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LNI Boycott Viable Response to Rapid City Racism?

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.


  1. Paul Seamans 2015.03.02

    One of Gov. Daugaard's pet projects is the "County Site Analysis" and he mentioned it both in his address to the audience gathered in the Rotunda on Tribal Relations Day and to the crowd in attendance at the day long listening session the previous day. "County Site Analysis" is a state program that would like to go into every county and determine where would be the best sites for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Fifteen counties have been completed, fifteen more counties are on tap for this year. Bringing CAFO's to South Dakota is a huge plank of the Governors economic development plan.
    In conjunction with all this is HB 1201 that will be in Senate Ag on Tuesday at 10:00. It would lower the votes needed to permit any CAFO's by the county board of adjustment from a super majority (4 out of 5) to a simple majority (3/5). If you have an interest in stopping CAFO's from appearing in your neighborhood it would help to fill the conference room for this bill's hearing that has already passed the full house.

  2. larry kurtz 2015.03.02

    Kooiker is vulnerable and he knows it: he has provided nothing but lip service to the very people who swept him into office.

    Stupid town.

  3. larry kurtz 2015.03.02

    If Denny Daugaard and 'Tribal Relations' really cared about the success of the nations there would be passenger rail service between Sioux Falls and Rapid City with stops in Belvidere and Kadoka.

  4. larry kurtz 2015.03.02

    There should be a horse slaughterhouse on the rez: as Montana and Wyoming kill the bison that could remediate the decimation caused by cattle the states adopt out habitat-killing wild horses.

  5. mike from iowa 2015.03.02

    Wild horses aren't to be sold for slaughter,are they? At least not immediately.

  6. 96Tears 2015.03.02

    At the beginning of his first term, Daugaard suggested some kind of return or recommitment to Gov. Mickelson's historic Year of Reconciliation, the ceremony for which was held in the State Capitol rotunda. I don't recall that he attempted anything of the kind, but here was his chance for a cathartic moment that could have united a community ... and nothing but crickets.

    In South Dakota, it's not as important to me that a Governor shares my political views, but I do expect some kind of moral center and character in the person. Daugaard has had opportunities to distinguish himself from Mike Rounds, who was an invisible care taker governor and not a leader in anything other than furthering Mike Rounds' personal agenda and padding the pockets of cronies and family.

    Daugaard has proven he really doesn't care about tribal relations. I'm finding he cares less about anything else than Mike Rounds. What happened to this guy?

  7. mike from iowa 2015.03.02

    Interesting,Larry K. Wingnuts will freak if horse meat is shipped to the surrender monkeys in France as a delicacy.

  8. larry kurtz 2015.03.02

    Earth haters like Daugaard and Kooiker only freak when American Indians exert power, mike.

  9. jerry 2015.03.02

    CAFO is not the answer for the future of agriculture. Grass fed is with rotation grazing is. CAFO destroys the ground and the ground water. Rotation grazing enhances the pastures with nutrients and water. We are in climate change that is decimating our planet. The seas are rising and the crops are failing in other parts of this country. Rotation grazing is much like buffalo grazing. CAFO is a corrupt dude of a plan that destroys the environment. Kill it.

  10. jerry 2015.03.02

    I think the logistics of moving the LNI out of Rapid City is not only doable, but worthwhile. Rapid City has shown time and again that they do not appreciate their Native neighbors so why not move to other venues. In fact, the events could be held in several communities in the Black Hills. I think that Spearfish could handle a bunch, Sturgis, the home area of Bear Butte, could handle some, as well as Hot Springs, Custer and Hill City all could be a part of the LNI for that week of art and games. It smells like Rapid City has soiled the lodge.

  11. mike from iowa 2015.03.02

    Changing the LNI venue would certainly get my attention as a Rapid City pol, but us bleeding heart libs prolly wouldn't let the racial situation get so far out of hand.

    I imagine a lot of innocent bystanders get hurt,but there comes a time when you have to do what you have to do to get your point across. The instigator won't be bothered by the decision.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2015.03.02

    This is not the first time that LNI, Rapid City and the Civic Center has had racial problems. A few years ago Bryan Brewer threatened to move the tourney after charges of racism surfaced (I don't recall the time or the charges). The city fathers and business leaders traveled to the reservation and had some day long discussions and issues were resolved for the time being.
    It is true that Trace is not from Rapid City and may not represent all of the city, he is however representative of a prevailing Indian hate in western South Dakota. Every little village, including the big village of Rapid City, have their Trace's. It is his attitude that must be addressed and/or boycotted.

