The Jesuits are returning more than 500 acres in South Dakota to the Rosebud Sioux. The formal return of the property is expected to be complete sometime in May.

The property had been given by the U.S. government to the Jesuits in the 1880s for use for churches and cemeteries, according to remarks in a YouTube video by Jesuit Father John Hatcher, president of St. Francis Mission.

“At the beginning of the mission, we had 23 mission stations,” Father Hatcher said. “But over the years as the people moved off the prairie and into cluster housing, those churches were closed because they were considered unnecessary.” Other properties never had churches built.

“It’s now time to give back to the tribe all of those pieces of land that were given to the church for church purposes,” Father Hatcher added. “We will never again put churches on those little parcels of land. But it’s an opportunity to return land that rightly belongs to the Lakota people,” of which the Rosebud Sioux are a part.

The property, totaling about 525 acres, is dotted throughout 900,000 acres on a Rosebud reservation in the south-central portion of the state, bordering both the state of Nebraska and the Missouri River.

Rodney Bordeaux, chief operating officer of St. Francis Mission, said that when he started work there five years ago, the land transfer, having been initiated by Father Hatcher, was “stalled.” He attributed it to finding the right office within the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to follow through.

Samantha Jones of the Sicangu Lakota band of the Rosebud Sioux, left, and Casey Camp of the Ponca Nation are seen in Washington in this 2014 file photo. The Jesuits are returning more than 500 acres in South Dakota to the Rosebud Sioux. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA) 

“It was just a matter of someone doing it,” Bordeaux told Catholic News Service during a May 4 telephone interview. “We did it on our end, but finding the right office to carry it out — it’s just a cumbersome process.”

With the land back in the Rosebud Sioux’s hands, “it might just be used for agricultural purposes like it is now, for grazing. It might be used for community development. It might continue to be used for religious purposes,” said Harold Compton, deputy executive director of Tribal Land Enterprises, the Rosebud Sioux’s land management corporation. “It’s because they’re so scattered, I think each one will eventually evolve due to their own location.”

There are about 25,000 people enrolled with the Rosebud Sioux, 15,000 of whom live on the reservation.

Compton told CNS, “It’s the symbolism of returning. This land was categorically reserved by the government for the church’s use. So, the church returning this to the tribe is a plus for everybody.” He added, “The symbolism far outweighs” but then caught himself. “Land is valuable. Land everywhere is valuable. Land around here is worth $1,000, $2,000 or more an acre.”

Responses to "Jesuits to return 525 acres of South Dakota land to Rosebud Sioux Tribe"

  1. Excellent ... it's long overdue!

  2. Unknown says:


  3. Unknown says:

    They also should be compensated monetarily!

  4. Unknown says:

    that is long overdue and wonderful, I hope others will follow this path

  5. About time to give back what was once stolen.

  6. Unknown says:

    ownership is His not ours
    here on Mother Earth

  7. MotoMom says:

    I'd love to see much more land returned to the custody of the people who lived there and respected it. How about the Black HIlls next?

  8. My Kills in water family let the st francis mission use 10 acres of land for church use if they giving it back it should go back to the Family that let them use it not the tribe the Tribe is a Federal corporation stealing from we Natives if the tribe gets it its just giving it to the Federal foreign Government ! give it to the People you took it from Rodney Bordeaux once said we need to get over the Doctrine of Discovery how can we when they continue to use it on we Natives ! to steal our resources and never gave a family a chance to use the Land ! So much Corruption in the Tribal government the Tribe is selling shares of our land with out the original alottes saying its ok they just do as they want like i said they are a Arm of the Federal government give the land to the rightful owners ! The Tribe is not doing right with our Land they Damaged our water by letying it be fertilized with so much chemicals from ranchers pesticides in our water who knows what other damages have been done to our minerals reserved for us GIVE IT BACK LET US LIVE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE TIME TO END THE FEDERAL TRUST OF THE FOREIGN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HOLDING ALL OUR RESOURCES SAYING THEY TAKE CARE OF US THEY CARE OF EVERYONE ELSE WITH OUR RESOURCES AND LAND AND WATER WE THE ORIGINAL LAND OWNERS ARE THE HAVE NOTS WHILE EVERYONE HAS !

  9. Anonymous says:

    Homes should be built on these grounds and GIVEN to the people of the tribe, NOT the tribal government, THE PEOPLE!

  10. Unknown says:

    That's a little less than a square mile, but a good gesture. Now I wonder if the USA will block it, or take it away.

