A lawyer for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe says the Keystone XL pipeline presents the same threats to Indian Country as did wagon trains and the transcontinental railroad.

Rosebud and Fort Belknap Indian Community have sued President Donald J. Trump for violating treaties when he issued a permit for the pipeline earlier this year.

A hearing on the issue has been set in Montana Federal Court for Sept. 12.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

In other Keystone XL news, the Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld that state's granting of a permit for the pipeline.


A federal judge in Montana will hear arguments on Sept. 12 on the merits of a lawsuit brought by tribes against President Donald J. Trump.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Community hold that the president unconstitutionally violated treaties when he issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year.

TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, filed a motion asking Federal Judge Brian Morris to dismiss the case.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

The history of bison in North America isn't just the story of an indigenous animal. Its existence is tied politically, economically, and spiritually to the indigenous people.

This story is told in a traveling exhibit at the Journey Museum in Rapid City. The exhibit opened with a reception this weekend. "Bison" is on display through Oct. 14.

The traveling exhibit was created by the Kauffman Museum in Kansas, in conjunction with the National Buffalo Foundation.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

Victoria Wicks

This week the Black Hills is hosting an international conference on indigenous water rights and protection. This is the third gathering of the Mni Ki Wakan World Indigenous Peoples Decade of Water.

One of the keynote speakers is Kelsey Leonard, a lawyer from the Shinnacock Indian Nation.

She told participants on Tuesday, Aug. 13, that indigenous people need to find their own political power and fight for equal participation under international law.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

Victoria Wicks

South Dakota farmers have suffered some weird weather this year, with late snows, a cold spring, and lots of rain. The weather has affected not only major crops but also produce from truck farms that supply the state's farmers markets.

The Black Hills market in Rapid City has lots of produce now, but much of it arrived late, and some crops failed completely.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks talks with a couple of producers to find out how they fared.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

This weekend, July 20 and 21, people gathered at Sioux San in Rapid City to celebrate the opening of the Oyate Health Center.

At midnight Saturday, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board assumed primary control of management at the Indian Health Services facility.

The celebration started with a reception at 11 p.m. and a ribbon cutting and smudging ceremony an hour later.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

A South Dakota Water Management Board meeting ended abruptly on Wednesday, July 17, after a commenter yelled at the board, and the chairman called for a motion to adjourn. The board met to plan future hearings on water permits for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The business end took about an hour, and then public comments extended the hearing another hour.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The family of murder victim Donnivan Schaeffer has waited 27 years for justice. Schaeffer was killed in March 1992 when he walked into his Rapid City workplace and found Charles Rhines burglarizing the donut shop.

Now a Seventh Circuit judge has issued a warrant for Rhines' execution to occur in early November.

After the warrant hearing held Tuesday, June 25, Donnivan's mother, Peggy Schaeffer, talked about her son and what his loss has meant to the family.

file photo John Murphy

Charles Rhines is one of two inmates on death row in South Dakota, and if his last appeals fail, he will die in November.

In a short hearing in Rapid City on Tuesday, June 25, a judge granted a warrant of execution while Rhines watched by a videoconference hookup from prison.

Rhines was sentenced to death in 1993 for murdering 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer, an employee of the donut shop Rhines was robbing.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this report.

In the Moment News: June 15-21

Jun 21, 2019

SDPB's David Scott reports on Representative Dusty Johnson's Feed Act. We go over the annual Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E Casey Foundation with Carole Cochrane. Talk about a picture that created havoc at this year's Girls State with Dakota Political Junkies Noel Hamiel and Jon Hunter. Cory Heidelberger explains his petitions aimed to protect the ballot question process. SDPB's Chynna Lockett reports on the opening of the Thunder Valley Community Center.


Victoria Wicks

South Dakota's "riot boosting" laws faced judicial scrutiny on Wednesday, June 12, in a Rapid City federal courtroom.

The riot boosting law that was passed in the 2019 legislative session works with old rioting laws to threaten protestors and their supporters with criminal and civil penalties.

Opponents say the laws violate free speech.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks was in the courtroom.

To hear long coverage of the riot boosting legislation, click on this link:

Victoria Wicks

Activists are gathering in Rapid City to protest the "riot boosting" law passed at the end of the 2019 legislative session. The legislation is the subject of a hearing to be held on Wednesday, June 11, at the federal courthouse in Rapid City.

At the request of Governor Kristi Noem, lawmakers pushed the bill through to address protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. It holds protest supporters civilly and criminally liable if a riot breaks out.

Several groups sued in federal court to stop that law from going into effect.

Victoria Wicks

The author of South Dakota's One Book selection stopped at the Rapid City Public Library on Sunday, June 9. Kent Nerburn spoke to an audience about the selected book, Neither Wolf Nor Dog, and about his life as a writer and artist. The book was made into a 2016 movie filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Nerburn has written 14 books, and he tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks about his writing process.

Nerburn will be back in the Black Hills in October for the Festival of Books in Deadwood, where he'll give the keynote address.

SD Legislative Research Council

State Senator Red Dawn Foster spoke last before the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utilities Commission at hearings held this week at Saint Francis. The freshman senator from Oglala Lakota County said she opposed the Keystone XL pipeline during the 2019 legislative session. She told commissioners that there's a "clash of world views" between state officials and indigenous people.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

SD Legislative Research Council

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utilities Commission heard from politicians and activists this week at its two-day hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline. The gathering was held at Saint Francis. TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) was notified of the hearing but did not send a representative.

