Camp Justice

Grieving family members seek justice in killings so healing can begin...

If you have information NEW! 8/1/03
Tom Poor Bear brings suit for Civil Rights violation

Message from Leonard!
June 8, 1999:
On June 8, 1999, the bodies of two murdered Lakota men, Wilson Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart, are found beside the two mile track that runs between Whiteclay, Nebraska, and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. They had last been seen about 10:30 on June 6th walking back to the reservation.

Law enforcement is unresponsive. Their indifference is consistent with that in previous deaths of Indian people in this area,

Since 1973, there have been 64 unsolved (not just unsolved, but UNINVESTIGATED!) murders here.
Whiteclay, NB The town of Whiteclay, Sheridan County Nebraska, has a population of just 22 people.Yet Whiteclay's four liquor stores annually have sales over $4,000,000 thanks to their proximity to Pine Ridge and proprietors willing to "run a tab" for unemployed people predisposed to alcohol addiction. The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge Reservation is 75-80% (vs. 5% nationally).
June 26, 1999:
March for Justice
To demand that the murders be investigated, Tom Poor Bear -- the brother of one of the slain victims -- and others from Pine Ridge organize a procession to Whiteclay on June 26.

The MARCH FOR JUSTICE is peaceful. Marchers stop at the spot where the bodies were found to pray for the two slain Lakota men, and then continue into the town.

Then things break down.

VJ's Market is trashed (it wasn't however burned to the ground as some media reported). There are fires and cases of softdrinks thrown into the street. Stories conflict. People who'd been drinking got involved and smoldering animosities flared.

The organizers deplore the violence which completely monopolizes the media reports, overshadowing the murders.

One liquor store owner had threatened one of those who died over an unpaid tab. He said if it was not paid, then the "boys" would take care of the debtor, or maybe the Deputy Sheriff would.
Red Dawn's account
Press Release
An Open Invitation is extended to Nebraska residents and other interested people, to join with the Oglala Lakota Oyate in a WALK FOR JUSTICE on the following Saturday (July 3). Emphasizing that NO violence would be tolerated, it is announced that AIM security would accompany the marchers.
June 28, 1999: Enter the Governor On June 28, Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns announces he will meet with Pine Ridge Indian Reservation leaders and Sheridan County elected officials within the next two weeks.
June 29, 1999: KILI talk radio "Walk for Justice" On June 29, Dale Looks Twice, Jeanette Eagle Hawk, and Oliver Red Cloud host a show titled "Walk for Justice" on local radio station KILI. During the show, Dale vows the program will contiue to air --

--until the killers are brought to justice,

--until Whiteclay becomes alcohol free,

--and until the land that Whiteclay sits on is returned to the Oglala Lakota.

According to Treaty Law, Whiteclay stands on land that belongs to the Oglala Lakota people,
July 1,1999:
Task Force
On July 1, Gov. Mike Johanns announces he has started a dialogue with Oglala Lakota leaders and will assemble a Task Force to study alcohol sales in Whiteclay and other troubles between the Nebraska border town and Pine Ridge. Ref:
July 2, 1999:
On July 2, the eve of a second planned protest march by the Oglala Lakota people, Governor Mike Johanns orders the evacuation of Whiteclay's 22 residents, closes down its businesses and sends in 100 state troopers.
July 3, 1999:

Walk for Justice meets The State.

On July 3, the Walk for Justice marchers make their way down the highway toward Whiteclay,

Again they stop to pray where the bodies were found.

As they approach Whiteclay, they are met with a solid line of shoulder to shoulder Nebraska State Police, Sheriff's Deputies, and other LEOs, all wearing riot gear.

U.S. Supreme Court regarding Treaty of 1868 - Decided June 30,1980
The police have snipers on the rooftops.

Yellow tape is stretched across the road. The police tell the marchers they will not be allowed to cross the tape.

Tom Poor Bear, John Yellow Bird Steele, Ben Black Elk, Webster Poor Bear, Gary Moore, Frank LaMere, Russell Means and two others disregard the order and cross the line marked by the tape.

They are arrested for "failure to obey a lawful order" (later a further charge of "Obstructing a Police Officer" is added).

The Dawes Act,
also known as the "General Allotment Act of 1887"
July 4, 1999: Camp Justice On July 4, Tipis are erected at CAMP JUSTICE straddling the "border" between the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and the State of Nebraska. The Oglala Lakota Oyate pledge that the camp will remain until justice is served.
July 5, 1999: LSJ Lincoln Star Journal (7/5/99);

"Within about 24 hours of reopening, beer store owners in Whiteclay, near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, shut their doors again Monday afternoon. Nebraska law enforcement officers had asked all businesses in Whiteclay, including those that sell beer, to shut down Friday to avoid conflict with native people who protested near the unincorporated town last weekend. Several stores had reopened Sunday."

July 7,1999: Clinton On Wednesday, July 7, President Clinton visits Pine Ridge:

"Clinton Offers Hope To Pine Ridge Indians. President Clinton Wednesday toured the poverty-stricken Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the scenic but desolate Black Hills and vowed to find a way to 'fix this economic crisis that has driven so many to despair.'"

July10, 1999:


On July 10, the "WALK FOR JUSTICE" once again marches to Whiteclay. After stopping again to offer prayers, they enter the town.

This time they post eviction notices.

This notice is posted on the four liquor establishments and the grocery store. Law enforcement does not interfere.

July 13, 1999:
Governor sits down

Photo by Anna Henkens of The Chadron Record.
Tuesday July 13, Whiteclay, Neb. --

"Gov. Mike Johanns walked into South Dakota with a few hundred Oglala Lakota activists Tuesday and sat in a shady grove of elm trees to hear demands for the immediate closure of all liquor stores in the remote border village."

Sept 3, 1999:
Task Force collapses
September 3: negotiations with the Nebraska Task Force break down.
Nov 4,1999:
November 4: The Tribal Council announces their intention to file an injunction in federal court against the town of Whiteclay. The Wounded Knee District Council has written a resolution in full support for the agenda of Camp Justice and the Whiteclay issue. Oglala Tribal President Harold Salway has a fifteen minute meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno in Washington.
Dec 6, 1999:
On December 6, Tom Poor Bear appears before the U.S. Commision on Civil Rights. Three days earlier the FBI had suddenly conducted its FIRST investigation of the murders.
Jan 6, 2000:
More liquor
January 6: the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission grants liquor licenses to the liquor establishments in Whiteclay.
If you have information
A $40,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest. If you or anyone you know has any information, please call the FBI's Rapid City office at (605) 343-9632 or Tribal Police at (605) 867-5513 in Pine Ridge, or Tom Poor Bear at (605) 462-6662, (605) 462-6302 or (605) 867-8244. "America's Most Wanted" did a segment on the murders of these two men on July 31, 1999, 1-800-crime-tv.