Roughly 550 years later, Native peoples are still fighting to keep their own land because of broken treaties and erroneous information. This week, the IRS auctioned off 7,100 acres of Crow Creek Sioux land in Central South Dakota to a Highmore, South Dakota resident by the name of Klein for $2,577,210. The IRS claims that the Crow Creek Sioux, one of the poorest tribes in the US, failed to pay about 3.1 million dollars in federal employment taxes since 2003. But the tribe says they received false information from the Bureau of Indian Affairs who said they are not required to pay any federal taxes, regardless of any enterprise entities they own, because they are a federally recognized tribe. Indian Country Today reports:
“The tribe has attempted since then to pay the arrearages and subsequent amounts as they come due, but has been unable to bring the employment taxes current because over this same amount of time the Internal Revenue Services have levied and garnished various accounts of the tribe making it impossible for the tribe to bring the taxes current,” according to the lawsuit.
This marks the second time that the Crow Creek Sioux have lost their land to the US government. The land was originally theirs and was federally recognized as belonging to them through the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. But through the Dawes Act, which was enacted to force Native people to assimilate into white American society, the Crow Creek Sioux lost their land again only to finally buy it back in 1998 through the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Farms, Inc. But when the Crow Creek Sioux finally did buy it back the Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to put the land into trust, making the land vulnerable to seizures by the US feds. The tribe and its lawyers have filed an action lawsuit that will hold the land claim in the Sioux’s name until the case is heard in court before the redemption period ends in June of 2010. The land not only holds the sacred remains of the Crow Creek Sioux’s ancestors and recently passed tribal members, but has high wind energy. The tribe was planning on creating a wind-powered farm to sustain itself.