Less than one month ago, we marked the 40-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision awarding more than $100,000 million to the Great Sioux Nation as compensation for the federal government’s taking of the Black Hills. Just a few days later, President Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore highlighted why we have never accepted that payment. No amount of money could possibly alleviate the pain we feel at the repeated desecration of one of our most sacred sites. True justice can only be accomplished one way: the return of the Black Hills to the Lakota people.
We’ve recently seen how people power can tear down monuments of hate and influence public policy — and we’ve also seen the backlash. I ask you today to watch the video of our protest action against Trump’s visit, and sign our Congressional petition to return the Black Hills to the Lakota people. If ever a moment existed when these wrongs could begin to be righted, this is it. Speaking together with one voice, let’s get lawmakers to abide by treaty law and return this sacred land to my people.
The high court’s ruling shows that the law is on our side. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 assigned the Black Hills to us in perpetuity, but it didn’t take long for miners to violate that edict in search of gold. The federal government essentially allowed it to happen, eventually imposing upon us our current reservation boundaries. We have never accepted those boundaries nor the taking of our treaty land. The Black Hills are not for sale — and they never were.
Unless we act together to stop it, there’s no end to the colonial disrespect of our lands, sovereignty, and safety. Trump’s moronic, divisive visit to Mount Rushmore underscores the dangers to our democracy and the Lakota people. Predictably, COVID-19 is again on the rise in South Dakota, and community spread is especially serious around Mount Rushmore and our Oglala Nation.
That’s why we protested his coming, and that’s why it’s critical that you help us demand safety, justice, and the return of the Black Hills. Once we reach our goal of 20,020 names, our petition will go to Congress demanding #LandBack2020.
Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with us to restore the sacred!
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project