SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — After months of high-profile fundraising that drew celebrities' attention and dollars, a group of American Indian tribes has raised $9 million to buy a piece of land in South Dakota's Black Hills that the tribes consider sacred, an official with an Indian land foundation said Friday.
Indian Land Tenure Foundation president Cris Stainbrook told the Associated Press that the tribes raised enough money to purchase the land from its current owners. The foundation was one of several groups and organizations leading the effort to buy the land.
The deal was finalized Friday, which was the deadline for the tribes to raise the money.
The land, known as Pe' Sla, went up for sale after being privately owned. Members of the Great Sioux Nation have been allowed to gather there every year to perform rituals. The site plays a key role in the tribes' creation story, and members fear new owners would develop it.
Tribal leaders from three Sioux tribes — Rosebud Sioux president Cyril Scott, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux chairman Charlie Vig and Crow Creek chairman Brandon Sazue — released a joint statement Friday, saying they are happy to be able to reclaim one of their sacred sites.
Those three tribes were the only ones to contribute to the purchase, Scott said. Tribal leaders would not say how much each tribe contributed to the purchase.
The three leaders said they exercised their tribal sovereign authority.
"It's a great day for Indian country," Scott said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. Scott also said that all Sioux tribal members are invited to the land and that tribal leaders plan to form a commission to preserve the land.