In 2000, U.S. federal drug agents raided Alex White Plume's farm & destroyed his crop of industrial hemp before he could harvest the seed; and got a court order prohibiting him from growing the crop. Disrespecting the Oglala Sioux's sovereignty, and despite hemp not having psychoactive properties, the agents cited a 1968 federal anti-drug law prohibiting cultivation of Cannabis-related crops. The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the DEA action.
White Plume & his tiospaye tried raising alfalfa, barley, corn, horses & bison, all of which yield little more than subsistence under harsh conditions.
In 1998 the Oglala Sioux Tribe passed an ordinance to allow cultivation of low-THC hemp on the reservation. In April 2000 White Plume & family planted industrial hemp on their farm on Pine Ridge.
White Plume thought tribal sovereignty would enable him to grow the crop but in August 2000 Federal DEA agents raided his field & destroyed his crops. In August 2002, the US DA served White Plume with 8 civil charges related to the hemp cultivation, & a court order prohibiting growing the crop. On appeal, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the DEA, while acknowledging its registration process could be burdensome & hemp might be a good crop for Pine Ridge.
Elected Vice-President for the Oglala Sioux Tribe in November 2004, White Plume served til June 29, 2006 & upon impeachment of the tribal president, White Plume acted as president until the next election in November 2006.
The film, Standing Silent Nation tracks the family's effort to grow hemp, likened to a new buffalo for the Lakota: a resource whose many uses from food to fuel to fiber, could enrich their sovereign nation.