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In 1868, the United States signed a treaty with the Lakotah (Sioux) people setting aside the Black Hills in what is today western South Dakota "for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux." Then gold was discovered there by miners who were illegally trespassing, and Congress grabbed the land after negotiations to purchase it broke down. The resulting military battles culminated in Custer's defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876.
"Ho-ka hey!" Crazy Horse yelled at the Little Bighorn. "It is a good day to fight! It is a good day to die! Strong hearts, brave hearts, to the front! Weak hearts and cowards to the rear."
Congress responded by telling the Sioux: Give up the Black Hills, or lose federal food, medicine and blankets, rations pledged earlier to compensate for disrupting their hunting lands with westward expansion. Only 10% of the adult male Sioux population signed the treaty giving up the land, but Congress enacted it into law in 1877.
A federal judge, later echoed by the Supreme Court, castigated the government's deal, saying: "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history."
A century later, in 1980, the Supreme Court awarded eight Sioux tribes $106 million in compensation--the 1877 value of $17.5 million, plus interest. This was payment for what the court called "a taking of tribal property."
Try to figure the value of the Black Hills--called, in the Lakotah language, the heart of everything that is: Wamaka Og'naka I'cante. It would be like trying to place a monetary value on Bethlehem to Christians. It cannot be done. Return the Black Hills to the Lakotah NOW and remove this stain on America's honor!