Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman: How Long Do Our Children Have to Face Racism?

Way behond Sports Event: The photo captures the pure hatred by non-Natives against Native Americans in South Dakota.

Published October 13, 2017

EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – Cheyenne River Sioiux Tribe Chairman Harold Fraizer asked on Thursday:  “How may times do we have to send our school children to our sacred Black Hills only to be verbally and physically abused with racism and bigotry by those who occupy such a sacred place?”

Fraizer’s question was part of his reaction to the racist incident directed towards American Indians by Sturgis Brown High School students who posted photographs on social media of taking a sledehammer to a car with the words “Go back to the Rez” sprayed painted on it.

The incident was part of a tradition at Sturgis Brown High School during their football homecoming week. A local business donates a vehicle so the students can deface it using their homecoming opponents as fooder.

After the incident became widely known via social media, school officials said the school system would no longer sponsor the annual ritual.

The Meade School Board of Education canceled this year’s homecoming game scheduled tonight against Pine Ridge High School. With the cancellation, Sturgis Brown High School forfeits the game to Pine Ridge High.

Cheyenne RIver Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier

Here is the text of Chairman Fraizer’s release:

Today we all stand witness to racism leaking through the veil of privilege that once again stares at my people. This time the behavior is directed at our children. In yet another case those who cannot defend themselves were attacked by those did not know better, all the while being watched by those who do nothing to stop it.

How many times do we have to send our school children to our sacred Black Hills only to be verbally and physically abused with racism and bigotry by those who occupy such a sacred place? We have asked these wrongs to be addressed before with the American Horse School incident and were met with inaction and distasteful justifications for the wrongdoers. I now ask those involved to again look inside their heart and make the appropriate actions to right these wrongs, and begin to set an example for the younger generations. 

We are well aware of the hatred and greed that killed so many of my people and forced us on this reservation. We have survived murder, rape, disease and starvation on this reservation. We need no reminder of where you want us to be. We suffer daily with hunger, cold, depression. Your attack dogs and mercenaries have left wounds when we leave our reservations to ask for wrongs to be righted. You were there. We saw the uniforms from all over South Dakota among the forces that that shot and killed only last year.

To see the “SS” painted on the vehicle donated by a local business for this demonstration of hate is not surprising. This symbol has been associated with genocide for many decades and is a reminder that the genocide is not over.

I call on the authorities and those charged with responsibilities of teaching our youth to take appropriate actions to create a teaching moment. Too often, our Indian children participate in sports activities and face this kind of behavior. It does not just happen to a car this night. It is happening every day. To our athletes, students and tribal members who are trying to participate in the American way, only to find out that the “American way” is this kind of behavior.

We have lived next to each other for more than a hundred years yet you know nothing about us. We speak your language. We know your religion. We respect your ways. Yet, we are treated like the car in Sturgis last night. I am voicing my frustration for I am voicing the frustration of my people.

Show us you are serious about the shameful act you are all trying to diminish. Punish those who committed this offense. Take appropriate actions through the High School Athletic Association to ensure the safety of our children. Talk to the youth about racism.


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