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Rapid City VIP Hockey Spectators Harass Indian Kids at Rush Game

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.


  1. Tim 2015.01.27

    As much as I have tried to defend Rapid City to people like Larry, there are times when it can't be done, so much to be done.

  2. Lynn 2015.01.27

    Wouldn't it have been a better example for those kids to have civic center management on duty to boot out all of those adults from that booth showing that type of behavior is not to be tolerated? They could of removed the alcohol, cleaned it up and let these kids have the VIP for the remainder of the game.

    Do you think names will be released? I'd be very surprised.

  3. larry kurtz 2015.01.27

    Nothing the Yellowstone supervolcano won't fix, Tim.

  4. Lynn 2015.01.27

    I hope they keep up the pressure to find out the names of these bad actors and publish their names at the very least? They must be within the region to be at that game. If it's Eagle Distributing wouldn't it be possibly casino, grocery store, c-store and bar owners in regional communities that they serve?

    This makes my blood boil!

  5. Lynn 2015.01.27

    Misread it but Eagle and the Civic Center should definitely be pressured to get the names and info on these bad actors.

  6. WayneF 2015.01.27

    I've been hearing about this deplorable incident on SDPB radio all morning. Surely the people who harassed these children can be identified. Then a civil suit should be brought. Unbelievable that some "adults" can be so stupid and hateful.

  7. Loren 2015.01.27

    How about the kids get a return invitation and get to sit IN THE VIP SUITE - sans the alcohol, of course. That should be a real experience! What say, Mr Helland? Give the kids an experience most will remember always!

  8. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.27

    Once we have killed ninety five percent of the Natives ancestors, they know full well how deep the canyon is if society starts sliding down the slippery slope. That is why when these things happen, that they talk about the idea that the genocide continues.
    My black foster sister has a black step daughter whose father grew up in a ghetto. He is now a pastor. But when racial wrongs happen, she talks about that slavery could return in one generation. She knows how deep the canyon can get when society gets bad.
    If we get so arrogant as to think that just giving the kids a good experience next time will solve the problem, you are seriously wrong. If the kids so no justice to the wrongdoers, they will learn that these things are not corrected but will continue. Giving them one good experience will do very little good since it will sooth your conscience enough that you will not even see the problem is still there. This will teach the Native children that there is no justice from the law and that they will have to defend themselves from the law rather than seeing the law as keeping them safe. The same has happened in the black community so now we wonder why blacks and cops seem to be shooting eachother so much.
    So those of you who think that acting like everyone is nice for the next time rather than doing justice to those who did wrong, just keep covering it up and then be shocked when justice comes in a non legal way.
    But on the bright side, alcoholism is down on the res, Pine Ridge bought four million cans of beer at White Clay last year compared with five million cans of beer the year before. So they are making significant strides in improving their situation. So now how ironic that the VIP box of the beer company shows the Native kids what asses beer makes out of white folks. The beer distributor has proven how much chaos and disruption he can make with his product. Now that was not revenge, that was God's justice. We could not have planned it better.

  9. jerry 2015.01.27

    This is just another day in South Dakota. The racial injustice by drunk white men goes back to the days of territory and they have not changed since then. Helland makes millions off the abuse of alcohol to Natives, he should at least be man enough to put the names on the business that condones the racism and name names. I think then we would find that there was someone from his organization that was the chaperon for these asses. Despicable the fact there was no security at the game either, maybe there should be a ban on alcohol at the games when there are children in the building if the adults cannot control themselves.

  10. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.27

    see no justice, not, so no justice

  11. Lynn 2015.01.27

    If there is an event for these kids at a Rush game or wherever I'd like to drive out to Rapid and show my support keeping it very positive.

  12. Donald Pay 2015.01.27

    If they threw beer on the staff and students, that might be considered an assault, especially when that act is accompanied by threatening behavior, such as name calling. Justice requires that authorities investigate the folks who did this.

