Leonard Crow Dog, Lakota spiritual leader and advisor, spoke about the importance of maintaining Lakota traditions at a meeting about the future of Pe’ Sla on December 20, at the Mother Butler Center, in Rapid City, South Dakota. (Photo by Christina Rose)

Pe’ Sla Purchase Guarantees Sacred Land Will Be Used for Ceremonies

Christina Rose
December 21, 2012

“Tomorrow is the end of the world, but it is the beginning of a new world,” said Attorney Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota, who helped bring Pe’ Sla international attention with LastRealIndians.com. On Thursday, December 20 Iron Eyes attended an inter-tribal meeting at the Mother Butler Center, in Rapid City, South Dakota to hear what is next for the sacred landscape.

“This is where it’s at. We can now go to our sacred site under our own authority,” he said. “Everything happened the way it was supposed to happen.”

Pe’ Sla had been owned by the Reynolds family, who never interfered with the tribe’s ceremonies. However, when the land was put up for auction in August, the tribes feared who would purcahse it and what would happen afterward. They had only three months to raise the funds to purchase it themselves.

In a historic banding together, the Great Sioux Nation, or Oceti Sakowin was able raise the $9 million needed to purchase it.

The land has been formally purchased and on Thursday, council members and chairmen of the Oceti Sakowin including Sisseton, Standing Rock, Rosebud, Flandreau, Yankton, Shakopee and Pine Ridge, gathered to discuss how to proceed.

This was the first time so many tribes had come together to plan for the next stage. The meeting confirmed that the land designated as Pe’ Sla will be reserved for ceremonial purposes.

Pe’ Sla is related to the Lakota creation and is the site for annual ceremonies. Historically, it has hosted many village gatherings. Now, with the land back in the hands of the Oceti Sakowin, there are many more to come and no fear that they will ever be stopped.

Finance Committee member for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Russell Eagle Bear, Lakota, said an additional 40 acres had been acquired and there would be discussions about how that land would be used. “There will be a staging area, and a place for a caretaker,” he said.

The land that was purchased does not represent the only sacred site in the area. Eagle Bear said. “There are others up there. If the opportunity came to purchase other sites, hopefully things would go as well. If it weren’t for the Shakopee, if they hadn’t come to the table, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Shakopee Mdewakanton Chairman Charlie Vig, who recently replaced Chairman Stanley R. Crooks after his passing in August, said the acquisition was the most exciting thing he has ever participated in, and that it is historic for all Native people. “This has been from our heart, this is for our ancestors. It runs pretty deep.”

Vig said the funding was the easy part but wondered about the next steps. “How do we establish this, allow all the tribes to be a part of this? We are building the model.”

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