In a historic victory for American Indian tribes, the owners of the sacred site Pe’ Sla have agreed to an offer of $9 million to purchase an approximate 1,900 acres of land also known as Reynolds Prairie from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST). In order to secure the agreement, RST agreed to pay a 10 percent earnest deposit of $900,000. RST, serving as a representative for the group of Lakota/Nakota/Dakota tribes involved in the purchase process has until November 30 to pay the remaining $8.1 million.
According to A. Gay Kingman, the executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the tribes have confidence they will be able to generate the $8.1 million necessary to purchase Pe’ Sla. “I foresee this as an achievement that we can reach,” she says. “I think they are very confident.”
“This is a beautiful thing that has happened,” says Kingman. “It feels really good, especially from what our spiritual leaders tell us, they are praying and guiding us as well, they are saying that if we move forward in a spiritual way this is doable. If politics or anything gets in the way, we do not know what will happen.”
“This is a spiritual sacred site that the tribes want. We are moving forward with prayer and ceremony and will continue this. I want this land for my Dakota people so that we may have ceremony there,” she said.
Vernon “Ike” Schmidt, the executive director with the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Land Enterprise and former RST vice president was designated to sign the agreement for the tribe. Schmidt says that though they wanted to keep the amount confidential, “the cat was out of the bag.”
Schmidt explained that previous reports of the $1.3 million earnest deposit offered by RST have been adjusted to reflect the $900,000, which is 10 percent of $9 million. “We were able to have the money available when we needed to have it available. After the counter offer was approved, the first offer was $500,000 less, the counter offer settled on where it is at now,” he said.
Schmidt added that the tribes were fortunate to get the Reynolds’ to agree to an environmental assessment in case there may be any environmental situations like chemical spills or or soil and groundwater issues that might need to be addressed, though whether any incidents would affect the purchase price was not revealed. He also said the tribes were going to try putting the land into trust status in the future.
“The meeting with all the tribes is to see who can donate what,” said Iron Eyes. To see how the pie of $9 million is going to be chopped up between all of the Lakota tribes for sure to include Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Oglala, Standing Rock, Yankton Dakota and others.”
In light of comments made online, some at Rezinate.Wordpress.com, questioning the credibility of the money raised by LastRealIndians.com and how the money would be spent, Iron Eyes said the funds will fully go toward the purchase of Pe’ Sla.
Kingman also spoke in Iron Eyes’ defense and about the money his organization has raised. “Chase Iron Eyes has been with us all the way. He has been in all of our meetings and conference calls and he has been part of the group on this effort. He has not been an outsider; he has been right with us.”
When Schmidt learned that the entirety of monies raised by LastRealIndians.com will go toward Pe’ Sla, he stated, “That is encouraging.”
“Everyone has been in agreement to obtain this sacred land and to preserve it so it won't be developed,” said Kingman. “It has been a unified effort, not just the tribe's but also grandmas and grandpas and young people they have all contributed to the website on LastRealIndians.com.”
Schmidt said he was glad to see the tribes have come together. “Once we get this deal closed it would be nice to have a gathering up there of all the tribes.”
“This is historic, it will be even more historic when we sign the final closing papers,” said Kingman, who was present at the signing of the agreement.