  13. Loren 2015.01.27

    Geez, slow down, Roger. I am all for holding the offending individuals accountable! Find 'em. Ban 'em! Do what you want. I just thought the excuse of, "Well, we rent the suite out to XYZ, so we are not responsible," was a bit of a cop out! I thought the company that owns the VIP suite might do something noteworthy. Wasn't trying to cover anything up! Trying to think of the kids, but use the incident however you feel necessary!

  14. larry kurtz 2015.01.27

    Twenty bucks says the feds are leading investigators of this crime.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27

    I've been following this incident since it was first reported and what has bothered me, unless I missed it, is that law enforcement or the state's attorney office have not been involved. I think Mr. Poor Bear erred in not contacting law enforcement immediately, it should have been his first call.

    American Horse Day School needs to file a civil rights complaint against the Rush, the "Civic" Center and Eagle Sales.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27

    And whites wonder why so many Natives hate them.

  17. Loren 2015.01.27

    Right, Roger, let's not just find the offenders and have them answer for misdeeds! Let's sue the Rush, Civic Cntr, Eagle. Might as well throw in Rapid City, SD, USA, all white people,... Any wonder why whites have a hard time supporting natives that were wronged! Let's see how much hatred we can gather and be sure to tell those kids that it is WHITE PEOPLE they should blame, not a bunch of idiots!

  18. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27

    Why should American Horse School file a Civil Rights suite against Rapid City and all white people? All of Rapid City were not involved in this racist attack on Indian children.

    Are you advocating that American Horse School take no action against the parties involved?

    Is just sitting back and accepting a weak apology really enough?

  19. Loren 2015.01.27

    No, Roger, I was with you all the way until you brought up "natives hating whites"! I absolutely agree the parties involved should be held to account. Hopefully we can identify them and single them out and explain to the kids that these were IDIOTS and not "white people"! An apology is warranted, but I would still love to see the kids get a GOOD EXPERIENCE! Cheers, Roger!

  20. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27

    Thanks for the clarification and the apology, I dutifully accept both.
    When racist acts are committed on children and adults alike, those incidents often remain with us all our lives. In my life there have been numerous racial attacks and slurs against me, I can forget my home phone number or age, but those acts of hate became a part of my DNA.
    The American Horse students have experienced a profound and lasting trauma in their young lives, hopefully some will be able to escape it, others will learn from it, and some will always remember it.
    For many the hate against the whites that did that to them will remain with them and they will judge all of white society, that is sad. Hate is a terrible waste, but his what happens when a bunch of white privileged idiots get drunk and take their hate out on innocent children.

  21. Curt 2015.01.27

    A few things here ... I know Tom Helland to be an honorable gentleman. He, his business, and the reputations of both are tarnished unjustly by this incident. I know Tom would not tolerate such behavior had he been present, and I'm sure he has already revised some internal policies to ensure that nothing like this ever occurs again.
    I believe the 'bad actors' need to be singled out - at least the 'out-of-town guests' who used the suite that night. Tom and Eagle Sales have already had their names dragged through the mud. The parties responsible are the ones who need to be named. The public needs to know who was in the suite that night and behaving so dishonorably. Once the business whose employees were using the suite that night are identified, I will begin a boycott of the establishment and urge other right-thinking people to do likewise ... unless and until the guilty individuals are identified and punished for their conduct.
    Meanwhile, try not to be so naïve as to believe this was the first encounter the students have had with ugly racist behavior. Sorry, but that's the truth. But seeing the guilty parties punished for their behavior may be the best outcome we could all receive from this.
    And I think a return trip for the students to ENJOY a game in the Eagle Sales suite might also help produce a satisfactory outcome. I am quite sure they will have a sincere and genuine apology from Mr Helland.

  22. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.27

    Loren, If there is justice then the Natives would not have a reason to hate whites. If they see justice done then they would only be able to see the wrongdoers as bad.
    We can go into a discussion on who is all responsible, but primarily the individuals that did it were the guilty.

