Should it matter? Do any children – whether Native or not – deserve to be sprayed with beer?
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA – Blaming the victims has become commonplace in modern society. Now, the Rapid City Journal may be playing right into the blame game trap. The newspaper’s Saturday edition ran the front page headline: “Did Native students stand for National Anthem?”
The story of 57 students who attended last Saturday night’s Rush hockey game at the Rapid City Civic Plaza as rewards for mastering their lessons is turning into lessons for life for the students on the harsh reality of racism faced by American Indians.
Related: 57 Charges of Child Abuse and Assault to be Leveled Against Drunken Hockey Fans Who Sprayed Native Youth with Beer
The students, who ages range from 8 – 13 years-old, were subjected to beer being sprayed on them and racial taunts of telling them to go back to the reservation from a corporate suite leased by Eagle Sales of the Black Hills, the Anheuser-Busch distributor for the region.
The Rapid City Journal’s story cited a person who was in the suite as claiming: “the incident was ignited when some members of the school group reportedly did not stand for the National Anthem prior to the start of the Rapid City Rush game.”
Justin Poor Bear, who was one of the parent chaperones who attended the game, denied the claim. He told the Journal: “We all stood up.” The newspaper reported two other officials of the American Horse School at Allen on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, indicated the students stood up for the national anthem.
The students were escorted out of the game by the adult chaperones who feared for the safety of the children, Poor Bear told Native News Online on Thursday.
“One of the adult staff members came to me crying and told me we have to get the students out of there,” Poor Bear said. “We stopped by the security office to make a report the incident.
Poor Bear said the students were all excited on the way to the game.
“The bus was filled with excitement because for some it was their first hockey game ever. On the way back home, the bus was quiet,” Poor Bear continued.
Poor Bear said he began to receive phone calls after returning home from Rapid City from parents wanting to know why their children smelled of beer or alcohol.
The American Horse School is a K-8th grade school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
On Monday, counselors were called into the school by school officials to talk the students about the incident.