Nearly 2,000 acres of prime real estate nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in the heart of the Great Sioux Nation land, are up for sale to the highest bidder on August 25.
But the offer to sell the land near Mount Rushmore and historic Deadwood has distressed Native American tribes who consider it a sacred site and the center of the universe. Although the land has been privately owned, members of the Great Sioux Nation, known as Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, have been allowed to gather there each year to perform ceremonial rituals they believe are necessary for harmony, health and well-being. This is their home.
Being one with the land is a difficult thing for many of us to understand. It’s not just a cool thing to say. It means you are born of it; it is recognition that you are made from and given life by the air you breathe, which gives you oxygen from the land. It means the earth that nourishes the plants and animals that feed you is a part of you; that the blood in your veins is moistened by the water of the land, and that you will return to that earth some day to continue that cycle.
It means that your ancestors are part of that land, and a part of you. It is a connection that cannot be broken without consequence. It is far more than words. It is being a part of a place, and the place being a part of you. It is knowing who you are, and what you are.
Sacred Site Or Paved Highway Leading To Saltwater Taffy Stand?
Instead Pe’ Sla, as it is known, is under threat of turning into a saltwater taffy stand, or condos, or a golf course, or some other tourist trap, like the hundreds of others already proliferating in the Black Hills.
If the property is sold, members fear that it will be developed and they will lose access. The South Dakota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are studying the possibility of paving one of the main roads that divides the land, a fact mentioned in the advertisement touting its development potential.
That’s why the native people want to buy it back, but they don’t have very much time to raise several million dollars to do so.
The tribes have banded together to try to raise money to buy back as much of the land as they can. But with less than a week to go until the auction, they have only about $110,000 committed for property they believe will sell for $6 million to $10 million.
Sioux Seek To Buy Back Land That Is Rightfully Theirs
The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 “granted” the Black Hills to the Sioux Nation, and prohibited white settlement of the land. At first, in his exploratory expedition in July 1874, General Custer deemed the Black Hills worthless – maybe good for agriculture but “infested with Indians”.
Photo Credit: fritzmb
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