  23. thomas 2015.01.27

    I think this fits at a minimum:
    SDCL 22-18-35. Disorderly conduct--Misdemeanor. Any person who intentionally causes serious public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to any other person, or creates a risk thereof by:
    (1) Engaging in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior;
    (2) Making unreasonable noise;
    (3) Disturbing any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority; or
    (4) Obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic;
    is guilty of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty to, three or more violations of this section, within the preceding ten years, the defendant is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for any fourth or subsequent offense

    There's no room for this crap!

  24. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27


    Given that there was beer dumped on children and that there were racial slurs used, I think that charges would be elevated to something greater than disorderly conduct.

  25. grudznick 2015.01.27

    It is possible some of these children would not wish to return to this hockey place even to sit in some fancy suite, but those that do should get to see the perps marched out on the ice and have the Rush team, who I don't think threw any beer at them, go skate at them and slam them into the walls around the ice. Or have those perps be on the ice with baby oiled feet and let my friend Bob go out there wearing his Bauers swinging a leaf spring like a hockey stick.

  26. alex 2015.01.27

    what was the score of the game

  27. jerry 2015.01.27

    Who cares?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.27

    Folks scoring at home may have different calculations, but I would suggest the score on civility was Indians 1, Yahoos 0.

  29. Douglas Wiken 2015.01.27

    There must be something better as a reward than going to a hockey game. Sounds like a good event for Whites, Reds, Browns, whatever to avoid in any case. Fascination with pro sports seems rather strange.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.27

    Douglas, I'll grant the school leeway to determine what rewards they think are appropriate. Whatever reward they choose, the kids don't deserve to have it spoiled by drunk and/or racist yahoos.

    Thomas, Roger, whatever the charge, I'm sure there is one that should be applied, especially for threatening children.

  31. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.27

    Sports of all kinds and at all levels are important to the community and schools.
    I doubt that the hockey game is the only field trip or reward the children at American Horse School will ever take.
    How attending a single hockey game is a fascination with pro sports seems rather strange.

  32. jerry 2015.01.27

    It looks like the Rapid City police have opened an investigation into this. So let us see what happens.

  33. grudznick 2015.01.27

    Sports are good, Mr. Wiken. Were you at that hockey game?

  34. leslie 2015.01.28

    LOREN 13:22 is, "wadr" perhaps one of the stupidest posts i have seen on this blog in the couple years i have paid attention. many threads have dealt with South Dakota's racism but your post, of the many hundreds, if not thousands, is truly regretful, despite agreeing that the perps need to be appropriately dealt with. Deep discussion of this flawed thinking is necessary to avoid anyone else in the entire state agreeing with your knee-jerk hate.

    also grudz' posts often dabble in your playground.

  35. alex 2015.01.28

    whole story sounds made up to me and looser bought it indians treated like royalty in rapid city

  36. Lynn 2015.01.28


    There seems to be a growing a number of witnesses who were at the game and are stepping forward to verify what happened. It's just a matter of time before the bad actors are named.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.28

    Alex, I wondered, too, if the incident could be fabricated. But the response from the Rushmore Plaza, the VIP box leaser, and now the police seems to suggest there is some substance to what happened. Can you give an example of Indians being treated like "royalty" in Rapid City?

  38. mike from iowa 2015.01.28

    By fabricated,looser,did you mean covered up? See,I tol' you it didn't happen.

  39. Jenny 2015.01.28

    I could see this happening, especially when drinking is involved. Rapid City has a history of racism, so this is very credible.

  40. JeniW 2015.01.28

    I am a firm believer that when under the influence, people say and do exactly how they really feel/think. That is, if someone while drunk calls you a SOB, that is how they really feel about you when they are sober.

    If there was were nasty stuff directed toward the Native Americans during this event, that is the attitude that those who were drunk have toward the Native Americans.

  41. jerry 2015.01.28

    alex, are you sibson?

