Last Real Indians reports an ugly racial incident at last Saturday's Rapid City Rush hockey match. 57 Lakota kids from the American Horse School came up from Allen Saturday to see the game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center as a reward for participation in an after-school program. Alas, according to dad and chaperone some yahoos in the VIP box above them started "talking crap to our kids and throwing beer on some of the staff and the students" during the third period. Poor Bear says one of the VIP thugs invited him up to the VIP box to fight. The parents and chaperones chose to leave the game.

KOTA gets confirmation that there was a fracas Saturday:

Craig Baltzer, executive director of the civic center, says “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Some of the things being said to the children were racially charged. I don’t know how to perceive people would behave that way.”

For the last five years, the Rush – according to Baltzer – has invited the students to a game. Until Saturday, the students have had good experiences.

“I’m very disappointed in how people behaved,” Batlzer said. “We have to bring these kids back to have a good experience” [Jack Siebold, "Bad Behavior at Rush Game Targeted Native Americans," KOTA-TV, 2015.01.26].

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center has posted an apology on Facebook. The businessman who provided the VIP box and probably the beer also expresses his regrets:

Tom Helland, president of Eagle Sales, a beer wholesaler, said his company rents the suite and allowed guests from out-of-town to use it. No one from the distributor was involved.

Helland says he is sorry about the incident and that his company is already working with the Rush to invite the kids back so they can have a better experience at a Rush game [Siebold, 2015.01.26].

So some guys get invited to enjoy some of the best seats in the arena to watch a friendly hockey game, and instead of just having fun and cheering for their team, they decide to throw their beverages and pick on children. Thank you, hockey fans, for demonstrating the opposite of manhood.

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Lakota Voice blogger Ann-erika White Bird sees a little justice done by her Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council. White Bird reports that the council voted unanimously to fire Rosebud Attorney General Aisha Uwais-Savage Concha Wednesday:

During the discussion about the Attorney General, Antelope Community Councilman Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr. stated, “We’re going into the final year of the contract and she hasn’t passed a bar (exam). There’s malfeasance and there’s a liability and credibility in presenting litigation in court, and based on a recommendation from the judiciary and resolutions from communities, I move to terminate the Attorney General’s contract for cause, the cause being malfeasance.

"She was lying about being an enrolled member of a federally recognized Tribe, she disrespects our Lakota culture, disrespects our Tribal members' sacred names to the point an elder is crying, and blatant insubordination to Tribal Council instruction and motions. We’ll see who puts a non-Indian before our tribal members" [Ann-erika White Bird, "Attorney General Concha Fired," Lakota Voice, 2015.01.03].

Councilman Waln's objections to Concha's continued employment match the controversial complaints White Bird has reported on her blog throughout the past year.

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While I was out and about on my blog tour last August, I learned that Jackson County was balking at a federally funded, state-approved plan to open a satellite early-voting center in Wanblee, a mostly Lakota community 28 miles from the courthouse in mostly white Kadoka. Four Pine Ridge Reservation voters sued the county in September for equal early-voting access.

That lawsuit prompted Jackson County to open a satellite voting station in Wanblee on October 20, giving them eleven days to vote early out of the 46 days before the election that early voting opens in South Dakota. Jackson County thinks that action makes everything hunky-dory and wants the lawsuit dismissed. Luckily, our U.S. Attorney, Brendan Johnson, disagrees:

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says the county’s refusal to open a satellite office – the cost for which can be reimbursed through Help America Vote Act funds – was not a reasonable response, given the state’s history with the Native American community.

“Let’s be clear, South Dakota does not have a proud history when it comes to providing Native Americans an equal right to vote,” Johnson said. “We should be doing more, not less, to protect the right of every South Dakotan to vote in our elections” [John Hult, "U.S. Attorney Scolds County on Voting Law," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.02].

U.S. Attorney Johnson's Department of Justice has filed a brief arguing that Judge Karen Schreier should not grant Jackson County's motion to dismiss:

The Department of Justice response says the issues raised in the lawsuit are clearly within the scope of the act, however, and deserve a fair hearing.

“Courts have consistently interpreted Section 2 (of the Voting Rights Act) to cover all manner of voting procedures,” the DOJ brief says. “In particular, courts have repeatedly entertained Section 2 claims that involve access to polling places, to voter registration, and to opportunities for absentee and early voting” [Hult, 2015.01.02].

Our new Republican Secretary of State, like the last one, thinks satellite early-voting centers in Wanblee and other isolated American Indian communities are unnecessary. We'll see if their white-privileged thinking prevails with Judge Karen Schreier.

Update 09:44 CST: The Republican spin machine, which is still sore that it didn't get to run all of its pre-packaged propaganda against Brendan Johnson in the 2014 election, suggests that the only reason Johnson would "interject" the DOJ in the Jackson County voting rights dispute is to position himself to run for office in 2016... because, you know, it's inconceivable to Republicans that Lakota equality and the Voting Rights Act would motivate men of good conscience to act.

