. Sample size could not be estimated because of these
circumstances. The criterion for invitation to participate in the study was presence of
knowledge of traditional practices. The final sample size was 19 interviews, 13 at
Pine Ridge and 6 at Rosebud. Additionally, I had several informal conversations with
other informants.
Data Collection
Data was purely qualitative in nature, consisting of fieldnotes, interviews, and
informal conversations. I had intended to engage in some participant observation or
observation of traditional Lakota conflict management and decision-making practices
at work, however this opportunity did not arise. Given the personal nature of current
conflicts, the spiritual nature of the resolution process, and the shortness of my stay, I
am not surprised at the lack of opportunity. I took fieldnotes by hand, on the
computer, and on a hand-held tape-recorder as well.

Interviews took place at the convenience of interviewees, who determined the
location and time, and were compensated $20 each. Interviews varied in length,
averaging about 1 hour. I used a semi-structured interview guide approach, with a
prepared list of questions, but allowed enough flexibility for the interviewee to touch
on other subjects related to the questions and issues addressed. (Patton 2002:343) I
tape recorded interviews when granted permission to do so, and took hand notes of all
interviews, filling in detail immediately following the interview. For those who did
not grant permission to tape record, I fleshed out my notes verbally on tape
immediately after the interview. I transcribed the recordings as soon as possible
following their occurrence, usually upon returning home from the field.
I used both grand-tour (broad, open-ended) and mini-tour (smaller units of
experience) descriptive questions in the interviews. (Spradley 1980:77, 79) I asked
opinion and values and knowledge questions. (Patton 2002:350) Opinion and
values questions allowed me to explore the idea of what constituted conflict
traditionally, how that conflict was dealt with, and whether or not those traditional
practices could be used for current conflicts, especially surrounding natural resource
Questions asked in the interviews included elicitations of the idea of conflict and how
it is defined. Elicitation techniques included providing hypothetical scenarios of
conflict, drawn from descriptions of historical conflicts found in the literature. This
way the domain of conflict as a mental category can be determined. (Schensul
1999:70-71) The next questions dealt with how those historical conflicts were dealt
with traditionally. I asked questions regarding historical conflict and current conflict
to get a sense of how conflict had changed over time for Lakota people. Questions
about historical conflict resolution/management practices and current practices

allowed me to see how practices had changed over time as well. These two sets of
questions also allowed me to see whether or not traditional practices could be used for
current conflicts, and I also asked informants whether or not they felt traditional
practices could be useful today. I asked whether or not traditional conflict resolution
and management practices are still in use today, and if the informant had any
examples. I also asked about traditional group decision-making processes and how
those differed from decision making today. Finally, I asked about the roles of women
versus men in the decision-making process. A complete question guide is provided in
Appendix A.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Data analysis began the moment I entered the field. It was recursive; I collected,
analyzed, and interpreted throughout the research. (Schensul 1999:12) I engaged
with the data this way because new information and ideas emerged throughout the
process, and had to be taken into consideration. Additionally, this provided the
opportunity to triangulate data during the collection process by asking new
informants to verify or disconfirm what I had learned in previous interviews.
(Gilchrist 1999:86)
I generated a code catalogue from the interviews themselves. Codes included
Conflict, Conflict Resolution, Decision-making, Current Use of Traditional Methods,
Problems with Cun-ent Methods, and Potential for Traditional Methods.
Worldview/Values. The complete code catalogue is provided in Appendix C. The
code list changed as I gathered and began exploring the data and categories I had
created. (Coffey and Atkinson 1996:46)

I loaded the data into a Microsoft Word data table, with a column in which to code
the data. Once I had finished coding the data by hand using colored highlighters for
certain themes, I then created separate documents for each meta code. (Coffey and
Atkinson 1996:46)
I used multiple theoretical perspectives in order to understand the situation at Pine
Ridge and Rosebud. (Gilchrist 1999:87) These are complicated social landscapes and
there is no one theory that explains everything. The theoretical perspectives I used
included Kate Crehans (2005) Gramscian analysis of the concepts of tradition and
culture as understood by anthropologists. I also saw Elizabeth Povinellis (2002)
Foucauldian analysis of tradition as tying into the issues present at these reservations.
Thomas Biolsi (1992) also executed a Foucauldian analysis of how Lakota people
responded to federal policies. Carriers (1998) concept of virtualisms explain how
simplified models are superimposed upon complex situations, then used to describe
those situations and predict their direction. Finally, Deutschs (2000) theory of
conflict and how intertwined disputants are in conflict situations explains some of the
give and take that has taken place at Pine Ridge.
Research and Data Problems
In terms of conducting the research, it would have been better to have obtained
funding prior to beginning research. I ended up funding the research out of my own
pocket, which severely limited my expendable resources and time at the reservations.
Data issues include simply too few interviews with people who have knowledge of
the traditions, and a complete lack of demographic data on the informants. Accessing
people on the reservations was incredibly difficult. On top of this issue, accessing
people with the knowledge I sought was even more difficult. Opportunistic sampling

was problematic for this reason, as I ended up interviewing individuals whose
answers contradicted those of other interviewees, and the question of whether they
actually had the knowledge or not, or if there were simply a diversity of traditional
practices arose. Snowball sampling creates difficulties in protecting the identity of
study participants, and so I took great pains in this area. Upon calling a new potential
interviewee, I did not disclose who had given me their name.
After leaving the field, I began undertaking to incorporate the data gathered into the
Indigenous Stewardship Model. This task involved writing a section based on this
research with additional literature-based research on traditional conflict management
and resolution practices of Indigenous peoples the world over. Shermans intention
is that the model serve as an idea, a suggestion, and the more flexible it is the more
applicable it will be to a variety of situations faced by Indigenous people everywhere
Thus examples from groups around the world were incorporated into the section for
the model, which are not included in this thesis.
The second concern post-field was continuing data analysis and write-up of the data
and findings into this thesis. This endeavor has taken almost two years.

Lakota social organization has been under tremendous pressure since the arrival of
Anglos on the plains.6 Federal efforts to obtain Native American lands and create a
more manageable, assimilated Native American population wrought significant
changes on Lakota social organization and access to resources. Beginning with treaty
making, the interaction of pre-contact Lakota social organization with federal policies
created divisions among Lakota people, which find expression in the conflict over the
South Unit. By exploring these interactions and struggles, we can develop a picture
of how governance attempts to manage relationships between people, and of the
complicated social landscape over which the boundaries of the South Unit were
drawn. In this chapter I will discuss the sociopolitical divisions and new traditions
that developed among Lakota people in the context of federal mechanisms of
governance, and contrast those with Lakota organization prior to federal interference.
This exploration will also give us a better understanding of how truly complicated
these divisions are. The idea that there is simply a traditional faction in opposition
to a modem faction (aka Treaty Indians and IRA Indians, as I will explain
below) establishes a false dichotomy, because in actuality there are multiple groups,
all intertwined and inextricable from one another. In fact the struggle is not between
traditional and modem, but rather is about how different identities, drawing from
6 Arguably this pressure began earlier as Native Americans from the east were pushed
further and further west into other groups regions.

both pre-contact Lakota cultural values and practices and post-contact
transformations, are tied to power relations and access to resources at different times
and places.
Another aspect of the perceived dichotomy between traditional and modem is
that tradition is not something passively transmitted from one generation to the next;
it is also intentionally created. (Crehan 2003:54, Povinelli 2002:39) In fact,
intentional creation of indigenous traditions is partially a reaction to the domination
of colonial and post-colonial powers. (Niezen 2003:10) Those with more power may
have greater ability to shape tradition or culture to fit their political interests. (Niezen
2003:6, also see Povinelli 2002)
In order to understand the changes that have taken place, we must first have a picture
of pre-contact Lakota social organization, taken from available sources, which consist
of outside, Anglo perspectives, and Lakota memory. Before there was a tribe to be
a member of, before there was a reservation, Lakota membership revolved around the
tiyospaye, which was the core of pre-contact Lakota organization. One informant
explained that ospaye is a group, small group, and ti is lives, so a small group that
lives together. And to be a member of a tiyospaye is ah based on bloodlines,
marriage, and adoption, those are the three things that make you a member of a
tiyospaye system. And within that system ah, we we all address each other with a
relative term. (Interview 11 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
People learned Lakota values through their tiyospaye. These include bravery,
fortitude, wisdom, and generosity. (Interview 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005,
Interview 3 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Her Many Horses 2001/2:2) People were
expected to share with each other, take care of each other, and have respect for their
differences. (Interview 4 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Cohen 1960:321) By

following the Red Road, by living according to these values, Lakota people
traditionally trusted each other to govern themselves and to take responsibility for
maintaining peace in the community. (Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation
2006, Cohen 1960:321, Deloria 1999:52, One Feather 1974:2)
Pre-contact Lakota organization was characterized by flexibility, situational
leadership, and high levels of individual and group autonomy. (Alfred 2002:34, Biolsi
1992:35, Price 1994:449, Walker 1982:5) People were part of their tiyospaye and
band, but not every band had the same structure, and it wasnt unheard of for people
to move from band to band. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005, Iron
Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, One Feather 1974:10) This fluidity
made people part of a variety of overlapping networks. This is still true today, though
circumstances on Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations have altered how those
networks interact with one another.
Organization fluctuated based on several factors. Group size determined how
structured camps were: smaller groups had fewer layers and types of leaders, while
larger groups were much more organized, with additional leadership positions.
(Biolsi 1992:35, One Feather 1974:2, 5) Seasons held sway over camp size; in the
summer, large gatherings such as the annual Sun Dances were held, while in the
winter people broke up into smaller camps to better survive the weather. (Biolsi
1992:35) These highly flexible social units were compatible with a nomadic hunting
lifestyle. When a food resource is scattered and unpredictable, survival is more likely
when groups are responsive to changes in the environment. Smaller groups in the
winter meant less people to feed with limited food supplies. Aggregation in the
summer was possible due to a larger range of food sources. Thus this fluid social
organization was highly adaptive to hunting roaming buffalo on the prairie. (Netting

Lakota leadership was also flexible and situational. According to informants at Pine
Ridge and Rosebud, leaders were chosen both by heredity and based on their ability
to lead the people according to Lakota values and needs. (Biolsi 1992:35, Mesteth
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) Tiyospayes each selected an Itancan, or
headman. The Itancan was considered a spokesperson or representative of the family
and was chosen based on his proven ability to make good decisions. (Apple interview
Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Interview 15 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Mesteth
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
The Itancan position is that commonly known as a chief, and seems to have come
into use through application by early ethnographers and federal agents looking for
Tribal representatives in the treaty process. (Price 1994:448, Price 1996:33) Despite
the seemingly widespread use of the term chief by even self-proclaimed
traditionalist informants, there is recognition that this term and its concept are not
Lakota. One informant said, when it came down to like a headman.. .nowadays they
use the word like hereditary chief or chief.. .and a chief is an Anglo name. It was
more a headman. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005) According to Random
House unabridged dictionary, the origin of the word chief is Latin, meaning head.
There were also Wakiconza, or camp administrators/hunt leaders, who acted as
advisors. Wakiconza were respected men in the community who would talk to the
people and let the Itancan know their wishes. Additionally, there were Blotahunka
(war leaders) and Akicita. Mens societies would compete every year to fill the
position of Akicita, a sort of police force that enforced rules, punished those who
transgressed, and saw to the welfare of the people in. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006, One Feather 1974:1)

In larger camps, or for communal hunts or war parties, Wicasa Yatapika (Shirt
Wearers) were selected. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, One
Feather 1974:6) According to Hassrick, these were nation leaders who deliberated
over national policy. (Hassrick 1964:7-8) However, an informant described Shirt
Wearers as positions more flexiblethose in the position during war-time were
different than those in the position during a communal hunt. (Mesteth interview Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006) Rotating leadership ensured the most knowledgeable and
experienced people were in charge at any given time.
These leaders served at the will of the people, and obtained their positions based on
their wisdom, charisma, and ability to persuade. (Hassrick 1964:31) They were
expected to be compassionate and always keep the peoples best interests in mind.
(Apple interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006, One Feather 1974:1) An Itancan who had aged beyond the ability
to lead could choose their own replacement, which might be his son. However, if the
people didnt approve of the choice, they could opt for another. (One Feather 1974:3)
Leaders would come together in councils in order to make decisions affecting the
entire group, such as communal hunts, moving camp, or going to war. (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005) There were various types of councils, depending on how
large the group was and what the needs of the people were. Also, different councils
served in diverse capacities, some in a more advisory role, others as actual decision
makers. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) There was disagreement
among informants over the level of structure and formality involved in councils. One
thought they were very formal and hierarchical, while another said they would
convene whenever and however necessary given the situation. (Burnett interview
Rosebud Reservation 2005, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)

Both men and women were central to Lakota organization. Men made decisions
impacting the entire camp, but women still played a powerful role in decision-
making.7 (Apple interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Schusky 1986:67) Women
were the main decision makers in the home, and so men would have to go back to the
women to make sure the decisions were good. (Interview 3 Pine Ridge Reservation
2005, Iron Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) This provided a balance
between mens and womens roles.
Decisions were not made hastily, nor before each facet of a problem or issue had been
weighed; snap decisions could be costly for the group. (Interview 16 Rosebud
Reservation 2006, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) Decisions were
based on consensus out of necessity, because you had to have the agreement of
everybody in order to move forward with whatever you wanted to do... (quote:
Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005, Alfred 2002:35, Cohen 1960:322,
Interview 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Interview 11 Rosebud Reservation 2006,
One Feather 1974:5)
The main consideration was the harmony of the group and what was good for the
whole. (Iron Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) One informant said:
You had to do that in order to survive, you know you, essentially um,
bowed to the better, betterment of the Tribe. Your individual rights
were not more, important than what was going to be best for the Tribe.
The Tribe came first, and then you benefited from whatever the entire
Tribe benefited from. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
71 should point out that one informant disagreed, and said that only men made
decisions in the old days. (Interview 4 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005)