  42. mike from iowa 2015.01.28

    Take another shot of courage..........then tell Native American children what is really in your heart.

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.28

    Alex will have to accuse this eyewitness of making things up—from the RCJ article Larry links:

    Andy Hollander, of Sturgis, a season ticket holder and longtime former supervisor of officials for USA Hockey, said he was 10 to 15 seats away from the American Horse School group from Allen, which had a total of 65 tickets for students and their chaperones. Hollander said the student group was one of the best-behaved he has seen in his years of attending games.

    Hollander said he was too far away to hear what happened, but he saw two men in the skybox above the students "who seemed to be taking real pleasure in continuing the confrontation" with an adult member of the school group.

    The group left before the game ended, leaving three empty rows. Hollander said the men in the skybox "seemed to gloat over what they had accomplished in chasing the student group from the game" and handed out a number of beers to other fans in what Hollander said appeared to be a "celebration." He said several other people in the skybox "seemed extremely uncomfortable with what was going on" [Tom Griffith, "Police Probe Opened in Rush Racism Incident," Rapid City Journal, 2015.01.27].

  44. larry kurtz 2015.01.28

    Note the fear of a boycott in the RCJ piece.

  45. jesus guerra 2015.01.28

    F-----g racists red necks white trash bastardos rapid city is one of the most racist city .in the world. ..chicken s---s

  46. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.28

    As a 20 year plus Native American resident I can assure you that I have absolutely never been treated as "royalty" in Rapid City, South Dakota.

  47. jerry 2015.01.28

    From Talking Points Memo comment section. "South Dakota - Alabama. Longitude aside, what's the difference?"

    What more can be said?

  48. Jenny 2015.01.28

    Native Americans should get together and boycott Rapid City. As a South Dakotan that doesn't live in the state anymore, I sure get sick and embarrassed of hearing about all these sad, despicable incidents. Teach Rapid City a lesson and boycott all RC businesses. I am planning a trip this Summer to spend a week in the Hills, but it is sure tempting to spend my vacation money in another place that is more appreciative and respectful to human beings.

  49. JeniW 2015.01.28

    I get what you are saying Jenny, but punishing all of Rapid City is not going to change the attitude of the some. In fact, it might make it worse.

    Education and exposure is what is needed, and a chance for people to connect face-to-face.

    There will, unfortunately so, always be people who hate people for stupid reasons.

  50. Jenny 2015.01.28

    I guess I just have that MN progressive populist spirit in me that loves a good protest rally.

  51. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.28

    This afternoon the Rapid City Police Department said they have identified one of the perps, unnamed, and will likely charge him with assault, child abuse, and a hate crime.
    These are charges far and above any suggestions that this was simply a case of disorderly conduct.

  52. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.28

    There is no doubt in mind that Rapid City is one of the most racist cities that I have ever witnessed, there is a stream of reports that prove it.
    What to do about it? I'm really not certain.
    The reality is that economic boycotts do not work, Indians that live in the city and reservations are dependent on many goods and services and make a significant contribution to the city and state in the form of taxes.

    Rapid City also has a large regional medical service center that aids Indians off and on the reservation. The service is critical to the health of Indians. If there were an economic boycott, Indians would have to travel to Denver or Omaha for their medical care.

    There are ongoing discussions by LNI organizers about moving the tourney to another part of the state, that would hurt the city but the economic impact would not really hurt the city.

    The problem I have with all this is that as a resident of the city and for along time involved in civic organizations, I know that the majority of Rapid Citians are not racist and bigots. I count many non-Indians among my friends and many more as casual friends. Most of my non-Indian friends are embarrassed and mortified by the behavior of some.
    I walking by phone with a female non-Indian friend that other day and she could not quit apologizing for this incident, she wept at the thought of the children that faced this humiliation.
    This recent incident along with others that made the news, have given Rapid City a great big black eye, the ball, or hockey puck, is now in their hands. The city fathers and civic leaders now have an obligation to start correcting the wrongs those few create.