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NoKXL Rally, State Capitol, Pierre, South Dakota, January 6, 2015, 9:30 a.m.Session doesn't start until January 13, but dedicated citizens will be heating up the Capitol next week with a rally against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Oceti Rising and Dakota Rural Action are holding a #NoKXL Rally on Tuesday, January 6. They invite all interested citizens (and all citizens should be interested!) to the Public Utilities Commission hearing that starts at 9:30 a.m. in Room 413 of the Capitol. After hearing twelve electrical service territory boundary requests and Northwestern Energy's 20% rate hike request, the PUC will turn to the Yankton Sioux Tribe's motion to dismiss TransCanada's application for re-certification of its Keystone XL permit. As I reported on December 8, the Yankton Sioux Tribe contends that a "Tracking Table of Changes" submitted this fall by TransCanada with its application includes 30 modifications that render the proposed pipeline a different project from that which the PUC permitted in 2010. The tribe thus argues that TransCanada must apply for a whole new permit and submit to a whole new lengthy permit process.

On Monday, Dakota Rural Action and the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes filed motions to join the Yankton Sioux Tribe's motion, while the Rosebud Sioux Tribe filed a similar motion to dismiss. TransCanada contends the tribes' argument is illogical; things change, Keystone XL can still meet the permit conditions, and the tribes cite no law, statute, or case law to back their argument. PUC staff attorney Kristen N. Edwards recommends the PUC deny the motion to dismiss, saying that the significance of the listed project changes is better determined in discovery and the evidentiary hearing later this year.

Win or lose before the PUC Tuesday morning, the NoKXL Ralliers will have a prayer rally in the Capitol Rotunda after the hearing.

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Oh, fuss and feathers! We got all hot and bothered here on the blog about the Rapid City Police Department's denial of a permit to American Indian activists who want to stage a protest against police brutality during the Lakota Nation Invitational. But Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris was serious when he said he was working with organizers to accommodate their First Amendment rights. The protest is on for this afternoon!

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has authorized a special event permit for this march and rally from 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19, in Memorial Park, Legacy Commons and the Promenade.

“I am thankful that we came to an agreement to address the public safety concerns,” Jegeris said.

The Rapid City Police Department will be present during the event to ensure the public safety of all residents and visitors ["Rapid City Police Chief Approves Protest Rally for Friday," KOTA-TV, 2014.12.18].

Kevin Woster explains that a big part of Chief Jegeris's initial rejection of the permit was timing:

Protesters had wanted to have the protest rally and March from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. They would have marched from the east parking lot of the civic center south a few blocks to Main Street, then west on Main for three blocks to Mount Rushmore. From there they were to march back to the west parking lot of the civic center.

Those are some of the busiest streets in Rapid City, especially when there’s an event at the civic center and Rapid City Central – just across the street – is releasing students for the day.

Add in approaching darkness and the protest plan was an unacceptable danger to LNI attendee, Central students, the general public and protesters and the police, Jegeris said.

“The time frame would be just about dark and getting dark,” he said. “And there’s just so many safety considerations that I just have to put safety first” [Kevin Woster, "RC Chief Approves Permit After Initial Rejection," KELOLand.com, 2014.12.18].

See? Chief Jegeris is no brute; he's actually helping the protesters shine more daylight on their message.

So Larry, still want to move LNI out of Rapid City?

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Uh oh, Chief—looks like we got a case of speaking while Indian.

Cody Hall, Anthony Bordeaux, and other American Indian activists want to hold a march against police brutality in Rapid City Friday in conjunction with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a big basketball (and knowledge bowl, business plan, archery, language...) tournament that will bring lots of Natives and maybe some wasicu to town. Organizers want to march from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center (site of LNI) to Main Street and back. Seems like a good opportunity to reach a larger audience and do some organizing, right?

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has denied a permit for this march, saying these organizers couldn't keep their crowd under control the last time they raised a ruckus in Rapid:

The event was proposed to take place on Friday December 19th, beginning at 3pm. Since that time, the event has been advertised as a March/Rally on social media and indicators show that well over 100 people plan to attend. This was proposed to occur during the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI), an event that is expected to draw approximately 2500 youth and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The same event organizers were involved in the May 2012 March/Rally involving Rapid City Regional Hospital. That event drew hundreds of demonstrators. Although the event was promoted as peaceful, numerous public safety issues arose including; disruption of traffic, obstruction of police, threat to occupy the hospital, threat of arson to the hospital, and other issues that placed the demonstrators, law enforcement, and the general public at risk. This demonstrates the organizers' lack of ability to provide adequate supervision to the event, and demonstrates the great risk that would be posed to the LNI.

