O’Connell Trial Wraps Up Day One--Protest Follows

Jul 22, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

The trial of Trace O’Connell is underway in Rapid City this week.  
O’Connell is accused of disorderly conduct after a group of Lakota children from American Horse School were doused with beer at a hockey game in January.  
During the incident, the group of school kids and chaperones were allegedly told to “go back to the rez” by those in a corporate box seated above the stands. The school kids and chaperones left the game early.  
The city prosecutor made his case Wednesday, with the defense up Thursday.

US Attorney’s office / DOJ

The US Attorney’s office and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have come to a new agreement that aims to help inmates transition back into life outside prison.

The overall goal is to reduce crime and recidivism by helping newly released inmates integrate back into tribal communities.  

Troy Morley is the Tribal Liaison  for the US Attorney’s office in South Dakota.   He says currently the halfway houses used by former prisoners are outside the reservation.   Morley says this causes problems for those just released who want to visit home.    

Rainbow Gathering Incites Argument But Campers Remain

Jun 26, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The arrival of the Rainbow Family to the Black Hills has caused some controversy in the community. The Lakota group United Urban Warriors Society is protesting the gathering taking place on treaty land. But, other Lakota people support the group.  Conflict erupted near the gathering campsite in the Central Black Hills.
A thunderstorm blew in as members of the Rainbow Family and Native Americans in support of their presence met up with members of the United Urban Warriors Society on the highway, near their campsite. The groups collided and argument soon broke out.

Chynna Lockett SDPB

Two weeks ago, about 45 Rapid City-area community leaders spent five days traveling by bus to culturally-significant sites within the boundaries of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. The “Lakota Lands and Identities” bus trips were part of the Oceti Sakowin cultural ambassador program and led by Craig Howe, director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies near Martin.

Thunder Valley CDC Aims To Forge New Tribal Community

Jun 22, 2015
Chynna Lockett

An effort to build a new sustainable and energy self-sufficient community on Pine Ridge is underway.
The Thunder Valley CDC held a groundbreaking near Sharps Corner on Pine Ridge for the new housing development and community.   Hundreds of people including a number of federal and tribal dignitaries attended. The event comes with an announcement of major funding made available through the federal government for the project.

Thunder Valley Breaking The Mold To Break Ground

Jun 17, 2015

A new community is breaking ground on Pine Ridge on Monday.

Officials with the Thunder Valley Community say they are also breaking the mold for the way housing is developed in Indian Country.    

Nick Tilsen, an Oglala Lakota, is the Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation.  He says the project aims to not only address the critical housing shortage, but also to build economic development and a sustainable healthy community  on Pine Ridge.

Man Accused In Beer Throwing Case To Stand Trial In Theater

Jun 17, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

A Phillip man who is accused of disorderly conduct after he allegedly threw beer and shouted racial slurs at Native American students during a hockey game in January is set to stand trial next month.
But Trace O’Connell won’t sit in front of a jury or in a courtroom.  Rather the trial, before a local magistrate, is set to take place in an auditorium at a local high school to accommodate the crowd that is expected to attend.

Some in the Native community aren’t happy with the misdemeanor charges and question if justice is being served.

Guard Members Help Build Sustainable Indian Country Projects

Jun 15, 2015
SD National Guard

The South Dakota National Guard is hosting its annual training this summer and that means military members from around world are in the state to get some real world experience.

Lakota Scholar Offers Advice To Native Youth

Jun 10, 2015
Courtesy Shaina Johnson

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school. And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine. Along the way, she pursued a variety of interests and always succeeded. Among her secrets to success: realizing just how unique her Lakota and reservation background makes her.

Hear the complete interview with Shaina Johnson by SDPB's Jim Kent. 

Related story:

Courtesy Black Hills State University

A young Lakota woman has just begun a summer internship with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The Black Hills State University senior was one of just 36 students chosen from a field of 900 to attend three Center for Disease Control-funded programs. 

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school.

