Give Black Hills Back to the Lakota Sioux

  • by: Susan V
  • target: Obama, US Dept of Interior, Congress

UPDATE: Thanks to the overwhelming support of this cause, the current owners of the Pe' Sla tract of the Black Hills have accepted a downpayment from the tribal coalition to purchase the land. Millions are still needed to complete the deal, so please continue to take action!

The Sioux Nation wants to buy back Pe' Sla of the Black Hills before it's sold for development. They urgently need our help to save it from being turned into yet another wasteland.

The 1868 treaty that gave the Lakota this land was threatened in 1874 by Gen. Custer’s reports of gold in the Hills, setting off a stampede of prospectors.

Instead of protecting this Lakota land from intruders, the Feds sided with gold seekers and tried to buy back the land. When the Lakota refused, Congress repealed the treaty and stole 40 million acres.

As a girl, Dana Lone Hill says she felt great contentment while visiting her sacred ancestral home, a place of stark contrast to her “prison camp” existence on the reservation. She says her people find in the Black Hills “an inner peace” others “seek all their lives.”

The Lakota want their land back, and the government has no right to keep it from them any longer. They shouldn't have to buy it.

More info:

We, the undersigned, say this theft of the Black Hills has been allowed too long. The least the US government can do now is help the Great Sioux Nation buy back the Lakota's sacred Pe' Sla so it will not become yet another industrial wasteland.

According to Dana Lone Hill, one of the most sacred areas of the Black Hills, Pe' Sla, is under threat of being turned into some form or another of a tourist trap - “like the hundreds already spread through our sacred Black Hills. The state of South Dakota even has plans to put a road through the middle of this, one of our most sacred areas,” she says.

Hill recounts the history of the theft of her people’s land in a recent article in UK’s Guardian. She explains how, after Custer egged on the South Dakota gold rush, the Lakota's treaty rights were repeatedly violated by prospectors. When her people retaliated after the government refused to defend their land, the US seized the Black Hills, in 1877 – illegally. “This occurred just one year after Custer and the 7th Cavalry were defeated at the Battle of Greasy Grass, in which our ancestors were defending their land and their way of life. And so the Black Hills were stolen from us.”

Nearly a century after the theft, Hill says, “the US court of claims described the US government's conduct thus:”
"A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history."

Reparations were finally suggested in 1980 when the Supreme Court “upheld an award of $15.5m for the market value of the land in 1877, “adding interest for 103 years, for an additional $105m in damages, “Today that sum is over $1bn – and remains untouched – as Paul Harris called it in the Observer, in 2007, 'a heroic, some might say unfathomable, act of defiance'".

Hill explains that the plan was not to touch that compensation to prevent white America from ever owning the Black Hills. The Lakota don’t want the money. They want their land back. And Hill says they are tired of waiting for the government to do the right thing.

To the Lakota the Black Hills, are known as Cante Wamakaognake ("the heart of all that is). “We belong there, because we come from there,” says Hill. “Our origin, our beliefs, our entire way of life all revolve around the Black Hills. While the United States government labeled us savages long ago, claiming we needed to be civilized, they had no idea that we had astronomers, philosophers, doctors, teachers, midwives, artists, warriors, and more among us. This is the same land we fight for today.”

If a poll or vote were taken in the US, certainly it would show that the majority of US Citizens believe the Black Hills belong to the Lakota and should be given back to them.

Congress and President Obama, if you won’t give the Lakota back their all their land, please at least assist the Sioux Nation in raising what is needed to buy Pe' Sla and make sure the land is not opened up for further development.

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