The Great Sioux Nation is in a race against the clock to save their sacred land, Pe’Sla, from being auctioned and opened for development.
Five tracts of land in the Black Hills of South Dakota are scheduled to be auctioned on August 25th, Pe’Sla among them. To the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Sioux tribes, Pe’Sla is the Heart of Everything That Is, and is integral to their spiritual beliefs. Known as Old Baldy or Reynolds Prairie to European Americans, Pe’Sla has remained pristine and undeveloped – until now.
Since 1876, the Reynolds family has maintained Pe’Sla’s ecological integrity and allowed the Sioux to worship there. The family has not publicly announced the reason for the sale of the land.
The state of South Dakota plans to pave a road through Pe’Sla regardless of the results of the auction, connecting Deerfield Lake to other communities in the Black Hills for logging and recreational purposes. Members of the Great Sioux Nation are concerned that should Pe’Sla fall into the wrong hands, their holy place will be quickly developed.
A fundraising campaign spearheaded by Chase Iron Eyes of media group lastrealindians.com and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe succeeded in raising $1.4 million so far. Over 5,000 individuals have donated to the online fundraising drive, but the campaign is still several hundred-thousand dollars short of its $1,000,000 goal.
Yesterday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya called for the United States Government and the state government of South Dakota to address the Great Sioux Nation’s concerns over the auction of Pe’Sla.
“I call on all concerned parties to engage in a process of consultation to find ways in which to resolve these concerns,” Anaya said. “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,” he concluded.