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Kempthorne turns biker during rally

STURGIS, S.D. ñ Secretary of the Interior Department Dirk Kempthorne saw some of the forests that are managed by his department from a back of a motorcycle. Kempthorne and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., both avid motorcyclists, led hundreds of riders through the Black Hills on Aug. 7 ñ the first official day of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ñ through 70 miles on mountain roads from north to south on the annual governorís ride, which acts as a fund-raiser.

Kempthorne traveled to the Black Hills, as he told Indian Country Today, to support the Sturgis Fire Department and to help dedicate a motorcycle stamp.

Since he would be in the Black Hills, he said, he decided to organize a meeting with tribal officials. The tribal leaders were given short notice, getting the information on Aug. 5 about the meeting to be held the next day.

Accompanying Kempthorne were Pat Ragsdale, director of the BIA; Tom Dowd, director of BIA education; and Carl Artman, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin who was nominated by President Bush to fill the assistant secretaryís position.

A few tribal leaders managed to meet with Kempthorne and Ragsdale for about one and one-half hours. Dowd and Artman were introduced to the tribal officials, but did not attend the meeting.

ìThe meeting went well,î Kempthorne said. ìThe purpose was to listen to the tribal leaders.î

Alex White Plume, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said he had 2,000 issues to talk about, but brought up four topics from his agenda ñ poverty, language, ceremonies and Bear Butte. White Plume, a traditional Oglala, favors the return of traditional government, the growth of the language and return of all lands and especially the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota people.

White Plume held back no punches when he spoke, but did tell the secretary that he meant no disrespect. He then went on to say that the BIA was a ìworthless organization that siphoned money from the tribes.î

Kempthorne later said he did not take White Plumeís remarks personally.

Kempthorneís visit with the tribal leaders may have been sparked by public comments from White Plume, who knew of the secretaryís visit. He told the media that a meeting should be held with tribal leaders while the secretary was in the area. That remark came some time before the meeting was organized.

White Plume is one of the organizers of the Gathering of Nations at Bear Butte, a camp with the goal of maintaining peace and tranquility at Bear Butt ñ a mountain that is sacred to more than 60 nations. Many members of those nations fast and seek visions on Bear Butte and consider it to be their church.

Hundreds of people are trying to protect it from the encroachment of mega-sized biker bars with large entertainment amphitheaters for rock concerts. Fifteen nations and more than 30 nongovernmental organizations came together at Bear Butte to solidify a strategy to stop the growth of the bar scene that is open for only up to 10 days of the year.

Kempthorne said Interior had no jurisdiction over the issue because it was local. But sacred sites are regularly attacked across the country by economic growth and development and some sites are within the departmentís jurisdiction. Kempthorne said people should be made aware that those sites are sacred.

The secretary, who has only two years in which to serve, said that in such a short time it would not be possible to address all of the issues because some were too large to address during his tenure.

Just hours after Kempthorne took office, he had lunch with officials of the National Congress of American Indians and held phone conferences with other tribal leaders later that day.

Shane Wolf, press officer for the secretary, said the secretary works hard for Indian country.

Kempthorne is no stranger to the Black Hills or South Dakota. His father grew up in Aberdeen, in the northeastern part of the state; and as a biker, which is a passion for him, he has ridden through the area many times. This was his first Sturgis rally, however.

Huntsman, a motorcyclist for 30 years, said he had ridden the Black Hills and that this also was his first rally. He said he looked forward to the visit and was not let down by his expectations. The governor did not attend the tribal leaders meeting but said the secretary told him it went very well.

ìThis was a unique cultural experience,î he said of the rally.

Other tribal leaders who attended the meeting with the secretary were Michael Jandreau, chairman, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; Rodney Bordeaux, president, Rosebud Sioux Tribe; and Avis Little Eagle, vice chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, sent a letter to the secretary asking that a more extensive visit to the Plains be planned so the secretary could tour the reservations and have more time for lengthy meetings to discuss the issue in more depth.

