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Bob Newland Enters South Dakota’s US Senate Race

Posted on April 26, 2004

Plans to campaign on industrial hemp / renewable energy platform

Hermosa, South Dakota — On Wednesday, April 28, Bob Newland will announce his candidacy for the South Dakota U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Newland is circulating a nominating petition as an Independent candidate affiliated with the Libertarian Party. Former South Dakota Representative John Thune, having no opposition in the June primary election, is the Republican nominee for the seat.

Newland will make his announcement at the Wounded Knee District CAP (Community Action Program) Office at noon Wednesday. He will be welcomed and introduced by Oglala Sioux Tribal District Chairman Don Steele.

In order to appear on the ballot in the November 2 South Dakota general election, Newland must file a nominating petition with 3346 signatures of registered voters with the Secretary of State by June 1.

Newland, 56, a self-employed publisher who lives near Hermosa, in the Black Hills, said, “This senate race provides an opportunity rarely encountered to present facts to a wide audience concerning the plight of the ‘Great Sioux Nation’, most of which resides on reservations in South Dakota.”

He proposes the following platform regarding American Indian Rights:

“The rights of American Indians have been usurped and shrunk over the years. I support the following remedies:

  1. Individuals should be free to select their own citizenship and tribes should be free to select the level of autonomy the tribe wishes,
  2. Indians should have their property rights restored, including rights of easement, access, hunting, and fishing,
  3. The Bureau of Indian Affairs should be abolished leaving tribal members to determine their own system of governance, and
  4. Negotiations should be undertaken to resolve all outstanding differences between the tribes and the government.”

“The word ‘freedom’ implies that a person is free to do anything that does not violate the person or property of someone else,” Newland said. “The US government consistently violates the precept of freedom while calling its violations ‘freedom’. But its inconsistencies in definitions, and the resultant brutality inflicted on those whose liberties are being violated, are especially graphic on the Indian reservations in South Dakota.”

Newland maintains that a single issue — industrial hemp production — provides examples of virtually everything that’s wrong with US policy towards Indians, and towards the rest of us as well.

Industrial hemp is currently cultivated, harvested and manufactured in more than 30 nations in the world, including every industrialized nation in Europe along with most of the former Soviet bloc. In this hemisphere, Canadian farmers are free to grow and market hemp. US manufacturers are free to use hemp in their products, but it must be imported. “Canadian hemp is being trucked past barely-surviving South Dakota farms to supply the $400 million annual US market, for cryin’ out loud,” Newland said.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, governing entity for the Pine Ridge Reservation, understanding the potential for industrial hemp to vitalize the local economy, re-legalized industrial hemp production for its supposedly sovereign nation in 1998. US/tribal treaty provisons specifically include items dealing with on-reservation production of food, fiber and shelter.

Alex White Plume, perhaps the best-known living Oglala Lakota in the world, produced industrial hemp crops in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In combat-style raids on White Plume’s well-publicized hemp field, the DEA, assisted by representatives of several different government thug agencies, pulverized the nearly-mature crops with weed whackers in 2000 and 2001. No arrests were made.

“Here’s the specter of paramilitary forces, financed by the US government, raiding and destroying the legal crops of a peaceful farmer in a peaceful neighboring nation, and justifying it by mouthing absurdities about having destroyed a huge ‘marijuana’ crop. Yet, even though the grower of the crop plainly identified himself, he was not arrested. Can you tell me of a single case, ever, where such a thing has happened elsewhere in the United States?”, Newland asked. “Can you imagine the sense of rage, futility and hopelessness you would suffer if a gang of Lakota thugs were able to burn your wheat crop in front of news cameras while proclaiming they were simply doing their jobs, and watching them drive back to Pine Ridge protected by the Highway Patrol? If you can, you might be able to imagine the daily state of life of anyone with senses of self-worth and community on South Dakota Indian reservations.”

