Indian panhandlers a concern for some in Rapid City
Some Indians in Rapid City, South Dakota, say they are worried about panhandlers and public intoxication among fellow tribal members.

The police department doesn't keep statistics on the race of panhandling and public intoxication offenders. But Melvin Corbine, a member of the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation, knows a lot of complaints are about Indians.

“A lot of people like me are out there working to have an honest and normal life, and then there’s the ones that kind of make it bad for you with their panhandling and loitering and stuff like that. People look at you differently because of it,” Corbine told The Rapid City Journal.

Lila Mehlhaff, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, also feels “frustrated” by the issue. She said police should develop a stronger presence in the city's downtown.

Not everyone agrees it's a big problem. Bruce Long Fox, the executive director of Rural America Initiatives, said only a small number of Indians are involved in panhandling.

“We’re not all like that. That’s just a teachable moment," Long Fox told The Rapid City Journal. "Not all Natives are drunk and lazy.”

Get the Story:
Some Natives embarrassed, frustrated by public drinking (The Rapid City Journal 5/18)

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