Opinion

Tom Cook: Sioux Nation still seeks rightful return of the Black Hills






The Black Hills Unity Concert takes place September 9-11, 2016, at the Elk Creek Resort in Piedmont, South Dakota. Photo from Facebook

Tom Kanatakeniate Cook (St. Regis Mohawk) recaps several years of discussions among the tribes of the Sioux Nation -- including a controversial meeting that took place on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- regarding the Black Hills Land Claim in South Dakota:
The Supreme Court in 1980 found the United States guilty for basically land misappropriation (stealing), ordered a money payment to the Sioux. The Sioux tribes responded that the Black Hills are not for sale.

After maintaining this stance for over a third of a century, Oglala tribal leadership in 2009 asked “If they’re not for sale, what are the Black Hills for?” The sentiment was timely and responsive to Obama’s 2008 challenge that he’s willing to talk with the Great Sioux Nation about the longstanding issue, but not with constituent tribes, factions, or individuals.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association, the closest representative body of the Sioux tribes, supported the idea and launched the He Sapa Unity Alliance to take up the issue. Wide public input was needed, chairmen noted, since the last time the Black Hills was before Congress the issue failed to reach the full floor due to lack of public input in the materials being presented, according to Associated Press reports.

The GPTCA named Theresa Two Bulls, former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe; councilwoman Barbara Dull Knife; Loretta Afraid Of Bear Cook (appointed fundraiser); and Stacey LaCompte, secretary. Their first meeting was held at Green Grass in July, 2009.

Three tribal presidents smoked a pipe with Arvol Looking Horse at the pipe house, followed by a meeting in front of seven tipis with about 80-100 Lakotas under a big tent. The tribal presidents recognized Looking Horse as the spiritual leader of the Great Sioux Nation on behalf of the chairman’s association, and asked his help in the hopeful dream of uniting the tribes around a strategy for regaining federal lands in the Black Hills.

Read More:
Tom Cook: If They’re Not For Sale, What Are the Black Hills For? (Indian Country Today 9/4)