Sioux spiritual and government leaders representing tribes seeking the return of Black Hills land will meet again next month in the hopes of forming a proposal to present to the Obama administration, which they see as sympathetic to their cause.
Obama met with tribal representatives during his presidential campaign and left the strong impression that he was serious about trying to find a settlement beyond a 29-year-old U.S. Supreme Court award, according to this story in today’s Rapid City (S.D.) Journal.
That forced settlement was about millions of dollars, not acres of land, and it has consistently been rejected by tribes of the Great Sioux Nation.
“The consensus is that they will never take the money,” says Gay Kingman of Rapid City, executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association. “It’s the land that matters.”
Some tribal members have filed suit, seeking distribution of the money, but most leaders want the land returned. The idea now is to find consensus, which is why leaders for Sioux tribes in the Dakotas, Montana and Nebraska are holding the meetings on the issue.
Previous attempts to return land taken by the federal government to the Sioux, most notably a bill in the mid-1980s by New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley that would have turned over 1.3 million acres of federal forest and park lands, have failed.
Bradley left the Senate more than 12 years ago, and none of South Dakota’s three congressional members has shown an interest in supporting a rerun of the Bradley bill, although Democrat Tim Johnson recently said, significantly, that he’s open to discussing the issue (See previous post here.) Still, support would likely be a liability in a statewide campaign.