Barbara and I had the opportunity to facilitate a vision for the Rapid City Region, SD in 1997. We love the area including: the Badlands [beautiful pictures, this were “Dancing with the Wolves” was filmed], Wall’s Drug, Devil’s Tower, Spearfish Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park [when we drove through the park we found ourselves surrounded by a herd of buffalo like the one in the pictures], The Crazy Horse Memorial – [For current status click here], South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Sanford Underground Research Facility & here, Ellsworth Air Force Base. Our son, David took a helicopter flight over the Black Hills area that was magnifcent.
Our strategic planning process involved listening to many people in the region in a variety of settings. I will never forget one focus group with about a dozen participants. There was a lady there from the Lakota Tribe, a part of the Great Sioux Nation. She said “Give us back the Black Hills”. I said to her the lands were taken from you 120 years ago and the USA has offered to pay you over $1 billion for them, why don’t you get over it and take the money. She quietly replied “It was like they were taken yesterday, we don’t want the money we want our sacred lands back”. This is what the Crazy Horse Memorial depicts.
Below is an excerpt from the US Supreme Courts ruling on the taking history of the Black Hills by the US Government. Following is a short article from the Sioux view point.
United States Supreme Court
UNITED STATES v. SIOUX NATION OF INDIANS, (1980)
Argued: March 24, 1980 Decided: June 30, 1980 Source
Under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the United States pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be “set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the Sioux Nation (Sioux), and that no treaty for the cession of any part of the reservation would be valid as against the Sioux unless executed and signed by at least three-fourths of the adult male Sioux population.
Subsequently, in 1876, an “agreement” presented to the Sioux by a special Commission but signed by only 10% of the adult male Sioux population, provided that the Sioux would relinquish their rights to the Black Hills, in exchange for subsistence rations for as long as they would be needed. In 1877, Congress passed an Act (1877 Act) implementing this “agreement” and thus, in effect, abrogated the Fort Laramie Treaty.
Thereafter, in 1978, Congress passed an Act (1978 Act) providing for de novo review by the Court of Claims of the merits of the Indian Claims Commission’s holding that the 1877 Act effected a taking of the Black Hills, without regard to res judicata, and authorizing the Court of Claims to take new evidence in the case. The court characterized the 1877 Act as a taking in exercise of Congress’ power of eminent domain over Indian property.
Accordingly, the court held that the Sioux were entitled to an award of interest on the principal sum of $17.1 million (the fair market value of the Black Hills as of 1877), dating from 1877. [This is currently claimed to be a sum over $1 billion.]
Reclaiming the Sacred Black Hills
“To say that the Black Hills hold special significance for The Great Sioux Nation is an understatement. They’re not only our traditional homelands, where our ancestors once lived, they’re sacred. The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie ended Red Cloud’s War when it set aside the Black Hills of western South Dakota and other lands and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana for The Great Sioux Nation. As colonial invaders began to encroach upon our territory, warriors like Crazy Horse fought to protect the Black Hills.
Once gold was discovered however, prospectors began crossing into Black Hills territory, in violation of the treaty. The Sioux Nation rightfully defended their legally protected lands. “But in 1877, one year after Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s infamous defeat at the hands of Crazy Horse at Little Bighorn and without the consent of “three-fourths of all adult male Indians” stipulated by the treaty, the US government seized the Black Hills, along with their gold, and began profiting from the protected land.
The Sioux Nation has no intention of selling the Black Hills. We have refused all settlement proposals, instead demanding that our treaty lands be returned.”
Henry Luke 2/5/2018