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Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe leads fight on sacred site

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe leads fight to save Pe Sla
$50K appropriated for Aug. 25 auction
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY — The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is taking the helm in a fight to preserve Pe Sla, one of the most significant Lakota sites in the Black Hills.

Pe Sla, or Reynolds Prairie as it is known among non-Native Americans, currently is under threat of development by the state and private interests.

Located 25 miles west of Rapid City, Pe Sla – meaning peace at the bare spot (Old Baldy) – is a sacred place of prayer for peace and healing. Lakota ceremonies are ongoing at the site as prayers are still offered for reconciliation in this time of unrest, war and worldwide turbulence.

On Aug. 25, Leonard and Margaret Reynolds of Hill City, who “own” most of the site, will be putting 2,000 acres of the sacred land up for sale.

Chase Iron Eyes, one of the founders of the Native American news website Last Real Indians, is a Lakota attorney who is working with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, or Sicangu (Burnt Thigh) Lakota, in raising money to enter a bid at the Aug. 25 auction.

“The seven bands of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) have a collective effort to buy as much of Pe Sla as we can at this auction,” says Iron Eyes in a Last Real Indians entreaty to save Pe Sla.

“Although we also believe that the land cannot be owned and that our sacred places were illegally taken by the United States, we are trying to work within the current U.S. laws to regain custody of our sacred sites and prevent future road and industrial development. Our sacred ways must be protected and passed on to our future generations so that our children may live,” he says.

Iron Eyes goes on to explain how the RST is leading the fight for the preservation of Pe Sla: “The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has designated $50,000 for the purpose of purchasing Pe Sla land. By contributing to the effort of all the Sioux Tribes, we aim to purchase at least some of the tracts, if not all.”

“We have a group of young professional Native people that are dedicated to the promotion of education, health, leadership and sovereignty among our indigenous Nations. Our goal is to assist in any way possible (with) the purchase of Pe Sla by a collective effort of the seven bands of the Oceti Sakowin.”

“We are hoping to buy as much of the land that is being put up for auction as possible. The total amount of land is 1,942.66 acres, which is in 5 tracts (300-440 acres each). It is diffcult to say how much this land would be sold for as developers may increase the true Western ‘value,’” Iron Eyes continues.

“This area of the Black Hills is also home to many plants and animals who should also be protected. In fact, many consider that the area should possibly be a historical site, which would also assist in protecting it from future development as well.”

In Peter Nabrokov’s “Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places,” rock art specialist and the “reigning expert on the archaeology of the Black Hills” Linea Sundstrom says: “Many rock art sites illustrating recognizably religious themes dating back thousands of years suggests that the Black Hills area has had considerable religious significance for much, if not all, of its human history.”

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

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