The need to act in the best interests of the group was balanced with high levels of
individual autonomy. Those not satisfied with leadership decisions could remove
their lodge/tipi from the camp circle and either leave completely, or stay close enough
to maintain the protection of the group while remaining unaffected by decisions with
which they disagreed. Another option was to simply support another individual, and
if enough people did so that individual would be the new leader. Additionally, a
group could break off and start their own camp. (Alfred 2002:34, Apple interview
2006, Biolsi 1992:36, Interview 4 2005, Iron Cloud interview 2006, One Feather
1974:2-3, Price 1994:450, Schusky 1986:70) However, this was rare, as people
survived on reciprocal relationships no one person had to do it all on their own.
(Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
It was this autonomy and the flexibility of Lakota social organization that Anglos
could not understand when they arrived on the plains. Most werent interested in
understanding, as the goal was to negotiate land acquisition and safe passage of
Anglos, both settler and military, through Native American territory. (Price 1996:31)
Because it would have been a logistical nightmare for the federal government to
negotiate with each and every nomadic band, which would have been necessary give
the amount of autonomy each band and individual had in Lakota social organization,
early treaties attempted to centralize and streamline Lakota governance and decision-
making. (Price 1994:453, Price 1996:33-4)
Thus these treaties were Lakotas first experience with Western-based conflict
resolutionnegotiation of peace, defined in this case as a dearth of resistance to
Anglo presence. If Lakota social organization had to be completely made over, that
was easier for the federal government than working with the existing Native
American social climate.

The first treaty that really begins to transform Lakota governance is the
aforementioned 1851 Horse Creek Treaty (aka Fort Laramie Treaty). It required each
band choose a chief who would represent them in perpetuity, speak for all their
people, and who would be the only parties the government would meet with; it
delineated Lakota territory; and promised annuities of $50,000 for 50 years, though
this last was unilaterally dropped to 10 years and then honored for only two years.
(Price 1994:453, Price 1996:33, White 2002:65-66)
The impacts were tremendous. First, the delineation of territory intensified the
importance of boundaries and membership in Lakota organization. Replacing a
livelihood based on hunting buffalo with collection of annuities and commodities, and
wage labor, meant that survival was dependent on membership in a corporate body
tied to new forms of leadership and access to a new kind of resources. (Biolsi
1992:37, Pickering 2004:87) This new form of leadership, the chief system, was both
loosely based on the pre-contact Itancan or headman, and Anglo concepts of
leadership. (Price 1994:448, Price 1996:33) The concentration of power in chiefs
hands by tunneling commodities through them meant the loss of autonomy for Lakota
people, who could no longer shift support in order to oust a leader. However, it was
this new form of leadership that would come to represent traditional governance for
treaty Indians. (Biolsi 1992:46) Additionally, Some Oglala and Sicangu Lakota
began to stay near the military forts. Those who resisted Anglo incursion formed
what is commonly known as the traditionalist faction, and called those who stayed
near the forts loafers. (White 2002:85)

The 1868 treaty further altered Lakota governance; it stipulated that 3A of the adult
male population must agree to any land cessation.* * 8 (Burnham 2000:33, Calloway
1999:419) However, Lakota councils began applying this rule to all decisions on
agreements with the US.9 (Biolsi 1992:43) This undermined the decision-making
practice of consensus, in which time had to be taken to fully discuss all aspects of an
issue. Now these issues could simply be put to a vote and decided upon quickly.
Blood quantum policies also undermined Lakota social organization. While early on
blood degree was a source of division for Lakotas, with most loafers being the
mixed-blood children of Lakota and Anglo parents, it became a method of
determining who received annuities and commodities. (White 2002:85) It was thereby
used to mitigate the federal costs of annuities to Native Americans. Those with less
than the minimum blood degree required for membership were taken off the rolls.
Additionally, blood quantum was tied to land. As of 1917, the Office of Indian
Affairs (OIA) considered those with less than one-half Indian blood US citizens and
removed their allotments from trust status to fee patent status. (Biolsi 1995:40-41)
Putting the land in fee-patent status made it saleable and taxable without government
approval. Many Native Americans sold their allotments or lost them to tax-sale,
which broke the reservation into pieces and angered those who wanted to keep the
reservation intact. It also removed fee-patent landholders from their status as
Indian. Thus blood quantum policies further defined and narrowed membership,
changing who had access to which resources.
The treaty was both an attempt to arrange terms of peace as well as to divest Native
Americans of more territory, shrinking Lakota boundaries by establishing the Great
Sioux Reservation.
9 In fact early councils on Pine Ridge were a mixture of the old way and the new,
including the 3A majority rule for all decision making. (Biolsi 1992:52-54)

Thanks to its ties to resources, blood degree was quickly politicized, and mixed-blood
individuals began to hold sway in Tribal politics in the 1870s, tending to support
Anglo agendas over Native American ones. (White 2002:74) The division became so
contentious that in 1926 the Oglala Council decided that only full-blood people could
participate in Council matters. In response, mixed-blood people attempted to set up
their own councils.10 (Biolsi 1995:42)
None of these councils would be long lived, however, and these divisions would
again be agitated when John Collier came to town. Appointed Commissioner of the
Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) in 1933, Collier was keen on ending the assault on
Native American lands and ways of life wrought by the Dawes Act and US Indian
policies of assimilation.11 (Calloway 1999:419, Schwartz 1994:516) While Colliers
humanitarian intention was to halt the assault on Native American ways of life, and
for Anglo Americans to leam something from Indian societies, in practice he treated
his appointment to the OIA as an opportunity to engage in research and experiment
with new social forms, with Native Americans as his subjects. (Schwartz 1994:514,
516, 521)
His experimentation was heavily influenced by the British form of colonial
administration known as indirect rule, and Collier even envisioned himself a colonial
10 The issue didnt disappear; by 1969 Tribal chairmen and councilmen were frill
bloods, while mixed-bloods filled BIA and Tribal administration positions. (Roos et.
al. 1980:94)
11 The Dawes Act of 1887 divided Native American lands into allotments then given
to individual families. The intention was to make Native Americans more self-
sufficient. The size of the allotments was not enough to be economically viable, and
the system of inheritance further decreased their size. Most sold their land to white
outsiders for less than it was worth, while others lost their land to tax sale. (Burnham
2000:36-7, Reinhardt 2007:27)

administrator. (Cooke 2003:57) Indirect rule consisted of filling a colonys
administrative positions with Indigenous people who were friendly to the British
cause of assimilating the Indigenous population and exploiting colony resources.
(Cooke 2003:49, Bodley 1999:72) This gave the appearance of self-governance, but
boiled down to replication of the existing power structure. (Cooke 2001:3) This form
of rule was widely used by the British government in both Africa and India. In
Kenya, for example, local people were told how to select a headman, who was then
paid to uphold government regulations and collect taxes. (Bodley 1999:73)
Collier implemented indirect rule in the United States through the Indian
Reorganization Act (IRA), aka the Wheeler-Howard Bill, of 1934. The time was ripe
for such a bill; the New Deal was spreading across the US, bringing so-called
progress to all, and Native America was not untouched. The bill intended for each
reservation to decide whether or not to install Tribal governments and constitutions,
and promised to make the OIA accountable to Indian Nations.12 (Biolsi 1992:70)
However, Collier's model for Indian self-governance was built on the assumptions of
indirect rule, the same assumptions that now inform mainstream conflict resolution
models and described in chapter one. (See Cooke 2003, Frenkel and Shanhav
Lakota delegations were presented with the IRA bill filled with legal terminology and
concepts that had no Lakota equivalent. (Biolsi 1992:78) Advocates of the bill
misinformed Lakota people about how the bill would Work. For example, Henry Roe
Cloud, a Winnebago man who traveled to various reservations explaining the bill, had
told the people that those who disagreed could stay unaffected by the bill, and that
12 It also initially contained a provision placing individual allotments into corporate
Tribal land holdings, but this was removed due to its unpopularity with Indian
delegations at a congress for discussion on the bill. (Biolsi 1992:70)

multiple communities could be set up on the reservation. This was not tree; only one
community would be allowed, and all would be impacted. (Biolsi 1992:78)
The debates and campaigns over the IRA were heated. Missionaries organized to
oppose it due to their insecure position on reservations should it pass. (Biolsi
1992:72) A Nebraska Winnebago man, Henry Roe Cloud, traveled to the reservations
supporting the IRA, using metaphor to explain it, calling the IRA a boat that would
carry the people across the river. (Roe Cloud quoted in Biolsi 1992:73) Non-Indian
ranchers leasing Tribal lands were against it and tried to influence decisions of those
whose land they leased, as Collier wanted Indians using Indian lands. (Biolsi
1992:74) Mixed-blood tribal members campaigned for the IRA, as did the Pine Ridge
superintendent, who organized schoolteachers and community leaders to spread
support, and a Tribal attorney who sent out flyers and mailers. (Biolsi 1992:75)
The bill barely passed on Pine Ridge by a vote of 1169 to 1095, but by a higher
margin at 843 to 424 at Rosebud. (Biolsi 1992:78) It would have been difficult to
have not passed it; the bill required a majority of all eligible voters on the reservation
rejecting it for it to fail. (Reinhardt 2007:29-30) Thus those who abstained from
voting, possibly to signal their displeasure with the bill, unintentionally voted in favor
by not voting at all. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005) This abstention
from participation is typical pre-contact Lakota behavior; voting with your feet
signals disapproval more than disinterest. (Reinhardt 2007:35)
Many of those who opposed the IRA did so because they believed it would provide
less representation of all Tribal members than did traditional governance as
established by the 1851 and 1868 treaties, and because it did not pass by a 3A majority
of all adult Lakota males. Furthermore, rather than being allowed to create their own
constitution, the OIA guided the Oglala and Sicangu to draw their constitutions

according to the template provided by the federal government. (Biolsi 1992:94) For
these reasons, this group of dissenters, treaty Indians, consider the Tribal
government illegitimate.
The constitution gave the Tribal Council more power than Oglala people wanted it to
have. (Biolsi 1992:99) It also put the Department of the Interior in a supervisory role
over the Council, which only served to further undermine the Councils legitimacy by
more closely articulating the Tribal government with the federal government. (Biolsi
1992:103-4) Council abuses of power didnt help the situation. Audits of the Oglala
coffers turned up misuse and misappropriation of funds from the lease of tribal lands,
taxes on allotment leases, and license fees for businesses. (Biolsi 1992:156)
Additionally, treaty Indians accused the new Tribal judges of making decisions in
favor of IRA supporters. (Biolsi 1992:159) They began holding their own councils in
opposition. (Biolsi 1992:161)
The disdain for Tribal government has not dissipated. Treaty Indians continue to
completely abstain from involvement in the IRA government. One informant said he
had never participated in any election, be it Tribal, state, or federal, because doing so
would make him an IRA Indian. (Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation 2006) He is
not alone; apparently there is very little participation in Tribal elections. (Blacksmith
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Some people I spoke with expressed concern that the Tribal Council is either unable
or unwilling to create change on the reservation. With two-year terms plagued by
controversy and legal battles, its difficult for the Tribal Council to accomplish
anything. However, informants were of the opinion that Council members were
really more interested in maintaining their positions than in creating change.

(Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Interview 5 Rosebud
Reservation 2005, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Other concerns I heard from informants were of a government rife with personal
agendas, corruption, selfishness, favoritism towards big families with large vote
counts, and Council members with bruised egos intentionally working at cross-
purposes. (Apple interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Blacksmith interview Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006, Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005, Interview 1
Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Additionally, people are not happy with the
deterioration of communication. At Rosebud, these last few years the council
meetings got really bad they were really out of control, you know, and they were on
the air, and they were so negative, people just fighting on the air and challenging each
other and, and calling each other names... (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Blood quantum policies have also remained with Lakota people. Because Tribal
membership is based on blood quantum, a mother or father may be a member, while
their child may have too small a degree of Indian blood to be included. (Interview 3
Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Numerous informants suggested I interview an
individual who refused to participate because he claimed Sherman was mixed-
blood. (Personal communication 4 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) One woman told
me that her husband would degrade mixed-blood people, forgetting that his own
nephew was mixed-blood. (Personal communication 5 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Another informant said the main problem on the reservation is the mixed-bloods
living there. (Interview 15 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
In the 1970s, Pine Ridge was a powder keg of these divisions, resulting in the siege o
Wounded Knee. The family of a murdered man, angered by the lack of investigation
into the murder, invited the American Indian Movement (AIM) to Pine Ridge to

investigate. Upon obtaining two convictions for the murder, AIM gained popularity
and influence on the reservation, and began criticizing the IRA government, Tribal
president Dick Wilsons administration in particular. (Roos 1980:90) In
response, Wilson antagonized AIM members through his Guardians of the Oglala
Nation, or GOONS, and the situation escalated until the FBI showed up in 1973 to
protect BIA and Tribal buildings, which only further agitated the situation. (Roos 1980:91) AIM established a base in Wounded Knee, and roadblocks
surrounding the town were set up by AIM, the FBI, Wilson opposition, Wilson
supporters, and even a family upset that they couldnt get back to their house in
Wounded Knee. (Roos 1980:92) While traditionalists tended to support AIM,
and progressives tended to support Wilson, the presence of five roadblocks for the
little town of Wounded Knee demonstrates the complexity of Tribal politics.
This complexity is better engaged with when we abandon the dichotomy of
traditional versus modem. Roos did so in their analysis of Wounded Knee
II events, providing instead three categories: 1) cultural nationalists, who fit into the
category of traditionalists as they are knowledgeable regarding treaties and look to
revive traditional ways; 2) cultural pluralists, who fit into the modem category;
and 3) mixed-bloods, who they depict as having a cowboy and rodeo ethos.
(1980:93) Patterson saw fit to abandon "assimilationist vs. non-assimilationist" for
"ethnic minority" and "nationalist." (1971:9) These analyses are still rather rigid
given how flexible and fluid Lakota groups are. We should instead look at what
connects these groups and how their interests in resources such as the South Unit bind
them to one another despite their differences.
In order to break free of this false dichotomy and gain a better understanding, a new
way of looking at the situation at Pine Ridge is needed, one that avoids these
simplified categories. Biolsis (1992) Foucauldian analysis of the history of federal

attempts to manage Lakota people provides a context for the events occurring, while
Crehans (2002) dissection of Gramscis approach provides a way for us to
understand the struggles over access to resources and power taking place at Pine
Biolsi found that power relations between Lakota individuals and groups changed
over time, and that US policies, which he identifies as technologies of power,
contributed to new dynamics between different individuals and groups (1992:7)
Foucaults definition of discipline, and the one adopted by Biolsi, identifies it as a
type of power exercised through a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures,
[and] levels of application, including hierarchical observation, normalizing
judgment, and their combination. These tools are used to reorganize the internal
mechanisms of power and thus discipline entire societies. (Foucault 1984:188,206)
Hierarchical observation puts people under the microscope of those more powerful
then they, and is designed to coerce a particular form of behavior. (Foucault
1984:189) Normalizing judgment is intended to alter group membership by replacing
pre-contact or traditional signals of status and affiliation with outside definitions of
normality. This new definition of normality includes the degree to which individuals
may stray from it while still being included in the group, and thus imposes both
sameness and individuality. (Foucault 1984:196) Foucault dubs the use of both
hierarchical observation and normalizing judgment the examination, with an
outcome of objectification of people through qualifying, classifying, and punishing
them. (Foucault 1984:197)
Biolsi analyzes how the federal government, the Office of Indian Affairs in particular,
utilized these technologies of power to discipline Lakota people and alter the power
structure in Lakota society. Marriage, living arrangements, sale of property, and how

money was spent were regulated and monitored by the OIA, and violations punished
through the Tribal police and courts, or through the withholding of rations. (Biolsi
1992:7-18) In other words, if you wanted to survive, you behaved as instructed by the
Biolsi argues that the OIAs control over resources contributed to Lakota
complacency regarding the OIAs presence on the reservation. (1992:23) Rather than
taking issue with the OIA, Lakota people took issue with the IRA tribal governments,
which had no real power. (Biolsi 1992:171-2) In fact, Lakota dissention turned
inward. US Indian policies had altered Lakota identities and membership; people
werent just Oglala or Sicangu anymore, they are full bloods or mixed-bloods,
traditionalists or progressives, treaty or IRA Indians, landed or landless.
The culmination of the tools used by the federal government in an attempt to manage
Lakota people played a role in the current situation at the South Unit. It is a cultural,
spiritual, and economic resource, in which each of the nebulous and conflicting
groups surrounding it has a stake. The Strongholders, who could be considered
cultural nationalists and have ties to AIM, are interested in protecting the sacred
places in the South Unit and seeing the Oglala benefit from any activity taking place
there. In the spirit of pre-contact autonomy, they have taken matters into their own
hands. The Task Force, made up both of cultural pluralists, including a former
GOON, and cultural nationalists, including a Strongholder, and created with the
blessing of the IRA Tribal council, has also followed the practice of autonomy, and
refused to kowtow to OSPRA on the issue of the South Unit. OSPRA, in contrast,
could be assumed to be better off with the South Unit in NPS hands, as its very
survival is dependent on gate receipts that certainly would be lost were the OST to
regain control of the South Unit. Therefore, these groups create and re-constitute

each other, unable to exist without the others. Their shared interest in the South Unit
both accentuates their differences while laying bare their mutual dependency.
When we keep Gramsci in mind this sort of struggle makes more sense. Gramsci
argued that power relations shift over time, and the main opposing forces are between
dominant and dominated (subaltern) classes. These opposing forces look differently
depending on which scale you approach them from, and they shift over time as well.
(Crehan 2002:66) On one scale, there is a struggle between the Tribal government
and the federal government (NPS and the Dept, of the Interior in this case) over
control of the South Unit and its resources. On another, there is the struggle between
the Tribal government and the Strongholders, who are also struggling on their own
with the NPS. At these levels of the conflict, there is consistency in power relations;
that is, the federal government is more powerful than the Tribal government, who is
more powerful than the Strongholders.
However, once we look more closely at the ground level, where Strongholders are
struggling with OSPRA and both are struggling with the Task Force, each which has
its own power struggles internally, consistency dissipates. Within OSPRA, there are
struggles between board members. When I attended a Task Force meeting, a
Strongholder showed up to make sure the group was on track and following its
mandate. Additionally, a fossil collector came to the meeting. Each of these groups
are spaces in which shifts in power are possible and even likely. The Strongholder
occupation is an example of such a shift. Though the NPS response was measured,
Strongholders succeeded in getting national press attention, goading the Tribe to
action, and pushing the NPS to negotiate the fate of the South Unit. In a context in
which conflict creates change and shifts power, and peace means complacency and
status quo, the perpetuation of these conflicts makes much more sense.

The renegotiation of the South Units management is the latest chapter in a history of
conflict and changing relationships with the land. In fact the entire region is inscribed
with conflict. Nearby the South Unit of Badlands National Park (BNP) are Mount
Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wind Cave, the Little Big Horn Battlefield, and Crazy
Horse Monument. These sites, commonly viewed by non-indigenous Americans as
tributes to the United States greatness, were all once part of the Great Sioux
Reservation. Piece by piece, these monuments and parks were taken over in violation
of treaties signed by the US government. Wind Cave, now a tourist site, is the source
of humankind in the Lakota origin story. Mount Rushmore is carved into the sacred
Black Hills. General Custer, during his campaign of Indian annihilation, was finally
beat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, which until recently was known as Custer
Battlefield. The Crazy Horse Monument ironically honors a man staunchly against
white incursion on Indian lands by carving his face into the sacred Black Hills, a
project I feel confident saying he would not have sanctioned. Now these sites sit 13
13 A Lakota story tells of the Great Race between four-legged creatures and two-
legged creatures around the Black Hills. The two-legged creatures also had winged
creatures on their team, and the outcome of the race determined who would eat whom
for the rest of time. The two-legged creatures won, but only because a bird sat upon
the nose of a four-legged creature and then flew across the finish line. (Personal
communication 2 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) This story provides insight into the
traditional view that humans sit not at the top of a Great Chain of Being, but rather
are situated within a complex of relationships between all living things.

under the control of the Department of the Interior, touted as sources of American
pride, while Lakota relationships with them have been drastically transformed.
BNPs 244,000-acres are made up of two debatably contiguous units, the North Unit
and the South Unit. 64,000 of those acres are designated as wilderness. (BNP
website) The North Unit was initially Badlands National Monument, but after the
inclusion of the South Unit it was designated a National Park. (Burnham 2000:143-4,
Igoe 2004:139) The South Unit and the Palmer Unit (hereafter simply referred to as
the South Unit), comprising over half the park, lie within the boundaries of Pine
Ridge Indian Reservation, making up 10% of the reservation.14 (Burnham 2000:103)
This land is held in trust by the US government for the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST),
and managed by the National Park Service (NPS), allegedly in collaboration with the
OST. (Burnham 2000:143, Igoe 2004:137)
In this chapter I will discuss Lakota peoples shifting relationships with the South
Unit and how the federal pressures, as discussed in chapter two, contributed to that
history. Throughout the history of Pine Ridge Reservation, the cultural and historical
processes discussed in the previous chapters are articulated at the South Unit. From
the removal of people from their surroundings, to the changes in governance wrought
by federal policies, to changing modes of survival on the reservation, the South Unit
demonstrates the impacts of these events.
The trauma of removal from homelands and livelihoods was apparent in the events
leading up to the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. Sioux peoples had just the year
before lost the sacred Black Hills in the split of the Great Sioux Reservation into 6
smaller reservations. (Burnham 2000:31, Calloway 1999:311) The Ghost Dance
14 The South Unit consists of the Stronghold District, White River Visitors Center,
and Palmer Creek District. (White 2002:17)

movement was spreading among those Native Americans in the hopes of bringing
back dead loved ones and being free of Anglo presence. The Ghost Dance was
intensely popular among many Native Americans, however, some did not support the
movement. Again we see an opportunity to apply the traditionalist vs.
progressive dichotomy, but this would oversimplify what was occurring. Sitting
Bull had been killed by Indian police at Standing Rock Reservation over his support
of the Ghost Dance, and Big Foot, his half-brother, thought he and Sitting Bulls band
of Ghost Dancers would be safer at Pine Ridge, where Red Cloud had invited them to
stay. On their trek to Pine Ridge, they last camped in the Badlands now within the
boundaries of the South Unit.
They were intercepted and apprehended by the US cavalry, which attempted to
disarm the band. A shot was fired, its not clear by whom, and the cavaliy opened
fire on the band. Over 150 Lakota people, including children, were killed. Those
who escaped fled back to the Badlands and hid from the cavalry at a place known as
the Stronghold, a place that would again become prominent in a struggle between the
Lakota and federal government with the Keepers of the Stronghold Dream occupation
in 2002. (Burnham 2000:38) In fact, todays Strongholders claim the remains of the
mortally wounded who fled the cavalry are still there. (Personal communication 1
Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Rumors also abound that Crazy Horse is buried in the
Badlands, though not everyone agrees on the location. (White 2002:203,213)
Oglala people eventually built schools and churches in the area, buried their loved
ones there, leased their allotments out to ranchers, hunted and gathered there, and
held Vision Quests in the area now called the South Unit. (Burnham 2000:123, White
2002:208) Despite these facts, in 1942 the War Department announced the creation of
the Pine Ridge Aerial Gunnery Range, out of 341,725 acres of Pine Ridge
Reservation. (Burnham 2000:123-4, White 2002:260) The War Department needed

training and target practice locations for pilots, and settled on northern Pine Ridge
Reservation as the ideal spot. (Burnham 2000:123) Patriotic Lakota people wanted to
do their part for the war effort, and so agreed. (Valandra et. al. 1983:22, BADL-029
quoted in White 2002:262) The War Department had promised the Tribe that the
lands would be theirs again once WWII ended. (Burnham 2000:125, Igoe 2004:139,
Valandra et. al. 1983:148, White 2002:261) However, this was never put this writing,
and so the agreement to allow the federal government to place a gunnery range on the
reservation resulted in an unintentional release of the land for good. (Burnham
2000:125) The Pine Ridge Aerial Gunnery Range was created out of 341,725 acres of
Pine Ridge Reservation in 1942. (White 2002:260)
Once the gunnery range had been agreed to, inhabitants of the area, 125-250 families
(numbers vary), had to be evacuated. They were initially given 10 days to gather
their belongings and leave their homes, a time that was eventually extended to 75
days. (Burnham 2000:123, Valandra et. al. 1983:13,15) People were poorly
compensated for their land due to insufficient efforts at appraising the properties.
(Burnham 2000:123-124, Valandra et. al. 1983:22) Of this almost 350,000 acres,
individual Tribal members held in trust 194,000 and in fee 50,000, and the OST held
in trust 94,000. (Burnham 2000:123-124) Lands held by individuals, Indian and
Anglo, were condemned, and the owners paid $2.85 per acre. (Burnham 2000:124)
Tribal lands were leased for an initial period of 10 years at $.03 per acre annually,
with the option to extend the lease for 5-10 years. (Burnham 2000:123,132) The
evacuation was a harried, chaotic period, and people were distraught not only over
having to leave their homes, but at how they were made to do so. (Valandra et. al.
Once the bombing range had been established and everyone removed, ranchers,
mostly non-Indian, were not deterred from allowing their cattle to roam onto the

