The Black Hills Controversy

Our State of Mind by Robin Martin

On July 6 a federal judge ordered the Dakota Pipeline on Standing Rock temporarily halted for a complete environmental study.


Since the beginning, the root of America’s freedom is in the possession of land, settlements, and territories. Native Indians were nomads who moved freely through North America, mostly hunting to feed their tribes.

Until they could not.

Settlements of whites looking to prosper in the New World threatened their way of life. Settlements threatened the spiritual beliefs of Indians in regards to respecting the land and the sacred sentimental value.

This made Native Indians misunderstood and dangerous.

“It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country, now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee, on the North, and Louisiana, on the South, to the settlements of the whites, it will incalculably strengthen the Southwestern frontier, and render the adjacent states strong enough to repel future invasion without remote aid. It will relieve the whole state of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama, of Indian occupancy; and enable these States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites…” President Andrew Jackson

It is all about the land of the free.

Native Americans fought the Europeans who wanted to take over their land. The white settlements were developed as part of the Westward Expansion. The U.S. would expand by any means necessary.

President Jackson described Native Americans as ‘savage hunters’. That description justified protecting white settlements in the Southwestern frontier with retaliation against Indian Leagues.

You’ve probably heard ‘Black Hills’ mentioned over the last few days about Mount Rushmore. Well, the Black Hills gold was on the same land as Mount Rushmore which is part of the Great Sioux Reservation. So, the gold belonged to the Sioux Indians. Back-in-the day gold was discovered on that land. A gold rush ensued.

So when the Lakota Indians wanted to hunt on the land promised to them, it was a no. The U.S. government sent in the military to control the Lakotas from disrupting the settlers and the gold rush.

Remember Jackson’s statement, “Enable these States to advance rapidly in population, wealth and power.”

What the Jackson administration did then is now known as gentrification.

African-American History

1827 – Rev. Nathaniel Paul gives speech on abolition of slavery in the state of New York.

1852 – Frederick Douglass gives famous “What is the Fourth of July to the Negro,” speech.

Ms. Martin is an educator, freelance journalist and 2008 Monmouth University Dr. King Unsung Hero award.