By Brandon Ecoffey
“This paper has a long history of race baiting and dividing the community in Rapid City,” said James Swan of the United Urban Warrior Society. “This is not a recent occurrence. This is something that has been going on since the journal first started printing,” he added. The RCJ opened their doors in 1878 during the height of the Indian Wars and like many papers in its time portrayed Native people in a negative light.
The UUWS is a community action group that has been taking the city of Rapid to task over a number of issues concerning Native people. On March 12, 2012, Swan met with the Editor of the RCJ demanding action and a better portrayal of Native Americans in print. However according to Swan the RCJ said all the right things but nothing substantial developed from the talks.
“They spoke with us and promised to make some changes but they never materialized,” said Swan. “We are giving them 90 days to clean up their act or we will take action,” he added.
The group issued several demands in a proclamation that was released to the media. The UUWS demands that the comment section be turned off or deleted for all stories pertaining to Native American people or issues. The comment section that is available on the RCJ’s online edition allows for readers to post their thoughts on any story that is currently up on the page. In the past certain readers have used the comment section to promote racial bigotry and stereotypes. Often the comments were allowed to stay up on the site for days, despite claims from the RCJ that they strictly moderate the forum.
In addition to the removal of the comment section, the UUWS has demanded that the journal include in their paper a section devoted to the Native American community. They are also demanding that someone who understands Native American culture be hired full-time to help advise the paper on Native issues.