South Unit. (Valandra 1983:102) Cattle ranching had been well established by
the 1900s and Pine Ridge, and was quite successful for a short time thanks to a US
government cattle program. However, between BIA mismanagement and the Great
Depression, the practice was wiped out among the Oglala fairly quickly, and soon
non-Indian cattle ranchers were in the majority, running their operations on leased
reservation allotments.15 (White 2002:168-172) On the gunnery range, trespass laws
were difficult to enforce, as there were no fences surrounding the range, nor anyone
guarding the boundaries. Because enforcement was so difficult, the government
simply began issuing permits to trespassing ranchers to run their cattle in the South
Unit. (Valandra et. al. 1983:102) This practice was both lucrative for the government
and an affront for Oglala people, who had evacuated and given up their own ranching
livelihoods out of a sense of patriotic duty. Furthermore, it was a violation of the
lease agreement signed with the Tribe, which said the land would be used for military
training, not for grazing. The OST superintendent refused to sign a modified lease
agreement until the War Department agreed to implement a priority system for
granting permits to Lakota ranchers as well. (Valandra 2002:102-5)
The years of the gunnery range were terrifying for the Oglalamany bombers were
inexperienced or just careless, and people suffered scary close callsbullets entering
homes and public buildings were common complaints. (Burnham 2000:125) The
Oglala took their grievances over the process of removal from the gunnery range to
Washington for Congressional hearings in 1945. (Burnham 2000:132-133) The result
of these hearings was Congressional authorization of a half million dollars in
15 In the 1930s, in an effort to keep non-Indian ranchers from leasing a single
allotment and then allowing their cattle to wander onto others allotments, chunks of
Pine Ridge Reservation trust lands were lumped into grazing units. Non-Indian
ranchers had to bid competitively for permits to these units. (Biolsi 1992:117-8)

compensation to those Lakota families removed from the rangelands. (Burnham
The initial lease on the gunnery range was for one year with the option to extend it
annually for 10 years. (Valandra et. al. 1983:95) Once that 10-year period had
expired, the Oglala were unhappy with how much money the federal government had
made on grazing fees, and so were not interested in renewing the lease. The Air
Force renewed the lease through a Declaration of Taking, a federal code allowing the
government to acquire land for government use. (Burnham 2000:132, Valandra et. al.
1983:95) The government takes title to the land and must compensate the former
owner plus interest. (U.S. Code Title 40) The new lease allowed the federal
government to hold onto the range until 1962, at which point the Air Force was still
not ready to give up use of the land. The federal government took possession of the
land through eminent domain, effectively forcing the Tribe to once again renew the
The lease was finally allowed to expire and the land released in 1976. This was only
three short years after the occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian
Movement (AIM) and their sympathizers, mostly full-blooded, traditionalist people,
who were protesting the IRA government. They chose the town of Wounded Knee to
occupy for symbolic reasons: American Indian treatment at the hands of the federal
government and complacency of the pro-IRA element. The National Park Service
opportunistically approached Tribal president Richard Wilson at this time to sign an
agreement allowing a portion of the reservation to be included in Badlands National
Monument, adjacent to the reservation to the north. Wilson signed the MOA in 1976.
Because the IRA government is considered illegitimate, especially Wilsons
administration, being the most controversial and corrupt in Pine Ridge history, the
MOA is considered by many to be illegitimate as well. (Igoe 2004:140) Burnham

describes the MOA as an agreement of mutual weakness. While the Park Service
could not obtain previous gunnery rangelands without the permission of the Oglala
Sioux Tribe, neither could the Tribe regain all the land it had leased to the military
without agreeing to allow the NPS onto the Reservation. (Burnham 2000:227)
The MOA further altered Lakota relationships with the area. The land was to be held
in trust by the US government for the Tribe with the Park Service administering it
according to the laws governing the rest of the monument. Tribal members retained
hunting rights, but lost mineral rights to the area. The Tribe was given preferential
rights to develop and operate concessions within the South Unit, and agreed to
entertain the possibility of replacing cattle ranches with buffalo herds in the South
Unit. Both parties agreed to work toward Tribal members filling all service
positions in the South Unit, while Tribal members would be allowed to sell
handicrafts at recreational facilities within Badlands National Monument as a whole.
The Park Service agreed to act as an advisor to the Tribe to plan and develop Tribal
lands not within the South Unit. If the Tribe conveyed land to the Park Service, they
agreed to provide funds as available for the development of a Visitors Center in the
South Unit (the source of the Task Force law suit). The Park Service agreed to
protect the lands and any features of prehistoric, historic, scientific, or scenic
interest within the South Unit and develop roads, trails and structures therein as well.
Tribal members were to be admitted to the Monument without charge, allowed to
transport goods through the South Unit, and allowed access to all areas of spiritual
significance, which the Park Service agreed not to develop. The Tribe would receive
a portion of the Monuments gate receipts, which would be adjusted based on
numerous conditions, and would be paid to Oglala Sioux Parks Board, Inc. Finally,
the Tribe and Park Service were to meet bi-annually to review mutual objectives and
programs, and would work together to develop an interpretive program, and agree on
wildlife control measures. (MOA 1976) It is obvious from the stipulations of the

MOA that the Tribe was to benefit economically and materially from the
arrangement. It was meant to provide resources to the Tribe in exchange for the use
of the resource they were giving up. These benefits have not been fully realized,
which I discuss further below.
It was the centralization and streamlining of Lakota governance that had been taking
place since the 1850s that allowed the federal government to take a seat on Pine
Ridge Reservation and never leave. Prior to establishment of the IRA Tribal
government, Pine Ridge had a medley of conflicting councils, which would have
made negotiating any land deals difficult at best. The new government was a singular
administrative entity the federal government could work with, and this would have
made negotiating a gunnery range easier. (Biolsi 1992:52-60) With a Tribal
bureaucracy established, one already linked with the federal government through the
Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of the Interior, when the War Department
came calling, it had an entity with which it could negotiate. Biolsi argues that the
new IRA government, rather than being the vehicle of self-determination Collier
proclaimed, actually linked Tribal governance more closely to the federal
government, as there was no separation of power within the government; the
Secretary of the Interior was the overseer. (1992:103-4)
It was this same centralized and streamlined IRA system that allowed such a
controversial figure as Dick Wilson to become president of the OST, and to then sign
away the South Unit. More frustrating, the MOA was the culmination of a history of
underhanded dealings by the National Park Service, as described below. The NPS had
established Badlands National Monument adjacent to Pine Ridge Reservation, and
had been actively pursuing land within the reservation for decades, specifically Sheep
Mountain Table, which straddled the northern boarder of Pine Ridge. (Burnham

During the 50s and 60s, the NPS pulled out all the stops in its attempt to annex
Sheep Mountain Table. NPS officials had met privately with government officials to
negotiate deals and keep tabs on the situation. They developed a management plan
for Badlands National Monument that included Sheep Mountain Table, despite not
having rights to the land. (Burnham 2000:122) They made boundary adjustments
reducing the monuments area, but somehow a portion of Sheep Mountain Table was
included, which consisted of individual allotments within Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation. (White, 2002:273) They built a road to the top of the table without
obtaining the necessary easements from the Tribe. The road crossed through two
allotments, which the government simply condemned and paid for. (Burnham
2000:122,135, White 2002:273) Finally, they met privately with the Air Force, which
tipped them off to the pending expiration of the lease on the bombing range and the
declaration of the area as surplus. (Burnham 2000:136)
Naturally this history is hidden from view when visiting Badlands National Park, or
even browsing the park's website. The South Unit comes into existence with the 1976
MO A, which is presented by the Park Service as the creation of an amicable
arrangement with the Oglala Sioux Tribe. (BNP website) This is, in part, how
National Parks and other protected areas are whitewashed of their ugly history and
the human costs associated with their creation. A critical look at a map of BNP and
Pine Ridge Reservation shows that there is much more to the story the Park Service is
The NPS doesnt tell visitors to Badlands National Park that many of the conditions
of the MOA have gone unmet, that the South Unit is not being stewarded well, nor
that Lakota people are not benefitting from the provisions of the MOA. The Tribe
and the NPS have tended to talk past each other, blaming each other for the lack of
implementation of MOA stipulations. While the NPS claims the Tribe has failed to

do their part to plan the visitors center, the Tribe says theyve never received the
funds necessary to build the center. While the NPS calls the Tribe too disorganized
to work with, the Tribe claims the NPS has made collaboration difficult. The NPS
points out that the Tribe hasnt placed buffalo back in the South Unit; the Tribe says
the NPS has arbitrarily and unnecessarily restricted hunting and gathering there. The
Strongholders argue that the NPS is failing to protect sacred sites in the South Unit by
allowing excavation of minerals, fossils, and human remains. (Wilkinson 2004:72) In
addition to Strongholder claims, the NPS simply doesn't have the resources to
effectively manage the South Unit. All those resources are placed in the North Unit,
where traffic is corralled on a loop that goes nowhere near the South Unit, nor the
reservation. (Burnham 2000:229,235) It is clear is that another arrangement is
That arrangement will have to consider the fate of ranchers running cattle in the South
Unit. Both the NPS and the OST claim to control cattle leases in the South Unit.
(Burnham 2000:221) No matter who holds the leases, there is no doubt that these
cattle ranchers still have a good deal of clout with the Tribal government, and that it
would take a fight to remove them from South Unit lands in order to place a buffalo
herd or conduct ecotourism there. Its a fight the Tribal government may not be
interested in, given the potential for lost revenues from leases. (Apple interview Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006, Personal communication 6 Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
The problem of the cattle ranchers, as well as the Strongholders' actions, are
indicative of the continually shifting power relations and struggles over access to
resources at Pine Ridge. The Strongholders choice to occupy the very location
Wounded Knee Massacre victims fled to is as intentional as was AIMs occupation of
the village of Wounded Knee in the 70s. (Personal communication 1 Pine Ridge

Reservation 2005) It brings to the surface mistreatment by the federal government
and the pro-IRA elements accommodation of that mistreatment.
The Tribal Councils recent resolutions may signal a shift, however. They seem to be
ready to address the issues surrounding the South Unit and to take over its
stewardship, whatever that may entail. The NPS has also made some stabs at change.
The signs for Badlands South Unit now have the Tribes name on them. Even more
promising, the NPS has requested input for the creation of a joint management plan
for the South Unit. (BNP website) There is a new park superintendent, a Native
American man, Paige Baker, who may show a more nuanced understanding of Tribal
politics and work more closely with the Tribe. He has already instituted a summer
program for Lakota youth to work in the South Unit. (Woster 2007 online article) It
will take time to see just how meaningful these changes are for management of the
South Unit.
Despite the NPS newfound desire to collaborate with the Tribe, and the Tribes
renewed desire to be the stewards the South Unit needs, the potential for great
conflict is still present, both within the OST and between these entities. Given how
deeply entrenched Lakota divisions are, and the fact that the National Park Service
probably isnt going anywhere any time soon, the need to find ways to deal with these
conflicts is pressing. In the next chapter, I will explore both mainstream and
traditional Lakota conflict resolution practices in the hopes of contributing to that

One of the main arguments of this thesis is that culturally appropriate and context
specific methods of conflict resolution should be utilized when dealing with conflicts
surrounding conservation and natural resource management. In this chapter I will
compare mainstream, interest-based negotiation (Alternative Dispute Resolution or
ADR in particular) with indigenous conflict management and resolution practices as
discussed in the literature, so as to understand the differences between the two, the
problems posed by each, and the possibilities for dealing with conflicts in a way that
ensures equitable benefits to indigenous communities on the edges of protected areas.
One of the key elements of ADR that we must be aware of is that of participation.
The idea of participation is found in indirect rule, conservation, and ADR, and
indicates that each is a kind of governance. The reason for this is that they all share
the idea of creating intentionally positive change for people involved. However, there
is a level of paternalism inherent in the idea of creating change for people; it indicates
that those in power know what it good for those without power. Participation by
those without power teaches them what is good for them, and gives them the ability to
implement that good for all in their community. This means that in order to
participate, assimilation must take place people must align their needs or values
with those of more powerful entities to be involved.

For example, in indirect rule, colonizers were engaged in an effort to civilize the
indigenous inhabitants of the colonies. This was considered the humanitarian aspect
of colonial administration, and participation was key. Indigenous peoples who were
able to make themselves over according to colonial requirements, to emulate the
colonizers, were able to hold positions in the colonial administration. (Bodley
1999:72) In order to achieve the harmonious working of the different parts of the
machine, there must be an alignment between personal or group aspirations, while
a large amount of local freedom must be allowed to give a sense of empowerment,
however small it might be. (Cooke 2003:52, Cromner 1908a: 18 quoted in Frenkel and
Shenhav 2006:861) This alignment of values and empowerment in aspects of the
process amounts to collaboration between parties, and engenders commitment to the
process. (Cooke 2003:52,55)
In conservation, participatory models have been established, including co-
management and community based conservation and natural resource management,
but each of these again require assimilation of values. In this case it is that local
people must learn the value of wildlife and natural resources, even if its just a matter
of learning to value their visual consumption, so that they will be willing and able to
participate in their protection and conservation. People must look past their own
social and economic troubles and instead value the beauty of local wildlife and
surroundings. (West et. al. 2006:261) Participatory action research was dressed up
and re-sold in the 1990s as the answer to conservation and development project's
failures up to that point, but since it was a key element of colonial administration, it is
not new.
John Collier once again enters the picture, as he played a central role in the creation
of participatory action research (PAR) in the interest of dealing with ethnic tensions.
PAR involves collaboration of researchers and research subjects. (Cooke 2002:9)

Collier believed that such collaboration engendered self-determination and thereby
eased ethnic tensions. He advocated indirect rule for Native Americans for the same
reasons it was participatory and thus enabled self-determination.
In conflict resolution, the same pattern is visible. More participatory methods such as
ADR require a realignment of values in order to earn involvement. Disputants must
learn proper ways of communicating (no outbursts), learn what constitutes conflict
and what defines resolution. The mediator or facilitator is there to remind you of the
process guidelines and which parts of the conflict are important to address. (Brigg
2003:294-5) Again, the explosion of ADR in the 80s and 90s as a new way to
resolve conflicts was just repackaged participatory methods developed decades prior.
This form of participation, in which assimilation is required, is actually collaboration
with those who have the power to establish these definitions, and thus maintains
existing power relations. (Cooke 2001:6, Goldman and Rojot 2001:294) Furthermore,
these similarities point to the fact that conservation and conflict resolution are just as
much a form of governance as indirect rule.
It is these methods of conflict resolution that have been disseminated around the
world. In particular, most conflict resolution used in conservation projects is based to
a large extent on the principles of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Informed
by disciplines as far flung as sociology, psychology, law, communication science,
anthropology, management studies, politics, and international relations, ADR was
institutionalized quickly after its inception, became a major industry by the 1990s,
and was exported overseas. (Nader and Grande 2002:575)
ADR encompasses a range of methods developed as an alternative to the legal
process, based on the belief that the court system cannot address the root causes of
conflict, and thus doesnt provide sustainable or satisfactory resolutions to disputes.

