Mr. Kurtz alerts us that our Lakota people may translate their dissatisfaction over Rapid City's response to an alleged racist attack on 57 American Horse School kids at a Rush hockey game in January into boycotts. An anonymous source tells the press the Oglala Sioux Tribe may be asking tribal schools not to hold events in Rapid City. That boycott would include the Lakota Nation Invitational, a massive athletic, academic, and arts event that brings $5 million to $6 million to Rapid City's economy. The Oglala Sioux Tribe will press an LNI boycott if tournament organizers don't move LNI to another city.

Comparing the proposed LNI boycott to the 1955–1956 Montgomery bus boycott may be instructive. The Montgomery bus boycott worked because it exerted economic pressure directly on the entity exercising discrimination, the public transit system that segregated buses. It was tolerable to the city's black residents because boycott organizers were able to organize viable alternatives to the boycotted service. Even this effective boycott ended not because the city relented but because the Supreme Court ruled that segregating buses was unconstitutional.

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker says an LNI boycott would unfairly target Rapid City for a crime perpetrated by one guy from out of town. Indians could boycott Philip, the hometown of the man charged with throwing beer at the American Horse School kids, but who from Pine Ridge ever shops in Philip?

Boycotting LNI and other events in Rapid City does not directly target the police or the state's attorney responsible for the criminal charge that Indians perceive as insufficient. The indirect pressure on city and county officials may not outweigh the direct negative impacts on kids and families denied an opportunity to enjoy big events in Rapid City.

Boycotting communities will need to offer alternative venues and events. Moving LNI this year would be tough; it's not until December, but the contracts are already signed, and finding another West River town with enough lodging and contest space not already booked may be impossible. Alternative events may have to be part of a long-term strategy: Pine Ridge leaders may have to look at investing in larger event facilities, hotels, and restaurants that could handle LNI for one week, but making such facilities financially viable would require a broader marketing strategy that would bring other big events to town throughout the year. Turning Pine Ridge into a tournament/conference/tourism destination would be great for tribal economic self-sufficiency, but it would require far more sustained planning, investment, and collaboration than simply telling people not to go to Rapid City.

Boycotting Rapid City may register anger, but it won't convict Trace O'Connell of any stiffer charges. A boycott may comfort racists in Rapid City—Ah, fewer Indians stinking up our town! The goal can't simply be to reinforce segregation and let Whitopia stand. The goal must be to engage all parties—including us white folks—in making Rapid City a place where everyone is welcome.

p.s.: Speaking of white folks, where is the state's Tribal Relations Office? One would think that the state would take a keen interest in mediating the most prominent current white-tribal dispute in the state. But last week, the Tribal Relations Office's priority was flacking for the Department of Agribusiness and promoting CAFOs on the rez.

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Watertown Arrows fans didn't like us outsiders talking about the cultural misappropriation inherent in their homecoming activities. Now some Dakota students who attended Sisseton public schools but switched to Tiospa Zina to get away from racial prejudice are saying Sisseton's team name (the Redmen) and homecoming activities offend their cultural identity:

A group of female American Indian basketball players in Roberts County are working on a cause that their grandparents took up more than 20 years ago.

Tate, Mahpiya, Fidelity and Persephone Eastman, along with a few of their friends, hosted a rally this week asking the Sisseton School District to change the name of its team and logo from Redmen [Katherine Grandstrand, "Teens Rally for Name Change," Aberdeen American News, 2015.02.06].

A relative of the girls recalls cultural misppropriation in Sisseton's homecoming activities that sounds very similar to Watertown's:

LeeAnn Eastman said that when she went to high school in Sisseton, she had similar experiences as her daughters and nieces. Because of the way she was treated at Sisseton, she said she transferred to Tiospa Zina.

“I couldn’t handle that,” LeeAnn Eastman said. “You just feel lower, like you’re below them, like you’ll never be as good as them.”

The nickname isn’t the only issue. The way the American Indian is used at school events, like homecoming, is also problematic, LeeAnn Eastman said.

“They crown a chieftain and a princess, and they put on a headdress. The girls braid up their hair, they put paint on their face,” she said. “I haven’t seen it since I was really young, but I know before, they did mock ceremonies. They mocked our ceremonies. ... That’s how we pray” [Grandstrand, 2015.02.06].

The girls organized a protest of the Redmen name before Tuesday's basketball game between Tiospa Zina and Sisseton. The Sisseton superintendent appears to find First Amendment exercise incompatible with physical exercise:

Some people didn’t like that the protest took place before a girls’ basketball game, Sisseton School District Superintendent Stephen Schulte said. It affected not only those in attendance, but the game itself, he added.

“They have an opportunity to come to school board and make suggestions, and the board can act on that,” Schulte said. “But at this point in time, recently, they haven’t done that. They’ve done it in the past” [Grandstrand, 2015.02.06].

Hmm... if a group is aggrieved by a sports team's name, it seems to me the most appropriate place to raise awareness of that grievance would be at an event where that name is being chanted and trumpeted the most loudly. But then, what do I know about basketball?

38 comments

Graphic of the Week Award goes to Dakota Rural Action for this banner announcing a rally for clean water and democracy:

DRA Voice Vote Values anti-CAFO banner Feb 2015

Dakota Rural Action is holding the "Rally to Protect Our Voice, Our Vote, and Our Values" Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the Downtown River Greenway Amphitheater (on the Big Sioux between 6th and 8th Streets) in Sioux Falls.

