Black Hills Unity Concert takes place at the Elk Creek Resort from September 8th-10th in Piedmont, South Dakota
For the fourth year, hundreds of Native people and supporters will gather at the sacred Black Hills, located in western South Dakota for the Black Hills Unity Concert hosted at the Elk Creek Resort from September 8th-10th in Piedmont, South Dakota
Hundreds gathered for the 2nd annual Black Hills Unity Concert in 2015.
The purpose of the concert is bring awareness to the federal government’s legislative abuses of Indigenous treaty rights specifically, the unadhered to Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which ensured that the Black Hills would be reserved for the Plains Indian nations to include the Arapahoe, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota and Cheyenne.
Today a majority of the Black Hills is owned by private and federal groups. Native peoples are often treated as trespassers in a homelands guaranteed to them by federal law.
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun once stated, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonest dealings may never be found in our history.”
According to youth organizer Lyla June Johnston, “We are dealing with incredibly emotional issues. In the spirit of unity we seek true partnerships with things that have been historically divided.”
This year’s concert will focus on networking and communication, with morning workshop sessions on issues such as language extinction, cultural erosion, water protection, uranium contamination, youth suicide, sustainable economic development, self-sufficiency, self-determination, racial division, and the protection of Indigenous women.
Elders from indigenous groups from around the world will also convene before and during the concert from places such as Colombia, Australia, Mexico and Nigeria.
Leroy Comes Last gives a workshop at the 2nd annual Black Hills Unity Concert on honoring and protecting women. Photo courtesy Matt Kelly
The lineup for indigenous entertainment and public speakers include Prolific the Rapper, (Lakota,) Wanbli Ceya (Oglala,) Goodvoice Wolf (Lakota), Raye Zaragoza (Akimel O’odham), Naelyn Pike (Apache), The Cody Blackbird Band, Kalilah Rampanen (Nuuchahnulth/Cree), Lyla June (Diné), Theresa Bearfox (Mohawk), Darren Thompson (Annishnabeg) and others.
Buffy Sainte-Marie graces the 1st annual Unity Concert stage in 2014.
Wanbli Ceya of Oglala, South Dakota who has dedicated his life to using his musical and literary talents to convey a positive message stated “people on the Rez have been shattered by alcohol and Meth… Living like a true traditional Lakota is the only way to restore health to the people.”
The concert will also host several allies to the Native community such as Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, Tsering Lodoe of Tibet, The Peace Poets of Brooklyn, The Flobots and local musician, Steve Thorpe.
In addition to the concert, the event will host workshops, presentations and ceremonies that will provide participants with an opportunity to gather with like-minded people, and network with local and national leaders, as well as various tribes through the United States.
The 2017 Black Hills Unity Concert Poster
The concert will occur at the Elk Creek Resort from September 8th-10th in Piedmont, South Dakota (17 minutes northwest of Rapid City).
Admission is free and participants are encouraged to join in on the organizing effort by registering as volunteers at www.theunityconcert.org. The concert is still accepting applications for licensed food and crafts vendors, For info contact 978-204-7315.