Published by, John lamb last free man
Ma...rch 17th 2018
Curtis Temple is a Native American Indian rancher who grazes hundreds of cattle on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Pine Ridge is notoriously known as the poorest community in the United States. The effects of socialism are quite visible, as numerous small subsidies and handouts have rendered the population dependent, nonworking and unproductive on a general scale. Life expectancy is in the 50s. Infant mortality is three times as high as in the rest of America.
Curtis Temple defies all stereotypes. When he was about 22 years old he bought ten cows from his father. Over the past 30 years Temple has expanded his herd to 1,500 or more cattle (at times). He uses pastures of all kinds, including his own land on the Reservation as well as leases of tribal pastures.
The tribal pastures are administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs—much in the way that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service manage public lands by leasing pastures to ranchers elsewhere in the west.
But there is a major difference between BLM and Forest Service “land management” and BIA administration of tribal pastures. The United States doesn’t own (or even claim to own) the tribal grazing lands. Rather, the United States holds such lands in trust for the true owners: the tribes and the individual Indian land owners.
THE MOVEMENT TO CREATE A “TRIBAL NATIONAL PARK”
Since at least the year 2010, there has been a movement to to turn the Badlands National Park's South Unit, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, into the nation’s first tribal national park. Curtis’s cattle (along with the cattle of every other rancher on the Reservation) need to be removed to create the new national park. But soon after Curtis began protesting and publicly opposing the proposed national park, the local Oglala Sioux Tribe Allocation Committee stripped Curtis of his grazing leases on 5,000 acres of Reservation land. The Committee did not give the required 180 days written notice and awarded the pasture leases to a rival Indian rancher who was not qualified. (First preference for Tribal leases is supposed to go to heads of households, but the rival rancher—a relative of Tribal officials—resided in a household with a relative who also leases BIA pastures.)
In August 2015 the BIA impounded some 116 of Curtis’s cows. Then in July 2016 the BIA impounded another 250 of Curtis Temple’s cattle from several pastures on the Reservation. And after Curtis filed lawsuits over the matter, the federal government doubled down and filed a criminal indictment against Curtis, alleging that he damaged the property of the United States by overgrazing.
At present, Curtis Temple is facing up to 20 years in federal prison for cattle ranching on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He has filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the fact that the United States is not the owner of the allotments in question. The government merely holds the land in trust for the true owners—one of whom is Curtis Temple himself.
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Curtis Temple at his ranch "Pitchfork ranch"
on the Oglala Sioux reservation in South Dakota.