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The proposed purchase of Reynold's Prairie by the Great Sioux Nation offers an opportunity for further white-Native reconciliation. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
The proposed purchase of Reynold's Prairie by the Great Sioux Nation offers an opportunity for further white-Native reconciliation. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.

Pe 'Sla, Property Tax and Reconciliation

Sep 5, 2012

The day after I wrote about Lakota efforts to raise enough money to outbid developers for the 2000-acre Pe 'Sla/Reynolds Prairie, the white owners called off the auction. A week and a half later, the Great Sioux Nation announced it had raised enough earnest money to seal a deal to make this sacred Black Hills site the property of the Great Sioux Nation.

Don't bang the celebration drum just yet. Cartoonist Marty Two Bulls notes that Custer may be having a big chuckle with Columbus and the conquistadors in Hell:

First we stole the Black Hills. Now to get them back, the Natives have to buy them back. But this is the best part: even if they buy them, they have to pay a yearly tax to keep them.

Buying 2000 acres is a practical investment, with practical costs. Given the sacred nature of the place, it is unlikely the Native purchasers would exploit the land for some money-making purpose. Preserving this prairie oasis in the heart of the Black Hills will cost the tribes money. 

"The land is priceless," says Lakota activist Madonna Thunder Hawk says. "It doesn’t matter how much money the tribes have to put up for Pe’ Sla. We have to have it." A quick search of the Pennington County property tax database shows that the county taxes paid by current Pe 'Sla owners Leonard and Margaret Reynolds are around $1.50 per acre on some parcels. The tax bill for the entire 2000 acres might be a few thousand dollars a year. That may not be much, but the taxes still catch the Great Sioux Nation in that dark Custerian joke of deception, theft and ongoing tribute.

So maybe South Dakota should recognize the unique nature of the Lakota claim to this portion of the Black Hills. We can recognize that the Lakota hold Pe 'Sla as holy as we hold our churches, temples and mosques. We can exempt Pe 'Sla from taxes, for as long as the Great Sioux Nation owns it and protects it from development. 

Taking Pe 'Sla off the tax rolls would have a minor impact on tribal, county and state finances. It could have a major impact on white-Native reconciliation. Just as the successful acquisition and ongoing possession of Pe 'Sla may promote cultural renewal and further positive activism among our Native neighbors, South Dakota's declaration, written into tax law, that "Pe 'Sla is yours, and it is sacred" could build a little trust and respect and make it easier for whites and Natives to work together on other projects.

 

Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.



Comments

09:58 am - Thu, September 6 2012
Arona Marie said:
One of the most reasonable suggestions I have ever heard!!
[ I don't like the sarcastic references to those who have passed on]
If the message is of goodwill; toward a positive recognition of what
would be a very understanding and respectful gesture on the part -
of the South Dakota tax system ..... then I hope, anxiously, that it will
be seriously considered .. There is no doubt that the land has been
considered Sacred .. No doubt at all .. THERE IS ONLY THE NEED
FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS ....
12:30 pm - Thu, September 6 2012
Bernie said:
Interesting how this and related issues seem to defy the normal boundaries of ideology. I ran into a very conservative fellow in Meade County who totally sides with the Native American concerns about the space around Bear Butte. But your point about property taxes adds a whole new wrinkle.,
12:33 pm - Thu, September 6 2012
dave tunge said:
If my memory of history serves, did the Sioux not steal the property they claim from the Arikara?
Should current generations of, as you say, white owners or current generations of Sioux be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors?
02:04 pm - Thu, September 6 2012
Jeff said:
It was a great thing that the South Dakota Magazine brought this proposed auction to the forefront. I was amazed at how many people never heard of Reynolds Prairie let alone the proposed auction. My hats off to the Native Americans for making the effort to purchase this beautiful piece of property. No wonder it is sacred to them. I truly hope that they are able to procure the funding. Unfortunately our illustrious governor has banned the state from purchasing any land so the state missed out on preserving a piece of property that would have been a treasure for all to enjoy. Again I wish success to the Native Americans for their efforts.
08:46 pm - Thu, September 6 2012
Linda Kramer said:
South Dakota Magazine - you rock!! Thanks Bernie and Cory for your attentiveness to this issue! I applaud you both!
The Governor really missed an opportunity to take a BIG step forward in reconciliation in South Dakota by saying that the west river ranchers don't want any more public land.
08:46 pm - Thu, September 6 2012
Linda Kramer said:
South Dakota Magazine - you rock!! Thanks Bernie and Cory for your attentiveness to this issue! I applaud you both!
The Governor really missed an opportunity to take a BIG step forward in reconciliation in South Dakota by saying that the west river ranchers don't want any more public land.
04:40 am - Fri, September 7 2012
Grumpy said:
Why point at west river why not east river or those who have some of the best bottom land in the state along the missouri river??? Why
03:47 pm - Fri, September 7 2012
Franklin Walking Elk Avalos said:
Prepare for a battle. Indian tribes that have been buying their land back have been at it in current times. We should contact them and see the resolutions to the conflict.

http://www.npr.org/templates/text/s.php?sId=125172276&m=1
09:54 pm - Fri, September 7 2012
joe wade said:
in ref to: "Given the sacred nature of the place, it is unlikely the Native purchasers would exploit the land for some money-making purpose."

If people want to fall in line with craziness, that is their choice. From my perspective LRI is being groomed and playing dirty ball,

-extracted from LRI Sept 3rd Press Release- Last Saturday, at a press conference in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Lakota leaders of the movement to secure the Lakota pilgrimage site Pe’ Sla for the Sioux Nation announced that the tribes will purchase the 2000 acres of sacred land in the Black Hills.
“the Lakota pilgrimage site Pe’ Sla for the Sioux Nation” ~LRI~

To correlate the significance of implementing terminology, not many years back it became accepted, by some people, to call a woman “my b_ch”. Today acceptance of categorizing woman with such terminology, is a norm for too many people, who continue to use and accept the degradation. Those who do not conform to such corrupted cultural traits reside on ostrichized island.

The same will occur with defining Pe Sla “as a” Pilgrimage Site, eventually too many people will accept and follow the new definition resulting in Pe Sla becoming a spiritual red light district.

It is obvious Chase Iron Eyes, who is using the Pe Sla issue as a campaign platform to try and take credit for what Tribal Leadership has been working toward since July and the Rosebud Tribe adopted Lutheran priest, Rev. Linda Kramer, who conducts pay to pray “pilgrimages” based on Lakota, Anglican and Celtic beliefs, both seem to agree that “silencing their common interests” is necessary.

read more: http://jpwade.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/i-know-its-shining-down-like-water/

03:52 pm - Sat, September 8 2012
joe wade said:
Reverend Linda Kramer, since you refused to reply to questions posted at your fb site by deleting the questions, perhaps you will answer here.

Since Borderlands Ranch states it resides on stolen land, at what point do you intend on returning the land back to the 1st Nations?

In reference to Borderlands current fund raising for 120 acres of land adjoining the ranch, Does Borderlands Ranch or Friends of Borderlands Ranch intend on requesting or accepting financial support from the the fund raising by Chase Iron Eyes and affiliates who made a request to the global community for financial support to purchase lands within Pe Sla ?

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