  11. Unknown says:

    It's a start. Now on to the national forests and BLM land #Giveitback I hear ya not wanting the BIA types to have control. #HonorTreaties

  12. Lucille says:

    I wish this could be presented in a form I could read.

  13. Anonymous says:

    earth is for everyone not governments!

  14. Unknown says:

    ALL the churches need to follow suit and return illegally stolen property on EVERY reservation. I don't have a problem with the churches being here so long as they do it at the invitation of the people they serve. This is ALL sovereign land and it's time the U.S. Govt. recognizes that. Can you imagine being in the position of the Cape Code Mashpee tribe and having your trust land taken away (yet again) because the B.I.E. refuses to recognize you as a people? When did they become that authority?

  15. Lar Jens says:

    This is absolutely wonderful! Best news I've received in a long time...
    Hopefully this is just the beginning of great good coming to our people
    ~ of many tribes!

  16. Unknown says:

    A step in the proper direction.

  17. Unknown says:

    Good news. Now; locate the "My Kills In Water' family, The original land owners, and return the land to them. The 10 acres is equal to 0.015625 square miles. This is enough land for a family to re-initiate a homestead, inclusive of establishing an updated/renovated or new dwelling along with other required structures in addition to self sustaining activities (farming) of their choice. The Federal Gov't has historically involved itself w/ 'land removal' of all First Nations people throughout history w/ ongoing complaints in recent time in which the BIA has proven itself completely untrustworthy in it's participation on behalf of corporations in many instances instead of acting on behalf of the interests of the very citizans it has been created to 'protect'. If all decending members of 'My Kills In Water' family have deceased, then the land could be considered to be returned to the tribe, where it is 'HOPEFUL', that it will be restored for good use for all members of the tribe. There is option to construct numerous family dwellings, a central community lodge, school, medical facility, etc., or even establish farm/ agricultural activities; till the land to supplement for crops useage or allow the land to remain as pasture for livestock grazing. -It will be a better day when more land is rightfully returned to original First Nations' land owners and First Nations, and we are all able to 'lay down the sword' and 'bury the hatchet' and start a more complete 'healing' process to reestablish more trust. WE, All, as 'North Americans' have lost so much by what has happened by past and current legislative policies and both, administrative and corporate practices. It will prob require another 8 generations before there is a noticable improvement and 'balance' between our Nations. (US, CA & 1st Nations) We have a lot of work ahead of us to create a better future.

  18. Unknown says:

    The remaining 515 acres (0.8046875 square miles) the Jesuits return to the tribe should be returned to their rightful original owners. Again; If there are no remaining decendents of those families then we can be Hopeful the land will be put to good use for all tribal members.

  19. Unknown says:

    i went to a Jesuit school. i rarely have any cause to say anything good about them. There are exceptions, though. Very much behind the curve, but better late than never. Give them credit for doing SOMETHING!

  20. Unknown says:

    Give them time and they will have all the land back from those who stole it and killed in the process...

  21. The Jesuits were there at the invitation of the Lakota nation.

  22. My grandmother gave up land and our family inheritance to buy our souls to heaven when she passed! Shame on the Jesuits!

  23. My grandmother gave up land and our family inheritance to buy our souls to heaven when she passed! Shame on the Jesuits!

  24. We keep talking about reparation. If we do it, it needs to begin with the First People!

  25. Unknown says:

    i'm not american i'm irish i see a lot of comments shame on the jesuits the land was giving to them by family's by the goverment and treaty laws the land was not the goverments to take from day one don't speak about treaties everyone in the world has heard that american has broken many treaty's in ireland our land was stole from us but when we won the war or my ancestors did 98 years ago my family got land in the land grant in 1920's the natives american's need to be given back a lot more than 525 acres but well done to the church it's a start

  26. Unknown says:

    What do the people say?

  27. SCO says:

    Dear Unknown Irishman. How can people repair? I cannot see true and complete justice. But all attempts are more benficial than keeping the status quo. Justice is as important within the tribe as it is toward the tribe. But they have been wronged and we must keep moving. I will always love First Peoples. Grandma came from bison territory in Poland

  28. A Texas woman (the late Annie Lee Roberts) donated a fortune to a school in one of the reservations to make Christians of our native Americans.

  29. I am so happy that the church returned the land to the Lakota Nation.

  30. Was or has this land every been used for fracking?

  31. Unknown says:

    This sounds a little like, "Here you can have this, I wasn't using it anyway." But it's still good news. Still the right thing to do.