(Avruch 2003:352, Carpenter 2001:105) ADR is different from the legal process in
that disputing parties are responsible for their own resolution, rather than a third party
deciding and imposing resolution. A third party, such as a mediator or facilitator,
may be involved, but they do not make decisions.
ADR provides a model in which mutual gains style negotiations, resulting in win-win
situations, are the ideal. However, it also provides guidelines for attempting to turn
concession convergence negotiations, in which parties are antagonistic and attempting
to get as much as possible out of the deal, into mutual gains scenarios. (Carpenter
2001:108, Fay 2007:83)
Fisher and Urys Getting To Yes has been the mainstay of ADR; much of the
literature and training for ADR contains the core elements of Fisher and Urys
methodology. (See Carpenter 2001) They break negotiations into four elements and
provide guidelines for how to deal with each element in order to reach a satisfactory
resolution. These four elements are: interests, people, options, and criteria.
First, according to Fisher and Ury, interests must be distinguished from positions;
interests underlie the positions people take. Each side of a dispute has multiple
interests, including basic human needs such as food and shelter. Each side should
consider the others interests and show that they value them as well. Arguing over
positions rather than discussing interests leads to unwise agreements, is inefficient,
and harms the parties relationship with each other. (Fisher and Ury 1981:40-55)
To address the people element of a negotiation, Fisher and Ury suggest separating
people issues (problems with disputants relationship) from substantive issues (the
dispute itself). When disputants conflate the people with the problem, they tend to
negotiate over positions rather than interests, resulting in poor agreements. In order
to avoid this, inaccurate perceptions should be corrected, communication should be

structured and clear, parties should actively listen and express appropriate emotions
while maintaining a purposive outlook. (Fisher and Ury 1981:17-39)
In the options element of negotiation, disputants should brainstorm options that will
reach mutually beneficial solutions. The problem should be viewed as a mutual one,
not as separate problems for each side to solve separately. (Fisher and Ury 1981:56-
Finally, the criteria element involves finding a solution based on principled criteria
rather than one driven by pressure. These criteria should be based on fair, practical
standards and procedures. Standards should apply to both sides, and procedures
should involve give and take between disputing parties. (Fisher and Ury 1981:81-94)
Fisher and Ury do address power differentials between disputants, and claim that the
ideal way to manage such a situation is to have a Best Alternative To a Negotiated
Agreement (B ATNA). A party in a position of lesser power should know what they
can live with and what they cannot, and what actions they will take if no agreement is
reached. If the more powerful side will not negotiate fairly, the less powerful party
should do what they can to bring the other side back to the issue and their true
interests. They should avoid getting pulled into a position and becoming rigid in
response to resistance, but continually reframe statements in terms of the problem. If
this does not work, the disputants should consider using a third party to reach an
agreement. (Fisher and Ury 1981:97-106) Another way of dealing with power is
negotiating the process as well as interests. (Personal communication 3 telephone
Stakeholder analysis is another conflict resolution tool, widely used in natural
resource disputes. This is because such conflicts are particularly complex, involving

multiple parties with a range of perspectives, and the potential for new parties to
become involved throughout the process, as occurred at the South Unit. The process
helps determine which individuals, organizations, local people, and outside entities
have a stake in the resource at issue, and their connections to each other and the
resource.16 (deKoninck 2007:79, Ramirez 1999:102)
Fisher and Ury claim that whichever method of negotiation is used, there are three
criteria by which it can be deemed successful: reaching a wise agreement,
methodological efficiency, and relational improvement between disputing parties.
(Fisher and Ury 1981:4) Others assert that in order to reach successful resolutions,
communication between parties must be open, the nature of the resolution process be
collaborative and specific to the context, a third party mediator or facilitator must be
mutually agreed upon, any legal hurdles to the resolution must be considered, and the
boundaries of the conflict must be defined through stakeholder analysis in order for a
conflict to successfully be resolved. (Buckles and Rusnak 1999:5, Rothman and
Olson 2001:292, Tyler 1999:268-276)
While some extol the benefits of negotiation and its ability to reach successful
resolutions (Goldman and Rojot 2003:2), others have found fault with ADR
techniques. Despite Fisher and Urys BATNA, there is a lack of attention to power
issues. Power is an essential component of conflict resolution, as disputants,
especially when from different cultural backgrounds, have varied levels of power that
limit or increase the amount of control they have over the definition of the problem,
the process, and the outcome. (Carpenter 2001:107) Those with more power and
16 This determination can be backed into, by following the conflict, as it will point to
the differing needs of individuals or groups for resources. (Castro and Nielsen
2001:229) Stakeholder analysis methods include participatory rural appraisal,
participatory action research, and analysis of class and power differences. (Buckles
and Rusnak 1999:6)

resources are able to make their claims seem more legitimate. (deKoninck 2007:79,
Ramirez 1999:107)
In fact the stakeholder concept is a tool used to manage indigenous peoples when
their claims dont fit with established models. By making indigenous peoples claims
seem illegitimate despite their being the sole land-owning party, while legitimizing
outside claims, the stakeholder analysis process shifts the power balance in favor of
outside interests. (deKoninck 2007:79) Disregarding power relationships between
negotiating parties robs ADR of its ability to reach sustainable, just resolutions to
conflicts. (Chilton et. al. 2005:344, Nader and Grande 2002:578)
Another problem with Western models of conflict resolution is that they are based on
assumptions that do not hold true across cultures. First, Western models consider
conflict a negative situation to be remedied, and peace a better social state. (Brigg
2003:289, Chevalier and Buckles 1999:18, Fay 2007:83) However, not every culture
values peace above conflict, and such a perspective disrespects non-Western views of
conflict and thus ideas of selfhood and community. (Brigg 2003:289) Additionally,
peoples definitions of what constitutes conflict are denied.
Atomization of conflict and the resolution process, such as separating the people
from the problem, may be quite contrary to peoples sense of conflict, especially
when identity is at issue. (Schirch 2005:35) Furthermore, identity issues cannot be
addressed by ADR when people are separated from the problem. (Rothman and Olson
2001:289) Identity is a huge part of the conflict surrounding the South Unit, playing
into not only the dispute between the OST and the NPS, but also into the
disagreement within the Tribe. The history and culture of Lakota people is inscribed
on the South Unit: the original Stronghold is there, ancestors are buried there, Vision
Quests are held there, wild turnips are harvested there and displayed in braids in

people's homes. This dispute is not just about acreage, it is about Lakota people
exerting their right to exist, distinct from mainstream Americans, and despite federal
attempts to wipe Native Americans, or at least their ways, from the face of the
The construction of communities is another assumption of Western methods, which
define them as bounded groups whose identities are based upon what people within
those boundaries share with each other. This construction simplifies and ignores the
complexity of communities and identities, and how they are defined and re-defined.
(Barth 1969:11, Chevalier and Buckles 1999:25) Stakeholder identification and
analysis are problematic for the same reasons. Stakeholders are not easily defined,
especially when the boundaries of the resource and the types of use allowed are ill
defined. (deKoninck 2007:79, Ramirez 1999:104)
Western models have also championed egalitarianism, yet not all societies afford
equal rights to everyone. In such situations, a single model of conflict resolution may
not be applicable in all contexts. (Chevalier and Buckles 1999:21-24) Additionally,
not all stakeholders to a resource should be considered equal in all situations.
(deKoninck 2007:81) I argue that is certainly the case with the South Unit. The
National Park Service, despite having a legal right to manage the South Unit, is not an
equal stakeholder in the South Unit. The land belongs to the Oglala Sioux Tribe,
which has signed an agreement allowing the Park Service to manage the land.
However, the distinction isn't such an easy one in terms of differing stakeholders
within the Tribe. Should the people who were evacuated from the bombing range be
allowed to move back? Should individual Lakota families be allowed to continue
excavating and selling fossils? Should a Tribal park be established there? Only the
Tribe can answer these questions, but it is their right to do so.

Rationalism is another value held to be universal in conflict resolution models. The
use of rationalism ensures a "utilitarian, analytic, logical, and contractual"
perspective, but one which may not be appropriate for those of non-Westem societies.
(Chevalier and Buckles 1999:33-37) Mainstream models are rooted in rational choice
and decision-making theories, which view negotiation as a buyer-seller transaction.
(Avruch 2006:568) This is problematic when negotiation is based on interests as
defined by Fisher and Ury, because interests often cannot be negotiated, especially if
they are basic human needs. (Avruch 2006:572-3, Rothman and Olson 2001:294)
A final assumption is that of secularism, highly valued in Western models, but it may
be an impossibility for deeply religious societies to approach conflict resolution
without including spirituality. (Chevalier and Buckles 1999:31-33)
When these models are exported from the West to the rest of the world, they are
imposed upon people who may have very different ideas about what conflict is,
whether and how it should be resolved, and what resolution looks like. One-size-fits-
all models are imposed upon varied situations with locally specific contexts, and
when context is not accounted for, the results may be exacerbation rather than
alleviation of conflict. (Buckles and Rusnak 1999:21, Nader and Grande 2002:578,
Tyler 1999:264)
While most models value a mutual gains approach (both sides benefit), it may not
always be to the benefit of all parties to attempt to negotiate a win-win solution. Fay
points out that disputing parties experiences with each other most likely will lead
them to strategize in such a way that precludes a mutual gains approach. (2007:84)
Additionally, when a party has the ability to threaten their counterpart, a distributive,
or concession-convergence, model is beneficial. (Fay 2007:84) Taking a mutual
gains approach may cause leaders to lose standing in the community if the history
between the disputants is one of antagonism. (Fay 2007:86) Finally, less powerful

parties may have no other strategy than conflict with which to bring the other party's
attention to an issue and bargain with.
The history of relations between the NPS and OST are a case study of Fays analysis.
The underhanded tactics used by the Park Service to ensure inclusion of Sheep
Mountain Table in Badlands National Monument/Park certainly did nothing to
engender the trust of the OST, and ruled out mutual gains negotiations. The
Strongholders have threats available to them, and have used them by occupying the
Stronghold. The tension between the Task Force and OSPRA in their mutual
mandate to develop a management plan for the South Unit and sue the Park Service
embodies Fays last point; OSPRA will take a gentler route given its financial ties to
the park, and the Tribal Council has lost what little clout it had gained with the Task
Force. The Strongholders were able to get the NPS to finally involve the Tribe in a
management plan by occupying the South Unit and protecting it with arms. (See
Wilkinson 2004) Though the NPS initially didn't make much of the occupation, they
certainly have begun to sing a different tune by holding community meetings with
Tribal members. (BNP website)
Theorists have suggested avoiding the pitfalls of Western conflict resolution models
by incorporating additional aspects of conflict, including emotions, culture, apology,
narrative and metaphor theory, power, and identity, as well as local definitions of
conflict and equality. (Avruch 2006:568, Brigg 2003:287) Methods should be
expanded to deal with the values involved in conflicts, and address the transformation
of relationship between parties as well. (Chilton et. al. 2005:325) Finally, methods
should be flexible and context specific. (Tyler 1999:268)
Morton Deutschs theory of conflict seems to provide an effective description of the
conflict at Pine Ridge over the South Unit. Deutschs theory is based on the idea that

there is interdependence between the goals of conflicting parties, that the very
presence of a conflict situation implies interdependence between disputing parties,
and that the types of actions taken by disputing parties are integral to understanding
the conflict. (2000:22-23) According to Deutsch, a power differential develops when
one party is more dependent upon the other. (2000:23) Goal interdependence has two
types: positively correlated; what is good for you is good for me, and negatively
correlated; what is bad for you is good for me and vice versa.
Deutsch contends that most conflicts are mixed-motive, meaning that disputing
parties both cooperate and compete with each other in various ways. (2000:22) In
these mixed-motive situations, the nature of the conflict is determined by how the
parties goals are interdependent (whether they are positively or negatively
Conflicts with cooperative relations are characterized by: effective communication,
friendliness, helpfulness and openness, coordination of effort, division of labor, high
productivity, agreement with the ideas of others, as well as confidence in the value
others place on ideas, a willingness to enhance the other partys power, and a view of
the conflict as a mutual problem to be solved. (Deutsch 2000:25) When the relations
are competitive, the conflict is characterized by: impaired communication,
obstruction, mistrust and suspicion, duplication of efforts by both parties due to
mistrust and suspicion, critical rejection of ideas and reduced confidence, sides
seeking to increase their own power and reduce that of the other party, coercive
tactics in a struggle over issues other than those at hand, and a sense that a limited
defeat is more devastating than a mutual disaster. (Deutsch 2000:25-26) In this case
the conflict escalates, parties may over commit to a position as well as to negative
attitudes and perceptions, and make an investment in canying out confrontational
activities. (Deutsch 2000:27)

Based on Deutschs descriptions, it is safe to say that Lakota groups at Pine Ridge
and the NPS are engaged in a mixed-motive conflict. That is to say, there are
various levels of cooperation and competition operating. While OSPRA must
cooperate on some level with the NPS, the Task Force and Strongholders clearly are
competing with both the NPS and OSPRA. Additionally, Strongholders and Task
Forcers are cooperating with each other in this instance, but in others, certainly in the
past during Wounded Knee II, they were competing. Deutsch's theory is also relevant
to the conflict over the South Unit in that the goals of Strongholders, the Task Force,
the Park Service, OSPRA, and the cattle operators are all intertwined.
However, it is not so easy to see exactly how the goals of each of these groups are
correlated. I can easily say that the goals of OSPRA are positively correlated with
those of the NPSthe more visitors there are to the park, the better the financial gain
for both entities, and the better each can manage their respective parks and
recreational facilities. Additionally, what is good for cattle ranchers is continuing
their operations, which is also good for whoever actually holds the leases as well, be
it the NPS or the OST, so they are also positively correlated. However, the goals of
OSPRA and the goals of the Task Force are negatively correlated. OSPRA needs the
funds coming from the gate receipts and so it behooves it to be gentle with the NPS.
The Task Force, on the other hand, wants the NPS off the reservation, in which case
there would be no gate receipts for OSPRA.
I turn now to traditional Native American modes of conflict resolution. I include
groups other than Lakota people who share similar perspectives on conflict and its
resolution as specified in the literature. Representatives of Apache, Maya, Cree,
Navajo, and Dakota are found in the following, as well as information from authors
specializing in conflict resolution practice who did not specify any particular group.

