Youths facing felony charges
Ranging in age from 12-17, the juveniles, all whom were white, were riding in a brown car when they attacked at least two groups of Native Americans and a lone Native American man.
Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender says the juveniles targeted people based upon their location, appearance and race.
"It's as sickening as it is shocking," Allender said.
Not only did the youths attack adults, they also targeted a group of juveniles between the ages of 10 and 14.
Rapid City Police suspect that more individuals were attacked by the group.
One morning in December of 1971, after having completed basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana and three weeks of additional training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, (at which time I was granted Christmas leave) I was waiting for a cab at the old Continental Trailways bus station in downtown Rapid City (in my winter green uniform) when a carload of cowboys and a few girls drove by, called me a “red skinned nigger,” and threw a brown paper bag at me that exploded against the wall behind my head (the bag contained a large amount of feces).
They then drove off at a fairly high rate of speed, with three of the vehicle’s occupants wagging their tongues at me and flipping me off through the rear window.
From the time that I last lived in Rapid City to when I left (an 11-year period, from 1995-2007, minus a year in New York) I lived and worked downtown where I walked to and from work, and not a day went by that I was not glared at and/or rudely stared at by passing non-Indian motorists. And perhaps two to three times a week a carload of punks would either yell out some kind of racial epithet as they passed me on the street or loudly honk their horns at me. Several times I was referred to as a “wetback” and once I was even called a “fucking gook!” by a carload of drunken college guys as I was on my way to the public library on a Saturday afternoon. I voluntarily joined the army during the Vietnam conflict, so being called a “gook” had a special resonance with me.
My physical appearance during this period can best be described as “business professional” as I worked in sales and marketing. I have always worn my hair short and I am clean-shaven--I make this observation to point out that I was never a dirty street wino or some kind of a scruffy, homeless denizen of the alleyways that the majority of whites in Rapid City believe most Indian males there to be. Not to say that these particular individuals deserve to be harassed, but I was to my way of thinking just another U.S. citizen going about his daily routines.
I lost track of the number of Indian people who complained to me over the years of the verbal harassment they received simply walking down the street in that town, but a conservative estimate goes into at least several hundred.
I wish that there was some way that Rapid City could at last be revealed to all of the nation and the rest of the world for the racist dung heap that it is. For the past 14 years I have actively fought alone against the mistreatment of Indian people not only in South Dakota, but throughout the country wherever incidents like this and worse have occurred, and in closing I am asking all who read this posting to tell others about it.
Pilamaya, (“Thank you”)
Oglala Lakota Nation
For my response to Martin's essay, see Stereotypes Trigger Hate Crimes. For more on the subject, see Hate Abounds in "Post-Racial" America, Racism Lives in ObamAmerica, and The Post-Racial, Post-Indian Era?