Rally in Rapid City Trumpets Sioux Tribes’ Progress in Purchasing Sacred Land, Pe’ Sla. Organizers Stress that More Funds Are Needed and Tribes Must Remain United
On Wednesday, Sept. 5, at a rally in Rapid City, SD, members of the Native American Pe’ Sla Land Sale movement gathered to celebrate progress in securing land they consider sacred. The rally was organized by the Last Real Indians and the Lakota People’s Law Project. Two hundred and fifty people carried posters made by street artist Shepard Fairey and National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey, which read “The Black Hills Are Not For Sale.” The nine Sioux tribes of South Dakota have submitted earnest money—a deposit—to the current owners of the 2000 acres in the Black Hills called Pe' Sla, but fundraising continues and Sioux leaders call for unity among the tribes.
September 06, 2012
"I’m asking you [fellow tribal members] to call your presidents, your chairmen, your spiritual leaders, your treaty groups. We have to keep working to come together for Pe’ Sla"
(Councilwoman Robin Lebeau)
On Wednesday, Sept. 5th, in downtown Rapid City, 250 supporters of the Native American Pe’ Sla Land Sale movement gathered to emphasize the continuing needs of the Sioux Nation in its effort to re-acquire land sacred to them in the Black Hills. The event was organized by the Last Real Indians and the Lakota People’s Law Project. Speakers included Attorney Chase Iron Eyes, fundraiser and spokesperson for the Pe’ Sla movement; Robin Lebeau, tribal councilwoman from the Cheyenne River Reservation; Tom Poorbear, vice-president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe; and Scott Means, son of activist and actor Russell Means.
During the rally, art by Shepard Fairey and National Geographic Photographer Aaron Huey was displayed by marchers. The art read “The Black Hills Are Not For Sale," a reference to the U.S.’s current policy of ignoring the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851) and the Sioux tribes’ refusal to accept compensation for the seized land. At a certain point in the rally, participants each took a 3’ x 2’ version of the Black Hills art by Fairey and Huey and marched out to Omaha St., where they lined themselves along the edge of Memorial Park, showcasing the posters to drivers and photo-journalists.
The Sioux speakers and organizers who led the rally emphasized that, while the tribes have put down a deposit on the 2000 acres of real estate in the Black Hills, the tribes must raise additional cash by the end of November to seal the land deal. Chase Iron Eyes said, “The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has placed earnest money down towards the purchase of Pe’ Sla, but it is not a victory yet—the fight isn’t over. But, this is a huge success, because it buys us time.” Iron Eyes and his organization, the Last Real Indians, have raised $325,386 through an Indiegogo account. This money by contract must go towards securing Pe’ Sla. The precise amount still required by the tribes for final purchase has not been released, though a press release from the tribes is expected any day.
In addition to emphasizing ongoing fundraising needs, speakers at the event trumpted the necessity that the tribes themselves remain united as they proceed in the land acquisition. Robin Lebeau said, “Something historic has happened. We have united as the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people when some said that we wouldn’t come together… I’m asking you [fellow tribal members] to call your presidents, your chairmen, your spiritual leaders, your treaty groups. We have to keep working to come together for Pe’ Sla.”
The art by Shepard Fairey and Aaron Huey used in the action was brought from California to South Dakota by the Lakota People’s Law Project, a nonprofit law firm based in Rapid City and Santa Cruz. Daniel Nelson, Secretary-Treasurer for the organization, said, “It has been our honor to support the Pe’ Sla movement by putting together actions in South Dakota and hand delivering art by Shepard Fairey and Aaron Huey.” Shepard Fairey is the artist who created the iconic, red and blue “Hope” poster for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Aaron Huey is the photo-journalist who helped author last month’s National Geographic cover story about the Pine Ridge Reservation.