Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paha Sapa:Not your typical travelogue

Paha Sapa, the Black Hills are so very beautiful! One can understand why the Lakota are still struggling to get at least part of them back.
In case you didn't know, the US government promised not to ever, ever steal the Black Hills in the Laramie treaty of 1868. OOPS, we lied. When Custer's expedition of 1874 brought back news that gold was to be found at the "grassroots level" well, no stopping those rascally miners, ya know. So we HAD to steal Paha Sapa in order to protect those miners, outfitters, gamblers, prostitutes, etc from the savages. In 1877 a small percentage of "Sioux" were coerced into signing paper ceding the Black Hills to the US. A federal judge later commented that "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history." In 1980 the Supreme Court found for the Lakota and awarded $106 million (the equivalent of 17.5 million in 1877 dollars)for "A taking of tribal property". Of course the court did not take into account the billions of dollars in gold, tin and other natural resources taken from the Hills so that what they were offering was a pittance compared to what white people have realized from Paha Sapa. Remarkably, some of the poorest people in the US refused the dough! They said they would rather have the federally held land in the Paha Sapa, please. According to many, the issue is spiritual. Paha Sapa was never for sale, it is a sacred place and so they would prefer that the land that was theirs to begin with be returned as much as possible. The government said not on yer freakin' lives! So it goes. The settlement is currently worth about half a billion dollars and there are lawyers calling meetings with very poor Lakota to encourage them to claim the settlement money. Of corse they aren't working pro bono in this, and so it goes. White folks never get tired of screwing Native Peoples. More later and I promise, less bitter.

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