TURGIS, S.D. ñ Secretary of the Interior Department Dirk Kempthorne saw some of the forests that are managed by his department from a back of a motorcycle. Kempthorne and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., both avid motorcyclists, led hundreds of riders through the Black Hills on Aug. 7 ñ the first official day of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally ñ through 70 miles on mountain roads from north to south on the annual governorís ride, which acts as a fund-raiser.Kempthorne traveled to the Black Hills, as he told Indian Country Today, to support the Sturgis Fire Department and to help dedicate a motorcycle stamp.Since he would be in the Black Hills, he said, he decided to organize a meeting with tribal officials. The tribal leaders were given short notice, getting the information on Aug. 5 about the meeting to be held the next day.Accompanying Kempthorne were Pat Ragsdale, director of the BIA; Tom Dowd, director of BIA education; and Carl Artman, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin who was nominated by President Bush to fill the assistant secretaryís position.A few tribal leaders managed to meet with Kempthorne and Ragsdale for about one and one-half hours. Dowd and Artman were introduced to the tribal officials, but did not attend the meeting.ìThe meeting went well,î Kempthorne said. ìThe purpose was to listen to the tribal leaders.îAlex White Plume, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said he had 2,000 issues to talk about, but brought up four topics from his agenda ñ poverty, language, ceremonies and Bear Butte. White Plume, a traditional Oglala, favors the return of traditional government, the growth of the language and return of all lands and especially the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota people.White Plume held back no punches when he spoke, but did tell the secretary that he meant no disrespect. He then went on to say that the BIA was a ìworthless organization that siphoned money from the tribes.îKempthorne later said he did not take White Plumeís remarks personally.Kempthorneís visit with the tribal leaders may have been sparked by public comments from White Plume, who knew of the secretaryís visit. He told the media that a meeting should be held with tribal leaders while the secretary was in the area. That remark came some time before the meeting was organized.White Plume is one of the organizers of the Gathering of Nations at Bear Butte, a camp with the goal of maintaining peace and tranquility at Bear Butt ñ a mountain that is sacred to more than 60 nations. Many members of those nations fast and seek visions on Bear Butte and consider it to be their church.Hundreds of people are trying to protect it from the encroachment of mega-sized biker bars with large entertainment amphitheaters for rock concerts. Fifteen nations and more than 30 nongovernmental organizations came together at Bear Butte to solidify a strategy to stop the growth of the bar scene that is open for only up to 10 days of the year.Kempthorne said Interior had no jurisdiction over the issue because it was local. But sacred sites are regularly attacked across the country by economic growth and development and some sites are within the departmentís jurisdiction. Kempthorne said people should be made aware that those sites are sacred.The secretary, who has only two years in which to serve, said that in such a short time it would not be possible to address all of the issues because some were too large to address during his tenure.Just hours after Kempthorne took office, he had lunch with officials of the National Congress of American Indians and held phone conferences with other tribal leaders later that day.Shane Wolf, press officer for the secretary, said the secretary works hard for Indian country.Kempthorne is no stranger to the Black Hills or South Dakota. His father grew up in Aberdeen, in the northeastern part of the state; and as a biker, which is a passion for him, he has ridden through the area many times. This was his first Sturgis rally, however.Huntsman, a motorcyclist for 30 years, said he had ridden the Black Hills and that this also was his first rally. He said he looked forward to the visit and was not let down by his expectations. The governor did not attend the tribal leaders meeting but said the secretary told him it went very well.ìThis was a unique cultural experience,î he said of the rally.Other tribal leaders who attended the meeting with the secretary were Michael Jandreau, chairman, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; Rodney Bordeaux, president, Rosebud Sioux Tribe; and Avis Little Eagle, vice chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, sent a letter to the secretary asking that a more extensive visit to the Plains be planned so the secretary could tour the reservations and have more time for lengthy meetings to discuss the issue in more depth.