In the 1880’s the US government gave the Jesuits 525 acres, scattered here and there in South Dakota, according to this article. The purpose was to make churches and cemeteries on the land. But that land has become more and more sparsely populated over time, and the Jesuits found no use for it after a certain point. The mission stations they built were serving no one, and nothing further was being constructed.
As per usual out west, the government really had no right to give away this land in the first place. Every single plot of land is located within the Rosebud reservation. The Rosebud Sioux are part of the Lakota people, and currently about 15,000 of them live on the reservation.
So the Jesuits decided it was time to return this land to its rightful owners. (One wonders if they would have done so if the had been able to find a use for it, and also how much money, if any, they’re saving in property taxes by getting rid of it, but that’s just my cynicism coming out to play.)
Apparently the property transfer will conclude in May, but the Jesuits have been trying to do this for at least 5 years. The efforts kept hitting brick walls in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It beggars the imagination if there is a more obstructionist governmental bureaucracy on earth, in my opinion.
But, regardless of the motivations, it is nice that, when all is said and done, the right thing is finally going to happen. Finally, a returning is taking place. As the great Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5