From August 25th through the 29th, 2004, thirty hemp enthusiasts from all over America harvested and manufactured hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Billed as the “3rd Annual Lakota Hemp Days”, the event was designed by Hemphasis magazine and the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Council (SDIHC) to illustrate the versatility and functionality of industrial hemp.
In 1998, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, the governing body of the Pine Ridge Reservation (recognized, sometimes, as a “sovereign nation” by the U.S. government) re-legalized the production of industrial hemp on the reservation, making a distinction between hemp and marijuana, and removing the legal barriers to industrial hemp production. Alex White Plume, a Lakota farmer and rancher, planted a hemp crop in 2000.
In August of that year, U.S. government paramilitary terrorists in the employ of agencies such as the DEA, FBI and BIA raided White Plume’s crop and stole it. White Plume sued, but Rapid City Federal Judge Richard Battey said he could see no merit in a suit charging the U.S. government with plundering the crops of a peaceful farmer in a neighbouring nation.
White Plume planted again in 2001. Again, the feds destroyed his crop in August. In 2002, Alex planted again and pre-sold his crop to Madison Hemp and Flax of Lexington, Kentucky. In August, there was considerable news coverage of White Plume and the actions of the feds. As he harvested, he was served with an injunction, signed by Judge Battey, prohibiting him (or his “agents, assigns, heirs, family, or employees”) from taking any action in furtherance of production of industrial hemp. A violation of the injunction would draw a “contempt of court” citation and could result in White Plume’s being imprisoned for 18 months on no more authority than a snap of Judge Battey’s fingers.
Had White Plume not been enjoined, he would have delivered the hemp he and his family had harvested in 2002 to Madison Hemp and Flax. Instead, a group of celebrants/mourners gathered to reflect on these facts:
- The U.S. government claimed that Alex was growing “marijuana”, and destroyed his crop. Alex was not arrested, even though he admitted growing what the government called “marijuana”. In three successive years, White Plume advertised that he was growing industrial hemp, called “marijuana” by the feds, and did so, yet he was not arrested.
- Judge Battey, in his injunction, specified that Alex could not produce “marijuana or industrial hemp”. This action and the ones listed directly above are clear evidence that the feds understand (and apply, in a way so perverse that it could only make sense to a socialist /fascist federal judge) the difference between “marijuana” and industrial hemp.
- The shocks (bundles) of Alex White Plume’s industrial hemp stalks were lying on the ground between Alex White Plume and Craig Lee (from Madison Hemp and Flax). Stripped of their leaves and flowers, the hemp stalks were ready for manufacture. Neither man could touch the stalks for fear of violating the injunction.
- Craig Lee produced a shock of legally imported Canadian hemp stalks at that 2002 event. He used a hemp break to shatter the stalks and extract the fiber, which he then combed out and refined to the point that one of the celebrants was able to braid a bracelet, which another of those present purchased.
- Canadian (and Romanian, Russian, Chinese,…) hemp is regularly trucked past barely-surviving U.S. farms to supply a rapidly-rising U.S. market. U.S. farmers are barred from participating in the multi-billion dollar world market for industrial hemp. Such is the political concern, from both the Republican and Democrat wings of the Imperialist Party, about the “loss of family farms”.
In 2003, the Hemp Industries Association held its annual convention at Kiza Park, near White Plume’s home on the reservation. Hemphasis and the SDIHC thought the tradition should solidify in 2004. Why we originally called it the “2nd Annual” event, we don’t know.
On August 25, 2004, we met at Kiza Park, just north of Manderson, So. Dak., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, the 30 of us rented camping and meeting places from Alex White Plume. Over the next four days, we harvested wild hemp growing on the reservation, and placed it in Wounded Knee creek for retting and then stored it to dry. Using dry hemp stalks we harvested last year from hemp patches in South Dakota, we separated fiber from hurd and manufactured several saleable hemp products.
Was Alex flouting the injunction? We don’t think so. We paid for a four-day stay at a privately owned camping park. Alex may have been aware of our specific hemp activity but did not take part in it. Furthermore, we followed all of the specifications laid out by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) for harvesting wild hemp. We harvested only the stalks, after separating the leaves, flowers and seeds from the plants.
While feral hemp grows in abundance in road ditches, along waterways and in fields all over America’s farm country, there is no other place we could have a gathering like “Lakota Hemp Days” without interference from local law enforcement officers, although harvesting wild hemp is technically legal all across America.
We hope readers will take the initiative to get the permission of landowners and harvest wild hemp, in the same manner, we did at Lakota Hemp Days, setting up the rudimentary infrastructure needed to convert hemp from stalk to concrete for homes, or paper, etc. Folks can harvest nature’s most useful crop legally without getting a permit from the DEA. Most people just don’t realize that they can harvest the crop legally.
We made a couple of hempcrete tiles and refined some fiber to the point it could be spun into yarn. We made paper from hemp hurds. By so doing we no doubt amuse some folks, who think of a cottage industry as something “hippies” do to avoid working for Wal-Mart or the government, but not something that has any “serious” commercial potential.
Yet, with a few scraggly hemp stalks and 30 people, none of whom had experience with a hemp break or comb and little or no experience mixing and forming concrete or spinning yarn or making paper, we made saleable products in a few hours. Attendees experienced first hand how hard hemp farmers and processors of yesteryear had to work to refine hemp fiber. Prior to Emancipation, some slaves earned their freedom by breaking hemp for several years.
Any farmer with a moderately-equipped farm shop has the capability of adding value to hemp by extracting fiber and hurds from the stalks, or by pressing the seeds to make bio-diesel fuel, food oil and hemp cake for livestock feed, or by making paper (albeit crude paper, absent specialized machinery) and insulation. Local farm cooperatives could form marketing units to sell hemp and its value-added products.
Imagine a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand such individuals and co-ops; suddenly we have the marketing power and hope for those who want to make a living off the land, but who find the idea of sterilizing the soil and poisoning the world around them with petrochemicals abhorrent.
By the time Hemphasis publishes again, the multi-national corporations will have chosen either George Bush or John Kerry to continue the task of destroying family farms. Neither they nor any of their water-carriers in Congress will speak, except derisively, of the potential of the most versatile crop on Earth. They will speak with pride of their accomplishments in the “drug war”, proclaiming, we presume, that it’s been a good thing to promote (by saying “marijuana” makes girls more sexually accessible, among other absurdities) and tax (through fines and seizures) pot-smoking, while making the world safe (free from competition from hemp) for Eli Lilly’s, Cargill’s and Monsanto’s toxic products and policies.
by Bob Newland and Jeremy Briggs
Hemphasis editors, publishers
This is from the second issue of Hemphasis. Most new magazines never publish a second edition. We’re working on Version 2.01 (Spring 2005) now. We depend on advertisers to finance the printing and distribution. More advertisers translate to more pages, more information, more copies, and more hemp use. Eventually, a copy of Hemphasis might end up in the hands of some politician who will actually read it and experience an epiphany of honesty.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that dream to come true, though. As a practical matter, politicians have to be beaten into honesty. Buy hemp. Wear hemp. Eat hemp. Vote Hemp.
And every time you talk to a politician, ask him or her why he or she continues to support the promotion of pot-smoking while denying U.S. farmers access to the world market for hemp.