Also, Sherman had asked that information gathered for the Indigenous Stewardship
Model include perspectives of other indigenous peoples globally so that the model
might give people ideas to pick and choose from rather than impose a model on
varied contexts.
These methods do not break conflict into parts; instead they are more holistic. (Faure
2003:13, Hassrick 1964:51, Walker 2004:199-204) The methods are cyclical and
contextual, and the process includes considering perceptions, emotions, values, sacred
aspects, ancestors and the natural world in reaching a resolution. (Tyler 1999:264,
Schirch 2005:33-34, Walker 2004:532) All interests and views were considered
before deciding upon the resolution to a dispute. (Alfred 2002:34)
In many indigenous traditions, conflict is considered an upset in social relations, a
breach in a relationship, requiring repair in order to maintain balance and harmony
within the community. (Garcia 2004:306, Martinez 2004:379, Walker 2004:528)
According to Taiaiake Alfred, with the collective inheritance of a cohesive spiritual
universe and traditional culture, profound dissent is rare..(2002:34) When dissent
did occur, conflict was resolved through a process of bringing transgressors back into
the fold of the community, repairing relationships between people, and restoring
social harmony. (Walker 2004:530, Vincenti 1995:3) However, if differences could
not be reconciled, people might be forced out of the group or even killed. (Blacksmith
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation
2006, Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
People have sense of responsibility to behave in a manner that maintains the
relationships between all life forms, because they are all connected. (Berkes 1999:80,
Deloria, Jr. 1999:34, Fixico 2003:1) The Lakota statement, mitakuye oyasin,
meaning all my relatives, perfectly captures this perspective. Part of this

responsibility is the sacrifice of individual wishes and desires to ensure the entire
community survives, while survival of the community ensures individual needs are
met. (Alfred 2002:34, Faure 2003:2) Though individuals sacrifice for the good of the
community, the strength of respect and equality ensure that individuals are actually
afforded more freedom to determine their own path, preventing conflicts that might
arise from forced compliance. (Alfred 2002:34)
This autonomy meant that people were trusted to be able to work out their grievances
with each other, according to the rules of their Tribe and by accommodating each
others needs and desires, without formal conflict resolution bodies such as courts.
(Cohen 1960:321, Vincenti 1995:2)
Another mechanism of conflict prevention was the set of behavior patterns and rules
that all were expected to follow. There were civil and criminal codes (Hassrick
1964:47) Some behavioral rules were just a matter of decency, while others were
ceremonial, but they all ensured smooth social relations.17 (Hassrick 1964:47) More
than that, though, by following these rules and behaving according to them, people
can [find] the proper moral and ethical road upon which human beings should walk.
(Deloria, Jr. 1999:43) Gossip, peer pressure, ridicule, public humiliation, and
ostracism were severe enough punishment for minor social transgressions against
these rules. (Buckles and Rusnak 1999:6, Hassrick 1964:47, 51)
When conflict did occur, a variety of community members could be called on to help
navigate the dispute and find a satisfactory resolution. (Vincenti 1995:2) When
conflicts did occur, people turned to elders and leaders to act as mediators. Fixico
17 Rules for behavior included the young deferring to elders when speaking. Gifts
could not be refused. (Hassrick 1964:47)

It is the role of the elders to maintain peace and order, to supply
advice, teach, and to advise, and it is die role of the younger to.. .listen
to the elders for advice on how to regain the balance between peace
and war, between good and evil. This respect for elders is valued by
many tribal cultures around the world. (2003:13)
Leaders might help resolve disputes as well, and historically traders acted as
intermediaries or mediators in disputes between whites and Native Americans. (Hyde
1937:98) Lakota people would look to leaders to resolve conflicts such as
disagreements, murders, and wife stealing. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
The sacred pipe of the Lakota historically played a role in conflict generation,
management and resolution. When trying to build a fighting force in order to attack
another band or tribe because of some offence, a pipe would be sent around to the
bands. Smoking the pipe was symbolic of agreement and a vow to tell the truth.
(Hassrick 1964:31, 86) It was also used to resolve conflicts, as in the case of murder.
In the Untying Each Other Ceremony (Kiciyuska pi), the parent of a murdered
child and the parent of the murderer would smoke the pipe in turn, thus forgiving and
releasing each other from retribution. (Hassrick 1964:50-51) When an offense such as
murder or annihilation of a war party took place, responsive action was not taken
immediately or without great consideration. Hyde describes such a situation where:
Relatives of the dead men took the war-pipe to neighboring camps
where they publicly mourned their dead and pleaded with the people to
help them. In each camp the leading men held councils and decided
whether their chiefs should accept the pipe or reject it. The pipe was
nearly always accepted, and when the chiefs had smoked it the camp
was pledged to take part in the forthcoming expedition. (1937:32)
The smudging ceremony is also useful for conflict resolution. It is a cleansing
ceremony in which sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar are burned, the
smoke washed over the face and body with the hands. This is done to clear

peoples minds and hearts, and to clear away bad spirits or feelings, before
moving into discussion of issues. (Schirch 2005:25)
Gift giving was a restorative practice, not with an economic or material purpose, but
rather a symbol of remorse for having harmed someone in some way. It is also a
symbolic transfer of power from the transgressor to the victim. (Vincenti 1995:2) Gift
giving was also an essential relationship-building tool for decision-making and
conflict management. Prior to negotiations, people would exchange gifts, share
meals, and play games. (Personal communication 3 telephone 2005)
Historically, in Lakota communities, a group known as the Akicita (pronounced ah-
ki-chi-ta), were responsible for maintaining order during certain periods, such as
buffalo hunts and camp movements. (Hassrick 1964:16) They doled out punishment
for violating rules regarding hunts and movements, and violations of civil codes.
(Hassrick 1964:30) The Akicita had a rotating membership in that a different society
would be chosen to fill the role. The positions within the Akicita consisted of twelve
officerstwo pipe bearers, two drummers, four lance owners, two rattlers, and
two whippers. (Hassrick 1964:23) Whip bearers would destroy the tipi of a society
member who violated the rules of his society. (Hassrick 1964:19) Tipi destruction
was a common punishment historically in Lakota communities. (Hassrick 1964:51) A
man might also be beaten if he did not attend all the dances and feasts of his society.
(Hassrick 1964:19) Punishment could also mean your horses being killed, having
your women taken, or losing your own life. (One Feather 1974:3)
Tyler argues that traditional methods focused more on risk minimization than on
profit maximization. (1999:264) While the main focus of traditional conflict
management is to repair relationships, restore balance and maintain social harmony,
and the ideal for the Lakota was to talk the issue over rather than imposing

punishment, there are also consequences for behavior harmful to others in the
community, which historically ranged from social repercussions to death. (Hassrick
Eveiyone knew what the process was, who was involved, and the consequences for
certain actions. (Vincenti 1995:2) Those Lakotas who could not correct their behavior
and continued to violate the rules, or who committed a particularly heinous crime
might be banished from the community. (Hassrick 1964:47)
Some offences resulted in physical punishment. In Singing for a Spirit, Deloria, Jr.
(2000) relates the story of his great-grandfather, Saswe, killing two Santee men
hiding in his camp from U.S. soldiers. Knowing from an earlier vision that he would
kill 4 men in his lifetime, and that the camp could avoid the wrath of the soldiers by
killing the men, Saswe offered to do the task only after prolonged discussion and lack
of any other volunteers. He shot the two men with a pistol, handed the weapon to
another chief, and sent a crier to announce that he would be waiting unarmed on top
of a hill for retribution from family or friends of the men he had killed. (Deloria, Jr.
2000:32) Saswe sacrificed himself, knowing the consequences, for the good of the
Utilizing traditional ways of managing conflict becomes problematic when one steps
outside the realm of theory and ideology and into the world of practical application.
Traditional ways might not be intact due to contact with and subjugation by
colonizing authorities. They may have become fragmented and used only in
piecemeal fashion, or even lost altogether. Often these systems have been replaced
by those of the colonizing power.

Worldview may have changed for many in the community. Individuals may not be
willing to sacrifice their individual needs for the whole, and the whole itself has
changed. For instance, on Pine Ridge, the whole is the entire Tribal population,
rather than a small band. Behavior patterns that prevented conflict from arising are
not in use by the entire population. Elected leaders dont serve the same purposes as
traditional ones, and so do not get involved in conflicts with community members.
The pipe is still in use, but it only plays a role for those who believe in its power, and
that belief is not as widespread as it once was. Gift giving may not be an economic
possibility for everyone. Talking problems out is harder now that communication has
deteriorated so thoroughly, as we will see in the next chapter. Finally, punishment
has changed as well, and is not as harsh in terms of death sentences.
The next chapter will show that what may be most appropriate for Lakota people in
the resolution of conflicts is a hybrid of traditional and mainstream ADR methods, or
at least choices that run the gamut.

Conservation is a conflicted process, globally as well as at the South Unit of Badlands
National Park. It makes sense to incorporate conflict resolution into the process, yet
those models must be context specific, or there will simply continue to be an
imposition of external and rigid ideas on situations that call for dynamic, flexible,
local solutions. In order to avoid the pitfalls of the one-size-fits-all models, local and
indigenous concepts and methods of conflict resolution and management, or
stewardship as I like to think of it, as well as decision-making, should be explored
and accessed.
In this chapter I present what Lakota people, both Oglala and Sicangu, said about the
current methods of decision-making and conflict resolution. Additionally,
informants descriptions of traditional methods of conflict resolution and decision-
making are presented, how those methods are still being utilized, and the potential
people see for further use of those methods.
In this chapter I am abandoning the use of the term pre-contact for two reasons. First,
when conducting interviews I consistently used the term "traditional." This did not
seem to be a word that informants embraced, instead choosing words such as
"historical" or "old days" in their answers. However, at no time did I have to explain
what I meant by "traditional." Because the answers to my questions were in response

to the term "traditional," I will simply use that term here. However, I will point out
when there is a description of a term that is obviously post-contact.
Post-IRA Governance
Post-IRA governance is considered highly problematic by many Lakota people. The
current political structure and conflict resolution methods in place at both Pine Ridge
and Rosebud are substantially different from pre-contact and traditional methods,
having been implemented with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
In terms of socio-political organization, the reservations are split into districts, each
with representatives on the Tribal Council. Because representatives are elected, the
people cannot simply withdraw their support from a leader and replace them. They
can only vote for those who run for the office and wait until their term is up if they
have lost confidence in them. At Pine Ridge, you have 9 districts, each one of them
has a separate type of governing body under the Tribe, and each of them dont agree
with each other. (Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) At Rosebud,
the decisions that affect everybody in the Tribe are basically made by now by the
Tribal Council. Theyre you know, its the Western method of electing
representatives from each community... (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation
2005) The situation now is that theres law and order codes, theres police to enforce
it theres a court system... (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Some informants considered the Tribal Council seriously problematic. One simply
said that the 1934 constitutional government has lots of conflict. (Interview 1 Pine
Ridge Reservation 2005) Another said, IRA government you know since its
inception hasnt worked for our people... (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge

