Sioux tribes take to the Internet to buy back sacred land
By Arturo Garcia
About 2,000 acres of land in the state’s Black Hills is scheduled to go up for auction next week, including what’s known to the Sioux as Pe’ Sla. A local auction company posted that 1,942 acres of the land, known as Reynolds Prairie, after the family who owns it, is slated to go up for bid on Aug. 25.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has teamed up with the Native American blog Last Real Indians for an online fundraising campaign that began Monday, with an Aug. 23 deadline. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had accrued just over $59,000.
“It’s not like a resistance movement or a militant thing,” Last Real Indians’ Chase Iron Eyes told Raw Story. “We have to protect these things. That’s what we’re on this Earth for.”
By Winona LaDuke
This is, the “Center of the Heart of Everything that is… one of a small number of highly revered and geographically-cosmologically integral places on the entire planet….” Sacred places, recognized under federal judicial review, Presidential Executive Order (1996) and international law are to be protected.
On August 25, the Center of the Heart of Everything that is, will come up in on the auction block a Rapid City’s Ramkota Inn, destined to be diced into a set of 300 acre tracts, proposed for ranchettes, and a possible road through the heart, (and more divisions) of what has been, until now, a relatively un-desecrated sacred site. “We didn’t even know it was going to be sold,” Debra White Plume from Manderson tells me.” We heard nothing about it until we saw the auction announcement”.
The Brock Auction Company of Iowa and South Dakota in mid July announced, offering the Reynolds Ranch, noting, “This story begins in 1876 just 2 short years after General George Armstrong Custer led his historic expedition through the then almost unknown Black Hills in the Dakota Territory….In 1876 Joseph Reynolds filed his first claim & homesteaded … “Reynolds Prairie!” He was followed by 3 more generations …” Brock promotes the property noting, in some solace for potential buyers, “… As you sit in quiet solitude, with only the whispering of the wind gently easing through the pines, let your mind wander back in time & imagine the Native Americans, the Homesteaders & Pioneers who passed across this land that is now a part of yours & your families legacy forever!…” Some Lakota find this ironic, perhaps.
By Jason Coppola
"Pe' Sla is one of these central ceremonial places. This is where our existence comes from. Pe' Sla is where Morning Star came down to help the people, because we are star people," he said.
"Sundance happens at Pe' Sla," said Looking Horse. "Other ceremonies that our spiritual leaders must perform happen at Pe' Sla."
The Sundance ceremony, one of seven sacred ceremonies given to the Lakota by Pte San Win, is a closely guarded practice, but Iron Eyes explained that it is one of sacrifice and renewal: participants re-enact the sacrifice of a spirit, Inyan, who spun himself and sacrificed himself until his blood became water. The ceremony ensures that nature's process of renewal continues so that, for example, water, plants, and animals remain abundant.
"At Pe' Sla we give energy, as the whites call it; that is what our ceremonies do," said Looking Horse. "We humans have power, but we don't know it. We can send energy to the universe and it comes back to us. We can change the environment. People must understand that we have power, and if we are to live, we have to have faith and belief through our spiritual ways and our sites. All indigenous do this with energy."
"We need to come together to protect Pe' Sla," said Looking Horse. "All tribes, even though we went to war with each other at times, in our history. Yes, we went to battle with other tribes, but when either brought out spiritual bundles or was conducting ceremonies, nobody attacked. We actually worked together in spiritual ways because these were given by the Great Spirit to all his children here."
At the very least, it shows the power of social media once again. This crusade started as a handful of postings on Last Real Indians and other blog sites--shared on Facebook. Then Indian Country Today and Indianz.com began posting stories on it with more reach. Then the major alternative press sites picked up, and finally it hit the mainstream media (the Associated Press).
Is there anything social media can't do? I'd love to see activists make a concerted effort to get rid of Chief Wahoo or the Washington Redskins. I bet we could shame them out of existence if we tried.
For more on sacred sites, see "Hunger Strike for the Peaks" and Weed Killer Sprayed on Indian Mound.