In wake of racist incident at Rapid City hockey game lodged against American Horse School students, Tribal Officials want to boycott Rapid City
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION—According to an anonymous source, Oglala Sioux Tribal officials are asking the tribal schools that normally have functions and events in Rapid City, South Dakota to boycott the city. These actions come in the aftermath of the racial incident last month involving the spraying of beer and racial slurs delivered towards 57 students from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who attended a Rush hockey game.
This past Tuesday, Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele and the Tribal Council discussed strategies to have the Tribe takes its business elsewhere – away from Rapid City. Tribal educational funds were discussed as way to begin spending dollars elsewhere immediately.
The January 24 incident at the hockey game has opened serious concerns over how American Indians are treated in Rapid City by non-Native people. Tribal officials are highly concerned about how law enforcement in Rapid City and city prosecutors did not file severe enough charges against Trace O’Connell, a resident of Philip, South Dakota, who was only charged with a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.
President Steele sent letters to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation on whether a hate crime was committed against the students.
Some American Indians have voiced an opinion that O’Connell should be charged with 57 counts since his actions were allegedly aimed at all 57 students.
The Tribal Council is also putting pressure on the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) to pull its annual event out of Rapid City. The invitational reportedly attracts 8,000 people and between $5 – $6 million annually just before Christmas each December.
“My first reaction is we should not run out town, but attempt to educate people about racism,” Bryan Brewer, the founder of LNI, told Native News Online earlier this month. “But, at this point we need to keep our options open. I am getting a lot of pressure to move LNI out of Rapid City.”
On the day after Brewer talked to Native News Online, the LNI board voted to keep the invitational in Rapid City by a vote of 7-0. However, that vote came before any charges were filed by the city prosecutor’s office.