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Tensions Run High At Rapid City School Board Meeting


Four new members of the Rapid City Area School Board were sworn in at a recent meeting. The full to capacity room got chaotic during the public comment section.

Doctor Valeriah Big Eagle is the president of the Title 6 Indian Education Parental Advisory Commission with Rapid City Area Schools. 

Earlier this year, the district formed an Indigenous Education Task Force to improve the educational experience, learning environment, and outcomes for Indigenous students.  

Big Eagle says she attended the school board meeting with Lakota elder Dr. Art Zimmiga. They attended to voice concerns with the new board members about the district’s plans for Native American-based education.  

“There were two open seats and I was trying to sit myself and Dr. Zimmiga, mainly because he's an elder, and sit down and we were, no, they were saving those seats for someone else that was not there. And that lady just yelled in my face, like I do not care. But you can tell what racism looks like. We feel it. And that's what it was."  

Zimmiga found a seat and Big Eagle moved to an overflow room to watch the proceedings on zoom.  

"Oh my goodness, you could just feel the hate in there. They were booing people that were talking. They just do not understand it. Whenever I talked on Monday night, I attributed my success to my culture and being a part of that every day. That's where my resiliency came from because I knew who I was and where it came from.” 

According to Big Eagle, the district's plans are still going forward with the Lakota Immersion curriculum at Canyon Lake Elementary this upcoming school year. 

The next Rapid City School Board of Education meeting is on August 9th.