Wednesday, April 16, 2008


A militant and spirited protest continues today near Marty, South Dakota home of the Ihanktowan or Yankton Sioux. Tribal members and other area residents are opposing a hog farm in Charles Mix County. There have been multiple arrests, according to those at the scene, including minors, as protesters sought to block front loader bulldozers from breaking ground on a new pig farm that will be occupied by thousands of pigs and their waste near a Head Start Program filled with Native children.

The protesters say they're concerned about the effects a large hog confinement operation might have on their community. The proposed site is on deeded land, but is surrounded by tribal land. On Monday, a judge sided with the tribe and said the Iowa hog farm developers could be kept off reservation land.

Tribal member Mike Archambeau said the protesters are trying to enforce the tribal judge's ruling that removes and excludes the operation from tribal land.

"We will continue protesting until those people are out of there," Archambeau told the Yankton Press and Datkotan.

John Stone, tribal vice president, told the Associated Press the Highway Patrol and county authorities were the ones who escalated things at the protest. "When the Highway Patrol sent 30 officers in, it escalated into something we never intended."

Archambeau also said law enforcement "provoked" the protesters. "They (authorities) aggravated the situation," he said.

Despite the Tribal Court's ruling excavation already is under way at the hog farm site. Two pits have been dug, and large mounds of soil can be seen.

According to the South Dakota Peace & Justice Center, the confined hog operation would house 7,620 animals.

Joan Olive, who lives near the proposed hog farm, told the Argus Leader last week that Longview Farms began breaking ground at the site in late March, and its building crews have largely been working at night. The project was a surprise to many, she said.

When she first saw the work under way, "I thought maybe somebody was going to build a home, and I did not think more about it," she said. "It began looking large, and I thought, 'Maybe it's an ethanol plant.' Last week, I asked and found out it was a hog confinement and thought, 'Oh no.' "

A former resident of Iowa, where the feeding operations are more common, Olive has become a latter-day Paul Revere warning her neighbors against the potential environmental harm the hog farm could cause. A major concern is waste runoff. The town of Marty is downhill from the site, and "if there is any kind of rain, it will wash that down on Marty," she said. "There is an area in front of the middle school where the water pools, and an area across the road between the tribal hall and the school where the water pools," she said. "That could be hog waste pooling down there."

Allen Hare, a tribal member and transportation planner for the tribe, said "when we found this hog farm was being built about two weeks ago, our concerns were over health issues with the waste and stuff this farm will produce and what it will do to our children and elders today. People don't really understand what this thing can do to our health."

Charles Mix County, where the hog farm would be located, has been divided in recent years by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that has forced the county to redraw voting districts to increase the strength of a Yankton Sioux tribal voting bloc in county elections. But despite that a coalition of tribal members and concerned residents has come together in opposition of the proposed hog farm.

"They are finding ways to work together. It's pretty cool," said Deb McIntyre of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, which is providing logistical support to the effort.

The following is from the Argus-Leader (South Dakota).

Protesters: About 40 state troopers at scene of hog farm protest

A protest against a planned hog farrowing operation in Charles Mix County near Yankton Sioux tribal land continued into a second day today.

It was marked by the presence of about 40 South Dakota Highway Patrol officers, some in riot gear and displaying weapons, according to protesters. Rumors of an escalating law enforcement response swept through the gathering, and a man who says he was knocked down by a piece of earth moving equipment and subsequently arrested Tuesday disputes Gov. Mike Rounds’ claim he was not injured.

Long View Farms, LLP, a group of Hull, Iowa-area farmers, hopes to build facilities about five miles west of Wagner to house about 3,350 sows and produce 70,000 pigs annually.

YST members and landowners around Marty and Pickstown are concerned the farm will be a source of air and water pollution and a health hazard especially for children at a nearby Head Start program.

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