Way behond Sports Event: The photo captures the pure hatred by non-Natives against Native Americans in South Dakota. Photo from Facebook.
Published October 12, 2017
Upon further review of potential behavior, the Meade School District Superintendent Donald Kirkegaard called Native News Online and shared he is canceling the homecoming parade and changing the start time of the homecoming football game to 4:00 PM. The change of the start time gives students little opportunity to prepare for any activities that may not be school sanctioned.
STURGIS, SOUTH DAKOTA – This morning was abuzz in Lakota Country where several pictures made their appearances on social media defacing, disrespecting and perpetuating violence against a vehicle that had the words go back to the rez spray painted on its side. More appalling, the picture was associated with the words, “f**kpineridge” hash-tagged via Snapchat (spelled out with real word on post; edited by Native News Online). The location of the pictures occurred in Sturgis, South Dakota, the location of one of the most sacred places among the Lakota—Bear Butte.
This week is homecoming week of the Meade School District, where Sturgis Brown High School hosts Pine Ridge High School from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota. Members of its student body took to the actions of celebrating violence against a vehicle with various slurs, statements, and comments intended to disrespect and degrade an entire ethnic group.
“I found the pictures and actions taken by members of the Sturgis community extremely offensive and disrespectful,” said Rapid City Community Leader Whitney Rencountre II. “This is why so many of our people have been advocating for mandatory education of Native American people in the classrooms, especially in South Dakota, but there are so many people who simply don’t know the truths of our history.”
“If you make your way to Germany, they teach about the holocaust to every student,” elaborated Rencountre. “The Holocaust is something everyone in their country knows about so that it never happens again, but that isn’t something every discussed here in this country. These actions are a demonstration of why we need education of the holocaust that happened here.”
Obscenity that was ciculated on social media was edited out by Native News Online. Photo from Facebook
Early comments from the Meade School District were initially that the homecoming activities and events are not school-sanctioned events, but were waiting to make an official statement after they received a phone call from the Pine Ridge School District, where they were meeting with the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council.
Also, Superintendent Donald Kirkegaard expressed via phone that all among its staff are embarrassed and only are hoping the consequences of those participating and perpetuating violence will be appropriate and dealt with accordingly.
“On behalf of the Meade School District, we apologize for the actions taken by a group of students and their actions disrespecting the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are unacceptable,” said Meade County School District Superintendent Donald Kirkegaard. “These actions do not represent us a community and we are deeply embarrassed”
“We are working with the Pine Ridge School District and the Native American population in this very crucial time and identifying appropriate actions to deal with this immediately so that this never happens again,” continued Kirkegaard.
Some immediate actions voiced were that the Superintendent is willing to forfeit the game on behalf of Sturgis High School, but doesn’t want to harm the football program of Pine Ridge. So, until further information is released from Pine Ridge on whether not the game will continue, the school is considering other options such as a conversation with the United States District Attorney of allocating resources and directions to go to ensure activities and actions like the one in question never happen again.
“We invited the community to sing the Lakota Flag Song in accordance with the National Anthem during the festivities,” said Kirkegaard. “We’re doing everything we can in good faith and we need help from the community to ensure this never happens again. We are more than open for suggestions of what is appropriate for our students and community.”
This is a developing story.