Contact: Lauren Stansbury - (402) 540-1208

Lakota, Once Encouraged by U.S. Government Treaty to Grow Hemp, Fight to Do So Again

Hemp Industry Supports Tribe in 8th Circuit Appeal

PINE RIDGE, SD — This week, Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, supporting members of the Lakota Nation in their attempt to grow industrial hemp on their land. The brief illustrates how the U.S. government, following the advice of a ‘hemp entrepreneur’ named David Myerle, used ‘agricultural pursuits,’ specifically industrial hemp, to entice the Lakota to settle on the reservation in the mid-1800s.

Despite the fact that the Lakota were growing hemp when they entered into treaties with the U.S. government in 1851 and 1868, the federal government filed a civil suit against Alexander White Plume, Percy White Plume and others in the U.S. District Court in South Dakota, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent them from growing industrial hemp without permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (The DEA tightly restricts non-psychoactive industrial hemp farming in the U.S. as if it were the same as drug/medical marijuana.) Late last December, the court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment. Two Kentucky hemp companies, Madison Hemp & Flax, 1806, Inc. and Tierra Madre, LLC, also filed an appeal in the case because they had contracts to purchase the White Plume hemp crops.

“The District Court completely ignored relevant Indian law, the treaties, the Constitution and the significance of the Myerle Papers when they granted the government’s motion for summary judgment,” says David Frankel, attorney and Vote Hemp board member who is working on the Lakota case. “Because federal Indian law allows tribes to continue doing something today that they were doing at the time they signed treaties with the U.S. government, the Lakota have an excellent chance at reversal,” adds Patrick Goggin, who was the hemp industry’s local counsel in the landmark case Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Since the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed an ordinance in 1998, allowing people to grow low-THC industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, both Alexander and Percy White Plume have attempted to grow industrial hemp there. After each attempt, the DEA destroyed the industrial hemp crop after obtaining a court order.

To read more about the White Plume case and download the Vote Hemp and HIA amicus brief, please click here.


Vote Hemp is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp commercially.