Opinion

Tim Giago: Lakota people belong at the table in South Dakota






An exhibit at Custer State Park in South Dakota features information about bison. Photo from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks / Facebook

Notes from Indian Country
The irony of the Black Hills’ annual Buffalo Roundup
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)
www.nsweekly.com

There is a historic marker west of Custer, S. D. that reads in part: “ Historic Sites, Buffalo Rock – Site where the last buffalo was killed in the Black Hills in 1887 by Joe Humphreus, Bob Patterson – Charles Sager.”

As is turned out, this was not the last buffalo killed in the Black Hills. Ironically, Congress just chose the “bison” as America’s national mammal.

And so how ironic it is that just a few miles from this marker a Buffalo Roundup is held annually that draws up to 15,000 spectators.

What started out as a small roundup attended mainly by buffalo ranchers has grown into an event that not only draws huge crowds, but has now expanded into a three-day spectacle that includes a Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival, which includes exhibits of Native American and Western arts, crafts, musicians, dancers and poets, and educational programs on nature and history. There is the annual chili cook-off where all of the chili cookers must use buffalo meat and there are also booths stocked with tasty buffalo burgers.

The Roundup has been touted by South Dakota Tourism as “the largest herd of wild bison in the United States.” The annual event takes place in Custer State Park located in the Black Hills and has become one of the biggest outdoor spectacles in America and certainly in South Dakota. Ironically, the park is named after George Armstrong Custer, probably the man most hated by the Lakota people.

The legal issues surrounding the Black Hills have never been settled. The Lakota (Sioux) still claim title to the Black Hills. When the U. S. Supreme Court decided to make a monetary settlement in the case in 1980, Justice Harry Blackmun said of the case, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonest dealings may never be found in our history.”


Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: The irony of the Black Hills’ annual Buffalo Roundup

(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the former publisher of the Native Sun News. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. His weekly column won the H. L. Mencken Award in 1985. He can be reached at Unitysodak1@vastbb.net)

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