ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spiritual Reclaiming of The Black Hills of South Dakota

Updated on January 31, 2019
juneaukid profile image

Richard F. Fleck is author of two dozen books, his latest being Desert Rims to Mountains High and Thoreau & Muir Among the Native Americans.

Signing of Treaty of Fort Laramie 1868

Signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie
Signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie
Lakota Spirit Bundle
Lakota Spirit Bundle
Prayer flags in the woods
Prayer flags in the woods | Source

Spiritual Reclaiming of the Black Hills of South Dakota

Back in 1868 the United States Government signed at treaty at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory that guaranteed the Lakota tribal ownership of the Black Hills (Paha Sapa Wakan), and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota. Signing the treaty on the government side was General William T. Sherman and on the Indian side a number of tribal leaders including famous Chief Red Cloud (whose image is on the front of the buffalo nickle).

White gold miners repeatedly violated the treaty in search of the yellow metal leading to the Black Hills War. The U.S. Government ultimately seized the Black Hills in 1877 for miners' and settlers' security in direct violation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie. But good news eventually came to the Lakota people over a hundred years later in 1980 after a court case United States v. Sioux (Lakota) Nation of Indians The United States Supreme Court upheld the award of $17.5 million dollars (fair market value in 1877) along with over a hundred years of interest at 5% making the total retribution award of $122.5 million dollars.

However, the sacred Black Hills were what the Indian people wanted--not raw cash. So they refused the money. The government put this award money in an escrow account. The Lakota Nation continued to request portions of the Black Hills (The Black Hills National Forest) that were not owned by private businesses or private individuals.

Five years later U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (NJ) sponsored Senate Bill1453 to return portions of the Black Hills to the Lakota Nation. As a concerned citizen, I wrote my Senator, Alan K. Simpson, in support of S.1453. Senator Simpson promptly wrote back saying: "I do thank you for your letter regarding S.1453, Senator Bill Bradley's bill which would convey certain lands to the Sioux Nation. I appreciate knowing of your great interest in this proposed legislation." Senator Simpson went on to explain that S. 1453 has been referred to the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. Once the committee makes its report back, he and all senators "will take a stand on the bill." Unfortunately the bill never got out of committee! It died there in committee chambers.

In 2004 my wife and I went to the Black Hills to climb Harney Peak. It is named Harney after a General who succeeded in placing all Lakota peoples on reservations. Harney Peak should be called by its proper name Hin Han Kaga Paha (Sacred Scary Owl). None the less, we climbed this sacred peak in honor of the holy man of the Oglalla Sioux, Nicholas Black Elk* (see the book Black Elk Speaks) who sought visions there. Just before the summit, we came across a sacred prayer bundle made of six different colored ticking: red for the East, yellow for the south, black for the West, white for the North, tan for the Earth, and blue for the Sky. These colors represent the powers of the six sacred directions (see accompanying photo).

There is hope in this spiritual statement. Not only are there prayer bundles throughout the Black Hills but also prayer flags of the six powers. The Black Hills are sacred and are used by tribal peoples in their seeking of visions (hambleycha). Can not a small portion of the Black Hills be returned in honor of the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868? Cannot the Black Elk Wilderness area of Black Hills National Forest, at least, be returned?

*For those wishing to read a hitherto unpublished prayer of Black Elk, see my book Breaking Through the Clouds (2005)

Black Hills

Are the Black Hills are part of the Rocky Mountains?

See results

The Black Hills

© 2010 Richard Francis Fleck


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)