Eagle Butte rally encouraged Pe’ Sla purchase supporters
by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont
A rally in Eagle Butte on Saturday, September 1, gave a platform to several tribal leaders and activists to update attendees and viewers online to the most recent efforts by various Lakota tribes and entities to purchase Pe’ Sla, a cultural and spiritual site in the Black Hills.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in conjunction with the media group, Lastrealindians.com, simultaneously announced on Friday, August 31, 2012 that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe had put up the earnest money in negotiations with the Reynold’s family.
Saturday’s action in Eagle Butte during the CRST powwow by Last Real Indians and the Lakota Peoples Law Project gave a cautiously celebratory note, as organizers explained the summer’s events and their individual parts plus more details regarding the recent culmination of being in private negotiations with the land owners. Speakers were Chase Iron Eyes of Last Real Indians, Robin LeBeau, CRST councilwoman, Madonna Thunder Hawk, activist and tribal liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project and Phyllis Young, activist and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe council woman, and Joe Brings Plenty, former CRST chairman.
A video released by the Lakota Peoples Law Project online via Prweb.com and Last Real Indians of the speakers at Saturday’s action gave more information of the events regarding the sale of Pe’ Sla over the summer and recent negotiations.
“When I saw that Pe’ Sla was at risk, I thought somebody should do something. We should do something. Somebody needs to do something. I said that to myself for about two weeks. Then I decided, you know, I should do something. I am probably somebody. So I wrote an article,” said Iron Eyes in the video from Saturday, about how Last Real Indians became involved to get the word out to their readership.
At the suggestion then of his wife, after the auction deadline was published and set for mid-August, Iron Eyes said he moved forward with a crowd-funding website, indiegogo.com, which utilizes the online financial site Paypal.com, to accept funds from around the world and locally to begin fundraising to buy back Pe’ Sla.
From there, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe would become involved with Last Real Indians’ efforts as the lead tribal government.
The land was originally put up for auction, but late in August, the auction was cancelled pending negotiations with a private entity.
This weekend revealed more about which entities the negotiations were with.
LeBeau shared on Saturday what she knew about negotiations Thursday in Rapid City. LeBeau said she went to Rapid City expecting to meet with other elected officials, but those present at the negotiations were from various entities and included several other CRST tribal members.
Those in attendance with LeBeau were Mark Van Norman, formerly of the National Indian Gaming Association, A. Gay Kingman of Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, Terry Pechota, attorney, and Ike Schmidt of Tribal Land Enterprise.
“They had negotiations too with the realtor. The realtor was there,” LeBeau said. “From there they decided what would happen, and who would sign the papers. They went back to the conference calls, and they signed those papers and submitted them. Then they said we got one more person who came in. The tribes came back again on the conference calls.”
LeBeau said she was on most of the conference calls until the end due to a family emergency. For two weeks, she said she had asked specific questions.
“Who is going to be the people signing off on this? Who is going to be the Great Sioux Nation spokesperson? And who is going to be the ones to back these loans that we’re going to have to come up with the other half of the money. Who is going to do that? That was some of the questions we needed our other tribal leaders to be on the phones to do. So, they did that. They got it together at the last, and here is Pe’ Sla. It is no longer on the market. It belongs to all of you,” said LeBeau.
No other comment was given to the specific tribes on the conference calls or what entity the land will be deeded to.
A call on Tuesday, September 4, to CRST Chairman Kevin Keckler’s office regarding CRST’s role in the negotiations was not immediately returned as tribal council was in session.
Pe’ Sla, as it is referred to in Lakota, otherwise known as the Reynold’s Ranch or Reynold’s Prairie, has been claimed, and subsequently owned by the same family, since Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s expedition in the Black Hills. That expedition went against the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 guaranteeing control of the land to the Great Sioux Nation. Soon after, however, the Black Hills was illegally opened by the United States for official settlement as the gold rush heated up.
Organizers say the decision to buy Pe’ Sla is to keep the fairly pristine grassy area free from future development. Pe’ Sla has part in one of the Lakota creation stories. Organizers of the purchase agree that the Black Hills is still disputed territory according to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
For more information, refer to the websites mentioned. The video from Saturday in Eagle Butte will also be shared on the West River Eagle’s Facebook page.