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RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA Last month, the Lakota people averted losing Pe' Sla, a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota when a planned auction was canceled two days before it was scheduled to be held on August 25.
Pe' Sla, a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota
The land is owned by Leonard and Margaret Reynolds, who have allowed the Lakota to use the property for ceremonial purposes. Even though the Pe' Sla was taken off the auction block, the property is still for sale.
Today, a rally will be held at the Memorial Park Band Shell at 5:00 pm mdt to update the progress of a pending sale of Pe' Sla and create awareness that money is still needed to secure a final sale.
During the two weeks preceding the scheduled auction was canceled, people at various levels worked feverishly to save Pe' Sla.
On Wednesday, August 22, Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele, sent a letter also signed by Chief Oliver Red Cloud, to Del Laverdure, US Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in Washington through Mr. Robert Ecoffey, Superintendent, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Pine Ridge Agency, stating:
"Due to the extremely short timeframe we have in addressing the auction of Pe'Sla; we are under duress and have no alternative but to make this special request of you. We are writing to you, as Trustee of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and protector of the Tribes rights under its Treaties, Article 8 of the 1877 Act and under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. We need you to intervene in the auction of Pe'Sla, that is scheduled for August 25, by providing funds to the Oglala and other Sioux Tribes to purchase the 1,900 acres of land that make up Pe' Sla "
That same day, UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya released a statement that stated in part:
"I call on all concerned parties to engage in a process of consultation to find ways in which to resolve these concerns. I believe such dialogue is necessary in order to help heal the historical injustices endured by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples and to allow them to maintain their cultures and traditional practices for future generations. The views and concerns of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples need to be considered regarding any private or government activity that would affect their right to continue to maintain their traditional cultural and ceremonial practices associated with Pe' Sla,"
At a different level - a grassroots level - led by Attorney Chase Iron Eyes, who operates
Last Real Indians conducted a fundraising effort to save Pe' Sla. Through the efforts of Last Real Indians, $300,000 was raised. Additionally, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe committed $1.3 million towards a down payment for the Pe' Sla.
Pe' Sla - Action Still Needed
The Reynolds have reportedly accepted an offer to sell Pe' Sla, though the terms of the land deal have not been made public that involve up to nine Indian tribes.
This past Saturday at a press conference, Iron Eyes discussed the teachings concerning the Black Hills that he received from his elders a youth:
“Its back, we're talking about the Black Hills again, and it's the right time for it to happen.”
Other speakers at Saturday's press conference included: Robin Lebeau, tribal councilwoman from the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe; Madonna Thunder Hawk, activist and tribal liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project; Phyllis Young, activist and tribal councilwoman for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe; and Joe Brings Plenty, former tribal council chairman for the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.
Councilwoman Lebeau implored the tribes to come together:
“What I want to stress is unity All I am asking for you [Sioux] to do is to take [the idea of Pe' Sla] back to who whomever your spiritual leaders are - your treaty councils, your IRAs - and let's come together.”
Last Real Indians and the Lakota People's Law Project are hosting today's rally.
posted September 5, 2012 7:20 am edt