Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota — In a pre-dawn raid on August 24, 2000, thirty-three (33) heavily armed Drug Enforcement Agents (DEA) trespassed onto the sovereign Lakota Nation at Pine Ridge and destroyed two industrial hemp crops being grown as a commercial venture under tribal ordinance. As it turns out the loss of the plant material, which was going to be used for composite construction materials, will not slow down the Lakota Hemp Project.
“The Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative is offering to replace some of the hemp lost to the nightmare of the drug war,” said Alex White Plume, whose 1-acre hemp crop on Wounded Knee creek was seized and destroyed. White Plume now believes the DEA’s actions are helping, not derailing his long-range plans. He said the positive feedback is showing that, “Lakota hemp is gaining respect in the world.”
In a letter to White Plume, the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-op’s executive director, Joe Hickey, characterized America’s hemp policy as “fundamentally absurd and destructive… In light of international treaties protecting its cultivation worldwide, the policy is ludicrous and irresponsible.” In the face of Kentucky’s Supreme Court ruling that “hemp is marijuana,” Hickey has offered to help make up the loss by transporting and delivering legally imported Canadian hemp bales from Kentucky, across state lines, to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
White Plume is quick to point out that, “It’s all hemp from Canada. Why doesn’t the DEA list Canada as a drug-producing country, if they are going to treat Pine Ridge like one?”
Tom Cook, whose name was on the Slim Buttes “grow out operation,” also had his crop seized and thinks, “It’s a big money thing. The DEA has made more money off this seizure than anyone, nearly $3 per hemp plant, according to the national average.” Quoting a January, 1998 Vermont legislative study of the DEA’s national cannabis eradication program Cook said, “In South Dakota the DEA eradicated 224 marijuana plants in 1997, while that same year they eradicated over 189 “million” ditchweed (hemp) plants! According to the Vermont study, 99.28% of cannabis eradicated nationally was ditchweed, while only 00.72% was actually marijuana. In comparison, South Dakota’s percentage of ditchweed, to the total amount destroyed, was 100%.”
White Plume agrees with Cook’s characterization of the national eradication program as an “extensive DEA jobs program, a display of unlimited law enforcement budgets being used to change the cultural landscape of America and controlling the mental processes of people.” Despite the ultimate threat of death penalties and the expanding prison/industrial complex, neither sees hemp as a hopeless prospect. “We didn’t get indicted because we had the truth on our side,” said Cook, adding “however, they have said they will indict us if we do it again.”
“The entire matter looks like universal deceit White” Plume states, and “unless the policy is corrected, law enforcement will continue on its present course of losing credibility. Their confiscation of our economic activity – meant to stop legitimate efforts to help ourselves – is having the opposite effect.”
An upcoming trip to Germany underscores international interest in the Lakota hemp project. White Plume will be one of five Indians in a delegation invited to Bavaria by the Lakota Village Fund to collaborate with university hemp researchers. They will also be inspecting the local hemp industries in the Catholic monastery near Bernried. If hemp is truly a godsend to the Pine Ridge people, its uses will be fashioned with the help of Catholic priests who, after all, first cultivated the plants on the reservation over a hundred years ago.
Copyright © 2000, Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association. All rights reserved.