Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux district endorses marijuana

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Lakota Country Times editor. For more news, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times. All content © Lakota Country Times.

Alex White Plume. Photo from The Flying Cloud Eco-DiscoveryTour

Wounded Knee district board ok’s marijuana
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times editor

PINE RIDGE—In what could be a first step towards legalization of marijuana on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation the Wounded Knee district passed a motion that legalizes the sale of medicinal and recreational marijuana as well as industrialized hemp.

“There was a motion passed by the district to legalize,” said Wounded Knee tribal council representative Mike Her Many Horses.

Her Many Horses went on to say that although the district passed the motion there were questions on the legality of the district meeting and that a group of district members planned to challenge the motion in tribal court this week.

According to Her Many Horses the motion that was passed by the district board would then need to be sent to the full tribal council where a vote would be held to determine if the tribe would continue forward with legalization or not.

The Oglala Sioux tribal constitution is set up in a way where each district has its own governing structure similar to that of a municipality. Each of the 9 districts on the reservation has a governing board made up of that district’s citizens and can propose and pass legislation specific to their district that is then sent to tribal council for debate.

The Wounded Knee district has been at the forefront of the legalization movement for more than a decade as district member Alex White Plume has fought with the federal government for the right to grow and manufacture hemp on his land just north of the town of Manderson. The measure passed by the district if supported by the tribal council could effectively end the prohibition on marijuana and hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The debate over legalization on reservations has picked up steam after the Department of Justice advised U.S. Attorneys across the country to not prosecute tribes who were attempting to enter in to what some experts are guessing is a $6 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. States like Colorado and Washington have seen overall crime rates decline after legalization of the marijuana.

As part of Colorado’s law a portion of all marijuana sales has been directed to its school system providing tens of millions to support everything from special projects to the construction of new schools in the state. Several tribes on the west coast have already begun taking advantage of the federal government’s decision to allow for states and tribes to pursue their options in marijuana production however no tribe in the northern plains has taken the leap to legalize.

Her Many Horses stated that he personally was not supportive of any measure that would legalize marijuana due to his belief that marijuana use can lead to use of harder more dangerous drugs.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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