After the visiting our First National Park of the trip, becoming Junior Rangers, and seeing the sights, (see previous post), we drove to Hot Springs, South Dakota. I had booked five nights at Hot Springs KOA in a Kabin (the cute name for their awesome little cabins).

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We registered, unpacked the necessities and took the kids swimming in the pool. If you are looking for a small, one room cabin with air conditioning and a bathroom, a double bed and a futon, this is the place for you. You do have to bring your own sheets and blankets, but that was no issue as we were planning on camping out later in the trip anyway.IMG_4125

And don’t mind the mess, it is ours. It is hard to pack light for a three week road trip with two kids, cooking everything we ate, and camping half the time. At least, that is my excuse. ūüėČ

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We LOVED staying here. The people running the place were super nice. The entire place was clean and well kept and the kids had space to run around, play and a pool to swim in.

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They even had a great playground for kids of all ages to play in. Between the pool and the playground, my kids that had been cooped up in the car, were very happy!

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Hot Springs, South Dakota is located in the Sacred Black Hills. The hills were so-called because of their dark appearance from a distance, as they were covered in trees. Native Americans¬†have a long history in the Black Hills dating back over 40,000 years. After conquering the Cheyenne¬†in 1776, the Lakota¬†took over the territory of the Black Hills, which became central to their culture and very sacred. The U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, exempting the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. However, when European Americans discovered gold¬†there in 1874, as a result of Custer’s¬†Black Hills Expedition, ¬†miners came in a flood and the US government reassigned the Lakota, against their wishes, to other reservations in western South Dakota. Tourism has grown in the place of gold mining with Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Mammoth Site, Wind and Jewel Cave being large draws for tourists.

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On July 23, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Supreme Court of the United States¬†ruled that the Black Hills were illegally taken and that remuneration of the initial offering price plus interest ‚ÄĒ nearly $106 million ‚ÄĒ be paid. The Lakota (living in the top three lowest income areas in the USA), ¬†refused the settlement as they wanted the Black Hills returned to them. The money remains in an interest-bearing account, which now amounts to over $757 million, but the Lakota still refuse to take the money. They believe that accepting the settlement would allow the U.S. Government to justify taking ownership of the Black Hills.

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Loretta Afraid of Bear, Oglala Lakota, believes reclaiming the Black Hills is crucial to Oceti Sakowin identity. ‚ÄúThe land and language are one. If you lose them, you lose who you are.‚Ä̬†Loretta carries an enormous mission with respect to the Black Hills: gathering and presenting to the Obama White House a consensus on the future¬†of the Black Hills. Loretta has that consensus: “The Black Hills are not for sale. We want all the unseated lands in the Black Hills back, returned to the 9 tribes.” As Loretta states, “Native peoples, First Nations Peoples, are calling for access to their sacred sites. That is what this whole process became for me, was to access sacred sites and to get them back into our hands so that we can share with the world the way that we provide¬†stewardship¬†and guardianship.”

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