N.D. tribe asks Congress to fulfill 50-year-old promise FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2003 ¶
By: NicolaShepherd on Nov. 12, 2020, 3:38 p.m.
Image of crying indig man
Hospital YouTube video
Garrison Dam history
The image of the Indigenous man crying struck me when I was scrolling Facebook. I belong to a few Indigenous groups and one was posting a disturbing article with this striking image. I wanted to know more. Why is this man crying when signing this treaty? I can only imagine. So, I read the article and I became curious. I came to find that the man crying was a Tribal Chairman named George Gillette. The government basically forced this tribe into selling 156, 000 acres of their most prime real estate, which included the tribe’s capital, over 300 families and 1700 residents. This dam and four others built along the Missouri River by the Army Corps of Engineers from this time until 1966 were approved for flood control, pollution and sediment control, navigation, conservation, recreation, hydroelectric power, and enhancement of fish and wildlife under the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, a part of the Flood Control Act of 1944. They were forced to relocate which prompted the tribe to lose and entire way of life. Because of this scattered move the Indigenous peoples lost language and some of their sacred sites along with their forestry/timber, native plants, wildlife, ranch and farming land and their health center. The final arrangement deprived the tribes the right to graze, fish, hunt, or otherwise use the reservoir shoreline. The Indigenous peoples were also not allowed irrigation development or royalty rights on all subsurface minerals within the reservoir area. There was opposition from the Tribal leaders, and they tried to suggest alternatives to limit the impact for their people, but it moved forward anyhow. Gillette reluctantly signed the contract with a very heavy heart in 1948. The tribe was eventually compensated $149.2 million for some of the losses. Today the Garrison Dam holds back water from the man-made Lake Sakakawea. Turbines on the dam or capable of generating 583 megawatts of electricity. The real kicker is that the 1948 signing that promised to replace their hospital never even happened. The government did not honour it. Finally, on June 11, 2003 Tex Hall, a tribe chairman and Red Baker, a chairman of the tribe’s elder’s organization brought to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee the 50-year-old promise to replace the hospital. Without a new facility, they said, lives are in danger. They blame the diabetes and cancer of their people on the dam. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell fought for the bill that would authorize $20 Million for a new much needed clinic. Patients on their land neglected their health due to not having a facility because of various obstacles including, transportation, isolation, fear and unwelcoming of a foreign medical place. In 2003, fifty years after the flooding and dam construction took place authorizations was finally signed to provide a healthcare facility to replace the demolished one. The facility serves Three Affiliated Tribes. Here the people have access to health, dental and mental services. I am in awe of how poorly treated Indigenous peoples are every time I come across anything about them in the news. The government simply did not care about them. My guess is that they just hoped these people would dissolve into bigger centers because that is what they forced. I am sure it is what happened to some of them and the rest of them that scattered the reservation lost so much of their way of life and their culture. The new center is state of the art and is very respectful to Indigenous ways of knowing. Medical staff have incentive to go there too because they are paid very well and can get their student loans taken care of. I would have to read more into that but have also attached the YouTube video that describes some of those incentives. King and Orange both speak of how Indigenous peoples got absorbed into urban areas due to many factors that would include ones like this where Indigenous peoples were forced to sell land and lose rights because the government had them backed into a corner. King and Orange also talk about loss of the land, history, and culture. The government was an enemy to them and seemingly a giant bully. I am glad that this specifically has been somewhat rectified with funding, but the people can never get back their sacred land, plants, wildlife and the years of damage and neglect to a people.