Native News Network Staff in Native Challenges. Discussion »
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux leaders of the Pe' Sla Movement in South Dakota are planning two major events in the next seven days to maintain access for Native people to the Lakota sacred land Pe' Sla in the Black Hills.
Saturday, September 1
The events are being produced by LastRealIndians, the group spearheading the Pe' Sla movement, and the Lakota People's Law Project, a nonprofit law firm based in Rapid City and Santa Cruz, California. Banner art by Shepard Fairey and Aaron Huey will be unveiled at the events.
The first event will be this Saturday, September 1 at the massive Cheyenne River Reservation powwow at the HVJ Cultural Center at 5:00 pm. The other action will be next Wednesday, September 5 at 5 pm in downtown Rapid City at the Memorial Park band shell. Speakers will include, Chase Iron Eyes, Cheyenne River Tribal Councilwoman Robin Lebeau, Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk and Standing Rock Tribal Councilwoman Phyllis Young. The Lakota People's Law Project, a law firm working to return Lakota children to their tribes and families from state&345;run foster care, will unveil two 30 ft. art banners by street artist Shepard Fairey and National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey.
Shepard Fairey made the red and blue "Hope" poster for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and Huey is the photographer featured in this August's National Geographic cover story about the Pine Ridge Reservation. The banners will be hoisted onto the sides of a semi truck. Both artists support the upcoming actions.
Iron Eyes, Lebeau, Thunder Hawk, Young, and other Sioux leaders are now negotiating with the owners of Pe' Sla in the hopes of purchasing it for the tribes. Pe' Sla is a 2000 acre, sacred pilgrimage site for the Sioux nation, the locus of the Lakota creation story. Although the Sioux tribes hope to acquire the land, it is an uphill climb for them to raise the $6-$10 million to compete with commercial developers. Last Real Indians has raised several hundred thousand dollars, and the Rosebud Sioux tribe has pledged $1.3 million.
The content of the actions this Saturday and next Wednesday will be determined by the outcome of the negotiations: if the tribes are able to sign a deal with the owners, the actions will be celebrations; if the tribes are unable to compete with commercial developers, the actions will be protests against government agencies, both state and federal, who have been unwilling to assist the tribes in securing the land.
The tribes were illegally deprived of the land when the US Congress unilaterally violated the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1877 after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. This year the United Nations issued reports advising the US government to consider returning the Black Hills to the Sioux and to intervene in the sale of Pe' Sla.
posted August 30, 2012 8:40 am edt