  53. grudznick 2015.01.28

    Mr. C, I want to buy you breakfast. It only has to do with you being you. Not royalty or beer throwing or what kind of car you drive. Just you being you.

    On the other issue, good for the RCPD.

  54. Katy 2015.01.28

    I cannot believe the comments here. Children were assaulted in my city and it happened in a crowded arena with thousands of people. It is disgusting for anyone to try and rationalize this or blame the children. No matter their race. These are my fellow South Dakotan children being abused and made the subject of racial hate speech by some out of towner. They are lucky I wasn't in attendance. I hate hockey.

  55. Jenny 2015.01.28

    What aggravates me is you never, never hear the SD governor, Senators, and Representative and hardly any of the state legislators say anything at all denouncing these incidents. Leadership has a responsibility to speak critically of these incidents and to stress respect for all cultures, and such a gesture would mean a lot to SD Native Americans. It's indeed sad that SD Leadership chooses not to.

  56. leslie 2015.01.28

    very public prosecution, as EB5 also requires, would be good for society.

    as mii, i think mentioned, racism, spin, republican "scorched earth" tactics, treason and hate have much in common with my favorite cartoon character, infamous "orange" boehner, who some (Examiner 1.23.15) say may be violating the 1799 Logan Act (amended 1994) 18 USC 953, inviting Israel's Prime Minister to speak to congress about Iran's danger to US interests.

    Seldom used, it would prevent unauthorized citizens to influence foreign affairs. i would think the house would vote to authorize him in a second.

    Nixon was thought to have earned such prosecution running for office after LBJ declined, when he had a chinese-born republican influence South Vietnam to reject LBJ's attempts to restart peace talks by halting bombing, telling President Theiu a "better deal" would come soon from a winning Nixon administration.

    "at the same time, we are going to say to Hanoi, I [Nixon] can make a better deal...." wiki, anna chennault [13] (nixon tapes)

    this skullduggery, complex, fuzzy, and covered-over [like EB5], may have been impetus for the later Watergate burglary of democrat offices.

    k. hughes, "chasing shadows", one of several books spawned by the Nixon Tapes. Reviewer Greenberg, rutgers historian is working on a history of SPIN. that should be good

  57. JeniW 2015.01.28

    I think George Mickelson was the only governor who made progress in trying to connect with the SD Native Americans. He seemed to have accomplished so much.

    After is his, it seemed like there was an effort to un-do everything Mickelson accomplished or tried to do. From then on, it seemed to go downhill from there.

    Pure out shame.

  58. JeniW 2015.01.28

    "After his death...."

  59. Donald Pay 2015.01.28

    Watching hockey is a great reward for any kid. Playing it is even better.

    One of my local battles in Rapid City was working with a group of people to put an initiative on the ballot for a hockey rink/ice arena. Ramrodded by Burt Wrede, it was a pretty bold and expensive proposal that went down in flames. But a few years later the effort was taken up in a smaller way, and things got worked out.

    From Tom Rudebusch: "....As I regained focus on the Rush game, my mind drifted again to the growth of hockey in Rapid City. 10 years ago the game was nothing. You did have some amateur teams and there was a loyal group that played out on the rink in west Rapid City by the fish hatchery, but really the game was foreign. Soon a seed was planted with the advent of youth hockey, and each year a few more boys and girls became interested and the Rushmore Hockey Association began to grow.

    If you have a good knowledge of the game it is easy to discern that Rapid City fans are not that sophisticated about the game of hockey yet. That will come, but their enthusiasm for their team and the game is on display each home game. Rapid City yearns to have a “professional” team, and the Rush fill that void. The ice arena is a fabulous place for the Rush to play, and Rapid City should be proud of the investment in that facility. I then recalled during the second intermission as I surveyed the building that the late Burt Wrede fought for years to have an ice arena built, but was always given lip service by the city council and was never considered seriously. I’m sure Burt never would have thought we would have three ice arenas built in town in such a short time...."

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