Pastor Steve Hickey is making waves with his proposal to celebrate South Dakota's quasquicentennial by freeing Leonard Peltier. Professor David Newquist says doing justice requires going bigger, ending our defilement of the Black Hills, and giving that sacred land back to the Lakota:
The land is the scripture of Native American culture. Its defilement is to the indigenous people of America what the burning of the Bible or the Koran is to their adherents. The Black Hills are the last remnant of their scripture.
There can be no reparation. But there might be a temple where the traditions may be fully observed.
What bothers some most about the return of the Black Hills or a good portion thereof is that the entire violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 will be called up for examination. And that examination would cover all of west river South Dakota. The prospect of a Lakota nation in the middle of the United States is disconcerting, unthinkable for most.
But it would be required if the U.S. is to honor its treaty. And it would be justice [David Newquist, "If We Free Leonard Peltier, Can We Keep the Black Hills?" Northern Valley Beacon, 2013.10.30].
Pastor Hickey recognizes that reconciliation is larger than Peltier or any one man, that our occupation of Lakota land is central to our conflict. When Rev. Hickey swaps his collar for his Legislative badge this January, perhaps he will bring discussion of that conflict to the statehouse floor, not just with a resolution on Leonard Peltier, but perhaps with serious legislation offering the Lakota state land in the Black Hills, or perhaps offering the Oglala $9 million dollars to compensate them for buying back their own stolen land last year in the notable Pe 'Sla deal.