  32. arsailman says:

    Surely about time, as the land should never have been taken anyhow.....

  33. What once was stolen for church purposes is being returned by Jesuits who no longer use it to Rosebud Sioux of Lakota for their use. 525 acres of So Dakota land, tho a small amount, opens possibility of more in the future. The last shall be first and the first shall be last.

  34. HEKG says:

    May it start a trend and more lands are given back to the Lakotas.

  35. Unknown says:

    If you make the laws, how can they be broken? Broken treaties and broken promises is what i think of when i think of the government of our nation. It should be ashamed of itself as much as i am ashamed of it.

  36. Unknown says:

    Hoping this is a step in the right direction for the people. I always look for underlying reasons, as you should too.

  37. T says:

    Who owned the land 60,000 years ago? Humans have been on Earth for over 7,000,000 years. There have been many migrations and many wars. I am interested in whether the indians think that the Great Spirit created them and the land at the same time.

  38. Anantsiaq says:

    America paints itself as a world leader showing others how a good and great country leading the world bla bla bla.... It started out throwing off the British "yoke" because they were banned from invading the western lands. Look at the USA now! A man who committed treason has been "acquitted" of what the whole world watched! The USA has no morality and should be abjectly ashamed at the way it has routinely broken all treaties made with the aboriginal people and has now allowed a traitor off the hook. A country for the rest of the world to "look up to"?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I read a number of comments that the land should be returned to the individual families, not to the tribe. But when did the tribe adopt the concept of individual ownership of the land? In traditional nomadic tribes like the Lakota, lands were always tribal. Nomadic people move from place to place depending on the time of year, so there was never any concept that one particular plot of land belonged to any one person. Land was a shared resource that everyone used.

  40. I agree that is abut time-- maybe past time. Of course it S ALL NATIVE land to begin with.

  41. Unknown says:

    enfin la justice

  42. Anonymous says:

    Years ago, I spent 3 weeks for 2 summers on the Rosebud as a guest of a local family as part of a group learning about Lakota life and doing service projects with the family and community. I feel so blessed to have been allowed into the culture in a way to begin to see life from a more indigenous perspective. I am so happy that this land transfer is underway! Perhaps it will start a trend of reparation that is so needed and very late in coming! Many Blessings and Much Love from a white girl (who "owns" Indian land in Ohio)!

  43. Unknown says:

    I agree that the jesuits did the right thing but reading some of these comments is absolutely ridiculous to the person that said they should be compensated well the money that the federal government gives natives when they are 18 years old or whatever ages when they get it what do you think it’s from not everyone else gets that money it doesn’t just have no reason that is compensation. If it wasn’t Columbus that found America rest assured that someone else would have still found it & who can imagine what would have happened then some people might say that it would have been better of an outcome than the Genocide that took Place but you never know?…?? Sorry for saying but dumb comments like that if I was the head of the jesuits I’d be like. F that we’re trying to make a kind gesture to take a step towards the right direction and still not happy with a gesture like that

  44. Unknown says:

    The oldest human remains in the United States were found in Montana. They are Caucasian. It is thought there were Vikings that settled here. They were wiped out by the Mongoloid race that moved in, likely across the Bering Strait. Who is making reparations to them?

  45. exil art says:

    iits time ...respect ...and fairness ..yes back stollen land

  46. So glad this is happening.
    More like this, please.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Obviously no one has been to the reservations here in South Dakota. The tribes are greedy and do not take care of their people very well for starters. But also Rosebud is one of the most racist reservations in SD. One rule here is do not go to the any rez without a friend if you are not native. You will get jumped raped robbed possibly scalped and killed. No they dont dress like the pictures always posted either half cant speak their native language their culture is dying it is very sad. The reservations here are at poverty level a very low poverty. Most are drunk or on drugs all the time wondering from house to house and no one takes care of anything. Garbage every where houses that are falling apart broken abandoned vehicles all over. They are ghettos. Most dont work and try to rely on their monthly government checks to live on but its never enough. I have some friends from a few reservations and they tell me they are enslaved to these places. But they could easily move to town get a job and work their way out of those places they just choose not too. Before they just give that land to the tribe there should be something set in stone that the tribe needs to build more schools, educational tools for their people ect.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Now the government should return stolen lands beginning with Mt. Rushmore

  49. Anonymous says:

    How very wonderful! Thank you for sharing! Dianne Brause

  50. Anonymous says:

    So are you relted to Samantha Jones of the Sicangu Lakota band of the Rosebud Sioux, Sandra?

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