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Jayla's Dream

Research on Ownership of Tribal Land


Assist a nonprofit founded by members of the Oglala Lakota tribe by conducting research to determine whether the federal government currently owns a parcel of land and if there is a vial legal avenue to have the land returned to the tribe.

Referred by:

Jurisdiction(s): U.S. (SD based nonprofit – issues deals with tribal land)
About the Organization: Jayla’s Dream is a nonprofit organization founded and run by members of the Oglala Lakota tribe to assist in humane dog population control strategies on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The tribe currently has limited funds for animal control. So, the Jayla’s Dream team works with the local community to both care for animals and develop strategies to curb dog attacks (which have become commonplace and sometimes deadly) in an ethical and culturally appropriate manner.
Legal Entity Type: Nonprofit/Charity
SDG(s): Good Health and Well Being
Legal Issue(s):

Jayla’s Dream plans to open an animal shelter, as well as a non-profit restaurant with proceeds going towards animal control. They would like to do so on land that was (and potentially still is) owned by the founder’s family. The land is on Sheep Mountain in South Dakota, which is historically and culturally significant to the tribe (additional details can be provided upon request). The land was acquired by the Department of Interior through eminent domain in 1942 for a bombing practice range. In 1968, through a court order, the land was returned to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. However, in 1969, under Public Law 90-468 some of the land was carved out to be used/managed by Badlands National Park, which the Oglala Sioux Tribe opposed. Some tiospayes (families) have been able to get their land back, while others haven’t.  The Jayla’s Dream team is seeking assistance determining: (i) who owns the land and/or has the power to transfer the land back to the founders’ family (largely for use by Jayla’s Dream); (ii) and whether there are any viable legal avenues for having the land returned (the attorney would not be obligated to pursue any legal action, simply to answer the questions above) . The founder is retrieving documents from various archives this week that include: (i) land transfers/documents; (ii) receipts, lists of payments made for accommodation and land sales; (iii) reports on bombing families evacuated; (iv) correspondence with landowners and the Tribal Council; and (v) related civil cases (all will be scanned and reviewed by their team). This project is particularly exciting given the recent uptick in cases around tribal lands/rights!