White Plumes Relinquish Hemp Crop

White Plumes Relinquish Hemp Crop
Posted by FoM on August 15, 2001 at 08:25:07 PT
By Laura M. Dellinger, Today Correspondent
Source: Indian Country Today
For four hours under the sun of a hot and humid July morning Alex and Percy White Plume, their sisters Ramona and Alta, and a dozen of their children watched agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency toil with weed-whackers and machetes, cutting down the family's second hemp crop on the Pine Ridge Reservation.    The family's emotions ran from regret, disappointment and resentment to pain and sadness, but they recognized that allowing the eradication would guarantee no member of the family would face arrest or prosecution for planting or cultivating the herb. 
 Unlike last year's surprise dawn raid conducted by flak-jacketed agents toting semi-automatic rifles, this operation was more casual. This time the agents wore T-shirts and jeans or golf shirts and khaki slacks and, though they were armed, the weapons were side arms discreetly strapped to belts and thigh holsters.    But it was no less financially and emotionally devastating for the White Plumes. At one point tears welled up in Alex White Plume's eyes and he whispered, "I told the plants to be brave and strong and come back again next year."    The veneer of civility did nothing to ease the frustration and anger of the Lakota people over what they believe is an unjust suppression of their sovereignty and their treaty-given rights to establish hemp as an agricultural cash crop.    "This is a disappointment and so unfair," said Ramona. "It's our land, there's no drugs in these plants, they shouldn't have to come down."    In a quiet gesture of determination and defiance sisters Alta, Ramona, and a few of their children encircled the ceremonial staff bearing a yellow prayer tie filled with tobacco that had been placed in the middle of the field on the day of this year's planting. Even as the federal agents loudly cut a swath toward them, they remained in place, some standing, some sitting on lawn chairs, to protect the sacred object.    When the two groups met, the moment was heavy with tension and symbolism. Carefully, the federal agents wielded their blades and stooped to delicately remove the plants from around the silent Lakota people. Though neither side gave way, direct conflict was avoided.    After last year's hopes were dashed by the late August raid and destruction of the crop that had grown 12 to 14 feet tall, the entire extended White Plume family met to consider how to proceed.    Alex and his daughter, Rosebud, were guests on a trip to Germany to learn about the thriving hemp industry there and came back excited about what they had seen. The family prayed and did sweat lodges seeking spiritual guidance, and felt more strongly than ever that hemp was the key to their long-term financial health.    When they planted this year it was with solemn sincerity. They placed the ceremonial staff in the field and vowed the staff and the crop would not come down by their hand before harvest after the August full moon. The crop had a buyer committed to its purchase, but the threat of possible federal prosecution and a jail term that could have run 10 years to life became too much.    "I just treasured every morning that I woke up in my own bed and drank my coffee from the same mug I've used for nine years," Alex said. "I didn't want to have to leave my wife and takoja."    Other countries of the world, such as Germany and Canada, operate hemp industries and manufacture from it an array of products that would ease chronic needs and shortages of the people on the reservation. The White Plumes see that and wonder why this country's government refuses, in defiance of available scientific and anecdotal evidence, to differentiate between industrial hemp and its more notorious cousin, marijuana. They wonder why federal agencies continue to oppose and prohibit the open growth and manufacture of such a useful plant. They chafe at the heavy-handed repression of their efforts by federal agencies, and they stand less and less alone in that.    Seventeen states have passed legislation legalizing hemp as an agricultural crop within their borders, and though few of their citizens have made overt efforts to plant and cultivate it, there are groups and cooperatives forming and becoming active, such as the Kentucky Hemp Growers Association.    The White Plume family receives messages of support daily from around this country and around the world, and admiring visitors come to camp on their land and spend time with them. A mother and daughter from Grand Rapids, Mich., recently spent several days with the White Plumes to show their support, and a group of six or eight German citizens joined the White Plumes to watch and photograph federal agents as they mowed down the hemp field, bundled the plants and stacked them in a U-Haul van.    The White Plumes' negotiation with the FBI and DEA was preceded by consultations with Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele. Steele had issued a letter to U.S. Attorney Michelle G. Tapken defending the family's right, under Oglala tribal ordinance, to farm the hemp. He asserted the Lakota treaty rights and rejected any notion that the Controlled Substances Act was binding on the Lakota people or their reservation land. And, he instructed her to keep federal agents off the reservation for any reason pertaining to industrial hemp.    But Steele and the White Plumes were aware of a growing air of resentment among their people and talk of resistance to any federal incursion and they were clearly concerned about the potential for conflict. Apparently, so were federal authorities.    The agents had been expected at 7 a.m. Monday, but by 7:30 they still hadn't arrived. As about two dozen friends and family gathered at the field, two spotter planes circled in the cloudless blue sky, apparently to scout the size and demeanor of any crowd.    Alex White Plume stood in the back of a pickup truck and scanned BIA Road 33 with binoculars for the agents' vehicles. Finally, at 7:50, a convoy of minivans accompanied by a 14-foot U-Haul truck were spotted turning onto the White Plume property and met with a receiving committee of Alex's nieces and nephews.    