And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine 

Lakota Lands And Identities Class Begins

Jun 9, 2015
Chynna Lockett

An effort to improve cross-cultural communication in South Dakota funded by the Bush Foundation kicks off this week. Oceti Sakowin Cultural Ambassadors are a class of nearly 45 community leaders traveling by bus to sites in Indian Country around Western South Dakota.

Click play bellow to hear more.

Courtesy Four Bands Community Fund

A Lakota woman from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation has received a national award recognizing her work in helping individuals and families in communities of color build wealth and achieve economic security.

Four Bands Community Fund Executive Director Tanya Fiddler has been honored as an Asset Builder Champion by the Center for Global Policy Solutions.

The award was presented at The Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative’s Color of Wealth Summit in Washington, DC.

In his book, Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder, Minnesota writer Kent Nerburn reluctantly agrees to a meeting with Dan, a Lakota elder who asks him to construct a book from a motley collection of notes and commentaries written over seven decades and kept in an old shoe box. Dan and his friend Grover take Nerburn on a ride through Lakota country in Dan's Buick.

Lakota Emergence Exhibit Ties Past And Present

May 5, 2015
The Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies

A four day event at the Dahl Art center celebrates the living history and art of Lakota people.  

The Lakota Emergence exhibit runs through Saturday.  It aims to connect the Lakota creation story and a number of artifacts from the Sioux Indian Museum to new works by 16 different contemporary Lakota artists.

Pine Ridge "Promise Zone"

Apr 28, 2015

Pine Ridge is now a "Promise Zone."  The designation by the Obama Administration helps fast track resources needed for infrastructure, housing, education, law enforcement, and economic development

Oglala Lakota County on the Pine Ridge Reservation is among the poorest areas of the country. USDA officials say nearly half the 35,000 residents live below the poverty line.

Some critics point out failures in past federal programs but local leaders say this time it’s different.

WoLakota Seeks To Increase Cultural Awareness In Education

Apr 26, 2015

The US Department of Education is taking note of a project in South Dakota that aims to connect teachers with the wisdom of Lakota elders.

For years the graduation rates for Native American students has not kept pace with their non-native peers, especially in some school districts like Rapid City.   The WoLakota Project is one of the efforts to improve outcomes for Native students in South Dakota.   

Lakota Youth Summit Explores Talents

Apr 17, 2015
Courtesy Lakota Children’s Enrichment

A Youth Summit is scheduled to take place on the Pine Ridge Reservation this Saturday. Hosted by the non-profit Lakota Children’s Enrichment, the gathering will offer guidance in everything from gardening to art to spoken word poetry.

If you’re looking for someplace to have good food…expand your mind…and lay down some grooves…by speaking out poems or creating some art…Rockyford High School’s the place to start.

Petroglyphs Bring Lakota Origins To Life

Apr 16, 2015
Photo by Audrey Jacobs

In this high-tech world of instant communication it may be hard to imagine leaving a message for someone that might take hours or even days to compose…and that the recipient might not receive for hundreds of years.

But as we learned, along with a group of Lakota students, that’s exactly what ancient Indigenous people did in what’s come to be known as “rock art”.

The early spring sun is rising steadily in the sky as I board a school bus for a journey into the past.  

Lakota Students Find Past In Petroglyphs

Apr 16, 2015
Photo by Karla LaRive

In this high-tech world of instant communication it may be hard to imagine leaving a message for someone that might take hours or even days to compose…and that the recipient might not receive for hundreds of years.

But we learned, along with a group of Lakota students, that’s exactly what ancient Indigenous people did in what’s come to be known as “rock art”.

Artist Renelle White Buffalo wants to communicate traditional symbols in a modern contemporary and abstract way. "I paint between the lines of what is expected as a Native American, in a pop-culture driven world, and abstract what I feel as a Lakota woman,” she says in her artist statement.

Under VAWA Tribes Are Arresting Non-Natives For First Time

Mar 31, 2015

Non-natives who commit acts of violence against Native women on tribal lands can now face arrest and prosecution in some tribal courts.    

