News from the Great Plains
Mountain lionsunder siege
NEW TOWN, N.D. - Mountain lions have been seen too often on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. As a result, a 30-day hunting season has been established.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation tribal council established the hunting season to take out at least three cougars that have worried both residents and Game and Fish Department authorities.
It is not known how many cougars are located on Fort Berthold. According to Dorothy Fecske of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the habitat on the reservation could sustain up to 75 resident adults.
A Fort Berthold resident was prosecuted for illegally killing one lion. However, this brief hunting season allows anyone the right to hunt male cougars; no females with cubs can be pursued.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will evaluate any animal that is killed.
No person has been harmed by a mountain lion, but the fear is present, officials said.
South Dakota school district must change discipline procedures
WINNER, S.D. - American Indian students in the Winner School District are sent to law enforcement authorities over disciplinary issues, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a suit more than a year ago against the school district. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the school district will have to change the way it treats American Indian students.
Less than half of the student body is American Indian, but the majority of disciplinary issues involve American Indian students. The ACLU refers to the discipline procedures as the school-to-jail pipeline.
Details of the court's ruling is not known, but will be released soon. According to officials for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, any American Indian student that is called into a principal's office must be accompanied by a parent or tribal official. Other rules also apply, but no details were available.
Beer license not renewed near Bear Butte
STURGIS, S.D. - Meade County commissioners have rejected a malt beverage license for the Broken Spoke campground, a popular biker hangout near Bear Butte during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August.
Jay Allen, owner of the campground, was delinquent on several bills that amounted to thousands of dollars, which led the three-member commission to decide that his character did not make him eligible for the beer license.
Contractors who worked on Sturgis County Line, the new biker entertainment/campground venue near Bear Butte, said they had not been paid for almost a year. Sutton Electric told the commissioners he had a lien against the property for $15,000. Allen sent a check for $15,000 prior to the meeting, but the check had not cleared the bank and the lien remained in place.
Another contractor said Allen owed him $42,000. Allen is allegedly selling two other biker venues in other states.
Allen owns a liquor license, which is separate, but only allows beer or beverages by the drink. It does not permit off-sale, which was allowed with a malt beverage license.
Opponents of any biker enterprise near Bear Butte were pleased with the decision; however, the bar will not close.
All other liquor and malt beverage licenses for businesses located near Bear Butte were approved.
Charles Mix County approves new voting districts
LAKE ANDES, S.D. - Charles Mix County voters approved a change, modifying three districts to five districts. Of the new districts, the first has a majority American Indian population; with the second, slightly less than half of the population is American Indian.
The county voted last November to create a five-member county commission following the election of the first American Indian woman to the commission, Sharon Drapeau, after the county was forced by the federal court to redraw the districts to allow for a majority American Indian district.
The new plan is referred to the 3 - 2 plan with three districts mostly having a non-Indian population, one district with a majority American Indian and the second with a heavy population estimated at 41 percent American Indian, which proponents of the plan said would give American Indians a fair chance to elect a preferred candidate.
American Indian political activists claim that the five-member commission is discriminatory and dilutes the power that one American Indian commissioner may have.
Bryan Sells, attorney for the ACLU Voting Rights, said the three-member commission is the only fair number for American Indian residents to have representation.
The original lawsuit is still in place and the ACLU plans to continue pursuit of it, with a hearing scheduled for March 2008.
The new district plan does not go into effect until the 2008 elections. The 3 - 2 plan places the two heavily populated American Indian districts in the southern part of the county, the home of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The three remaining districts are located in the north where the population is predominantly non-Indian.
The voters approved the new district by a margin of 925 for and 184 against.