Reservation 2006) One problem is that the Tribal Council doesnt make necessary
changes in the interests of the people:
[W]e exist under IRA government right now, you know, that does
nothing for us, creates ah, chaos, like that, and the needy families are
being neglected you know. Thats why were in poverty here.
Were the most impoverished community in the United States of
America like that and thats the reason why. Because IRA
government, you know, has got this hold on our people like that, that
you cant progress, its almost impossible, like that. (Mesteth
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Another concurred; the elder politicians they get up and run they talk about you
know changing education changing government, and that, it doesnt happen.
(Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) An example of how this
happens: people on the council I dont know if they think they hold themselves to a
higher level or that they know it all, and so if somebody tries to come and present a
method of dispute resolution that this is what were trying to do, oh yea fine and
dandy, ok or sure, well you know we agree with you, but to actually get down to the
components of what it really is, they really arent willing to go there, (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005)
The deterioration of communication among Tribal council members is a problem, at
least at Rosebud where, these last few years the council meetings got really bad they
were really out of control, you know, and they were on the air, and they were so
negative, people just fighting on the air and challenging each other and, and calling
each other names... (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Another informant suggested that Tribal council members do not work together:
when you get into, in Tribal organization, personalities come into play, and and and

people are actually hurting each other and that hurt is is is brought into the decision
making, so you know, you dissed me, my my resolution yesterday, so me and my
three guys here are going to walk out of your meeting today. (Apple interview Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006) Yet another informant described Council members as
[M]ost of the people who sit on the Tribal council make decisions
according to their own personal agenda, whatever they have going
on whether its going to benefit them personally and benefit their
family first, and then, secondarily whatever they can do for anybody
else in their community. I am really uncomfortable with it because I
feel that its really taken us like I said 360 degrees from our Tribal
point of view. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
One informant provided confirmed the this phenomenon:
Sometimes its not a good thing because um, that um, favoritism
towards tiyospayes within the larger population, um, just, a politician
recognizing that he can give services to this tiyospaye because they
have a hundred votes, in their tiyospaye, then thats what he needs to
do in order to get back into his position. (Apple interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006)
One explanation for this behavior is the idea that conflict is inherent in the
constitutional government because everyone wants to go their own way, whereas in
traditional government there was one way. (Interview 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005)
Another explanation gets back to survival and how it has changed for Lakota people
since implementation of the IRA government: from 1934 it was just fill your own
pockets you know survival type process. (Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006) This personal-interest based survival is a result of oppression, both
external and internal: the thing about is were so dependent, on IRA

government...before 1934, the people were self-sufficient. (Mesteth interview Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006) Also:
[I]f you talk about the Tribal Council trying to deal with outside
entities, if you really look at it what you will see is their inter-,
internalize oppression working. And they immediately every time
they have to meet like with the State of South Dakota for something,
their internalized oppression comes to the top, and theyre immediately
looking for antagonism. Sometimes its there sometimes its not.
.. .until the Tribal council recognizes their own power, and are able to
go forward, on their own without consideration for how the State is
going to act.. .as far as the Tribe trying to deal with outside entities, the
Tribal Council, I guess the Council is a reflection of our, the people
who are sitting on the Council. And all of those people for the most
part are undereducated, you know theyre grassroots people theyre
just ordinary people off the street until they get on the Council. But
they just react as they would in a personal confrontation. So they
become a huge group with a huge chip on their shoulder.... Yeah its
difficult, its very difficult. But you know theyre always in defensive
mode, always. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
These depictions of Tribal governance under the IRA provide an idea of
how an administration like Dick Wilson's could exist, as well as how things
could have gotten so explosive on Pine Ridge in response. Furthermore,
paired with an understanding of the flexibility and autonomy built into
Lakota society both traditionally and currently, it is obvious why the
Strongholders would have had to take the matter of the South Unit into their
own hands. The Tribal government doesn't represent them, and it doesn't
sound like Lakota people have much confidence in the IRA government's
interest in taking care of the people's interests.

Mainstream Conflict Resolution at Pine Ridge and Rosebud
Mainstream methods of conflict resolution at Pine Ridge and Rosebud consist of the
Tribal police, Tribal court, and ADR to a lesser extent. For many people, the police
are an established part of life on the reservation and they are definitely utilized.
(Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005, Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
One informant felt the police were a better form of protection, saying that one chief
cant protect everyone. (Interview 4 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Furthermore, a
lot of conflict is dealt with in the court system... (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation
Despite the widespread use of the Tribal police and courts, they are problematic for a
variety of reasons. One informant pointed out the lack of training and justice; today,
look at our law enforcement its kind of like a, farce you know. Its kind of
ridiculous, [laughs] Theyre untrained, and, sometimes you dont have justice here,
even the court systems kind of like a, joke you know, [laughs] So thats how we are
today, you know, its not working. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Now, instead of akicita there are Tribal police forces. Wed call the police and
everybody does that now. Everybody calls the cops on everybody else, you
know...She said we gave away our role, our responsibility to that police department.
(Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Another informant saw the use of Tribal police and courts as the people having given
up their own power to resolve conflicts themselves; and so basically that whole
court, and police and all of that weve set up that, you know fallen into that hierarchy
where we have to listen to this one and theres control there... what I say is weve
given so much power to the police and to the court system, and its not just here its
all over the country. (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006) Another informant

agreed; saying that he didn't think Lakota people dealt with conflict anymore, rather
relying on the police and court system to deal with those conflicts. (Iron Cloud
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) Falling back onto police and courts rather
than facing conflicts with one another means that ...people dont deal with things
directly they go around, and behind, and create a lot of confusion and commotion and
things escalate... (Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Another concern with the court system is that it doesn't provide sustainable
resolutions to problems between people. One person called court resolutions a "win-
lose situation," which only satisfies one party, leaving the other mad. (Iron Cloud
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) This informant agreed:
The court system just by what it is is very adversarial, theres a winner
and theres a loser, you know. And and so somebody leaves happy
and somebody leaves not happy, and thats really a problem I
think... with some of these court things you see people coming into
court over a conflict and a decision is made but then the conflict
doesnt stop because somebodys still angry you see that escalate very
often and it continues on and pretty soon theyre back into court again.
(Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
A Tribal court judge I interviewed at Rosebud pointed out that the nature of evidence
allowed in a courtroom doesn't allow people to deal with those aspects of conflict that
they feel are most important. She said:
I guess sometimes Ill follow the rules and, the rules and evidence
while I see the need for it all, sometimes they make it impossible to,
for people to get, the real story out. Um, theres all the, yesterday we
uh, had a discussion about hearsay... Im sorry but I cant take that
into consideration.. .a lot of times I find myself real frustrated at the
end of a, a hearing, because I know that people didnt understand why
I came to the decision I did, and why the hearsay rules apply, and why
couldnt I do this and do that, and they go out of here and theyre upset

with the court and, upset with me. I dont know really how to fix it
other than to let people sit down and talk about these things,.. were
really stuck, with this court the way it is, we we basically need to have
two different kinds of courts. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation
In attempts to deal with the need for an alternative to the court system, Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ADR) seems to have taken hold at Rosebud. An informant
Were all starting to look at um, mediation, restorative justice, family
group decision making.. .Reclaiming Futures offered some training on
restorative justice to people that were interested and to some of the
detention officers at the JDC.. .then we, worked with a judge and the
head of legal aid here, and the court got a grant to do some
mediation.. .the court actually began to implement the mediation, the
Casey Family Program finished their policies and theyre doing the
family conferencing, and the restorative justice um, were really
dragging our feet on it and its just for a lack of a staff person, lack of
a person that can take it a little further. (Interview 12 Rosebud
Reservation 2006)
Another concurred, we have a mediation program, or we had some money for a
mediation program but it never really got off the ground. But I had mediation
training, probably 15 years ago, and, its its so much better for people to sit down,
and get their story out.. .then they can really you know come to some kind of
agreement... (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005) Also, .. .from time to
time [theyve] had peer mediation programs in the schools... (Interview 12 Rosebud
Reservation 2006)
One informant's description of restorative justice provides some insight into what's
missing in the IRA-created Tribal courts: a focus on restoration of relationships and
balance in the community. In restorative justice:

You start with yourself, and you have to really do a lot of reflection
and you start with yourself before you really move into the process and
for everybody in there thats what happens you know, we all began to
reflect on ourselves, our relationship with ourselves, with our families,
with our friends, with our co-workers.. .restorative justice takes time,
these processes take time...And with restorative justice with family
conferencing with mediation generally everybody you know um, wins,
and and problems get solved.. .the harm is repaired, you know. And
you allow the person that did the harm to become a functioning
member of the community again...One use of the principles of
restorative justice is the childrens judge is having kids that are
placed at the JDC, you know, because theyve caused some harm,
.. .write letters of apology, you know, and so thats a step toward kind
of restoring some of the harm thats been caused. (Interview 12
Rosebud Reservation 2006)
I had the good fortune to interview a woman trained in mediation and peacemaking
and involved in the Rosebud program when it is utilized. She described the process
I interviewed each party separately in depth before we actually came
to the mediation, saying what is your background about, you know,
your family, what about um, culture or tradition, you know what kinds
of things do you do, do you go to powwows, do you go to sweats, so I
did some a little bit of work before we actually sat down. (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Once the parties arrived at the actual mediation:
The first thing that I had them do was to shake hands, everybody shake
hands before we sat down. And I said, you know we need to
acknowledge each other, that all of us are equal here theres nobody
better, or lower, than anybody here. Everyone gets equal time, and
everybodys going to have an opportunity to have their say. There is
no cussin, no swearin, no outbursts, you know if somebody needs to
stop and just needs some, some air time we can do that. And we can
take as long as its necessary to get through the session. (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005)

When asked about the important elements of mediation, she responded:
Respect.. .1 talk about respect before we go into any kind of
mediation.. .1 say you know one of the things that we really need to
think about is that even though we may be angry about something, an
issue or whatever, we need to stop and think about respect, and we
need to think about how we want to be treated by others, the way that,
you know if we treat them good theyll treat us good.. .equal time,
dont interrupt... what it does is it puts everyone you know in a
position where theyre able to say, maybe not the first time, maybe it
might take the second or the third time before they get to the point
where they can actually say that I dont like this because youve done
this to me. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Theres more choice involved in mediation for disputing parties as well;
They might say well I dont think I want you as a mediator because I
know that you do this and you do that.. .Ill say well, you know, do
you have any objection, to me being maybe the peacemaker? Or the
mediator in this matter, and, they, theyll either say yes or no, most the
time theyll say yea its okay. Um, well talk maybe just a little bit
about you know, what the process is in terms of you know years ago
maybe you know or, our relatives, you know, if they had a
disagreement, you know things were handled in a different way.
(Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
One informant considered mediation to be more like traditional methods of conflict
resolution. (Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation 2006) She said:
The role of a facilitator is just that. That youre not there to say
whether this person is right and that person is wrong, or, you guys
better get your act together, and you know, all youre doing is active
listening in a lot of cases, and youre reinforcing you know um, the
statements that these individuals are making. ... write them up on the
board, and then, leave it at that, because theyll have something to look

at. .. .confidentiality and the trust is a really important part. (Interview
5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Peacemaking is a bit different;
cultural differences are really a key aspect of the traditional
peacemaking as opposed to straight mediation...Well for the mediation
for the mediation when you.. .you sign an agreement you explain to
the.. .this is what mediation... when are we going to set a time.. .how
are we going to deal with this. .. .with the peacemaking with the
traditional part thats a little bit different because youre not going
right into an agreement.. .you may talk to them and explain to them
what the rules are and what peacemaking is.. .are we going to do
maybe a sweat maybe they wanna.. .have a medicine man come in and
pray, before they start. .. .theres things that help them before they
actually sit down and talk. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
In mediation:
The one big skill thats promoted is the act of (active?) listening. You
know the act of (active?) listening is a very important part of
mediation. The same with um, you know when you look at
peacemaking, but with peacemaking it goes a little bit deeper I think
and it goes to the core of a persons emotions. (Interview 5 Rosebud
Reservation 2005)
It is clear from these descriptions of restorative justice, mediation, and peacemaking
that they share a focus on restoring and building relationships and balance with
traditional Lakota methods. Furthermore, these methods engage in Lakota traditions
of flexibility, autonomy, communication, and responsibility. While there are aspects
of these forms of ADR, such as the management of communication, that point to the
fact that conflict resolution is a form of governance, assimilating values to those of
the model, in this case it seems to actually gel with Lakota traditional practices.

ADR has been problematic for other reasons. First, the mediation program was
offered at the courthouse, which one informant said, was a big mistake, because
people dont like to come here, they have bad feelings about going to the courthouse.
(Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005) Additionally, another informant
stated, I know that the Tribal court has a resolution saying that we have
peacemaking, that you know, the Tribe, uh, supports it, ah, its available, but its
never been consistently managed, you know to be available to parties. (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Mediation has the potential to be misused or misunderstood; with mediation, I think
a lot of times, people get confused, or, people want to be judges sometimes, they just
want to judge.. .1 dont think sometimes that a lot of times that they really understand
that the role of a facilitator is just that. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Also, people dont know what mediation is, you know they dont understand that
nobodys going to make them wrong its just a place for them to have their say...
(Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
This may stem in part from the fact that:
Traditionally, culturally, we have a strong aversion to confrontation.
And nobody wants to sit down at a table, with somebody and confront
them with what they think happened. Because they might be wrong,
or it might get into a yelling match, theres all kinds of reasons why,
they dont like the confrontation. (Burnett interview Rosebud
Reservation 2005)
I found this statement particularly interesting, as most of the traditional methods
involve confrontation, at least in terms of "talking things out," a practice mentioned
over and over again.

