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Controversy Surrounds Black Hills Land Auction

August 22, 2012, 6:02 PM by Derek Olson

Controversy Surrounds Black Hills Land Auction
REYNOLDS PRAIRIE, SD -

An upcoming land auction in the heart of the Black Hills is causing some controversy because the land holds special significance to Native Americans.

Both tribes and independent Native American groups have been scrambling to raise money to purchase the land in question at this weekend's upcoming auction.

But with time running out, it may not be enough.

Reynolds Prairie is in the heart of the Black Hills near Deerfield Lake, and this Saturday it will be sold to the highest bidder.

"This is sacred land that I'm standing up for today, Paha Sapa, the Black Hills, is never for sale," the American Indian Movement's Thomas Cheyenne said.

Known as Pe Sla' by tribal people in the area the land is sacred because it's at the heart of their creation story.

"This Pe Sla' is at the center of the universe, where the stars are connected," Cheyenne said.

Native Americans aren't the only people in the area that are concerned that the land sale could spark more residential development.

"I moved out here in this neighborhood because I like the wild, I liked the way it was, I do like the prairie," neighboring homeowner Paul Larson said.

Regardless, many neighbors like Larson don't think anyone should stand in the way of the land sale.

"It's nobody's business what's going on with that land except the guy that owns it.  The family that owns it have owned it since Custer was here," Larson said.

At this point, private donors and area tribes have raised around $1.4 million for this weekend's auction.  The land is expected to be sold for closer to $8 million.

"This is our worship place and therefore that money is the evil of all things," Cheyenne said.

"That's the way this world works, I guess.  Right or wrong, good or bad, that's the way of it," Larson said.

Reynolds Prairie is set to be auctioned off at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Ramkota Inn in Rapid City.  A demonstration is set to take place outside the auction that morning.

We will have coverage from the event on KELOLAND Weekend News and KELOLAND.com.

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