Protesters take message to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Protesters take message to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

STURGIS, S.D. ñ The Gathering of Nations to Defend Bear Butte camp at Bear Butte Mountain took the message directly to the bikers at the 66th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.They may be of more help than politicians in stopping the proliferation of mega-sized biker bars.The political leadership of Meade County, where Bear Butte is located, has ignored all pleas and arguments presented by many tribal leaders about the sacredness of the mountain to more than 60 nations. The county has issued liquor and malt liquor licenses to venues that are located near Bear Butte.That the mountain is a sacred location to pray, and that peace and quiet is necessary, has escaped any political decisions. A campground with a malt beverage license is located at the base of Bear Butte, and patrons must drive by the Gathering of Nations encampment.The County Line, owned by Jay Allen, has triggered protests and testimony during commission meetings on the malt liquor license. It is located just two miles north of Bear Butte. Allen has boasted that the County Line will be the worldís largest biker bar.Gary Lippold, owner of the new Glencoe Campground just south of Bear Butte, told National Public Radio that his 50,000-seat amphitheater is progress, which is needed to create jobs to keep young people from leaving the state. Glencoe is open for one week.Lippold also said on NPR that the American Indian nations were impeding progress.The next step was to take the message to the bikers themselves. Outside the county courthouse hundreds of protesters chanted: ìDonít ride 79.î This was in reference to the highway number that passed Bear Butte and the road bikers will travel to get to the County Line Campground.Many people, warriors, donned face masks as a symbol of centuries of invisibility.Vic Camp, an organizer of the Gathering of Nations, said bikers came to the encampment for information. Camp said they discussed the issue, and the bikers said they would pass the word along to all they know to not ride to the bars near Bear Butte.ìWe donít oppose the partying, but do that in town. We donít want partying near Bear Butte,î Camp said.ìThe politicians didnít want to listen to their own people,î Camp said. Petitions to allow the voters to decide on malt beverage and liquor licenses were rejected by the county commissioners.Flyers and word of mouth are the methods now used during the rally to get the word out about the sacredness of Bear Butte and how many nations feel about the encroachment of loud and lewd behavior.Protesters chanted over the roar of the bikes, some of which were revved up just to drown the chanters out. One biker even gave a drive-by finger.Horns and waves were also noticed and interpreted as signs of support.ìItís about the land and water and our attempt to keep our way of life and uniqueness,î said Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone and no newcomer to conflict against government and corporate encroachment on lands.Phillip Whiteman Jr., Northern Cheyenne, said the Cheyenne spiritual leader Sweet Medicine brought the medicine bundle for the Cheyenne from Bear Butte and said the Cheyenne must follow a structure.ìIf we did not follow the structure we would return to unbalance. Today is what our prophet or teacher talked about.ìToday is sad that we have to come here and protect our land. Itís a sad day that we have to continue this fight,î Whiteman said.The fight to protect Bear Butte is not over. Organizers promised to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally every year to continue spreading the word about the meanings attached to the mountain.

STURGIS, S.D. ñ The Gathering of Nations to Defend Bear Butte camp at Bear Butte Mountain took the message directly to the bikers at the 66th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. They may be of more help than politicians in stopping the proliferation of mega-sized biker bars. The political leadership of Meade County, where Bear Butte is located, has ignored all pleas and arguments presented by many tribal leaders about the sacredness of the mountain to more than 60 nations. The county has issued liquor and malt liquor licenses to venues that are located near Bear Butte. That the mountain is a sacred location to pray, and that peace and quiet is necessary, has escaped any political decisions. A campground with a malt beverage license is located at the base of Bear Butte, and patrons must drive by the Gathering of Nations encampment. The County Line, owned by Jay Allen, has triggered protests and testimony during commission meetings on the malt liquor license. It is located just two miles north of Bear Butte. Allen has boasted that the County Line will be the worldís largest biker bar. Gary Lippold, owner of the new Glencoe Campground just south of Bear Butte, told National Public Radio that his 50,000-seat amphitheater is progress, which is needed to create jobs to keep young people from leaving the state. Glencoe is open for one week. Lippold also said on NPR that the American Indian nations were impeding progress. The next step was to take the message to the bikers themselves. Outside the county courthouse hundreds of protesters chanted: ìDonít ride 79.î This was in reference to the highway number that passed Bear Butte and the road bikers will travel to get to the County Line Campground. Many people, warriors, donned face masks as a symbol of centuries of invisibility. Vic Camp, an organizer of the Gathering of Nations, said bikers came to the encampment for information. Camp said they discussed the issue, and the bikers said they would pass the word along to all they know to not ride to the bars near Bear Butte. ìWe donít oppose the partying, but do that in town. We donít want partying near Bear Butte,î Camp said. ìThe politicians didnít want to listen to their own people,î Camp said. Petitions to allow the voters to decide on malt beverage and liquor licenses were rejected by the county commissioners. Flyers and word of mouth are the methods now used during the rally to get the word out about the sacredness of Bear Butte and how many nations feel about the encroachment of loud and lewd behavior. Protesters chanted over the roar of the bikes, some of which were revved up just to drown the chanters out. One biker even gave a drive-by finger. Horns and waves were also noticed and interpreted as signs of support. ìItís about the land and water and our attempt to keep our way of life and uniqueness,î said Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone and no newcomer to conflict against government and corporate encroachment on lands. Phillip Whiteman Jr., Northern Cheyenne, said the Cheyenne spiritual leader Sweet Medicine brought the medicine bundle for the Cheyenne from Bear Butte and said the Cheyenne must follow a structure. ìIf we did not follow the structure we would return to unbalance. Today is what our prophet or teacher talked about. ìToday is sad that we have to come here and protect our land. Itís a sad day that we have to continue this fight,î Whiteman said. The fight to protect Bear Butte is not over. Organizers promised to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally every year to continue spreading the word about the meanings attached to the mountain.

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