OUR VIEW: Oglalas should get chance to manage South UnitThe future of the South Unit of Badlands National Park is up in the air, and we think that’s a good thing.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
The future of the South Unit of Badlands National Park is up in the air, and we think that’s a good thing.
The vast, unspoiled region — with few signs of modern life and even fewer humans — is currently part of the federal national park system. Located in southwestern South Dakota, it is remote, and it’s out of the way of the typical tourist.
Future management of the region is being considered, and one proposal is to allow the land to become the nation’s first tribal national park, administered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Officials from the tribe and the park service have a meeting planned for Friday, where they will discuss their plans and possibly move forward from there.
Originally part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the land was taken over in the 1940s by the U.S. government, which used the area as a bombing range.
The South Unit is not nearly as popular as the North Unit, which sits closer to Interstate 90 and therefore is better suited for quick and easy visiting by casual passersby.
We like the idea of the South Unit being converted for tribal use, for a couple of reasons.
First, the land originally belonged to the Oglala Sioux in the first place. Much has been taken from the American Indian over the years, and this is a tradition that must stop.
Second, nothing much has happened with the South Unit during its time under federal oversight. Why not let another entity come in with its own unique ideas?
Past surveys conducted in the state show that tourists are interested in American Indian attractions and experiences. Perhaps the South Unit of the Badlands can someday be a destination for those folks who want to learn more about Indian culture past and present.
Whoever maintains oversight, however, must make all possible effort to keep the South Unit in its pristine condition. For whatever reasons, some areas of American Indian reservations are unkempt and downright unsanitary. This cannot happen to pristine backcountry like that found in the Badlands.
That said, we are intrigued by South Dakota possibly becoming home to the nation’s first tribal national park.