James Giago Davies: How Lakota people can reclaim the Black Hills

Lakota people make a pilgrimage to the highest point in He Sapa (Black Hills) to welcome back the Wakinyan Oyate (Thunder Beings). Photo by Jeremy Vance / Native Sun News

Networking with people of conscience
How the Lakota get back the Black Hills
By James Giago Davies

Most days my dog Nate hops in the back of the car and we find some hiking trail in the Black Hills. You get far enough along that trail, you leave the sounds of the nearby town or highway well behind, and the woods are as still as they were the day before the first human eyes ever beheld them.

At that moment I realize there is no place on earth I love more than the Black Hills. I was born and raised in Rapid City, and for the first 19 years of my life these hills were a constant fixture outside my window; whenever I got too far out onto the surrounding prairie, I got the uneasy feeling I was in the wrong place headed in the wrong direction.

Science tells us the Black Hills are a geographical formation, which formed when a conical uplift rose from the bottom of an inland sea tens of millions of years ago. Up in Deadwood, a museum displays a plesiosaur fossil 70 million years old, miners unearthed, providing hard evidence science isn’t something the Wasicu just make up for kicks.

Religion has other explanations, Christian explanations, and the Lakota also have spiritual based stories of how Paha Sapa came about. There is no doubt these hills have sacred meaning. People have told me my emotional attachment to them runs so deep because of that sacred Lakota past—that all Lakota are spiritually and timelessly connected to these hills in ways Wasicu science can never explain.

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(Contact James Davies Giago at skindiesel@msn.com)

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