In 2002, after White Plume had pre-sold, planted, grown and partially harvested his hemp crop (the first time that cycle had been completed within US borders since the last hemp farmer was put out of business in 1968), he was served with a civil injunction by US Attorney for South Dakota Mark Vargo. The injunction prevented him from growing, or even touching “marijuana, including industrial hemp”. A violation would result in his being subject to contempt of court charges, which could put him in prison indefinitely with no trial.

Newland says that, “Not even by the most tortured logic can an adherent of a nation of laws justify these violations of international treaties, United Nations laws, and US laws. Yet, federal law as it applies to the ‘sovereign’ Indian nations becomes whatever some mid-level bureaucrat decides it is at any given moment. And federal law on the reservations, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the whole United States, works this way in all issues, not just industrial hemp.”

South Dakota voters rejected re-legalization of industrial hemp in the 2002 election. Newland, founder of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Council, was one of a group of people who petitioned the state’s voters to place the issue before voters. “But we got 40 per cent of the vote,” Newland said. “That’s 120,000 votes. That’s twice what the pre-election polls said we were gonna get.”

County-by-county, the “Yes” vote percentage varied from a low of 20% in Douglas Co. (1733 total votes, a little county in southeastern SD farm country) to a high of 70% in Shannon Co. (comprised entirely of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of Alex White Plume). Interestingly, Jackson Co. (also comprised entirely of the Pine Ridge Res., but with a much higher percentage of white residents) voted only 39% for hemp. Todd Co. (Rosebud Sioux Res.) went 56% for hemp. Buffalo Co. (Crow Creek Res.) went 51% for hemp, and Dewey Co. (Cheyenne River Res.) voted 49.999% for hemp.

With that information, Newland’s strategy begins to emerge. Combine that with the fact that in 2002, in what was then one of the nation’s most closely watched US Senate elections, John Thune was defeated — by 500 votes — in an attempt to take Sen. Tim Johnson’s seat from him. In that election, Libertarian nominee Kurt Evans received 3070 votes, with few of those votes coming from the reservations. Interestingly, Evans had publicly withdrawn from the race just after the ballots were printed. He had asked his supporters to vote for Thune. Had they, Thune would already be a US senator.

The Thune challenge to Daschle has already been proclaimed one of the most hotly contested election campaigns in the nation this year, to be the most expensive in South Dakota history, eclipsing only the Thune/Johnson race of 2002.

Newland expects the race to be nearly as close as the 2002 senate campaign was. News accounts already are putting the race at a near dead heat. “Therefore,” Newland said, “Thune and Daschle will more readily explore issues normally outside their normal realm of interest, since they figure their base constituents are in the bag already, and adopt positions they feel will attract the ‘swing votes’, voters who hold strong convictions about issues not normally addressed by major party candidates. Industrial hemp production is such an issue.”

Rapid City publisher Tim Giago, who produces the “Lakota Journal” announced earlier this year that he would enter the senate race as an independent in order to bring more attention to Indian issues. On April 20, he withdrew his name from consideration, saying that Senator Daschle had assured him that Indian issues would be adequately attended to in another Daschle term as senator. Giago then endorsed Daschle.

“That leaves the Indian voters in exactly the same position they have been in every election my whole life,” Newland said. “Daschle and Thune will make token appearances on the the reservations, and will mouth generalities and ambiguities to attract Indian voters, seeking to at least make a respectable showing among Indian voters, so the winner will be able to claim a cross-cultural mandate for whatever atrocities he will initiate or perpetuate on the Senate floor.”

Newland says his campaign will give Indians an opportunity to tell the Democrats and Republicans that their votes are no longer for sale for a couple of visits and a couple of free sloppy joes at a campaign rally or powwow.

In addition to industrial hemp production, Newland will advocate more clear income tax laws, an end to medical cannabis prohibition, adherence to the US Constitution, and adherence to the terms of the treaties between the US government and the Indian tribes.

Copyright © 2004, Newland for US Senate Campaign. All rights reserved.