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Pe'Sla: A story of sacred land with a price

By Jenice Johnson, assistant director of marketing

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A 1,900-acre section of land in the center of the Black Hills in South Dakota has captured the world's attention recently.

Called Pe'Sla, the land is a sacred site to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes of the Great Sioux Nation. However it was up for auction this past summer which stepped up efforts from to start a campaign to buy the land back. The property was since removed from auction by the landowners Leonard and Margaret Reynolds and offered to the Sioux Nation for $9 million. The tribes have raised approximately $7.5 million but have a shortfall that has to be met by Nov. 30. Another campaign was established to raise the funds needed.

As of late, the story of Pe'Sla has reached the hearts of celebrities, including P Diddy. Actor Ezra Miller of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and hip-hop producer Sol Guy even shot a short documentary on the subject which is being used as part of the online campaign.

There has been much dialogue, articles and blog posts about Pe'Sla and acquiring this important land back. Autumn White Eyes, a guest writer at, posted the following sentiment on the website and we thought it was significant to share:

Dear Pe'Sla,

I'm writing you because we don't have much time. You're sitting at the top of my mind watching us surrender for you. We fought battles, cured sickness, dealt with massacres, carried our ancestor's blood in our veins, our hearts, and never forgot that our birthplace was Wind Cave. We witnessed parades carrying the brains of our people on their sticks and watched them give Christopher Columbus his own damn day! We survived the heat and the cold in our Prisoner of War camps. We felt the sun beating down on us at every Sundance in South Dakota. We even started killing our own people, but we never forgot our birthplace-He Sapa. Some can still feel its breath down our spine as we beg for the money to buy you back.

I'll never forget hiking you my senior year of high school. I sat with two of my best friends at your peak and had this conversation: "I just want to know my language. I just want to know what its like to have the Black Hills be only ours. I'm tired of seeing roads built through and gnawing at its glory. This is our glory and pride. Our Makoce." We stood up and yelled the words "our land" in our own language and we prayed. We felt the power of the hills in that moment, which we will hold onto for the rest of our lives. Welcoming back the green things, the four-leggeds, our brothers, and our sisters. Welcoming back the Spring, and the chokecherries. Thank you for the cold but our relatives would like to visit again. Thank you for warmth, for everything beautiful. We were happy to see them come back; it's the reason we prayed for you.

Pe'Sla, I'm sorry we have to buy you back like a Pope's stolen bible. I'm sorry they don't see you as I see you; as sacred. I'm sorry that my children may not get to pray with you like I did. I don't know if you speak English, but Thečhiȟila

I will come back for you.

Autumn White Eyes' blog was originally posted on Nov. 17, 2012 on White Eyes gave Tanka permission to repost.

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