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Sioux tribes forming coalition to act as 1 nation

RAPID CITY (AP) -- Several Sioux tribes have begun laying the groundwork for working as one nation on issues they deem important.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe hosted officials from the Standing Rock Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Crow Creek Sioux in Rapid City for three days of meetings late last week. Such a meeting has not happened in more than a century, Oglala Sioux President Bryan Brewer told the media.

"This has been something the tribes have talked about for years," he said. "It has always been a dream of our tribes, but it actually happened now. This is a historic event for us all to pull together again."

About 60 people took part in the meetings and signed a proclamation declaring their intent to work together as the Oceti Sakowin, or the seven council fires of the great Lakota-Dakota-Nakota people. They also produced a set of bylaws and a mission statement and will be preparing position papers.

"We identified some areas that have the most need, including our land issues, environmental issues like with the oil pipelines, economic, education and child welfare," Brewer said.

There are 22 Sioux tribes eligible to join the organization, Brewer said. The next meeting will be hosted by the Rosebud Sioux in early April.

"Individually we are not very strong, but together we are hoping to be a pretty strong organization," Brewer said.