As the sale of the historic Wounded Knee site looms with several offers on the table for owner James Czywczynski, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has moved to seize the land using eminent domain, according to a report by Brandon Ecoffey, the managing editor
of Native Sun News.
In addition to this development, a petition on a Care2 website claims that one of the parties interested in purchasing the site wants to build a horse slaughtering plant and has garnered more than 38,000 signatures. According to Denise Mesteth, Tribal Land Office Director, the tribe is intending to seek recovery of the Wounded Knee site through eminent domain, however the claims that the tribe would allow a horse slaughterhouse to be built on or near Wounded Knee were false.
“That isn't right; it is definitely a misleading petition. It is amazing how rumors get around. This may have been an effort to hinder the eminent domain move,” said Mesteth.
On May 16, the council voted 14-0 to file in federal court to seek the land owned by Czywczynski. While eminent domain is an action where a government utilizes its power to seize the private property of an individual or group of people for use by the state, some tribal law experts say this might be an exercise in futility. But Mesteth says, “It’s all we’ve got.”
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a federal Indian law attorney in Washington, D.C. told Ecoffey that the likelihood of eminent domain working for the tribe in the case of Wounded Knee was low. “It would be very hard for me to see the tribe pull this off,” the source said. “If this was truly a viable option for tribes then it would be extremely easy for tribes to consolidate their land bases. They could simply seize whatever they wanted from non-members within the confines of the reservation,
provided they pay just compensation. Who determines what just compensation is?”
Czywczynski told ICTMN he is waiting for a specific buyer to purchase the land for the benefit of the tribe. “There are others that are waiting to buy this property, but I am waiting for this person who is buying it for the benefit of the tribe. I want the tribe to have this property,” he said.
Mesteth did confirm that there is a submitted initiative by tribal members to consider a horse slaughterhouse, but it would not be built on the site of Wounded Knee even if it were approved. She also said any possibility that the tribe would build on Wounded Knee were unfounded and that the tribe was putting measures in place to protect the site.“There was a move on the council floor this Tuesday [May 28] to create a three-mile radius buffer for all additional development in the area of Wounded Knee,” she said. Mesteth says the creation of a horse slaughterhouse is only an initiative that was presented to the tribal council and that any such thing would need to be presented to all of the tribal districts and approved before anything moved forward.
“We are not saying any of this will happen, the plan is not to use horses on a reservation and they are not going to just pick them up off the range and take them to the slaughterhouse, they will buy from the sale house,” she said. Mesteth says, because there are no slaughterhouses in the United States because they have been outlawed since 2007, it would create a revenue opportunity for the tribe.“There is only one in Mexico and one in Canada. The market is high now because I guess there is a foreign market for horse meat, although I wouldn’t eat it. All this said, it will bring jobs and some kind of revenue to our reservation,” she said.
The controversial horse-drawn carriage trade in New York City continues to be the subject of debate and has become an issue in the mayoral contest, which will be decided in November.
Since 2006, every online poll has shown between 75 and 80% of respondents favor a ban of this inhumane and unsafe business. New Yorkers and tourists alike are saying “Enough!” It is the politicians who are holding things up. And if the powers that be do not see fit to do anything about ending operations, at least they should acknowledge and do something about all the horses who get used up.
A new study conducted by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages shows that over the past eight years, there was a turnover of at least 529 carriage horses who did not have their license renewed by the NYC Department of Health (DoH), the agency charged with oversight of these animals. The only reason horses come off the registry is when they are sold or died.
Some 200 horses are registered with the DoH annually. For 529 to have no accountability is deeply disturbing. This averages out to 71 horses a year over 7 ½ years. The NYC Administrative Code – Section 17-329 does not require the names of buyers if the horse is sold outside New York City as most are and the DoH does not maintain documents or a database containing a list of horses who are no longer in the system.
Not all horses are as fortunate as one named Billy, a former NYC carriage horse. After being sold to a kill buyer at New Holland in Pennsylvania, he was rescued/repurchased by the Coalition in 2010 and is now living out his golden years in peace—appropriately renamed Bobby ll Freedom—at Equine Advocates Sanctuary in Chatham, NY. It is very possible a horse could go either directly or indirectly to the auctions, which are frequented by kill buyers who supply slaughter houses. The Equine Welfare Alliance reports that 176,223 US horses were sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico in 2012 where their meat was processed to be sent overseas for human consumption.
A BILL THAT COULD HAVE HELPED:
In 2011, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages asked Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito to sponsor a bill, Intro 670, that would require that carriage horse owners abide by certain rules when selling their horses – i.e. to be accountable for the horses’ fate. The owner would be required to sell or donate his or her horse to a private individual or sanctuary with a contractual agreement that the animal would be kept as a companion animal, not be sold or employed in another carriage
business. The horses could not be sold at auction. The DoH would require complete records. The press conference for
the proposed legislation was canceled the night before by Speaker Christine Quinn and the bill subsequently died. Quinn has been a staunch supporter of the carriage trade and has ultimate power in the City Council. Bills do not go anywhere without her support.
Since that time, more than 116 horses – who would have been protected had it passed – have fallen off the rolls to uncertain fate.So where do we go from here? If the powers that be do not see fit to do anything about shutting down this inhumane and unsafe business, at least they should acknowledge and do something about all the horses who get used up. But will they?
Do they care enough about these horses or will they continue to delude themselves into thinking it is a viable tourist attraction.
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Iowa Voters Strongly Oppose Slaughter of Horses for Human Consumption According to New Research. 71% of Iowa voters are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption, and 76% do not want a horse slaughter plant in their community.
"Iowa voters affirm what we learned in New Mexico and Missouri and what we discovered through national polls as well – an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that our horses deserve more than to be shuttled off to a gruesome death and served abroad as a toxic delicacy," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.
"With 71 percent of all registered voters in the state opposed to the slaughtering of American horses, opening a slaughterhouse in Iowa would be a tragic mistake, as voters have clearly stated that they would not support such a facility. Using precious tax dollars to enable the inhumane practice of horse slaughter on U.S. soil is irresponsible, and we urge legislators to take note and enact a permanent ban on horse slaughter."
Read Full ASPCA Press Release