Tribes raise $9M to buy sacred South Dakota land

SIOUX FALLS | After months of high-profile fundraising that drew celebrities' attention and dollars, a group of Native American tribes has raised $9 million to buy a piece of land in South Dakota's Black Hills that they consider sacred, an official with an Indian land foundation said Friday.

The Indian Land Tenure Foundation president Cris Stainbrook told The Associated Press that the tribes raised enough money to purchase the land from its current owners. The foundation was one of several groups and organizations leading the effort to buy the land.

Stainbrook said the deal should be finalized yet Friday, which was the deadline for the tribes to raise the money.

The land, known as Pe' Sla, went up for sale after being privately owned. Members of the Great Sioux Nation have been allowed to gather there every year to perform rituals. The site plays a key role in the tribes' creation story, and members fear new owners would develop it.

"This marks the culmination of four months of a worldwide outpouring of support for the protection of Pe' Sla. The Great Sioux Nation came together to show the world it is paramount for human beings to respect our living mother earth and sacred sites," Standing Rock Sioux tribal member Chase Iron Eyes said in a statement. Iron Eyes' company, Last Real Indians, helped raised more than $900,000 for the purchase through online donations.

Earlier this year, landowners Leonard and Margaret Reynolds canceled a public auction of the property after tribal members expressed outrage. The Reynolds' then accepted the tribes' bid to purchase the land for $9 million, should they raise enough money by Nov. 30.

The couple has repeatedly said they will not speak publicly about the land sale.

The fundraising effort drew support from several celebrities. P. Diddy tweeted about as did Bette Midler, who also donated. Midler said she was "happy and proud" to have helped out with the purchase.

"I've been talking about it to my friends, tweeting to the world and donating through my foundation because I think it's important for the soul of our nation," she said in a statement Friday.

Actor Ezra Miller, who appeared in the recently released film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and music producer Sol Guy flew to South Dakota last month to film a nine-minute documentary-style video about the land that was used as part of an online campaign to raise funds.

"I think this represents a massive shift for people standing up for what they believe in and the people who are originally from this land. We have a lot to learn and we as a community our stronger together. It's super inspiring," said Sol Guy, whose TV show "4Real" on MTV Canada and the National Geographic Channel takes celebrities to places like Peru and the Amazon.

The fundraising effort has been a monumental and controversial undertaking for the Sioux tribes. An 1868 treaty set aside the Black Hills and other land for the Sioux, but Congress passed a law in 1877 seizing the land following the discovery of gold in western South Dakota.

A 1980 U.S. Supreme Court ruling awarded more than $100 million to the Sioux tribes for the Black Hills, but the tribes have refused to accept the money, saying the land has never been for sale. There are Sioux tribes in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and Canada.

Some members of the Sioux tribes didn't agree with trying to purchase the land. Bryan Brewer, president-elect of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said his tribe did not allocate any money to the land purchase.

"I'm still against buying something we own, but I'm thrilled the tribes' are buying it. I'm very happy about it," he said.

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Responses to "Tribes have enough to buy sacred land (Video)"

  1. nikonman says:

    They shouldn't have to buy back land that is theirs to begin with.

  2. Anonymous says:

    it is their own land to start with. material things r not important so it is only right the rest of the world should buy back america and gift it ....

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Unknown says:

    I think it is a good thing that has happened.I feel so strongly for the Indians. the true people!!they care for our earth.only the bloody greed of man is to fault for the state of our earth. the Indian is, and was ,the true keeper of mother nature!!!! :-)

  5. Harmoniez says:

    I'm so happy that they were able to get THEIR land back. It never should of came to that though. Human nature bering greedy, at least in our "white" culture. A culture where I felt I never belonged. I am happy that my there is still native blood flowing through my veins even though with the generations there may not be much left. It gives me pride. Go on now celebrate the return of the holy lands.

  6. Eric B says:

    May life come to life

  7. Eric B says:

    May life come to life

  8. Eric B says:

    May life come to life

  9. Eric B says:

    May life come to life

  10. Anonymous says:

    The tribes shouldn't purchased what is rightfully theirs in the first place..I felt like I am reading the history over again..Sad but reality :(

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the Oglalas should not have had to buy back land that was rightfully theirs from time immemorial and stolen from them by the U.S. government. But I am really deeply joyful that they can now have what is truly theirs and perform their sacred ceremonies, so important especially at this time of transition and ascension!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Many tribes have a policy of buying back reservation lands that were stolen under the Dawe's Act. The latter was also a breach of many treaties. The treaties themselves were were delivered under deceit, duress and threats, as a means of stealing land without having to pay a price in blood. Recovering stolen lands through court action very seldom works. The courts are biased. Recovering stolen lands by forceful means is not possible. Given the situation and lack of options, buying back such lands is better than nothing. I am very happy that Pe'sla is back under native ownership.
    Erik, in France

  13. Anonymous says:

    id give it all back if i could. all land is sacred. my dna ancestors havent been very good caretakers.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Its very sad to see the tribe has had to buy back land that was theirs in the beginning. Great to see the support shown with the fund raising effort. we as natives of the world have so much repect for our ancestors... may this get better. Arohanui people

  15. Anonymous says:

    I, too, wish they wouldn't have to buy back what is already theirs, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I am happy it is now in the proper hands, no matter how it happened.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I see only positive comments are accepted here. I said I will be anxious to see how they take care of it, my comment was not posted!

  17. Anonymous says:

    May the land be "re-blessed" and become the seat of change for our new world...being re-created as this is happening! A HO!

  18. Anonymous says:

    bless the scared land!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I support-Ajit India

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