  13. bearcreekbat 2015.03.02

    I doubt the boycott idea is based on Trace O'Connell's conduct. Rather, it seems to be based on the perceived feeble response by the City, County and RC residents to that conduct.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2015.03.02

    Could it be a combination of both? I don't think it necessarily has to be one or another.

  15. bearcreekbat 2015.03.02

    Roger, good point! It is probably a combination, coupled with some of the history you mentioned.

  16. leslie 2015.03.02

    from what i hear, trace's dad still owes my band $500 for a July 4 gig in cottonwood in the late 60s

  17. Happy Camper 2015.03.03

    Racism? Below are the interviews from Means and Poor Bear. Means is the real source since Poor Bear didn't hear anything and wrote his Facebook entry to explain why they left early. Means did not want the kids to interact with the Skybox. They wanted the kids to yell and get crazy along with them. Beer gets thrown or spilled. A power struggle between Means and someone in the Skybox. Words between Poor Bear and the Skybox. When they leave someone says go back to the rez. In his interview Poor Bear repeats he didn't think it would go this far. I get the impression he has misgivings about the snowball effect. I'm not here to defend racism, but I don't see that nor any abuse directed toward children. Everyone should read the interviews and remember these two people are the original sources.

  18. jerry 2015.03.03

    I read them. LNI along with other meetings and gatherings, should move on to other sites that may be more welcoming. Rapid City, in its present form, is toxic for Native children and those that are in their care. What would be the harm in trying to give other communities a friendly hand? The Black Hills offer many places of lodging and have some very good sports arenas as well.

  19. leslie 2015.03.03

    hc-besides the rcj front page saturday a.m. headline of an "anon" source of the one person in the skybox who didn't see, hear or do anything except somehow perceive (while drunk?): "the kids shoulda been standin' for the flag"; where can i find the transcripts of all 5-10-15 or twenty guests sitting next to trace?

    i can't remember if the issue below was discussed previously:

    why did the elected mayor's appointed city attorney with virtually no criminal experience comparatively (and no investigators) and only a couple associate attorneys; take on, rather valiantly, this prosecution?-- when the formidable resources of the elected states attorney with its 20-30 prosecutors and paralegals and investigators, the elected sheriff and his investigators and deputies, the elected attorney general (in the back ground subject to being called in from the bench) with its statewide investigators and some 100 deputy attorneys (you know the ones who investigated EB5), or even the elected mayor's police chief and his formidable investigators and officers, could have taken the lead? the city has the least expertise.

    this incident suggests some apparent policy complexity that the 1st string should be throwing their weight at-1.) public bullying children by adults, 2.) public drunkenness policy legitimized for entitled box owners and guests governed by an appointed civic center board, 3.) civic center liability for failing to monitor and keep its thousands of patrons safe (a true concern for city attorneys), 4.) a hate crime, 5.) various felony alternatives, 6.) class 1 msd. assault(s), 7.) false reporting by the chaperones, and finally, 8.) legislation against alleged "failure to stand" by our young people who are the future of the state.

    if the civic center cannot maintain a safe environment at a public event for 57 visiting children, why would it think it can manage an arena twice the size, that it is trying to sell to the taxpayers right now?

    can anyone explain this bit of side-steppery in an obviously hot, media driven, emotional incident in downtown rapid city? amongst all these prosecutors, who made the call?

    lets get hard on crime, no matter the victim.

  20. jerry 2015.03.03

    leslie, you bring up a very interesting matter, the expansion of the civic center. Indeed, why should taxpayers be handed a too big and way too expensive boondoggle that will saddle taxpayers for years into a program that cannot even protect 57 kids? The answer is clear, if Rapid City wants to build this albatross then they should not expect Natives to be a part of it.

  21. mike from iowa 2015.03.03

    leslie-allow me a moment of instability. The U.S. got hard on drugs and ended up with Viagra. Further proof the war on drugs failed. I'm done being goofy.

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