Rapid City, South Dakota — The contradictory nature of the drug war came home to Pine Ridge August 24 as federal agents cut down and seized the one-acre field of hemp plants growing at Alex White Plume’s home near Manderson, South Dakota.
The hemp field was projected as a major economic development potential for the poverty stricken reservation. It will certainly become a symbol of Indian agricultural sovereignty and probably an important test case.
Industrial hemp is not marijuana. Industrial hemp, particularly the field at Alex White Plume, which was scientifically tested, contains less than 1 percent THC, the active mind altering ingredient of marijuana. Industrial hemp has been a sought after, versatile crop plant grown and manufactured into a great variety of useful items. Hemp has been used to make paper, clothing, medicines, foods and even building material. On Pine Ridge, the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Billy Mills program has supported building hemp houses for elders. One such house is nearly completed in Slim Buttes District.
The invocation of tribal sovereignty to challenge the incredibly insane and misdirected federal drug law, that criminalizes hemp agriculture and manufacturing, was a stroke of genius. Hemp shows great promise for the reservation and could stimulate a variety of home and tribal industries. It is a perfect fit for land-rich, economically depressed places like Pine Ridge.
We support Alex White Plume, Joe American Horse, Tom Cook and other Indian patriots who are standing firm in their claim to sovereignty. We commend the Oglala Sioux Tribe for its resolution to support the people moving upward towards self-sufficiency. The Drug War, lately assailed even by conservative politicians as a waste of time and money, is clearly out of control in its definitions and approach to enforcement, it is now being used as an instrument to dash Indian hopes for a viable economic future. At Pine Ridge, it’s a shame.
Pine Ridge — assailed, poor and always troubled — again shows its resiliency and determination when it comes to heading for Indian sovereignty.
Hang in there, Pine Ridge, hang in there.
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