If you are not familiar with the story of Alex White Plume and the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s thwarted efforts to cultivate hemp in the 2000’s, you should be. The Oglala Sioux Tribe is a sovereign nation according to the United States government, at least on paper. I say at least on paper, because in reality the nation has not been treated as such over the years. The Oglala Sioux Tribe, led by Alex White Plume, tried to cultivate hemp in the early 2000’s because the tribe felt it was a viable crop that would help the tribe make money and provide much needed jobs.
Unfortunately those attempts to grow hemp were halted by multiple federal raids by the United States government, even though the Oglala Sioux Tribe is a recognized sovereign nation. And not only did the raids result in the hemp plants being taken at the time, an injunction was put in place in 2004 to prevent Alex White Plume from planting any more hemp. It’s an enormous injustice that has has gone on for more than a decade. I am very, very happy to say that yesterday news broke that the injunction was lifted. Per the Rapid City Journal:
A federal judge on Monday lifted a decade-old injunction prohibiting a South Dakota tribal member from producing industrial hemp, although other issues need to be resolved before he can grow it on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken of South Dakota said there has been a “shifting legal landscape” since the 2004 order was filed against Alex White Plume, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. That includes a change in hemp laws in the 2014 farm bill and legalization of marijuana in some states.
White Plume’s lawyer, former U.S. attorney from North Dakota Timothy Purdon, said the order is a victory for both White Plume and tribal sovereignty.
I remember seeing video footage of interviews with Alex White Plume from shortly after the raids were conducted. He kept asking why if the Oglala Sioux Tribe are a sovereign nation are they being treated the way they are being treated by the U.S. government. His questions and pleas for justice broke my heart. This injunction doesn’t completely clear the path towards hemp cultivation by the Oglala Sioux Tribe yet according to media reports, but hopefully that day comes soon!