Victoria Wicks

SDPB Freelance Reporter/Producer

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007. She has in the past been a newspaper reporter, and she spent about 14 years advocating for crime victims in Rapid City and Aberdeen. Vicky is also a creative writer; several of her short stories have been published, one of them in an anthology titled Fishing for Chickens: Short Stories about Rural Youth. In addition, Vicky is a visual artist, creating pottery, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, and photographs. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota.

An Indian Health Services doctor convicted of raping adolescent male patients was sentenced in Montana on Thursday, Jan. 17. Stanley Patrick Weber was found guilty by a Great Falls jury in September on four counts of sexual abuse. Weber faces similar charges from his time working with IHS in South Dakota. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this report.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is holding an activist academy in Rapid City on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Communications Director Janna Farley says there is heightened interest right now in national politics that is trickling down to the state and local level.


The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will reconsider a bill that regulates cannabidiol, or CBD, a Schedule IV drug in South Dakota.

That means CBD is available only by prescription.

Opponents to Senate Bill 22 say it criminalizes hemp CBD and prevents the state from exploring hemp as a crop. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from a former Rapid City police officer denied survivor's benefits after the death of her wife, a police captain. The South Dakota Retirement System requires spouses to marry before retirement to be eligible for survivor's benefits. But in this state, the couple could not marry legally in time to qualify. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

Hemp activists in South Dakota intend to ask the legislature to clear up confusion surrounding the recent decriminalization of hemp.

In the most recent farm bill, Congress legalized hemp. The plant had been listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I drug, a dangerous substance with no medicinal value.

Now it's a crop, albeit one needing a license from the USDA.

The Food and Drug Administration also claims jurisdiction over hemp cannabidiol, or CBD, when it is touted as having medicinal value.

Victoria Wicks

Carpenter, S.D., is a one-block town in Clark County, serving a rural population in farm and ranch country in the northeast quarter of the state.

Drive into Carpenter from the north, and you first see new buildings that support the agriculture industry. They're made of corrugated metal painted white and navy blue, and in summer they're often surrounded by large farm machinery.

There's a post office, and a cafe, and a gas station with a mechanic. Carpenter gives an impression of modern-day vitality.

SD Department of Corrections

A murderer serving life in the South Dakota penitentiary is not entitled to a new trial. That's the opinion of the South Dakota Supreme Court, made public Thursday, Jan. 3.

Jason Lewandowski was convicted in October 2017 after a jury trial in Webster. He was found guilty of shooting Jeremy Hendrickson in the head while Hendrickson's wife and two small children were present.

Lewandowski asked the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction because he should have had a lawyer before talking with an investigator. And he says a plea deal should have been honored.

Victoria Wicks

A high school class at the St. Francis Indian School is learning about the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

The treaty isn't just a part of a general study of history. Students are devoting an entire semester studying the words and meaning of the treaty.

Teacher Leta Brandis couldn't find a syllabus for teaching that kind of class, so she had to develop a curriculum from scratch.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

To read the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, click on the link below:

Photo courtesy of REDCO

There is a growing movement in Indian Country to raise healthy food on site, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe has joined that initiative.

The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) hosts a food sovereignty program. It focuses on the health of the community and the autonomy of the tribe.

Coordinator Michael Prate explained the program at the Oceti Sakowin Treaty Conference held this week in Rapid City.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has denied a prison inmate's bid to have a say in who raises his child.

Irving Jumping Eagle is serving life for killing the child's mother. He argued before the Supreme Court in August that he has the right under the Indian Child Welfare Act to ask that his sister raise his child.

Jumping Eagle appealed a Third Circuit ruling that the child should remain in the care of the mother's relatives, who are non-Indian.

The high court upheld that decision.

For more information on this case, listen to previous coverage below.

Native American Rights Fund

It can be confusing to try to track the active lawsuits against the Keystone XL pipeline. But a lawyer from Native American Rights Fund gave it a shot at the Oceti Sakowin Treaty Conference held in Rapid City this week.

A brief explanation is fairly simple: Montana federal court is handling three challenges to the pipeline, and in Nebraska, the state Supreme Court is deliberating another. The devil is in the details.

Victoria Wicks

A woman who attended the COP24 climate change gathering in Poland last week is in Rapid City this week.

Andrea Carmen of Tucson is executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council.

In Poland, she was a member of a group of indigenous people who have found a new place at the table in climate talks.

In Rapid City, at the Oceti Sakowin Treaty Conference, she shared the news.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

On an East Main Street building in Rapid City is a new sign that reads "NDN Collective." And painted on the window are the words "Defend. Develop. Decolonize."

The upstart enterprise is headed up by Nick Tilsen. He's the innovator behind Thunder Valley Community Development on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

NDN Collective now proposes to take that idea to a larger scale, focusing on self-directed economic development in Indian Country across North America.

SD Department of Corrections

A violent prison inmate has failed in his bid to get a shorter sentence. The South Dakota Supreme Court has found that the sentencing judge was not bound to honor a plea agreement the inmate made with the prosecutor.

Antonio Ledbetter is serving 45 years, but he says the judge reneged on a deal to sentence him to 30 years.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

November is National Novel Writing Month, and participating writers across the country are scrambling to meet the deadline. They have to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

The prize is an online printable certificate, the pride of accomplishment, and lessons learned from the experience.

