Translation: The Great Sioux Nation is negotiating to purchase the sacred prairie site in the middle of the Black Hills.Â
Pe 'Sla, known also as Reynolds Prairie, is a patch of open prairie in the middle of the Black Hills. It is one of four major sacred points in the Lakota worldview, alongside Harney Peak, Bear Butte, and Devil's Tower. You can't set a house on top of the other three, but the flat land of Pe 'Sla has developers just itching to dig.
The white owners of 2000 acres that the Reynolds family has ranched for decades put Pe 'Sla up for sale this year. They were going to let it go at auction Saturday before last, but canceled that auctionÂ two days prior. Now the Oceti Sikowan—the Seven Council Fires, the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota tribes—say they are negotiating with the owners to buy the land. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, which prior to the cancelled auction pledged $1.3 millionÂ to help buy the site, says it has enough cash for earnest money on the sale.
Native activists held a teach-in Saturday in Eagle Butte on Pe 'Sla; they'll host a rally for the same purpose in Rapid City Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Memorial Park Band Shell. If you'd like to help protect this land from roads, housing, and other white, visit the Pe 'Sla fundraising page at IndieGoGo.com.
Update 20:20 MDT: Better change the heading on Wednesday's Rapid City event to "Celebration Rally": as Larry Kurtz notes below, the leaders of the Pe 'Sla movement announced at Saturday's Eagle Butte event that they have come up with $1.6 million ($300K in fundraising, $1.3 million from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe) to "seal the land deal" with the Reynolds family.
Mr. [Chase] Iron Eyes, an attorney in his mid thirties, discussed the teachings concerning the Black Hills that he received from his elders a a youth: "Its back, we're talking about the Black Hills again, and it's the right time for it to happen." Councilwoman Lebeau, also under forty, described the complicated negotiations by which the tribes acquired the land. She implored the tribes to come together: "What I want to stress is unity.... All I am asking for you [Sioux] to do is to take [the idea of Pe' Sla] back to who whomever your spiritual leaders are—your treaty councils, your IRAs—and let's come together." Thunder Hawk talked of the importance of land possession to Sioux identity, saying "The land the priceless. The land is who we are. That's why we still are who we are, because we have a land base.... It doesn't matter how much money the tribes have to put up for Pe' Sla. We have to have it." Councilwoman Young, who participated in the conference calls during which the land deal occurred, thanked both her fellow Sioux negotiators and the Reynolds family for obliging Sioux appeals. "As we continue to renew our belief systems and ceremonies, we urge our people to... continue as human beings to contribute and share our lifesystems with the world... so that Pe' Sla becomes a universal symbol of peace everywhere." Former tribal chairman Brings Plenty discussed the Sioux struggle for self-empowerment and the role that land plays in it. "This Pe' Sla movement, it is a victory" [Lakota People's Law Project and LastRealIndians.com, press release, September 3, 2012].
If the rez has a Joe Biden, he may be saying, "This is a big f---ing deal!" I'm very curious: could Pe 'Sla catalyze spiritual renewal and further Lakota activism?