The Black Hills Are Not For Sale: Our Invisible Neighbors

The Black Hills Are Not For Sale

by Joshua on August 18, 2013

My trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota was amazing, no doubt about it. In a recent blog post, I describe some of the highlights of my experience there. Yet, there is an even more amazing story to be told about the  Black Hills.

In 1868, the United States government signed a treaty with the Sioux Nation recognizing the Black Hills as part of the Sioux land reservation. The land was to be owned and used exclusively by the Sioux Nation. However, when gold was discovered in 1874, the treaty was effectively broken. By 1877, the U.S. government officially confiscated the land, one of hundreds of broken treaties.

A landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 awarded the Sioux more than $100 million as compensation. The Sioux tribal council refused to accept any compensation. And though the funds were set aside in a trust which is now worth more than $1 billion, the Sioux still refuse to accept the money.

At stake is the Sioux’s legitimate claim to the sacred tribal lands known as the Black Hills. A growing movement, known as “The Black Hills Are Not For Sale” has taken root. The movement aims to return tribal lands to the  Sioux with the understanding that private property and tourist attractions such as Mount Rushmore are off the table.

Aaron Huey is an award winning photojournalist who gave an amazing TED Talk describing the history of the Lakota people, land claims, and broken promises. Watch his presentation below:

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