A final concern raised in regards to restorative justice was that:
The theory is really good, but I think its, based in, fantasy. I dont
think its really based in reality. I just dont know how many people
would be, willing to admit theyre wrong. A lot of these guys I see in
the criminal court would probably be willing to go through that just to
get out of whatever theyre doing and theyd would tell you whatever
you wanted to here. And then theyd walk out and do it again.
(Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Despite the concerns of ADR as used at Rosebud, people who have had the
opportunity to utilize those ways, particularly mediation and peacemaking, have
embraced them as more in keeping with traditional ways, while still allowing people
who arent comfortable with traditional ways to stay out of the courthouse but still
resolve conflicts to their satisfaction.
Traditional Decision-Making and Organization
The best place to begin a discussion of traditional Lakota organization and decision-
making is with the 7 Lakota laws. They are: wacante oganake (generosity),
wowaunsila (compassion), woksapa (wisdom), wowauonihan (respect),
wowacintanka (patience), wowahwala (humility), woohtike (courage). (Interview 3
Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, OLC website) These laws guided people in how to
behave, how to live a good life.
It was a communal law, and so everybody in the community played a part in
it.. .And it was a whole community effort and responsibility to make sure if youre
[garbled] a part of you know the clan or the tiyospaye that youre from, theyre going
to take care of you, you know no individual has to be out on your own. (Blacksmith

interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) So the rules were so explicit and strong that
you didnt have any questionable, ah, you know, dilemmas. Nobody really, you
know, questioned a lot of these because that was just the um unspoken word that, um,
this is the way things were." (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005) It was
important for people to follow these laws because:
If there was one mistake that was made, it was ah, ah, maybe ah, ah,
situation where it would put the, the people in jeopardy of starvation,
see. So thats why traditional laws are applied you know.. .traditional
law is ah, all the people have to conform. And it was harsh, the laws
were harsh in the old days.. .because it meant survival for the people,
as a whole. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Despite the expectation of strict adherence to these laws, individual autonomy was
and is still significantly high. An informant explained that each person has within
them the ability to do good and the ability to do bad, and the choice is theirs, as are
the consequences, good or bad. (Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Traditional Decision-making
Lakota people didnt have a form of um, you know so to speak like legislative or a
government where it was you know what they have now, what we know as the
democratic society. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005) Instead, decision-
making authority rotated between those most qualified to make decisions given the
circumstances of the band or Tribe. For example, in wartime, war leaders would
make decisions, and during communal hunts, hunters would make decisions. (Mesteth
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) So.. .all these chiefs would choose from
among them four individuals. They call them the Wakicunza (Shirt Wearers). The

wakincunza were in charge until the circumstances changed, at which point authority
reverted back to the chiefs. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Leaders were selected for their proven ability to make good decisions. They had to
be compassionate and capable, and show that they put the Lakota peoples interests
before their own. (Apple interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Burnett interview
Rosebud Reservation 2005, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Councils played a role in making decisions for the entire group.(Interview 5 Rosebud
Reservation 2005) One informant said:
Councils um were pretty much to make decisions about the band and
what was going to happen they made decisions about going to war,
they made decisions about the hunt, they made decisions about where
to move the camp, um, big decisions that involved all of the people
and all it was basically it wasnt anybody who was elected or anything,
it was probably elderly men who sat down and said okay this is whats
going on and this is you know what we need to do and have a
discussion about it and then make a decision about it. (Burnett
interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
There were different types of councils, probably based on how large the group was
and what the needs of the people were. The Naca councils served in an advisory
capacity to the chiefs councils or tiysopaye councils. The chiefs would have an issue
to address, and send it up to the Naca council. The Naca council would deliberate
and send someone to the chiefs council to deliver their recommendation. The chiefs
would then make a decision on the issue. The chiefs would also consult with their
advisors on issues before the council. (Interview 1 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Iron
Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006)

Traditionally all council gatherings began with the sacred pipe ceremony. The men
gathered, they loaded or packed the pipe, smoked it, and it signified that they were
there in sincerity and of like mind. It showed that they were there openly, sincere in
intentions, and would think like one. It was very ceremonial and no one spoke.
(Interview 2 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation
2006) Then the floor was open for discussion and one topic was selected. Then there
were long speechesone informant said everyone could speak, another said that
those with expertise could speakthese speeches may have nothing to do with the
subject or issues at first; it may seem totally unrelated, but at the end it would all be
brought back around, and everything said was pertinent. No one interrupted. If
someone disagreed, they could express it in their own speech. A rebuttal happened in
yet another speech. It took a long time, and was a very gradual process. After all the
speeches were done, discussion began. (Interview 2 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005,
Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) A Wicasa Yatipika would deliver
the Naca Ominice recommendation to the chiefs council, which would then
deliberate and decide. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Another informant thought the council meetings were less formal;
I dont think there was really any process other than sitting down and
talking about it. They knew when they had to, when something came
up that they had to make a decision about it, you know, it required
[p.a. system drowned out recording] so there wasnt any that I know of
or that I can even think of why there would be a formal process, you
know, other than the word going around saying okay we need to have
a meeting I suppose you could have the chief call the meeting and say
we need to talk about this. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation
While men seemed to be the main decision makers, especially in matters that
concerned the entire group, women still had a central role in decision-making. I

observe too. And on certain occasions ah, a Kotela woman would be
invited on either the warrior society councils floor to speak, or even a
chiefs council could invite a Kotela woman to come and speak on
their floor. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
And then there was another lesser society but they were younger women they call
them the Seeyo, the women the prairie chicken they call them. And these were
younger women that had ah, ah, brothers and cousins in the war, that were warriors,
and these women are the ones that held the feasts for their cousins and brothers...
(Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
No matter who was making decisions at the time, the harmony of the group and what
was good for the whole was a main consideration in historical decision-making. (Iron
Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) Additionally, each facet of a problem
or issue had to be considered and weighed, which made decision-making time
consuming. Decisions werent made quickly because bad decisions could cost the
group's survival. (Mesteth interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Interview 15 Pine
Ridge Reservation 2006, Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation 2006) While one
informant stated that decisions were made unanimously (Interview 1 Pine Ridge
Reservation 2005), another said, youll hear a lot of talk today about decisions being
made by consensus, rather than like majority rule. You know but I think that also was
out of necessity, because you had to have the agreement of everybody in order to
move forward with whatever you wanted to do... (Burnett interview Rosebud
Reservation 2005)
Sometimes decisions just werent made. If the people were divided on an issue, and
no amount of discussion illuminated a best decision, then none was made. If it were
truly important, the issue would arise again for further discussion, at which time new
information or ideas might come to light, or not.

Traditional Conflict Resolution
It was in the context of flexible leadership concerned with the livelihoods of all the
people that conflict resolution took place. Traditional conflict resolution methods
were holistic in that they were a mixture of both preventive and restorative measures.
All these methods were used in order to maintain balance and harmony in
communities who relied on each other to survive; the thing was to keep, and the
thing that they, the thing they really encouraged was balance and harmony...
(Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Balance and harmony meant survival. An informant explained:
All of the um, relationships and values were set up around survival.
And they really couldnt afford to fight amongst themselves because it
could mean that you didnt survive, and if you didnt survive then you
put your family in danger. And I mean a family is huge, its a huge
amount of people, so they really couldnt afford the kinds of conflicts
that we have today. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Tools of conflict avoidance kept the peace both inter-tribally and within the tiyospaye
or camp. In the case of hunting grounds, different groups all hunted in certain
patterns, so they all knew where everybody would be at a certain time. (Blacksmith
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) Another informant confirmed this:
If there was a band, like lets say the Crows who only have like 20
people, and then there was the Lakota, who had, who had like, like,
700 people, um, they necessarily needed to feed off the larger buffalo
herd. So the Crows should you know understand that. So there again
you really have a conflict and a resolution. Where the Crow, they

all terms of respect. Grandmother, auntie, whoever." (Burnett interview Rosebud
Reservation 2005)
People learned these behaviors by watching and imitating the elders, and when
someone violated those rules an elder would talk to them about it. (Interview 16
Rosebud Reservation 2006) Grandmothers were especially good at this; if there was
a kid doing something he shouldnt be all she had to do was look at them and go
shhht and everybody would turn around and look and see who she was talking to,
and who was supposed to stop... (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Finally, when you did something wrong, any adult could come up to you and say,
you better stop that. (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Talking things out when there was an issue or problem was a common theme in the
interviews. (Interview 4 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Interview 11 Rosebud
Reservation 2006, Interview 12 Rosebud Reservation 2006, Whirl Wind Horse
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) One informant stated that, when there was a
conflict things were generally brought out in the open and dealt with. (Interview 12
Rosebud Reservation 2006) Another said:
You resolve differences through stories, ah, about the importance of
relationship. So ah, people will set you down, and talk, reminding you
of ah, the importance of that relationship, and how that should be kept
in a positive way. So its usually through talk, communication, if
theres too major ah, conflicts then ah, elders are brought in to ah, talk
to the group. (Interview 11 Rosebud Reservation 2006)
Also, resolution is always based on communication, and it comes back to the
importance of relationships. Like we are related, and we must work together.
Basically thats how, how most of it is done. (Interview 11 Rosebud Reservation
2006) Another aspect of conflict resolution through communication is leaving out

anger and verbal violence. The Lakota language itself helped to avoid/resolve
conflict because it is a respectful language in itself and... it never it never crosses
over into your lifespace it never crosses over into your boundaries... (Apple
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) The willingness to address transgressions or
conflicts is restorative in terms of reconciling differences and restoring the
relationship that has been broken; it is also preventative in that is keeps a conflict
from escalating further.
Elders, leaders, and mens societies played a role in resolving disputes, acting as
mediators or arbitrators. The fact that such a wide array of people could be called
upon to deal with disputes points back to the flexibility of Lakota organization and
leadership rather than being required to take one path or another to resolve a dispute
as is the case today, Lakota people had a range of people they could turn to if needed.
It also points to the communal nature of traditional methods the involvement of
ones family in the process makes it very personal and lends importance to ensuring
the relationships between people are satisfactorily addressed. A dispute would
probably first come to the elders in your tiyospaye in your kinship group and you
would go to them and they would use their wisdom and knowledge to tell you how to
work that out... (Burnett interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Another informant contradicted the focus on elders, saying with older people it
almost seemed like you know they were they werent given the recognition like they
do kind of like nowadays. When people got old they kind of were put off in the
comer. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005) She said that instead:
A lot of times they would rely on probably the headman...Or you know
someone who was maybe the head of the clan but they were like
spokesperson. And they would kind of be expected to resolve a
situation or could take matters into their own hands. If it wasnt

resolved.. .and then of course if that didnt work then it would go to a
higher council. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation 2005)
Another informant said the chiefs would go talk to a person who had broken a rule.
(Interview 3 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005) Also:
If there were conflicts,. .with other members of the tiyospaye or other
members of the band, they could actually go to the chief, and.. .the
people were willing to listen to them, they had, they had the authority
to tell somebody, okay thats not your horse, you know, it belongs to
him give it back to him or whatever, and people would listen. (Burnett
interview Rosebud Reservation 2005)
One informant even mentioned an actual arbitrator:
In a case of a murder, you know, among your own people, then they
had to get a arbitrator to come in, to decide. So the arbitrator, they
were known as the ungelungeun its like a judge that decides.. .the
unga weighed the situation out between the perpetrator and the
victim.. .and if its called for, ah, restitution sometimes. Sometimes
families could pay for a killing if it was a rightful killing. (Mesteth
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006)
Mens societies also played a role in managing conflict, especially between members
of the society. The akicita were a security group chosen from among the various
warrior societies, and were akin to the police. (Interview 5 Rosebud Reservation
Ceremonies and talking with the spirits or spiritual leaders were another method of
dealing with conflict. (Interview 3 Pine Ridge Reservation 2005, Iron Cloud
interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006) One informant described a ball-throwing
ceremony as a traditional conflict resolution tool:

To eliminate all any type of issue they would give them these balls and
these young girls would throw as far as they can, and so in some
instances the societies would race after these balls wherever the girls
threw em, and whichever society and it wasnt always all the men of
the societies just specific men from each society were chosen to do it,
to go collect as much balls as you can, and if you had um, majority of
the balls that these young girls threw.. .you could rule over for that
specific year, until the next year. So that was how they eliminated
organizational type conflicts.18 (Blacksmith interview Pine Ridge
Reservation 2006)
Another aspect of pre-contact Lakota conflict resolution that falls into both the
preventative and restorative realms is the practice of gift giving. On the preventative
side, in negotiation there was always some kind of gift giving.. .first they would sit
down and give each other gifts and then after that they would talk. (Interview 12
Rosebud Reservation 2006) On the restorative side, gift giving was suggested as a
ritualized form of apology, with acceptance of the gift symbolizing forgiveness. (Iron
Cloud interview Pine Ridge Reservation 2006, Interview 16 Rosebud Reservation
While no form of traditional punishment was mild, there certainly were degrees of
severity. The least harsh of these was the shaming thing too because they would
ostracize people, they would just absolutely ignore them, they would have nothing to
do with them... [that] was a big part of um, keeping people in line... (Interview 5
Rosebud Reservation 2005) Next in terms of severity was restitution:
18 These last informants answers were quite unique in the context of the other
interviews. He stressed the centrality of the role of women and womens societies,
and discussed highly ritualized conflict resolution and decision-making. In this
particular response, it sounds like he might be talking about the selection of the mens
society to fill the role of akicita, which was competed for annually. (One Feather