Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe starts water rights team

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe creates a new water rights team and has named tribal member Joni Tobacco as the coordinator.

OST moves forward on water rights
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

PINE RIDGE — Beside the foothills of the He Sapa (Black Hills) the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes, the Oglala Sioux Tribe committed to creating a water rights team in response to the Army Corps of Engineers Oahe Dam/Lake Oahe Surplus Water Report.

According to the report, as yet unreleased, tribes will have to enter into an agreement with the ACOE to access water for a fee of $17.19 per acre foot.

As part of the ACOE’s Tribal Policy and Principles, the ACOE recognizes that Tribal governments are Sovereign entities, with rights to set their own priorities, develop and manage Tribal and trust resources, and are involved in Federal decisions or activities which have the potential to affect these rights. Tribes retain inherent powers of self-government.

As part of the Trust Responsibilities, the ACOE has pledged to work to meet trust obligations, protect trust resources, and obtain tribal views of trust and treaty responsibilities in accordance with provisions of treaties, laws and Executive Orders.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reach out, through designated points of contact, to involve Tribes in collaborative processes designed to ensure information exchange, consideration of disparate viewpoints before and during decision making, and utilize fair and impartial dispute resolution mechanisms.

At a recent meeting of the Oceti Sakowin, the tribes represented have determined that the ACOE’s own policies have been violated. Several tribes acknowledged that they had created a Water Rights team through their tribal governments.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe expressed at the meeting their intention of creating such a team, and have finally succeeded in taking the first step towards that goal by naming Joni Tobacco the OST Water Team Coordinator.

Tobacco’s first duties will be to identify and recruit the necessary personnel for the water team, who will work on behalf of the tribe in dealing with the ACOE and the government in all water rights issues.

Native Sun News will follow the outcome of this initial phase of creating the water team.

(Contact Karin Eagle at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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