"The LNI is a positive youth event, and the public safety of our youth and families is the number one priority. The City of Rapid City and the Rapid City Police Department have worked hard over the past 38 years to support and ensure the highest degree of Public Safety possible for the LNI," said Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris. It is for this reason that the March/Rally/Walk be kept separate from the LNI [Rapid City Police Department, press release, 2014.12.16].

Safety first—yup, that's the recipe for authoritarianism that our country has embraced too willingly since September 11, 2001.

Chief Jegeris hasn't completely shut the door on the protesters' exercise of the First Amendment:

The Rapid City Police Department is committed to protecting all Constitutional Rights of residents and visitors, including the Right to Assemble and Freedom of Speech," said Chief Jegeris. It is for that reason that Chief Jegeris has offered to meet with the event organizers to make arrangements to accommodate an alternative date and/or location [RCPD, 2014.12.16].

I'm pleased the chief is still offering an alternative, but will he end up offering organizers some out-of-the-way "free speech zone" like we've seen at national political conventions?

Refresh me on this question: why do we need a permit system for public assembly and protest? Why do the police get any check over the exercise of First Amendment rights? Assembling to speak is not a prosecutable crime; should you or I or an Indian in Rapid City have to ask the government's permission to do so?

If the police see a crowd of people making noise, they should certainly mosey over to see what's the hubbub, but should they have the authority to exercise any restraint before the crowd even assemble, let alone before anyone in the crowd commits a crime?

Organizers, in Rapid City, it's time to rebrand from "We Can't Breathe" to "We Can't Speak."

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Attorney General Eric Holder offers South Dakota this parting gift—a redoubled commitment to enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act:

...[T]he Department of Justice is reinforcing and increasing staff for the Office of Tribal Justice—including experts with a deep understanding of the laws impacting Indian Country—to make certain that Indian men, women, and children will always have a voice in the policies and priorities of the Justice Department. And we are redoubling our support of the Indian Child Welfare Act, to protect Indian children from being illegally removed from their families; to prevent the further destruction of Native traditions through forced and unnecessary assimilation; and to preserve a vital link between Native children and their community that has too frequently been severed – sometimes by those acting in bad faith.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is launching a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and their tribal communities. We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law. And we will join with those departments, and with tribes and Indian child-welfare organizations across the country, to explore training for state judges and agencies; to promote tribes’ authority to make placement decisions affecting tribal children; to gather information about where the Indian Child Welfare Act is being systematically violated; and to take appropriate, targeted action to ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.

Ultimately, these children – and all those of future generations – represent the single greatest promise of our partnership, because they will reap the benefits of our ongoing work for change [Attorney General Eric Holder, remarks, White House Tribal Nations Conference, Washington, DC, 2014.12.03].

South Dakota's least favorite NPR reporter, Laura Sullivan, notes that this commitment to heightened enforcement of ICWA is already evident in the Department of Justice's historic intervention in the ongoing lawsuit over Pennington County's allegedly discriminatory child custody practices against American Indian parents.

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Governor Dennis Daugaard's budget proposal includes a new Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative. A major part of the plan is to reduce the frequency and length of residential placements of juvenile offenders—i.e., put more kids on probation instead of yanking them from their homes and locking them up.

Why does that sound familiar? I turn back to my interview with then-District 33 Senate candidate Robin Page:

Education reform isn't just about money. Page sees the education of lots of low-income and American Indian youth suffering because of shortcomings in our juvenile corrections system. Juvenile offenders with mental health and addiction issues are often placed in out-of-state residential facilities. Such programs in places like Utah and Georgia cost $250 to $500 per juvenile per day. Stays in such facilities regularly last 12 to 18 months. When young people come back from such programs, they deal with enormous disruption in their schooling. Their friends have moved on. They feel out of place among younger, "normal" students. They often come from homes that lack the resources to pursue GEDs. But without a diploma, they can't get into vo-tech programs and land good jobs.

Page would like to break that cycle. Instead of sending kids and money out of state, Page would like to invest in treatment programs that would keep juveniles, especially Indian juveniles, closer to home and family and maintain some continuity in their education. Such in-state programs would make it easier for families to participate in family therapy and other more holistic approaches to help juvenile offenders get back on the right track [CAH, "District 33 Senate: Robin Page Seeks Balance, Voice for All," Madville Times, 2014.05.24].

Ship fewer kids off to expensive residential facilities, help them stick with their families and keep up with their studies, reduce their chances of offending again—that was Page's thinking, and it's the Governor's thinking.

Alas, with respect to American Indian youth, the Governor's initiative isn't making much of an extra effort. The JJRI includes one recommendation (out of twelve) to "conduct stakeholder outreach" and develop a pilot program for tribal youth. The Governor's recommended FY 2016 budget adjustments direct just $5,000 more to the Department of Tribal Relations for the JJRI, perhaps to supply the study group with coffee and donuts... and, we can hope, to give some officials some gas money to head out to Rapid City and hear more of Robin Page's ideas.

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