The Land of LaDonna’s Last Stand
The day after Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota issued an evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) delivered a notice to LaDonna Allard (the founder and leader of the Sacred Stone Camp) and all individuals occupying the Sacred Stone Camp, claiming they are there unlawfully, and must leave immediately. According to the notice, individuals have ten days to show cause why BIA should not find them in trespass.
You can read the full text in the attached scans and judge for yourself.
(Images at bottom of post)
The immediate reaction to the notice was disbelief and shock, followed by indignation and anger, as LaDonna and her supporters sent word out to rally protesters to her side.
However, when you look closely at things, they really have no argument. The stories that LaDonna has been representing to the public as fact are, at best, gross misrepresentations designed to engender pity, sympathy, and many more donations to the Sacred Stone Camp GoFundMe account for which, LaDonna is the sole beneficiary and controller of.
When you look closely at the current situation at Sacred Stone Camp, she and the protesters really have no case.
There are three main facts to consider, which we will discuss one at a time. They are:
- LaDonna is NOT being evicted from her land or her house;
- Everyone MUST leave the Sacred Stone Camp immediately, unless they can show they are not trespassing;
- According to documents, LaDonna does NOT own the land used for the Sacred Stone Camp.
What is this all about?
The notice is not an eviction notice. Rather, it is a “notice of trespass” addressed to “those persons now unlawfully occupying” what is referred to as the “Lean Warrior Allotment” without a valid lease or permit.
The “Lean Warrior Allotment” is otherwise known as Standing Rock Allotment 2275-B. Measuring roughly 317.50 acres, this is the land that LaDonna refers to as the Sacred Stone Camp. People began showing up on this land back on April 2, 2016 as a staging area to protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Essentially, in the first paragraph, the Standing Rock Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) claims that one or more landowners (i.e. LaDonna Allard) has been allowing individuals (protesters) to move onto the property without “proper authorization” or without a “valid lease”.
As such, they are possibly in “trespass violation” for utilizing the property without authorization.
In other words, pretty much everyone, especially those building permanent structures, camping out or living on the premises, or utilizing it (which can be construed as doing just about anything) can be considered as trespassing.
LaDonna is NOT being evicted from her land or her house.
Nowhere in the article does it say anything about eviction for anyone, much less LaDonna, no matter how much she may protest to the contrary in a bid for more sympathy and support. We reached out to representatives at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and they were quite clear about correcting the record that this was NOT an eviction notice. They were quite strong in their wording and mentioned that they had been contacted dozens of times already.
Everyone must leave the Sacred Stone Camp immediately, unless they can show they are not trespassing.
The notice is very clear about this and there are hefty penalties associated with non-compliance. First, on page two, it states that “any party may avoid a finding of trespass if he/she immediately vacates the property, removes all personal property, and returns the property to its pre-trespass condition”.
Further, they must inform the BIA that the violation has been cured. Just cleaning up and vacating is not enough, trespassers must also inform the BIA (this is important).
This is critical because the BIA can “seize, impound, sell or dispose” of property involved in the trespass or use it for evidence, AND they can assess penalties, damages, and costs.
There are other specifics here, but basically, there will be a heavy financial penalty for people who don’t clean up, restore things to the way they were originally, and get off the land.
However, the notice does say that any individual may contact the BIA in writing to explain why this trespass notice is in error. This is the “out” for people that legitimately live there, have leases, own houses, etc. All LaDonna needs to do is explain this in writing to the BIA and she will not be considered in trespass.
However, the problem for LaDonna and many others, is back on the front page with this text:
“It is well-established that one who commands, instigates, encourages, advises, countenances, cooperates in, aids, or abets the commission of a trespass is liable as a co-trespasser with the person actually committing the trespass, and is liable as a principle to the same extent and in the same manner as if he had performed the wrongful act himself.”
In other words, LaDonna is liable for all trespassing acts and damages, just as much as each individual other trespasser, combined. The same can be argued to apply to every individual that used social media or other methods to command, instigate, encourage, advise, cooperate, or to aid and abet.
Think about that for a minute. If you donated money on GoFundMe to help or aid someone to travel to the Sacred Stone Camp, you may be legally liable for their act of trespass. How many celebrities are also liable because of their encouragement or endorsement of coming to the camp or donating to help others?
Legal precedent is cited here, followed by another statement (likely directed at LaDonna):
“No Indian owner of Allotment 2275-B may authorize a third party, who does not own an interest in the property, permission to take possession or occupy without consent from at least 80 percent ownership interest in the property and, if applicable, approval by the BIA.”
The way out for everyone involved is for everyone to clean up and abandon the Sacred Stone Camp as soon as possible before the BIA starts seizing property and arresting anyone not legally present on the property. There are no other options and there is no appeal.
However, LaDonna does NOT own the land used for Sacred Stone Camp
One of the critical elements to the situation and cause of the notice from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is land ownership. LaDonna has claimed that she owns significant portions of the 371-acre property, in part in her own name, and in part with multiple siblings.
However, according to the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Title Status Report (as of 1/24/17), LaDonna has a 1/15th (6%) ownership interest in the trust for the entire property.
This is important to note that the title does not specify which part of the entire property, but rather a percentage ownership of the whole thing. It does not specify if there are other agreements, such as a land lease, or something else, and it certainly not specific rights such as mineral rights or other rights.
The Standing Rock Tribe owns two-thirds, or more accurately 10/15ths, which is roughly 66%.
According to Title 25, in cases like this with a parcel of land shared by six to ten owners, a requirement of 80% is necessary for granting a non-agricultural lease to a third party. Because Standing Rock Tribe is a majority owner, they must consent to any permit or lease which authorizes possession or occupancy of the land. As they have not consented, anyone that is occupying or utilizing the land, other than another owner in the trust, is legally trespassing.
The result is that federal agencies, law enforcement, and others have every legal right, at the request of the tribe, to enforce the law and arrest any trespassers. In our non-attorney opinion, LaDonna has zero legal standing to interfere with law enforcement and certainly cannot refuse them entry into or on the property.