Ruth Hopkins: Sioux leaders to meet with Obama for Black Hills

A button for treaty rights. Photo from Ruth Hopkins / Twitter

Ruth Hopkins explains the significance of the Black Hills and previews upcoming talks with President Barack Obama:
The Oceti Sakowin are now uniting to develop a plan of action to reclaim the Black Hills. The Great Sioux Nation owns shares in The Black Hills, by percentage. The Oglala Lakota are the biggest shareholders. I spoke with Loretta Afraid of Bear and Milo Yellow Hair, who are actively working on getting unceded federal lands in the Black Hills back into the hands of its rightful owners, the Oceti Sakowin. Together, along with others, Loretta and Milo have been visiting Oceti Sakowin communities throughout the Dakotas to educate Tribal members on the issue and garner support from Tribal councils.

“We come from the Hills. They are a part of us,” Loretta says. “We still own it [The Black Hills] and we have to act like we own it.”

Ms. Afraid of Bear, Oglala Lakota, believes reclaiming the Black Hills is crucial to Oceti Sakowin identity. “The land and language are one. If you lose them, you lose who you are.”

Working with both Tribal and Treaty councils, the group is hopeful that they can develop a realistic plan to present to President Obama, and perhaps, the U.S. Congress. New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley introduced a bill in 1985 that would have transferred 1.3 million acres of forest in the Black Hills back to the Great Sioux Nation. Unfortunately the bill was unsuccessful. Even if Congress is unwilling to pass legislation to return the Black Hills to the Oceti Sakowin, it is within the President’s power to perform the task by Executive Order.

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins:Reclaiming the Sacred Black Hills (Indian Country Today 6/28)

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