We hear today on the blog from MCF member Indian Land Tenure Foundation. The foundation shares its story of a recent victory in protecting a site sacred to the Oceti Sakowin — a great example of how philanthropy can successfully help to fight for a community in need.
Last week in Rapid City, South Dakota, full ownership and control of the sacred site Pe’ Sla, located in the Black Hills, was officially returned to the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation). We at Indian Land Tenure Foundation would like to offer our sincere and heartfelt congratulations to the Oceti Sakowin on its return of the control of this sacred site to all the people of the Nation and its relatives today and for all future generations.
It was first announced in August that the land containing Pe’ Sla was going to be auctioned to the highest bidder. The area known as Pe’ Sla by the Lakota is one of five holy sites for the Nation and the only one not on public land. This area is particularly important in that it is the site of the Lakota origin story and star knowledge.
A collaborative effort raised the $9 million purchase price for the 1,942 acre parcel of land. While recognizing that the ownership of this land and the remainder of the Black Hills is still disputed by non-Indians, gaining control of this site was an opportunity too good to pass up and too important not to fight for.
It has truly been an honor for Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Indian Land Capital Company to be a part of this remarkable effort and to work with the Lakota and Dakota nations and other partners over the past few months. Indian Land Capital Company, ILTF’s affiliate lender, was able to provide $900,000 in rapid financing in order to help the tribes secure the initial purchase agreement.
In the end, all of the tribes of the Oceti Sakowin will have contributed time, effort and scarce funds to make this transaction possible. It is anticipated that each tribe will also participate in the oversight and management of the land to ensure its spiritual and cultural values.
As Indian people, we are faced every day with the loss of our sacred lands and the way in which this has impacted our communities, families and cultures. History being what it is, we recognize that our struggle to recover these lands will be difficult and long but we do not accept that these losses are permanent. The return of Pe’ Sla has renewed our spirit. To see so many people willing to support the rights of American Indians and the return of Indian land makes us hopeful that there is a growing number of people that understand the magnitude of what we have lost.