Sioux Race to Raise Funds to Buy Sacred Land

Land was seized by Congress after Dakota gold was found
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2012 1:30 AM CDT
Updated Aug 22, 2012 4:05 AM CDT
Sioux Race to Raise Funds to Buy Sacred Land
This section Reynolds Prairie in the Black Hills of South Dakota is going up for auction Saturday. Congress booted the Sioux off the land in 1877 when gold was found in Dakota.   (AP Photo/courtesy South Dakota Magazine, Bernie Hunhoff)

The tribes of the Great Sioux Nation are scrambling to raise enough funds to buy back sacred land seized from them by Congress 135 years ago. The 2,000-acre site, known as Pe' Sla, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and is going up for auction this week. The property has been owned since 1877 by a local family, who has allowed the Sioux to perform healing ceremonies there, reports NBC. But now members of the Reynolds family have divided the property into five parcels to be auctioned off. The Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes are desperately trying to raise $1 million on the Internet, but time is running out, and they only had $156,000 yesterday. The property has been assessed by the county at $342,000, but word is out that the parcels could go for as high as $10 million.

“There’s no telling what’s going to happen, what sort of development is going to come along," said Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock and Oglala tribes. The Sioux believe they were created at the Black Hills site, notes AP. According to their creation belief, the morning star fell to earth there, killing seven women whose souls formed the "Seven Sisters," or Pleiades constellation. Congress broke a treaty and passed a law seizing the land from the Sioux in 1877 after gold was found in western Dakota. A court ordered the federal government in 1980 to pay the Sioux $102 million for the land, but they have refused to take the money, which is now worth close to $1 billion, reports the Atlantic. The Sioux are reluctant to use the money to buy the up-for-auction land, fearing that would imply the land seizure was legitimate to begin with. (More Black Hills stories.)

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