Commissioners heard from leaders of several tribes, as well as State Senator Red Dawn Foster and State Representative Shawn Bordeaux.

YouTube screenshot

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utilities Commission is holding two days of hearings on the Keystone XL pipeline. The commission is responding to TC Energy's plans to build a pipeline that crosses Rosebud trust land adjacent to the reservation. The commission served notice of the hearing on TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, but no representatives showed up. The hearing started on Tuesday, May 28, and continued the next day. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.


Earlier this year the Governor of South Dakota did not consult tribes while planning legislation to deal with pipeline protests.

Because of that decision, the Oglala Sioux Tribe banned Kristi Noem from visiting the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Noem says tribes were left out because the proposed Keystone XL pipeline does not cross reservation land.

But a lawsuit filed in Montana federal court by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe says otherwise.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Opponents to the Keystone XL pipeline are asking for more information before South Dakota Water permits are granted for pipeline construction. Opposing parties want the Water Management Board to compel discovery from pipeline parent company TC Energy Corporation, previously known as TransCanada. These issues were the subject of a hearing held Wednesday, May 8, in Pierre to determine rules and scheduling for future hearings.

File photo

EB-5 has become code for one of South Dakota's most complex political scandals. EB-5 is the program by which foreign investors buy a chance at getting a visa by investing a half million dollars to create jobs.

EB-5 is alive now in federal court, with foreign investors suing to be repaid a loan of $32.5 million.

The money came from a limited partnership called SDIF, which brought in 65 foreign investors putting up $500,000 each.

A limited liability company, or LLC, called Tentexkota, borrowed the money to build the Deadwood Mountain Grand casino and event center.

A former employee of Northern State University has appealed her firing to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The former director of the student affairs counseling center says she was fired in December 2017 as retaliation for whistle-blowing. Her university supervisors and the Board of Regents say she didn't go through proper channels to appeal her firing.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, April 30. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Churchill, Manolis, Freeman, Kludt & Burns, LLP

A hearing set for Wednesday, April 24, to consider TransCanada's request to use water for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has been postponed.

TransCanada says it plans to start construction on worker camps in August.

The company has asked the South Dakota Water Management Board to exclude tribes and environmental groups from the permitting process.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Environmentalists have been quick to sue President Donald Trump for issuing a new permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The president issued a new permit that bypasses the U.S. State Department on March 29.

One week later, two pipeline opponents filed a complaint in Montana federal court.

That new permit has kicked off a flurry of activity in Montana federal court.

Feds say the president is within his rights to sign a new permit, and the project will still be subject to federal review.


The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a challenge to a new South Dakota law designed to protect construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from "riot boosters."

Governor Kristi Noem and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg are included as defendants. In the last full week of the 2019 legislative session, Noem pushed through two bills to prevent another Standing Rock situation if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.

Noem signed the new legislation on Wednesday, March 27, and the ACLU filed its complaint in South Dakota federal court on Thursday, March 28.

Anne Dilenschneider online

The Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum at Canton opened in 1902 and operated for more than 30 years. The facility housed indigenous people from across the country who were deemed insane for rebelling against white rule.

Two South Dakotans have been giving presentations for years to call attention to this piece of state and national history.

On Friday evening, they'll speak with a Rapid City audience at the Journey Museum.

Victoria Wicks has this story.

Victoria Wicks file photo

The Keystone XL pipeline has been on-again, off-again since 2008. That's when TransCanada first applied for a presidential permit to build the pipeline across the U.S./Canada border.

South Dakota rancher John Harter has known since the beginning that the pipeline is planned to cross his land near Winner.

He says he's relieved that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals left a Montana injunction in place, but he realizes this might not be the end.

Construction on the Keystone XL pipeline remains on hold until an appeal to the Ninth Circuit plays out. That order came out Friday, March 15.

The pipeline was stopped late last year, when a Montana federal judge put an injunction on the project until the U.S. State Department does more work on the permit.

TransCanada appealed that order to the Ninth Circuit and asked that the injunction be lifted while the appeal proceeds. The appeals court has turned down that request.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

SD Department of Corrections

A Milbank man convicted of second-degree murder is getting a new trial.

A Third Circuit jury found Michael Swan guilty in September 2017 of stomping his wife to death a year earlier. Swan was at that time 63 years old, and his wife was 77.

The trial judge refused to give the jury an instruction that they could also consider a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The Supreme Court says the trial judge abused his discretion by doing so.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

Two controversial bills addressing the cost of hosting pipelines have landed on the governor's desk ready for Kristi Noem's signature.

One law sets up a fund to pay for the pipeline-related costs incurred by state and local governments.

The other introduces the term "riot boosting" and links the actions of rioters to the organizations that support their causes.

Deb Soholt online

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has moved hemp cultivation a step closer to being legal in South Dakota. Committee members heard more than two hours of testimony and discussion on Thursday, Feb. 28, before voting to send HB 1191 to the floor of the Senate.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this story.

A former Rapid City police officer is not entitled to survivor's benefits, because she and her deceased wife were not married at the time of the retirement. That's the decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court in an opinion released Thursday, Feb. 21.

The court says the couple could have legally married in another state to satisfy South Dakota's retirement laws.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.