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The Black Hills Unity Concert For the Earth and All Her People

Today the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gives us the modern tools to stand up and declare our rights. We have come back to the table on the basis of what is recognized for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and on the basis of what sacredness is.
— Leonard Little Finger (Lakota Elder)

For the past three years, native and non-native peoples have come together in South Dakota for The Black Hills Unity Concert. We have amplified the cry to return the guardianship of the Black Hills to its original caretakers, the Indigenous Peoples of the Plains. So we gather again for the fourth time in the Black Hills on September 8-10, 2017. This is a free event to the public and your support and participation are warmly invited.

I want to share an Elder’s voice from Spirit with you: Wambli Ghota Grey Eagle spoke to us and said, “If you lose your language or your land, you are no longer who you say you are.” So, for over a decade, Paha Sapa Unity Alliance, in collaboration with the Center for Sacred Studies and the Fountain, have been tirelessly working to keep our land, the Heart of Everything That Is,(the Black Hills) and what we have come to understand is that now the world is watching. For it is from this platform of the Black Hills that a voice for unity amongst all people, as they stand up for the Earth and her sacred sites, is being heard globally.
— Loretta Afraid of Bear (Oglala Sioux elder)

The Black Hills Unity Concert is a powerful networking hub and social engine that also addresses the most pressing issues of our time in addition to the Black Hills issue: language extinction, uranium contamination, water protection, youth suicide, sustainable economic development, self-sufficiency and self-determination, racial division, the protection of Indigenous women and others. We need your support for this free gathering; to contribute, please visit our crowdfunding page.

This is a year of gratitude, celebration and continued community service. It is a year to renew our commitments to the community by embodying a generous prayer for all our relations. We have the following ambitious goals:

  • Articulate the Black Hills Issue to the Global Community Strongly and Clearly
  • Honor Indigenous Leadership and Knowledge
  • Facilitate the Transfer of Traditional Knowledge from Elders to the Next Generation
  • Uplift, Encourage and Be Present for the Youth
  • Mobilize the Local, National and Community to Address Immediate Issues
  • Honor, Amplify and Celebrate the Protectors of Water, Air and Land
  • Generate Global Advocacy for All Sacred Sites and Articulate their Role in Healing Mother Earth

Like the transformational power of the great marches of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam war period, the Unity Concert constitutes a major global healing opportunity fueled by music and spiritual activism that will bring together representatives and spiritual leaders from Native American tribes and other global Indigenous cultures, artists, performers, and concerned global citizens.

These leaders are invited to share their wisdom so that all may benefit. New alliances that are created here are certain to further the (re)establishment of ways of living that are sustainable for the Earth and all her creatures.

The Black Hills are seen as a doorway that will impact how we treat endangered sacred sites around the world. In these momentous times of spiritual and ecological crisis and climate change, the Unity Concert is a call, from the heart of our nation, for people across the globe to reconnect with the sacredness of nature, respect and protect the Earth, and restore her to balance.

Help Us Right a Wrong
The Black Hills are considered to be the “Heart of Everything That Is” by the Lakota people. It is here that the spiritual identity of the Sioux Nation is located. These Hills are the source of their creation stories and the site of their most sacred ceremonies which have sustained its people since the Beginning Times.

The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the United States and Sioux promised the “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills. Since its inception, this treaty has been systematically broken, and the U.S. Government’s betrayal has done irreparable damage to the culture of the First Nation tribes.

In 1980 there was a Supreme Court ruling to compensate The Great Sioux Nation for illegally re-taking the Black Hills in 1877, and $106 million was offered in compensation. The tribe refused the money and the trust's value continues to grow to beyond $1.3 billion today — but still, the Sioux have never collected. The Sioux never wanted the money because the Black Hills were never for sale.

The Black Hills are considered the last great hope of the Great Sioux Nation to hold on to their identity and for America to regain her heart!!

Get Involved
Coordinating a concert at this scale requires deep commitment and broad support. To join our effort and support The Unity Concert, please contact us at theunityconcert@gmail.com or visit our website. We’ld love to have your assistance in the form of Indigenous leadership and guidance, media and distribution, on-the-ground volunteers, funding, concert infrastructure, attendance and participation, knowledgeable elders and so much more.

We have the best chance in the history of our nation to succeed in righting a great historical wrong. Together we can make a difference that will be felt around the world for the next seven generations and beyond. To help make this free concert available to all and support this work, please visit our crowdfunding site. Thank you!

Now is the time to gather in the Black Hills and with our music, our words and our passion say, please forgive us for what we have done. We have the opportunity to make this next step and I have the intuitive feeling, being a veteran of successful social change movements over the past half century, that what we're doing in the Black Hills, with your participation, can precipitate this next leap.
— Peter Yarrow (of “Peter, Paul & Mary”)

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This article appears in: 2017 Catalyst, Issue 15: Shamanism Summit