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Presentation Links Rapid City Housing To Segregation

Nearly 200 attended an event to learn about segregation in Rapid City. Organizers have been gathering local stories and data that highlights personal experiences from the 1940’s to 1960’s. The presentation revealed information on Native American boarding schools and Sioux San Lands.

The Inconvenient Truth part two is a follow up to a presentation last year. The first told the history of Native people being put into boarding schools and moved away from the metropolitan area in Rapid City.

Eric Zimmer is a volunteer researcher for the Rapid City Native Lands project. He says volunteers with the project have uncovered graves and documents from the names of children lost in boarding schools.

“But as our conversation continued and our research continued, our volunteers started to understand that there’s connections between what was going on in West Rapid in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s and also the creation of the Sioux Addition and Lakota Homes, the destruction of the Oshkosh Camp which was a small village of Native people right downtown Rapid City.”

Zimmer says early policy decisions improper land allocation lead to segregation. Today, he says Native people are consolidated to northern Rapid City and near downtown. He says that’s a long term result of early decisions.

“One of the most tragic parts of the story that we’re telling is that we’re not the first ones to tell it. There are Native people in this community who when we show them the evidence and we make these presentations, their response isn’t ‘oh wow I’ve never heard that before’ they say ‘we’ve been telling people this for 50 years.”

Zimmer says the project is ongoing and he hopes to hear more stories and uncover documents.
Encore presentations are scheduled across reservations in the Black Hills.