Re: For Sioux, Only Black Hills Will Do ... Selo Black Crow, The Black Hills, the Treaty of 1868, and the Bradley Bill

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Posted by Rich on August 20, 2001 at 11:10:14:

In Reply to: For Sioux, Only Black Hills Will Do posted by Ayesha on August 19, 2001 at 17:28:02:

Good timing, Ayesha!

That bit I posted yesterday regarding Selo Balck Crow, just happened to be culled out of an article dealing with the issues you raise! I'll post it here, in its entirety (3 parts).

Somewhere in the archives, my guess would be in 1998, I recounted some of my adventures with Selo out on Pine Ridge the summer prior to this (that'd be 1987), if you're interested.

PS - the little medicine wheel hoop in the photo now hangs in my car!

: Hi All,

: I hope you are enjoying your Sunday!

: Here is an article from today's San Jose Mercury News.

: Published Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News

: For Sioux, only Black Hills will do


: BY FREDERIC J. FROMMER Associated Press

: BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST, S.D. -- The quiet is broken by the territorial squeaks of prairie dogs. Buffalo lounge in prairies around the bend from pine-covered cliffs. This is land the Lakota Sioux call Paha Sapa, the Black Hills. To them, it is sacred and not for sale.

: That's why the Sioux, among the poorest people in America, refuse the half-billion dollars offered by the U.S. government, which has claimed ownership of this land since 1877. In 1868, the United States signed a treaty setting aside the Black Hills ``for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux.'' Then gold was discovered there, and Congress grabbed the land after negotiations to purchase it broke down.

: A century later, in 1980, the Supreme Court awarded eight Sioux tribes $106 million in compensation -- the 1877 value of $17.5 million, plus interest. This was payment for what the court called ``a taking of tribal property.''

: The tribes refused to take the millions, insisting on the return of the land. Two political efforts to return federally held land failed in the 1980s.

: The money sits in a government account, interest having swollen it now to $570 million. Still, the Sioux won't touch it. They say that would be a sellout of the Lakota nation, religion and culture.

: Nowhere is the opposition more entrenched than the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, by some estimates the poorest place in the country. Home to the Oglala band of the Lakota Sioux, Pine Ridge has an unemployment rate of 85 percent.

: The Oglala Sioux's share of the award is now worth $170 million. I the band invested that, it could expect around $17 million a year i income without touching the principal. The annual budget for the reservation, by comparison, is $15 million.

: It's money that could be used for housing, business development, job training and education, or even political pressure to get the Black Hills back.

: Today, many people on the reservation live in trailers and shacks, drive rusted-out cars and have no place to work. Mangy dogs roam and forage.

: The center of Pine Ridge village has a couple of gas stations, a Pizza Hut and a Taco John's, and that's about it. The reservation, covering 5,000 square miles, has nine villages but no banks, no car washes, no barber shops, no hotels.

: Regardless of the obvious need, opposition to taking the money consistently runs higher than 90 percent in newspaper surveys, said Tim Giago, publisher of the Lakota Journal.

: Talk of the cash reminds the Sioux of the gold-seeking explorers who swarmed into the land seven years after President Andrew Johnsonsigned the Black Hills treaty.

: The resulting military battles culminated in Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn in 1876.

: Congress responded by telling the Sioux: Give up the Black Hills, or
: lose federal food, medicine and blankets, rations pledged earlier to
: compensate for disrupting their hunting lands with westward expansion. Only 10 percent of the adult male Sioux population signed the treaty giving up the land, but Congress enacted it into law in 1877.

: A federal judge, later echoed by the Supreme Court, blasted the government's deal, saying: ``A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history.''

: Charlotte Black Elk is a descendant of Crazy Horse's friend Little Big
: Man, who in 1875 threatened to kill any man who advocated selling the Black Hills.

: Had the Supreme Court made its ruling 25 years earlier, she says, the tribes probably would have accepted the money. ``Each generation has become much more radicalized,'' says Black Elk, 49. ``When it came to my generation, we were, `No, we'll never take the money.' ''
: She is confident that the Sioux will one day own the Black Hills again.

: Bill Swift Hawk, a 62-year-old artist, has made it his vocation to take over places in the name of Indian power. Thirty years ago, he joined in the American Indian Movement's occupation of Alcatraz, the former prison island in San Francisco Bay. In 1981, he and others occupied Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills.

: Now, Swift Hawk is part of a group occupying the reservation's tribal government building. The activists began protesting alleged corruption in tribal government, which is millions of dollars in debt, and now call for a return to a traditional government, run by elders.
: Inside, a shrine displays a copy of the 1868 treaty, promising the land ``for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux.''
: Exchanging that for money is just not an option, Swift Hawk says.
: ``That's the center of our world.''

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