DRA is steamed about three bills that threaten water quality and the people's right to participate in local zoning decisions:

HB 1173 - Introduced by Representative Qualm (R-21) and Senator Cammack (R-29), this bill would penalize citizens appealing land zoning decisions seen as frivolous. Since courts already have the authority to award damages in frivolous or malicious suits (SDCL 15-17-51), this bills is clearly targeted at preventing citizens from challenging zoning decisions made in their county.

SB 127 - Introduced by Senator Rusch (R-17) and Representative Rasmussen (R-17), this bill would create an exemption to South Dakota law allowing non-family farm corporations to own and operate hog confinements in South Dakota.

HB 1201 - Introduced by Representative Mickelson (R-13) and Senator Cammack (R-29), this bill would reduce the number of votes needed on a county board of adjustment to allow a conditional use permit from 4 out of 5 to 3 out of 5, making it easier for CAFOs to get these permits and move forward [Dakota Rural Action, open letter to South Dakota Legislature, 2015.02.03].

You can sign that open letter, too, and let your legislators know you are tired of their facilitation of the corporate colonization of South Dakota. You can also make legislators hear your voice in person: After briefing the troops, DRA will take its rally to Saturday's Legislative Coffees (apparently Sioux Falls is too sophistimacated to call 'em crackerbarrels): Session 1 starts at 9 a.m. with legislators from Districts 6, 9, and 10; Session 2 starts at 10:45 with legislators from Districts 11 and 12. Both public fora are at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown... where DRA will be out in force guardin' your voice and your water.

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Dakota Rural Action, Native allies, and other Earth-friendly neighbors go to Pierre today to show their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline at a Public Utilities Commission hearing at the Capitol. DRA was out yesterday in Rapid City and Sioux Falls protesting the proposed Canadian tar sands pipeline:

Dakota Rural Action protests Keystone XL pipeline in Rapid City, South Dakota, 2015.01.05. (Photo from DRA)

Dakota Rural Action protests Keystone XL pipeline in Rapid City, South Dakota, 2015.01.05. (Photo from DRA)

Dakota Rural Action protests Keystone XL pipeline in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2015.01.05. (Photo from DRA)

Dakota Rural Action protests Keystone XL pipeline in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2015.01.05. (Photo from DRA)

My Orland neighbor Charlie Johnson goes to the Lake County Commission in Madison today to talk about his concerns about the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, which will cross his organic farm land against his will to carry Bakken crude to Illinois refiners. Commission chairman Scott Pedersen tells me that the only permits Dakota Access would have to submit to Lake County would be the boring permits to bore a path for the pipe under county roads. Dakota Access would also have to apply to the township boards to drill under township roads. That's the only local monkey wrench available to pipeline opponents; otherwise, Charlie and friends will have to go to the PUC to talk Dakota Access, just as DRA and friends are doing today on Keystone XL.

I'm glad Charlie and DRA are braving the cold to bring some heat on these pipelines. I wonder: why do so many other South Dakotans seem so eager to embrace environmentally dangerous projects that abrogate our property rights?

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BBC Pop Up, the British broadcaster's new "mobile bureau," spent December in South Dakota. BBC's Benjamin Zand spends a few days on Rosebud and Pine Ridge talking to young people (42% of South Dakota's tribal population is younger than 25) about their identity and aspirations.

Among those appearing in this video snapshot:

  • "America is a stolen country," says Justin Rowland, guide at the Wounded Knee Massacre site and descendant of Lakota people killed by the U.S. Army at the site 114 years ago.
  • Sicangu Lakota Shane Red Hawk has participated in Cowboy and Indian Allians protests against the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Willi White and Indigene Studios co-founder Angela White Eyes are working on their first major project, The People, a futuristic dystopian short shot entirely on Pine Ridge.
  • Scatter Their Own duo Scotti Clifford and Julia Brown Eyes-Clifford says their music "pays tribute to the concepts and philosophy of their Lakota culture while fusing Alternative Rock and Blues into what they would like to call Alter-Native Rock and Roll. They believe that their music celebrates Grandmother Earth." (Calm down, Sibby. It's just rock and roll.)
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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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A couple thousand protesters kinked the hose of commerce Saturday by flashmobbing a "Black Lives Matter" protest in the Mall of America. During the protest, St. Paul writer Ira Booker Tweeted this photo:

Framing this giant warning next to the big Christmas tree brilliantly juxtaposes authoritarianism, religion, and commerce. Taking this photo may place Booker in the Mall's suspicious-activity database.

I understand and defend the basic right to private property. Pretty much every store in America is private property. When we're on their turf, our corporate overlords have the right to say, "Ho Ho Ho! Merry Shut Your Mouth and Shop!" If our actions on their property interfere with their normal business operations, they have the right to ask us to leave.

But here's our con-law civil rights brainteaser for the morning: What's the difference between the Mall of America ejecting you for exercising your First Amendment right to speak and assemble and a baker refusing to sell you a cake for exercising your Fourteenth Amendment right to be a citizen while gay or Indian?

In related news, one day after American Indian activists protested police brutality in Rapid City, Rapid City police officer Anthony Meirose shot and killed Lakota man Allen Locke:

Locke, according to [RCPD Captain Dan] Rud, attacked Officer Anthony Meirose when the officer was responding to an “unwanted subject” at 541 Pahasapa Road, Lakota Homes.

Rud said that Locke, armed with a knife, attacked Meirose at the doorway to the home. Meirose then shot Locke several times.

The officer, Rud added, did not have time to use any non-lethal weapon [Jack Siebold, "Police Release Name of Rapid City Man Killed Saturday," Rapid City Journal, 2014.12.21].

Native Lives Matter... but don't plan to march around saying that at the Rushmore Mall.

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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?

77 comments

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