Black Hills Initiative & Unity Concert
The Black Hills have been considered sacred for millennia to many Native American nations from the United States and Canada. For thousands of years, wild edibles enhanced the terrain of the land and hot mineral springs were used by indigenous people for healing purposes. Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, and buffalo roamed and lived in these sacred mountains. This all disappeared with the illegal trespassing into this area by Euro-Settlers in the late 1800s. Although the Black Hills was, and still is, protected by treaty for the exclusive use of the people of the Great Sioux Nation, the federal government of the United States has allowed the complete destruction of the Black Hills primarily through mining, logging, tourism and housing development.
The Black Hills Initiative
Paha Sapa is the center of the spiritual identity of the Pte Oyate, promised to them for their “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. However, the agreements in this treaty were not upheld. The land grab of the sacred Black Hills has devastated traditional culture because, as Oglala Lakota Nation wisdom keeper Wanbli Khota (Ernest Afraid Of Bear) says, “If you lose your language or your land, you are no longer who you say you are.”
In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that the lands had indeed been illegally taken by the US Government and money was set aside to compensate the tribes. To this day, despite enormous poverty in the area, The Great Sioux Nation has refused the payment saying, “The Black Hills are not for sale.” We anticipate that if the guardianship of the Black Hills is returned to the Pte Oyate it will help catalyze the global effort to honor, protect and reawaken sacred sites around the world.
The Unity Concert
Thousands of native and non-native peoples came together in South Dakota for The Black Hills Unity Concert in 2014 and 2015. These two extraordinary gatherings were held in the name of cultural reconciliation and environmental restoration. We gathered together to honor indigenous ceremony and knowledge, to make a prayer for our Mother Earth, and to ask for the return of Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) to the rightful guardianship of the Pte Oyate (Lakota/Nakota/Dakota). We will gather again Sept 9-11, 2016 for the third year.
The first and second Unity Concerts created an unprecedented sense of hope and unity among the different factions of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota, which is needed for the successful return of these sacred lands. It also redefined the native/non-native relationship as one of respectful collaboration, allowing for the long overdue release of ancestral trauma and pain that exists on Turtle Island (America). Furthermore, the gathering created a space for various social and environmental issues to be voiced and connected. Invaluable alliances were forged and their impacts on the world continue to grow in many tangible ways.
To honor the four directions, at least one more unity concert is planned at the same site in the Black Hills in 2017. The Unity Concert has also inspired sister concerts in other indigenous communities who see the need to come together and make this Unity prayer. By creating these spaces, we have an opportunity to rapidly accelerate the movement building processes that are needed to address humanity’s greatest challenges.
We invite you to make history with us this year by contributing your time, skills and resources to the Unity Concert which will occur on Sept. 9-11, 2016 at the Elk Creek Resort in The Black Hills. Please join us for this epic moment where policy meets creativity and action..The Black Hills Initiative & Unity Concert.
We will engage the people in song, dance, ceremony.
We will exchange methods and traditions between the elder and youth.
We will celebrate the alliances created for the great mission of preserving the Black Hills.
why we’re doing it
We are seeking to unite the Great Sioux Nation toward the common goal of preserving sacred lands. Our way nurishes, protects, and provides for us while other systems puts us at risk. It is our desire to preserve our culture, for mere survival as part of the Black Hills Initiative. We are working towards healing the wounds of the past and cultivating a resouced-based economy that respects the rights of nature. We realize that our culture has suffered from being detoured, or not following, the effective ways of the Sioux Nation. This systematic challenge of substituting indigenous culture for an extractive based economy is global, and can be overcome by standing our ground to protect what sustains us. We hope this effort will be the seed for allies to support the Black Hills Initiative and for indigenous people’s of the world to reclaim the rights to land and natural resources.
Our project addresses the environmental and social challenges by bringing togther groups and organizations to address environmental, economic, and indigenous issues. We have designed this to be a multi-purposed crowdfunding campaign where 10% of all funds raised goes to four other organizations working to address the following:
sacred sites preservation and environmental contamination
economic development and poverty alleviation
cultural revitalization and language preservation
health and wellness to address trauma, suicide and substance abuse
The concert is, among so many things, a clarion call to the United States government and to the world that the time is now to honor this treaty and in doing so honor the native and non-native peoples of this continent. The third annual event will gather people of all races and all walks of life to stand behind the Pte Oyate to reconcile this collective history.