Grass-roots council requests millions

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RAPID CITY, S.D. ? A local, grass-roots treaty council requested more than $12 million from city, county, state and federal governments to continue its work to restore dignity and pride within the Lakota Nation.

Richard Grass, treaty chief of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nation Traditional National and International Government Council, said the money is only a small amount of which the people of the nation are entitled.

"This should have taken place 50 years ago. It's time for people to wake up. It's time for people to re-educate themselves."

The group is requesting the money as retribution for the U.S. government's rape of the Lakota land for its gold and resources since 1885, Grass said. He reported the council has been in existence since 1985 and has international support from civil and human rights organizations across the globe.

Marie Lange said she has been working with the commission for two years out of her home said the money would be used, in part, to rent an office, purchase office supplies and pay for phone bills.

"We've been working with our own money, doing it the Lakota way, on our own. It's time the government pitched in to help."

She hopes "seed money" contributed by the city, county or state will evolve into job-training programs, work incentives and finally, their own tribal government.

Members of the council asked the Pennington County Commission for a portion of the money March 14, stating that it was the county's duty to listen to their requests.

Mona Jane Grass-Brown, a council member, said it is receiving support from the County Commissioner's Office and Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Don Holloway said he has met with the council on a number of occasions and will continue to meet with them as concerns arise.

"Some of the things we have discussed and can do on an individual basis, we have tried to deal with. We're doing what we can do to help."

Commission Administrator Ron Buskerud said the best hopes the committee has in seeing any funds is to participate in the county's budget process.