Melvin Martin: More truths about race in Rapid City
As a home grown Rapid Citian, born and raised there, who is also Lakota (and one-fourth white, to be precise about my own ethnic makeup), I see that once again Rapid City has revealed itself unto the entire world (via the Internet) as the anti-Indian cesspool that it is and always has been.

I know that the act of reading at length is asking a lot of the average citizen there, but I strongly suggest that they read the actual complaint against the police department (contained within the story), and they will see for themselves that the widespread, pernicious ugliness of racism that Rapid City is internationally known for is also all-too-evident in what is ostensibly a highly professional organization that prides itself upon its much-heralded professionalism - and that takes every opportunity to make that much highly public.

Then, given the negative comments on this particular story by so many non-Indians, there is also overwhelming evidence of the all-pervasive practice of extreme denial as to the extent of anti-Indian sentiment that many whites there espouse whenever the subject of racism is brought up in the local media.

Additionally, I commend people like James Swan ("Rapid Reply" - comments) who are capable of telling the truth about life in Rapid City in a fair and undistorted manner, and who are also courageous enough to use their own names - unlike the majority of the irate practioners of chronic denial who publicly stake their claims of personal non-involvement in prejudice and discrimination all the while sobbing to each other about their own "reverse racist" experiences with mistreatment at the hands of the historically oppressed there (invariably whenever a homeless alcoholic, whose numbers there are few in comparison to other cities, asked them for a pittance of spare change or gave them a "mean look").

I can assure anyone who reads this opinion that Rapid City is indeed the absolute worse place in the U.S. in terms of anti-Indian racism. There is a long-standing history of extremely harsh discrimination towards Indian people throughout the city, especially in the areas of employment and housing. When I last lived there from 1995-2007, the only employers who would hire me were Indian-owned businesses. And in 2006-2007, I noticed a very visible increase in race-based hostility that was directed at reducing the Indian population of Rapid City through a two-pronged campaign of heightened employment discrimination and a city-wide, systematic denial of fair access to housing by local property management companies and private landlords.

If you go to and check out any of the articles that deal with the Indian community you will be shocked at the sheer hatred that is expressed by non-Indians in the commentary sections. This hatred towards the Indian community is especially vitriolic if the stories deal with Indian people striving towards or achieving some degree of socio-economic parity with the so-called "dominant culture." The haters also come out in droves whenever an article appears about any of the tribes in South Dakota receiving federal funding to accomplish such necessary goals. The most notable story I read on the Journal's web site that drew out the racist commentators was about how the Indian superintendent at Mount Rushmore had set up a Lakota cultural display last year (at some distance from the main visitor area) to educate non-Indian visitors about the Indian history of the Black Hills (check out the latest non-Indian gripes, moans and whining on this issue at the Rapid City Journal's web site - "American Indian history part of Mt. Rushmore plan" {Comments} - May 3, 2009).

Lastly, when I lived in Rapid City I came to know numerous young adults who were not "visibly Indian" (perhaps 1/8-1/4-1/2 Lakota/Dakota/Nakota and from other tribes), who "looked white," and they told me to a person about how badly Indian people were talked about by numerous whites who did not know they were Indian.

To all Indian people throughout the United States: Please beware of Rapid City, South Dakota!

Related Stories:
Rapid City police department sued by Indian officer (5/1)
Race relations discussed at forum in Rapid City (4/30)
Meeting addresses race relations in Rapid City (4/13)
Meetings planned on race relations in Rapid City (4/7)
Jim Kent: Racism rears its head again in South Dakota (4/6)
Melvin Martin: The truth about race in Rapid City (3/31)
Attacks prompt discussion about race relations (3/30)
Editorial: Don't judge city by hate crime attacks (3/30)
Teen linked to another anti-Indian shooting incident (3/26)
Teens accused of attacks on Indians in Rapid City (3/20)