Native Sun News: Group aims to bring positive change to Rapid City

Members of the Rapid City Community Conversations coalition, also known as RCCC, convene for a regular monthly meeting last October at General Beadle Elementary School in Rapid City. Photo by Jesse Abernathy

A year later, Rapid City Community Conversations still going strong
Coalition strives to bridge cultural divide
By Jesse Abernathy
Native Sun News Correspondent

RAPID CITY –– “Did Native students stand for National Anthem?”

With that incendiary and insensitive Jan. 31, 2015, Rapid City Journal headline following the now-notorious beer-dumping incident – not “spilling” as some media outlets have referred to it in the past, as if the White man from Philip – Trace O’Connell – who eventually stood trial and was subsequently acquitted of a downgraded, unjustifiable and somewhat bewildering disorderly conduct charge, accidentally doused the Indigenous, or Native American, schoolchildren from Pine Ridge Reservation, without intent or malice, during a Rapid City Rush hockey game in January of last year.

The headline was an apparent attempt to shift blame to the blameless on the Rapid City Journal’s part and led to an outcry within Indigenous communities near and far, even spanning the globe. Following the angry backlash, the Journal did issue what might be deemed an apology, or at least it was a superficial attempt at an apology, in an editorial published on Feb. 2, 2015. But was it too little, too late? Or was it the idiomatic straw that broke the camel’s back?

In the wake of this particular incident, which is quite simply one of many in a series of similar, continuous, even interconnected, incidents that target the region’s tribal peoples and are based in an ongoing legacy of discrimination, bias, ignorance and even hate, a group of concerned Rapid Citians who are leaders among the expansive Lakota community came together out of a shared esprit de corps to combat the prejudicial behaviors that occur on an everyday basis at all levels within the community, sometimes very flippantly and blatantly but oftentimes with quiet disregard from predominant society.

These Lakota leaders specifically met to “discuss the escalating racial conflict in Rapid City, particularly involving police. They endorsed a process to transform the community, not through protests and blaming, but through innovative forward-looking solutions as determined by a grassroots cross-cultural gathering of people,” according to the website of Rapid City Community Conversations – as the not-for-profit group denominated themselves.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: A year later, Rapid City Community Conversations still going strong

(Contact Jesse Abernathy at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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