Residents come together for local healing event

RAPID CITY, S.D. – On Monday, residents and city officials gathered once more to show support for Native American communities.

The Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health BoardA mix of city officials, including Mayor Steve Allender and local law enforcement, native and non-native residents stood together against the racist comments made by Grand Gateway hotel owner Connie Uhre.

“This is an issue that needs to be addressed in several different ways and so this component is really needed for our community,” Mni Luzahan Wicozani Advisory Committee member, Amy Sazue said. “For our people to bring some healing, some kind of reconciliation, some kind of feeling of peace and community.”

The event was intended to create a space for healing in the Native American community which says even children, among the most vulnerable, have been affected by racist comments and actions.

Something Dr. Valeriah Big Eagle believes could set the community back significantly.

“I work alongside Ms. Bev Warne, who is a respected elder, she’s Oglala Lakota. She’s been living here since she was nine years old and she saw the same thing, ‘no Indians allowed.’ This was nearly 70 years ago,” Dr. Big Eagle said. “And she asked her father, ‘why are they saying that?’ and he said, ‘because they don’t know us yet.’ And they still don’t know us 70 years later.”

The support at the event, however, showed positive indications of the Rapid City community desiring to move ahead, creating potential space for change and confronting the struggles of the past.

“Real unity comes at the price of truth,” Sazue explained. “And I think that some people are willing to start stepping into uncomfortable situations, uncomfortable conversations to make change happen in our community and that’s much needed.”

“I hope that we’re getting to this point with this meeting being the turning point,” Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender addressed to the people in attendance. “Where we are going to start focusing on how to walk through this together.”

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