The Black Hills are not for Sale
Tension between America and the Native Americans have existed for years ever since Americans moved west and started forcing Natives out of their homelands. During the 19th century, a New York newspaper editor coined the term ‘Manifest Destiny’ saying that it was Americans obvious fate to move westward. In a matter of fifty-three years, the U.S claimed almost all of the modern continental United States. During this time the U.S nearly tripled the amount of land they had. However, these acquisitions did not come without a cost. This cost was an act that forced the Native Americans leave their homeland without the ability to say no. This act was the Indian Removal Act. This act forced 5 tribes and more than 45 thousand people on a trail more than 1000 miles long to the unwanted state of Oklahoma. In result of this relocation, now called the trail of tears, more than ten thousand Native Americans died. This number included all people from babies to elders. This trail forced many Native Americans in horrible and unfortunate circumstances. Today, these horrible circumstances are still apparent in the prisoner of war camps that we call reservations. The Sale of the Black HIlls still remains a huge problem and contributes greatly to the tension between the Native Americans and the Americans. Americans must resolve these problems in order the restore relationships between the Native Americans and ourselves.
In 1868, General William T. Sherman and the Sioux tribes signed a treaty granting the Sioux tribes ‘ undisturbed use and occupation’ of the Black Hills, a sacred place in the culture of many Native American tribes. However, this treaty was broken when gold was found in the Black Hills in 1877. The U.S continued to use this land and ‘steal’ from the Native Americans. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills were taken unlawfully, therefore the set aside 102 million dollars in a trust fund, that has now grown over 2 billion dollars in compensation. ( PBS) We talked to some high school students from the pine ridge reservation. They agreed that the Black Hills should be given back stating, “ The black hills are our home, the white man take our home from us, they are a part of our culture.” Why don’t the Native Americans take the 2 billion and all this can be over? Because no amount of money can replace the Black Hills, or in Lakota language Paha Spa. It is their sacred land and it is a big part of their culture. We took and stole their culture, their land, and their homes. No amount of money can repair what we stole and what we took. The only solution is give the Black Hills back.
However, there are ways to repair the relations between Native Americans and Americans. One such way is to honor the treaties between the Native Americans and the government. This would grant the Natives more land and would mean that land of religious significance such as the Black Hills would be returned to them. This would help heal the relationship between them and the American government. This would also give the Natives more land and resources, which would likely boost their economy and help to elevate them out of poverty. If we do this, we will begin to heal the relationship between America and Native America.