project leader
Lyla June J
8220 Elk Creek Road
(Black Hills, South Dakota)
latest update rss
Australian Aboriginal Elders to be with us!

the project

To honor the circle of Life, the sacredness of all Creation and in gratitude for all that we have been given, we celebrate in music and prayer for the fourth and final year in the sacred Black Hills.  Thousands of native and non-native peoples came together in South Dakota for The Black Hills Unity Concert in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  These three extraordinary free gatherings were held in the name of cultural reconciliation and environmental restoration. 

In 2017, Sept 8-10, we gather in Piedmont, South Dakota once again.  We invite you to be a part of this honorable event!  Given the political environment of today and the challenges we see in the Black Hills, this coming together promises to be like no other.  The good seeds of unity, truth and compassion have been planted in so many ways over these past four years. Now we give thanks and encourage our family to keep holding each other high.

We gather under the protection of indigenous ceremony and knowledge, to bring hope and unity among the different tribes of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota (traditionally known as the Oceti Sakowin) and to raise voices for the return of the sacred lands of the Black Hills. Furthermore, the gatherings create a space for urgent social and environmental issues to be voiced and create invaluable alliances for the future. In addition to three days of musical celebration with top native and non-native talent, we achieve our objectives by offering speakers and workshops, space and time for elder meetings and an innovative youth program. 

the steps

1. Initiation (January-March) - Establishing the vision, beginning the fundraising and determining event basics (location and dates).  

2. Planning – (April-August) - Putting everything in place for the event. Formation of committees and detail tasks for the year.  Sending invitations for honored guests, signing of contracts for equipment (stage, lights, sound, golf carts, kitchen equipment, walkie talkies), venue and accommodations. Arranging for wellness/medical and security.  Social media and crowdfunding campaign. 

3. The Event (Sept. 5-12) – Musical celebration, traditional workshops and demonstrations! (plus pre and post-event activities) – Setting up the venue, stage and lights/sound, corral for horses, kitchen, site setup (signage, power, portable toilets, tipis, shelters, tables and chairs, arbors).  Then the event!  Afterwards, breaking down everything and returning rented items and cleaning the site so that it is better than when we got there.

4. Closing (Sept 13-Oct) - Thanking helpful souls (like you!) and doing financial accounting and grant reporting.

why we're doing it

The Oceti Sakowin have a distinct and unique relationship with the Black Hills (He’Sapa).  Many of the original elements of culture, history, oral traditions and language are rooted in this land.  He’Sapa is the center of the spiritual identity of the Pte Oyate, promised to them for their “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. However, the agreements in this treaty were not upheld. The land grab of the Black Hills has devastated traditional culture because, as Oglala Lakota Nation wisdom keeper Wanbli Khota (Ernest Afraid of Bear) says, “If you lose your language or your land, you are no longer who you say you are.”

Knowledge of this sacred relationship with the Earth has been mostly lost not only amongst our youth, but across all ages and cultures around the world resulting in an ecological crisis that demands our urgent action. Many people have suffered greatly in this forced "collapse of culture".  Without a safe place for traditional knowledge and cultural elements to be protected, encouraged, and pased forward, many youth have described a feeling of hopelessness.  To date, our country's policies have denied them the opportunity to walk as who and what they are.

There is no shortage of statistics and heartbreaking stories within native communities, such as suicide, gang murder, early alcoholism and drug addiction.  However, the strength and determination of our youth became apparent for all the world to see during the months-long prayer at Standing Rock.  They have decided to fight for the future of our communities and for Grandmother Earth.  This year's celebration is a thank you to them, and acknowledgement of the commitments made, and a prayer for the future.

We wish to awaken all Peoples to the devastating practices that are threatening our waters and air, not only in the Black Hills but in indigenous lands around the world.  We have many goals this fourth and final year.  We intend to strengthen and unite indigenous voices in speaking for the land, bring together International Elders from indigenous communities around the globe, honor the youth by giving them a voice to speak for the Earth, and join in traditional prayer and teachings.






Disbursed Budget (9.11.17):

RAISED = $13,163.00
 less ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
less ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $382.37
TOTAL TO DISBURSE = $12,745.63

Original Budget:

We are excited to be bringing extraordinary elders from across the seas to be with us this year.  Our fundraising needs reflect that additional travel money along with all the other aspects of putting on the gathering.  We are once again humbly asking our artists and volunteers donate their time and talents, so that our funds go for lodging, travel expenses, site expenses that we cannot get donated. 

This year we have found some grants that we hope will help us with more than half the need and we are asking the community to help us with what is left which is about $46,000.  We thank you so much for whatever you are able to offer.

International Travel - (Elders and Artists)                        $10,000.00
Domestic Travel - (Elders and Artists)                                $5,000.00
Accommodations - (Elders and Artists)                                $20,000.00
Food - (All)                                                                            $8,000.00
Tipis (Transport and Setup)                                                  $2,000.00


We are submitting grants for other funding needed for the project, such as stage and lighting, site maintenance (porta potties, etc), publicity, on site construction.

Black Hills Unity Concert ioby campaign SUBTOTAL = $45,000
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $1,350
TOTAL TO RAISE on ioby= $46,385



Australian Aboriginal Elders to be with us!

We are honored to welcome elders of the Southern Land of Burra community to be in the Black Hills with us this year!

Event rsvp details...

Please visit our website for information to sign up for this free concert:


May We All Walk in Harmony (new video from Aloka)

We thank Aloka for sharing this beautiful video message with us. It highlights the challenges we face on Earth at this time and the promise of a new way of walking together in peace.  We are delighted that he will be with us at the Black Hills Unity Concert this year!  



Colorado Benefit for the Black Hills Unity Concert July 8!

We hope you can join us in Ft. Collins, Colorado on July 8, 2017 for a beautiful musical evening!  

LA Benefit for the Black Hills Unity Concert - April 30, 2017!!

Come see us in LA!!  Bring your friends!  It will be a remarkable evening!  

Cody Blackbird Band Video Coming Soon!

Stay tuned, we are working on a fantastic video with the song, "Promised Land", by Cody Blackbird Band.

With our Brothers and Sisters, we will stand 

and Protect our Promised Land!


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • J. Perry
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • GuerillaHealer
  • Anonymous
  • Bev Jordan
  • Anonymous
  • Neil Burns
  • maureen brucker
  • Joan Bird and Max Milton
  • Valerie Anne
  • Anonymous
  • Christina Webb - ioby
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  • Melody LeBaron
  • Annie
  • Janet G.
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  • Carol Nicholson
  • Zara W.
  • andy & eric
  • Ellen Starr
  • Anonymous
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  • Marion Schneider
  • Lesle Goodhart
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  • Sally
  • Natalia M. Nielsen
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  • Cate Manochio
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  • David Gottschalk
  • Janet Dowell
  • Macky Alston
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  • Lauren Patti, ioby
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  • Kyeth
  • Lisa S.
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  • The Melchers
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  • Dana B
  • Kelley and Chris
  • Yaasika, Jonah & Zola
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  • Bernie W.
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  • Barry Nisman
  • Lyla June
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  • Steve Olson
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