Photo borrowed from RapidCityJournal.com
A little over a month ago, via FB, I saw my first message pertaining to the auction of close to 2,000 acres of sacred land in the Black Hills to the highest bidder to satisfy a tax lien on August 25th, 2012. To the Oceti Sakowin, The People of the Seven Council Fires-the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota nations-this sacred land is known as Pe'Sla, The Heart of All That Is, and consider the site key to their creation story. To the rest of the world, this 2,000 acre parcel of land is known as Reynolds Prairie, owned by Leonard and Margaret Reynolds of Hill City.
But Chase Iron Eyes, founder of Lastrealindians.com, Inc., spearheaded an effort to save Pe’ Sla. Due to this group of young Native Americans who call themselves The Last Real Indians and other hardworking and determined groups in, of and around the Great Sioux Nation getting word of the auction out, the land was pulled from the auction block at the owner's request. Within days, the collaborative effort to save Pe’ Sla spread far and wide across the Dakotas, and now, the nation.
But the land is still not safe as it is now for sale. Currently for sale is 1,942.66 acres which is in 5 tracts (300 - 440 acres each).
When I came across the message on FB about this piece of land being auctioned off, I immediately followed the link which lead me to Indiegogo.com/PeSla-LakotaHeartland website where I donated money to help the Great Sioux Nation gather funds so they could purchase the land. I've visited this area often and immediately sensed the urgency to take action.
Initially they were looking for $1million dollars, the money needed for the auction of the land valued between $6million and $10million, but then the land was pulled from the auction block. Should Pe' Sla go into the hands of anyone other than members of The Great Sioux Nation, it's highly likely that it will be developed. The State of South Dakota has expressed that it wants to use eminent domain to build a road right through the heart of Pe' Sla, cutting off the Native Americans access to it and spelling its destruction as a sacred site.
As of today, The Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation are moving forward on their own behalf with Lastrealindians, Inc. in continuing to raise money to ensure Pe’ Sla will be protected as a sacred site, forever.
Ironically, the land Tribal leaders are working to to buy back was stolen from them by the U.S. government. The Sioux never accepted the Black Hills settlement as proposed by the United States Supreme Court.
I am delighted to report that as of September 5, 2012, news crossed the wires that Sioux Leaders of Pe' Sla land movement announced a deal between the Reynolds family and the Sioux tribes. Officially the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation will purchase the 2,000 acres of sacred land. Chase Iron Eyes and his organization, the Last Real Indians, have raised $325,386 and put down a deposit on the 2000 acres of real estate in the Black Hills, but the tribes must raise additional cash, upward of $9million by the end of November to seal the land deal. This action was organized by Last Real Indians and the Lakota People’s Law Project.For more information about this purchase and what they're up against next, watch the video below:
As you learned, there are still ongoing fundraising needs. Please visit the Indigogo website above and make a donation!
On a personal note: I am pleased to say that in my last book, Crystal Blue Sky, my character, Crystal Blue, visited this sacred land and met her ancestor, Weasel Bear, on the great granite mountainside known to some as Cougar Mountain. As I wrote this particular passage, I was swept away with the beauty that I remembered this land to be. As a child I visited the Black Hills often and always felt a sense of sadness as I walked along the paths looking for Fools Gold and beautiful stones I could take home with me.
When I first began getting the idea to write this series, I knew without a doubt that my heroine would visit the Great Sioux Nation first before she began her journey traveling around the world. The message for me was loud and clear, she should visit with the Tribal Leaders of the Great Sioux Nation to strengthen her ghost, heal her past and cleanse her spirit with fire and water. There is a strength to the Sioux that I can appreciate and I wanted to honor them by taking Crystal to their Sacred Hearth so she could prepare herself for her journey.
And now, I can smile and know that maybe, just maybe, just possibly, Crystal's visit to their land had a little something to do with their new found hope that they could possibly, once again, call this sacred piece of land their own.