Lakota Fight Uranium Mining in the Black Hills
Douglas Fry and I (Randy Scovil) picked up that there was a gathering in the Black Hills — a march about uranium mining. I went to the Benton Harbor Farm in the fall of September 1977 so, 1978 or1979 is when the march happened
Douglas Fry and I caught a ride to Chicago and then got a charter bus for activists and folks hooked up with the Black Hills Indians.
Plenty Ambulance Service was providing ambulance services for the march. Ed Sierra was there. I don’t know if you would call that a project. But we landed with the Plenty crew in the middle of the big gathering. I had been a serious vegetarian for going on three or four years. There was a big pot of stew. I figured we were in the Plenty/Farm bubble. I was hungry, man, and chowed down. I thought it was TVP but afterwards I was told it was ground beef. “You are in Indian Territory — that is what these people eat.” And I was like “Oooooh.”
One of the most charming parts of the experience for me, because I was always a language fanatic, were two old Sioux guys speaking in Sioux. So I got up and asked them how to say something in Sioux. The one word they taught me that really stuck with me is Sioux word for “grasshopper” — “gur’-noh-goh-noh’-shkah.”
We were in a tent. I remember the fragrance of the sage out there. We did the march and we were all highly motivated about where it was at. At one point near the end of the march there was a gathering around a stage and that was my first experience of listening to Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, who only passed away a couple of years ago. I was deeply moved by his talk. At one point, after they did a circle and a pipe ceremony, there were a couple of dozen of the elders and Grandfather Wallace Black Elk was leading the pipe ceremony. There was a larger circle of a hundred or a couple of hundred people around the ceremonial circle and he invited us in and did the whole pipe ceremony saying, “We are the red men, but we welcome the white men who are backing us up.” It was extremely moving — just a very good vibe. “There is all this history with the white folks, but you guys are here today with us.” And he just really poured out some nice medicine and did the pipe ceremony. Of course, we had the Blackhawk helicopters circling overhead. He said they are just who they are and we are just trying to take care of the planet. It was a really nice experience — that one stayed with me.
Black Hills National Gathering of the People
Plenty News Vol. 1, No. 3, August 1979
Plenty provided ambulance service for the Black Hills National Gathering of the People, July 6-7, 1979. A cross section of people from different walks of life and different nations, gathered to protect the sacred Black Hills, recently condemned to terminal uranium radiation as “A National Sacrifice Area” — a looming specter of trampled human rights for the sake of corporate profits.
Black Hills Survival Gathering
In July 1980, Plenty sent an ambulance, radio technicians, construction crew, and a midwife to assist with the International Survival Gathering in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Gathering was a 10-day event attended by an alliance of Native Americans, ranchers and farmers, and alternate energy developers representing 40 nations. The central focus was on how to stop the abuse of the Earth and its people by the corporate energy giants.
There was strong agreement that if the land-based people — the Indians and the farmers — could gain control over their land, there would not be fuel for nuclear plants and weapons. The Indians reminded us of their vision of the Earth as sacred; that all life comes from the water, the air and the land, and if we respect it and take care of it, it will take care of us.