U.S. President Bill Clinton paid a visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation earlier this month with promises to find a way to “fix this” economic crisis plaguing the Lakota community.
With an unemployment rate of 73 per cent and a lack of running water in some homes, Clinton was here to promote plans to build new housing and tour areas devastated by a recent tornado.
Pine Ridge was the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in which 300 Lakota people were slain.
Clinton announced Pine Ridge and other First Nations will get $1.5 billion in private and government funds for housing and economic development.
But the Teton Sioux Nation, which represents Pine Ridge and eight other First Nations, said Clinton’s visit avoided the “real issues of poverty and neglect resulting from over 100 years of colonization.” The president failed to acknowledge or mention the treaties his government has repeatedly violated or the nation-to-nation relationship between the U.S. and Sioux.
The Sioux said the president also failed to address his government’s efforts to undermine international indigenous human-rights efforts at the United Nations.
Emotions in the community are running high after the murder and mutilation of two local Native men. Local police have been accused of brutality toward Native people. Several thousand people marched to White Clay, a nearby non-Native town, to protest the murders. They were also angered that the town’s only reason for existing seems to be to sell alcohol to Native people.
Clinton was on a four-day tour of economically depressed areas of the country, trying to create “new markets.”