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James Anaya Urges Consultations on Black Hills Sacred Site

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, is urging the United States government and state and local authorities in South Dakota to come together for consultations regarding the private auction of sacred sites in the Black Hills.

“I call on all concerned parties to engage in a process of consultation to find ways in which to resolve these concerns,” the Special Rapporteur said in a statement. “I believe such dialogue is necessary in order to help heal the historical injustices endured by the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples and to allow them to maintain their cultures and traditional practices for future generations.

“The views and concerns of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples need to be considered regarding any private or government activity that would affect their right to continue to maintain their traditional cultural and ceremonial practices associated with Pe’ Sla,” he stressed.

Tribes are worried about the sale because they don’t want to lose access to one of their most important sacred sites.

“To the Oceti Sakowin, Pe’ Sla is The Heart of Everything. Not only does this sacred site play a key role in our creation story, it is said to be the place where The Morning Star plunged to earth, and saved the People from seven creatures who had killed seven women. The Lakota hero then placed those women in the night sky as ‘The Seven Sisters,’ called ‘The Pleiades’ by western astronomers,” said Ruth Hopkins in an Indian Country Today Media Network column.

The auction is scheduled for August 25 and Last Real Indians and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are still raising funds to buy the land back. In 1868, the government signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie, reserving the indigenous groups’ rights to the Black Hills. Now they need to raise anywhere from $6 million to $10 million to get the land back that was taken from them after the gold rush of 1877 prompted a Congressional Act turning the land over to the United States.

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