One car proceeded to the field alone. It carried local FBI Special Agent Mark Vukelich and two high-level supervisors from the DEA, the federal site commanders. They shook hands with Percy and Alex White Plume and proceeded to dictate several conditions for the day's operation. The family was instructed to designate family members from the media and other observers. Only family members were allowed on the field during the operation, anyone else who went onto the field or approached any of the agents would be considered to be interfering with the operation and risked arrest.    During this confab, Marvin Kammerer, a white rancher and longtime family friend of the White Plumes, approached the federal supervisors and delivered a quiet but emphatic scolding, telling them they were in shameful violation of legitimate Lakota treaty rights and calling them "fascists." The agents listened silently but did not respond.    When the federal supervisors were satisfied everyone understood the conditions, they signaled other vehicles to move up to the field. They were led in by a pickup truck full of White Plume youths, but then drove around and positioned themselves on the far side of the field, opposite the gathered media and witnesses. In a hospitable but droll gesture, the White Plumes had provided coffee and doughnuts for the agents. It was ignored.    "Maybe they were afraid we laced them with something," said a guest, laughing.    As the agents gathered to don harnesses for their large, gas-powered weed eaters, the White Plumes gathered around the staff for a last prayer. Then Percy stood beside the U-Haul van to monitor the quantity of bundled plants removed. Alex rejoined the guests and observers.    Other than the brief face-off around the staff, the only moment of real tension was provided by officers of the local BIA Criminal Investigations unit who drove up to the field about an hour into the operation. Their presence enraged the previously self-contained Alex.    It was a member of that office who took a plant last year from the White Plume field, getting permission to do so by offering to test it and confirm its low THC content. Instead, the officer turned the plant over to the DEA and the White Plumes believe that started the chain of events that led to the paramilitary raid that followed.    Accompanied by several adult males, Alex approached the BIA vehicle and ordered the officers from the property.    "They have no authority or jurisdiction here, and they are not welcome on my land," he said.    The officers initially refused to leave, but as tempers flared and Percy joined the confrontation, Vukelich and the other site commanders interceded to defuse it. A moment or so later the BIA vehicle departed and the eradication continued without further significant incident.    The agents cutting down and gathering the hemp went about their business in a focused manner, and the site commanders declined to comment, deferring all questions to the U.S. Attorney's office. At press time there was no comment from that office.    There were small moments of terse interaction. At one point, a boy about 12 decided he wanted to keep a couple of his family's plants as remembrances and he carried a handful off the field. An agent intercepted him, gently but firmly insisting the lad give him the plants. After a seesaw moment of resistance the boy did so, and the agent carried them away.    Two agents who thought they were out of earshot of the family and observers shared a moment of exultation over their "victory." "Mission accomplished," said one, flashing a big grin.    Alex White Plume had gone to the field under the nearly full moon the previous night with his wife, Deb. They stood together near the staff to say a private goodbye to the plants that carried so many of their hopes. As the morning began, he assumed an air of slightly forced good humor. But after the confrontation with the BIA-CI officers and watching more and more of the plants fall under the DEA blades, his face and mood drooped.    When the agents moved to the original field down the hill to take out volunteer hemp plants they created by shaking loose seeds during last year's raid, Alex stepped forward to stop them. He asked for a moment of time and strode out onto the acreage the family had dubbed their "Field of Dreams." He said a prayer, sprinkled tobacco and asked the plants to be strong. When he left the field, it was obvious he could not bear to watch more than another few minutes. He got into his car and drove to his home.    After the agents left, Alex vowed the family would plant hemp again, a feeling echoed by his sister, Ramona. "Hopefully we'll plant next year again," she said.    The family also intends to file a civil damage suit against the federal government and President Steele supports this action.    "We're going to use a different strategy," he said. "We're going to go with a civil lawsuit, and we're going after two things. The DEA needs to pay Alex for those plants; and it's also to establish the tribe's authority to grow the product of hemp."    Alex's heart was too heavy to look too far ahead, and the family was overdue to depart for a Sun Dance on the Cheyenne River Reservation. They said they felt very much in need of the comfort and strengthening they would find in their traditional ceremony. Their wounds run deep and will take longer to heal than any they may take from Sun Dance piercings.    At a council meeting that morning, President Steele provided a postscript to this chapter of the family odyssey in his report to council representatives. "I can tell you that the White Plume family did not back down," he said. Manderson, S.D. Source: Indian Country Today (US)Author: Laura M. Dellinger, Today CorrespondentPublished: August 07, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Indian Country TodayContact: editor indiancountry.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:FTE's Hemp Links Grower Defiant After Crop Taken Drug War Comes To The Rez Hemp Archives 
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Comment #19 posted by Goldwing Tom on August 18, 2001 at 04:07:14 PT
Hook, Line, and Sinker - and Thanks
I did, indeed, think rabblerouser was rousing rabble!Thanks FoM, and you're welcome.