During the month, writers sometimes get together for a write-in, usually at a coffee shop. That was the case in Rapid City Wednesday night, when three women met at Dunn Brothers.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks dropped in on them to check on their progress.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that a price can be set on heartache.

The court sends an alienation of affection lawsuit back to the Fifth Circuit to determine monetary damages.

Jerry Cedar of Frederick sued Bruce Johnson for having an affair with his wife and causing the breakup of his marriage.

Circuit Judge Richard Sommers determined at trial that Cedar had not given proof of monetary damages. Cedar appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court-Montana

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been stalled by a judicial order coming out of a Montana federal court. Judge Brian Morris has found that the Trump administration relied on outdated information in 2017 when overturning the Obama administration's earlier denial of a permit.

Morris wrote in his order that even when reversing a policy after an election, an agency may not simply discard facts without a reasoned explanation.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks file photo

The Nebraska Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday, Nov. 1, about the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline. One attorney in the courtroom represented the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Jennifer Baker says the required consultation of tribes has not been completed, and surveys of historical and cultural resources were not done for the alternative route approved in Nebraska.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

Domina Law Group

The permit for the final segment of the Keystone XL pipeline was challenged Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Nebraska Supreme Court.  During the permitting process, the Nebraska Public Service Commission rejected two pipeline routes but approved an alternative route. Opponents say the Nebraska PSC had no statutory authority to do that. Lawyers for TransCanada and the PSC say commissioners followed due process, and the alternative route was always part of the discussion.

Montana ACLU

The Montana ACLU has filed suit against four federal agencies in conjunction with the Keystone XL pipeline project. ACLU is alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act.

The legal director says ACLU was stonewalled by the U.S. departments of Justice, Interior, Defense, and Homeland Security after asking about their training of local and state law enforcement agencies to counteract protestors.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

In 2020, after a new census is complete, states will see changes in population and draw new lines for voting districts.

A Black Hills State political science professor says there are many considerations, including race and political parties, when drawing fair lines. She's hoping her students might be able to help with that next time around.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks

In two years, after the 2020 census, current voting districts can be redrawn. A panel of Black Hills State professors say there are various means of drawing those lines, and all of them have their flaws. But they say any of them would be better than South Dakota's.

The professors presented the history and science of districting in Rapid City on Thursday, Oct. 25. The presentation was the last on an eight-city tour sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

The South Dakota League of Women Voters has led an eight-city tour during the month of October. Its purpose is to educate citizens about voter districts and how they are created. Rapid City was the last stop Thursday night.

Other presentations were held at Spearfish, Pierre, Aberdeen, Brookings, Yankton, Vermillion, and Sioux Falls.

State League president Caitlin Collier says the groups in each town have been diverse. She says Aberdeen's stop drew a very large crowd that included local politicians such as county commissioners and current and hopeful state legislators.

SDPB file photo by Kealey Bultena

We live on a planet whose surface is 71 percent water. But less than 3 percent is freshwater, and most of that is not available for human use.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, three engineers gave a public presentation in Rapid City. They call for conservation and preservation of the tiny percentage of Earth's water that is available.

One of the engineers is Mark Anderson, adjunct professor at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey's Dakota Water Science Center.

City of Rapid City

A Canadian company is looking for gold near Rochford in the Black Hills. Mineral Mountain Resources holds a temporary permit to use water from Rapid Creek for test drilling.

Environmentalists and tribes object to the operation, fearing it will pollute the creek and destroy the peaceful, remote area.

An engineer tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that politicians have to decide how to enact protections.

SD Department of Corrections

A prison inmate serving 80 years for raping a four-year-old child is asking for a new trial. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from the attorney for Waylon Uhre, who was also convicted of 10 charges of sexual contact with minors and 20 counts involving child pornography. Uhre contends the judge erred by closing the courtroom when the rape victim testified. He also says investigators violated his right to an attorney.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

A Frederick man who sued his wife's lover for alienation of affection has asked the South Dakota Supreme Court to help him put a price on heartache. The high court heard the case on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The appeal comes from a 2017 decision in the Fifth Circuit. There the trial judge said the humiliated husband had not given any testimony to support his request for financial compensation.

In his response to the appeal, the "other man" asked the Supreme Court to abolish South Dakota's alienation of affection law as a matter of public policy.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says convicted murderer Charles Rhines won't get a second chance with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rhines' case was heard by three judges who issued an opinion in August that he is not entitled to have his conviction overturned. Rhines then asked that all active judges in the Eighth Circuit reconsider that outcome.

Jackley says the Eighth Circuit has rejected that request, and Rhines can now appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments from death-row inmate Briley Piper on Monday, Oct. 1. Piper is represented by Sioux Falls attorney Ryan Kolbeck in his attempt to withdraw the guilty plea he entered in 2001. Piper was one of three murderers convicted of kidnapping, torturing, and killing 19-year-old Chester Poage in Spearfish Canyon in March 2000.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

Drive south of Scenic on BIA Highway 27 and you'll find Thunder Valley. You won't have to look hard. After you've driven about half an hour through Pine Ridge's grasslands and hills, Thunder Valley stands out. You'll first notice a cluster of very tall houses, some finished, some not. Then you'll see a large apartment complex and community center, both still under construction, and a small red barn and administration building.

This is a model community, designed to show the possibilities when a group of dedicated people think beyond the conventional to make a good life.