Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bear Butte: Liquor licenses renewed violating sacred place

December 3, 2008

Update regarding Bear Butte, Meade County Commissioners Hearing today

from: Tamra Brennan - Protect Sacred Sites, Indigenous People One Nation

First of all, I would like to thank everyone that took a moment to send in their opposition letters to the Meade County Commissioners, opposing these venues surrounding Bear Butte.

Well, it comes as no surprise, the Meade County Commissioners unanimously approved all of the liquor license renewals at today's hearing. Seven people provided oppositions against the venues surrounding Bear Butte. Testimonies requested for the Commissioners and Rally venues to respect Bear Butte as a sacred place, as our church. Requesting a buffer zone around Bear Butte to protect the mountain, as a sacred place. Requesting that these venues take responsibility for their actions, as what they really are, "adult entertainment venues."

During my opposition testimony, I specifically requested for the Meade County Commissioners to explain in detail the criteria they use, to determine "location" and "character," as these are the only two issues that could potentially deny or revoke a liquor license. As many of you may remember, Jay Allen had his liquor license revoked twice in 2007, due to "lack of character" issue. This was based upon the fact, that he failed to pay the local contractors for work completed on Broken Spoke Campground bar. On repeated occasions, Commissioner Wink publicly stated that he felt that these venues were far enough away, that location was not a issue. When I questioned if this was the case, why were venues directly at the base of Bear Butte also approved for liquor licenses. What was the distance criteria? The Commissions response was, "if the location was near homes, a apartment building with small children, or if it was across from a church." My immediate response was these venues ARE across from a church, Bear Butte is our church and has been for thousands of years. The Commission's response was, we will not get into a discussion about religion, so they completely disregarded the question.

Jim Seward, the attorney for Broken Spoke Campground made some appalling and extremely disrespectful statements in regards to all seven testimonies and oppositions. His comments completely disregarded all of our testimonies, as if they were irrelevant or absurd. He stated "that there is no evidence in the record today, there has been no evidence offered or admitted into the record to support the denial of any of these licenses. If there was a one mile buffer zone around Bear Butte, I would expect that the sheriff would have to also remove Ms. Brennan from that one mile protection zone, as she lives inside the church. I think with that comment, she should understand the ridiculous nature of someone taking away someone's private property rights, that is what we would be doing if we were so rude to say that she should move from the base of the mountain, because I want a one mile buffer zone around Bear Butte"

The irony in this statement is apparently Mr. Seward is not familiar with the history of the Black Hills, the broken treaties and the fact to this day, it is still STOLEN LAND! The reality is, they have no property rights, the Fort Laramie Treaty still applies today. They are trespassing. Besides the fact, "in their ridiculous nature" taking away property rights, is exactly what they did to the Indigenous People of Turtle Island.

In addition to the liquor license hearing today, the Commissioners held a special meeting for public comments at 3pm, regarding the four applicants that are candidates to replace Commissioner Dean Wink. Tomorrow they will be officially interviewing the applicants and making a decision after the interviews. One of the applicants, Fred McPherson is a life long well respected local resident, of the Bear Butte district and has stood beside us supporting the cause from the beginning. Several of us, gave our supportive comments to the Commissioners on his behalf. If he is selected tomorrow, this will be a huge step forward for the cause! Keep praying that he is selected at tomorrow's meeting!

Here is a article from KEVN, they were in attendance today

The battle to keep Bear Butte a sacred place, free of alcohol, continues. The Meade County Commission Wednesday voted to renew several liquor licenses for businesses near Bear Butte. But not without a fight from some residents who strongly oppose bars doing business in that area. Many Native Americans consider Bear Butte a sacred site and people who don't want bars located in that area turned out in force again at Wednesday's hearing to voice their opposition. The commissioners said they had no choice but to renew the licenses. They say they could deny a license renewal only in a case in which the business is in poor standing with the county. At Wednesday's hearing, one opponent suggested putting a one-mile barrier around Bear Butte. Commission chair Robert Mallow said - as long as the current group of commissioners is on the board - that won't happen. Robert Mallow says, "I think that whenever you put a barrier around something, you're taking the livelihood away from some of the occupants. And I think you're taking their right away." Opponent Tamara Brennan says she was not surprised by Wednesday's ruling because the commissioners vote this way every time. What upset her most, she says, were comments from an attorney for the Broken Spoke - one of the businesses near Bear Butte. Tamara Brennan says, "He said that I would have to move as well because that would be in the one mile buffer. I'm not the one who is having wild parties and doing strobe lights and helicopters over the mountain. I pray there everyday so there's a big difference between them and myself." Meade County Commissioner Dean Wink resigned from the board Wednesday after winning a seat in the state legislature last month. The commissioners will interview and pick a candidate to fill Wink's position Thursday. Opponents at Wednesday's hearing hope the new commissioner will be more sensitive to their requests.

I am attaching two audio files from Jim Seward's statement above.

Thank you for your continued support for the protection of Bear Butte! For additional information about the ongoing efforts to Protect Bear Butte, please visit our website at

Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation is a grass roots organization, working towards the protection of sacred sites across the country. Our organization has been actively involved with the ongoing struggle to Protect Bear Butte for several years. We are continuing these efforts, our organization is currently leading the campaign regarding the new developments and further expansions at Bear Butte. Please visit our main website at and our dedicated website for Bear Butte at

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"......excerpt from One Nation, One Land, One People by Tamra Brennan, 2006


Anonymous said...

Do they not understand the sacred nature of Bear Butte? Or do they just not care about the Native perspective? Disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

There are many consequences involved, now that the liquor licenses are renewed in Bear Butte. Alcoholism is just one of the outcome that may arise because of the bars, which are present in the said place. The residents there must avoid alcohol in order to live a healthy life.

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