Goldwing Tom dot com
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Comment #18 posted by lookinside on August 16, 2001 at 19:12:05 PT:
dddd...we need SOMEONE to do that occasionally...franceshasn't been around...i feel unranted...(kinda likeconstipated) for lack of someone to go off time,let a few of us really lose it first...before you confessyour crimes...
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Comment #17 posted by Victim of Lies on August 16, 2001 at 15:25:14 PT:
US Gov Is Not Your Friend
What ever happened to government by the people, for the people? America claims to be the most progressive free place on the planet yet we watch other first world nations respond to citizens needs (i.e. Swede's and Germany's same sex marriage laws, Canadian, Brits and Dutch tolerance of Ganja etc.)as America increasingly alienates one group of citizens after another. Gay, ethnic, or hemp boosters we are all deviations from the accepted norm.   Need I remind anyone that it WAS a country founded by Puritan ideals and little has  changed since 1620.   Our only attempt at advancement has been the elimination of Death By Fire in the Town Square for Heretics….. instead our current witch hunts have a modern version of fiscal immolation coded into law it's called property forfeiture.   I guess the question to all Americans is, when did Freedom become another word for law breaking, anti- government sociopath? The US autocracy is a machine that has no humane face at present.
Smart thinking for people of tomorrow
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Comment #16 posted by SherleyHolmes on August 16, 2001 at 09:04:29 PT
waking up
I'm tired of having to get up so early to make sure 4d hasnt goofed around with reality in the wee'd think dX4 would have better things to do! the way,,did you hear,,,Watsons son,,Nigel,recently moved to Zanzibar......Tally Ho   Cheerio   Bippey!
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Comment #15 posted by Patrick on August 16, 2001 at 08:45:35 PT
I am certainly not pissed by any means. In fact, I run across the attitude you presented as CF nearly everyday!!!
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on August 16, 2001 at 08:45:21 PT
Oh dddd
You have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me! LOL!PS: I recognize your writing style! Just call me Sherley Holmes!
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Comment #13 posted by dddd on August 16, 2001 at 08:34:17 PT
I feel too guilty...
to let my cheap buffoonery go on.....I did the "Childrens Friend" thing......but Rabblerouser was the one who got me going,,,then when I sawGoldwing Tom take the Rousers bait,hook,line,.and sinker,,,I couldntresist........I guess this sort of wreckless goofing around is bad in someways,,,,but if you think about it,,,this type of careless fun has acertain special value........hope no one's pissed at me.........dddd
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Comment #12 posted by Lehder on August 16, 2001 at 08:02:29 PT
"I dont think...."
and it shows, CF.
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Comment #11 posted by rabblerouser on August 16, 2001 at 07:03:08 PT
You call that the voice of reason? I try to smoke pot everyday, just to calm myself from the appalling attitude some folks have towards hemp. I love the stuff and I will never quit. Don't mistake sarcasm for serious writ. 
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Comment #10 posted by Patrick on August 16, 2001 at 06:47:47 PT
Hey ChildrensFriend
Since you brought up God, Try reading page #1 of the Book of Genisis. Especially the part about what God gave man to use.PS. Ever hear of sarcasm?
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Comment #9 posted by ChildrensFriend on August 16, 2001 at 06:07:18 PT
It's about time someone like this Rabblerouser person spoke out with the voice of reason.Marijuana should be eradicated,and wiped from the face of the earth.I dont think God meant for people to smoke it or eat it.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 15, 2001 at 23:42:37 PT
Goldwing Tom 
Hello Goldwing Tom,I was checking in one last time for the day and I wanted to thank you for featuring Cannabis News on your web site. I hope you will consider registering your name so no one else can use it. If you don't want to that's ok but I thought I'd mention it. Thank you for your comments too.
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Comment #7 posted by Goldwing Tom on August 15, 2001 at 23:07:28 PT
Whoa Dude
Chill. Better pop one of those blood pressure pills, man.