Prior to the new Violence Against Women Act tribes didn’t have the authority to go after non-natives inside reservation boundaries.    

Not all tribes have yet implemented their new powers but many tribal officials see this as a game changer for the safety and justice of Native women.

LNI Considers Move Out Of Rapid City

Mar 11, 2015

The director of the Lakota Nation Invitational says the board is considering moving the event out of Rapid City to Sioux Falls or even Bismarck.

The “L.N.I.” as it’s often called started as a basketball tournament in Rapid City in the 1970’s.  Today it’s grown into a major event with an economic impact measured in the millions.   

But as SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports tense race relations in Rapid City after an incident at the local Civic Center prompted calls for a move.

You can hear the full story by clicking play below.

Dakota Midday: Bad Art Press

Mar 5, 2015

South Dakota is well known for its Native Art. The success of businesses like Prairie Edge in downtown Rapid City is a good example. But what is the boundary between something that’s considered Native Art and something that is just art?

Oglala Lakota County Name Change Advances

Mar 4, 2015

The effort to change the name of Shannon County to Oglala Lakota County faces one final hurdle in the state legislature.  

The Senate State Affairs Committee gave unanimous support to the resolution allowing the name change.  The measure passed the House earlier this session.

Democratic Representative Kevin Killer represents part of the Pine Ridge Reservation.   Killer backs the change and helped get the issue on the county ballot in November.   Killer says the new name received strong support both at the ballot box and in a petition drive leading up to the election.

Protests Against Racism Continue In Rapid City

Feb 26, 2015

Roughly 100 people took part in a peaceful march against racism in Rapid City this Thursday afternoon.

Protestors expressed anger over what they see as unfair treatment of Native people in the justice system and unfair economic conditions.

Marchers included 77 year old Dennis Banks-who was a founding member of the American Indian Movement.  

Banks took part in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973 and says he’s had to come back to Rapid City too often over the years to join in protest marches like this.

Rapid Race Relations Meeting Tackles Tough Issues

Feb 26, 2015

About 80 people attended a meeting in Rapid City on Wednesday intent on healing racial divisions following an alleged attack on Native children attending a minor league hockey game in January and a police shooting that left a Lakota man dead in December.   

The meeting began in a large circle, participants then broke into small groups and worked through a series of questions, at the end they gathered back into a circle to share ideas.

LNI Future In Rapid City Uncertain

Feb 24, 2015

The Director of the Lakota Nation Invitational, Bryan Brewer says the future of the event in Rapid City is in question.  The annual high school tournament is among the largest events of the year in the area.  It generates millions of dollars in economic impact.

But the LNI board of directors is considering pulling the tournament out of Rapid City in the wake of an alleged attack on Native children at a minor league hockey game.  
LNI officials say they have decided to keep the tournament in Rapid City for now.  But Brewer says that decision is not yet final.  

Disorderly Conduct Charge Angers Some Native Parents

Feb 18, 2015

A Philip man is being charged with disorderly conduct after an incident involving Native American children at a hockey game in January.

A complaint was filed against 41 year old Trace O’Connell of Phillip in seventh Circuit Magistrate Court.  The charges include a maximum penalty of 30-days in jail and a $500 fine.
Parents and students left the January 24, 2015, hockey game early after some students were allegedly doused with beer.
SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports that some of the parents in the case are angry over the outcome of the investigation.

Shannon County Name Change One Step Closer

Feb 12, 2015

A bill to rename Shannon County as Oglala Lakota County sailed over its first legislative hurdle in an unanimous vote before the Senate State Affairs Committee.

In November Shannon County voters, which is on the Pine Ridge Reservation, approved the name change by a large majority.  

Standing Room Only At Rapid Race Relations Forum

Feb 10, 2015

A forum on race relations in Rapid City took place on Monday night in the wake of an alleged hate crime against Lakota middle school kids.  The meeting filled a local church.  

The Rapid City Mayor and Police Chief were on hand to hear community concerns.