I did not know what to expect as I drove to Rapid City's Memorial Park Wednesday night. I was there to witness a celebration of "The Return of the Pe' Sla" -- and an update on the breathtaking recent events which appear to bring an unexpected, grace-filled moment of hope for a better future for the Great Sioux Nation.
It's a simple news story, but earth-shaking in its ramifications: A small, but very important area in the center of the Black Hills may be have been saved from development and returned to its rightful owners. (For a price.)
I captured video of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Councilwoman Robin LeBeau sharing an update of what's happening, and thoughts about what is at stake in the Pe' Sla and the awesome power this moment could have for Native people:
(Some context -- for those in this Native culture, speaking in front of a group is a grave and responsibility, and a moment of great humility. Given the culture, Ms. LaBeau's words have even more passion and urgency.) (Note, Ms. LaBeau gave me permission to post my video here on DKos.)
It sounds overly dramatic but it is true... while standing there this evening, I felt overwhelmed by history, and almost giddy with delight. In this group of probably 95% Native people, I felt the outsider, but welcomed, and so fortunate to be witness to the moment.
I kept thinking: Can this be true? Could the arc of history truly grant some justice?
(Pictures below the golden thingie)
This was a Native community event - as I said I was one of only a few non-Natives in the crowd.
(This Is Not My Episcopal Church: at the beginning of the event, there was a call for the community to call around to bring food, and invite people to come eat. By the time the march over to Omaha Street and back [pictures below], it was time for a feast!)
Hopefully, we will soon learn more about the deal and what will in the end be needed to protect the Heart of the Black Hills. The speakers mentioned a Nov. 30 deadline, but the negotations are still under way, so it is unknown what that deadline means, if anything.
For me, the uncertainty didn't take away much from the pregnant optimism of this moment.