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Comment #6 posted by rabblerouser on August 15, 2001 at 19:22:52 PT
It's high time that we begin to eradicate this worthless plant from the face of the earth. God will thank us for it.Please crush your seeds to dirt and burn any marijuana plant that you happen to come across. If you talk to a prohibitionist, give him or her the money that you probably will have spent on pot and then thank them for saving your poor wicked soul from the bowels of the hell that surely awaits you. What greater good could you possibly employ? Also, begin to pray that any hemp crops world wide will wilt and die immediately. Heaven awaits any and all who do. You will then have a life, finally. We should also suppress any and all information pertaining to this nefarious plant. Long live pot prohibition. Never say die to the culture of death. Who in their right mind could disagree with this epistle? Rant and rave all you want pot smokers, but you will only do it in vain. You will be chased and hounded to the far corners of the earth, there is no escape. It will be ignored and denied of any exisitence at all. Long live oppression of any kind, especially to pot smokers. So there. Sounds really good, doesn't it? 
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Comment #5 posted by ras james rsifwh on August 15, 2001 at 17:53:03 PT
This battle is not ours...People!
Wolakota,This war against Cannabis Sativa by the one-world government is not a war against the people; but a War against God by insanely drunken leaders in our country that feel they have conquered the world & now they'll conquer the Mind of the Almighty (Cannabis Sativa is the Mind of God according to Hindu Sadhus)...they think they will destroy the Sacred Tree of Life (Cannabis Sativa is the Sacred Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation 22:1&2 according to Rasta Overstandings).Alex White Plum was correct!...Stand back People let these fools openly desecrate and laugh at the Power of the Sacred Staff with a Yellow Prayer Tie...witness these lawless fools break Treaties signed by the President...for they know not the hour...It is now Judgement Day...This War against God needs not our help...for the Almighty will not use military force, nor political influence, but will use the Spirit (Wakan Tanka). No one knows from whence It came...but the Unknowable Great is here now...make no mistake...and the World is a witness.Sit back and watch People! For there is going to be an ass kicking like you've never seen before; and none of us will be able to save these fools...Fortunately!...after this ass kicking these one-world leaders will still have Eternal Redemption; but only by the Grace of the Almighty...Jah Rastafari's Son Jesus Christ...Yes! Read the final words of the Bible.In reality Rasta/Lakotas, these events have already happened. Look with your I-ternal Eye! Seen? Seen!The White Buffalo Cafe has rolled over seven times on the prairie and an new herb...Cannabis Sativa...has sprung from the soil giving new life to the "Red Road Peoples". The Lakota have yielded; now the People have overcome...yes always be like water...yielding and then finding the ways back into the All.One-world leaders look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're livin'?...Join the people...and marvel with revery...Cannabis Sativa, The Sacred Tree of Life, has manifested bearing fruit on both sides of the street each month of the year. Give all Praise and Thanks to Jah Rastafari who liveth and reignith in I and I. You know in your heart that it's a lot better than the ass kicking you're presently getting inside.
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on August 15, 2001 at 15:07:55 PT
One Truth
These people are trying to help themselves out of their nightmare of an existence. The Sioux are the poorest people in America! All they want is to be left alone to support themselves. Our Federal Government's word isn't worth sh*t. The Feds have not honored the Treaty of Fort Laramie & hence, have no honor themselves. For too long there has been no justice for the indigenous, but the wind is changing directions. The love of the Creator will right all wrongs. I pray that the earthly powers that be can realize what they are doing before it is to late for them. If they choose to rule through fear, they shall be conqered by hope. The days are upon us when justice will manifest itself by the light of the truth. There is only one truth. The righteous will seek it and defend it. Those who seek to destroy the truth will themselves be destroyed. Well, Mr. FBI & Mr. DEA.....What is it that you seek?  
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Comment #3 posted by sm247 on August 15, 2001 at 15:06:08 PT
Hemp rules!
Let it grow... let it grow ...let it grow.
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Comment #2 posted by New Mexican on August 15, 2001 at 11:54:20 PT
This country makes me sick!
Here it is, 2001 and racism is so entrenched in our laws and government agencies, that it is accepted as the 'norm'.Our governments treatment of native americans parellels that of mother nature. Lets make laws that punish angry white males (primarily) for their criminal and war-mongering behavior. Why not? We have laws that are unjust and ridiculus. lets' make laws that make sense. And while we are at it, let's throw every politician and police chief in jail for their continuation and perpetuation of insane policies that harm the earth, it's people and all living things that reside here. This time will come, as surely as this hellish time we are going through will pass, and you can bet on it. Bye-Bye antis! Now you know why God created the 'concept' of hell. It's the only word that describes life on earth at this point of our 'de-evolution. From the bible: 'I am the tree of life and hidden within me is the stone of trinity, which the wise ones love, but the fools despise, and do not know...' 
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 15, 2001 at 10:08:38 PT:
Sickening Story
"The family also intends to file a civil damage suit against the federal government"This case speaks volumes about indigenous sovereignty and many other critical issues. I would suggest that they take this to the World Court and provide Amerika with an international rebuke for its outrageous and unjustifiable vendetta against a plant, and the people who would deign to use it as Nature provided.
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