Ranch land near Deerfield Lake considered holy by the Great Sioux Nation will not be sold at auction Saturday as originally planned. The land is owned by Leonard and Margaret Reynolds of Hill City.

Journal file

The auction of nearly 2,000 acres of Black Hills land considered sacred by Native American tribes has been canceled at the owners' request.

Brock Auction Co. planned to sell five tracts of land owned by Leonard and Margaret Reynolds on Saturday. But Bruce Brock, president of Brock Auction Co., Inc., confirmed Thursday afternoon that the auction was off. Brock declined to comment further.

The auction was canceled on the direction of the owners' representative, according to a statement on the Brock Auction website.

Tribal officials were just getting word of the cancellation Thursday afternoon and had no idea why the auction was called off.

"We're on pins and needles," said Chase Iron Eyes, owner of Last Real Indians, a website and organization raising money to buy the land. "We're nervous. We don't know if it's good or bad or what it is."

"It could be good and it could be bad," said Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. "We just don't know what the family wants. That's kind of the unknown. We'll just have to wait and see."

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe had raised nearly $250,000 to buy the land, according to the tribe's website. The tribe also had pledged another $1.3 million toward the purchase of the land, which has an estimated value between $6 million and $10 million.

As long as the family does not replace the auction with a private sale, the move could give tribes a chance to plan how to buy the land or block the sale, said Donna Salomon, spokeswoman for the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

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"It's good news, but on the other hand, we're kind of like why?" Salomon said.

Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation consider the site key to their creation story, and members feared new owners would develop the land they call Pe' Sla. Leonard Little Finger, a language teacher in Oglala, said he has taken groups of schoolchildren to the site to discuss tribal customs, and he hopes to be able to keep doing so in the future.

The auction cancellation gives tribes time to come up with alternatives to a land auction, Little Finger said.

"I just hated the possibility that a special sacred site was going to be coming into a money-making situation," he said. "If the family has canceled that sale, there's still the possibility of a resolution."

Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8415 or ruth.moon@rapidcityjournal.com

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