Environment | National | Trust

Bureau of Indian Affairs places sacred site in Black Hills in trust

Pe’ Sla is a sacred Lakota site situated in the heart of Paha Sapa, or the Black Hills. Photo from interested party

The Bureau of Indian Affairs placed a sacred site in the Black Hills of South Dakota in trust.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe raised $9 million to purchase Pe’ Sla, a 2,022-acre site that plays a central role in Lakota history, culture and cosmology. The tribes celebrated after learning of the BIA's March 10 decision.

“This is a historic moment as our Sioux Nation tribes work together to protect our sacred site, Pe’ Sla," Shakopee Chairman Charlie Vig said in a press release. "Future generations of our people will conduct ceremonies, honor Mother Earth, and preserve our traditions at Pe’ Sla.”

The tribes have been preserving the land since the purchase and have reintroduced buffalo and other native species to the site. Last spring, the first buffalo calves were born there, according to the press release.

Pe' Sla means The Heart of Everything and is central to the star knowledge of the Sioux Nation and the understanding of the universe. The tribes acquired the land in two separate purchases, according to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, which helped facilitate the transactions.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has joined the other tribes in protecting the site by providing an initial financial contribution, according to the press release.

The Black Hills were promised to the Sioux Nation by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie but the land was taken by the federal government. Some parcels, including the ones at Pe' Sla, were later sold to non-Indians.

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