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Politics

“An Inconvenient Truth” Sells Out, Gets Second Presentation

thompson_inconvenient.jpg
Chynna Lockett
/
SDPB

All 170 seats were filled in the Journey Museum in Rapid City to hear about an inconvenient truth… what happened to the Indian Boarding School Lands. At least 20 were turned away, as the theatre was at capacity.

The presentation dives into federal legislation that transferred 8 square miles of what is now West Rapid City.

The Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors presentation “An Inconvenient Truth: The History Behind Sioux San Lands and West Rapid City” documents exactly how Indian Boarding School land became City of Rapid City land.

Over the course of three separate migrations, many Native Americans lived on land owned by Sioux San and the federal government. This parcel of land stretched from what is now Mountain View Road to Canyon Lake Park.

Through a series of federal laws, land north of Rapid City was purchased to move the Native families.
Heather Dawn Thompson is a lawyer with the group and gave part of the presentation.

“Because the land swap was done in such a curious manner, they believed that their land was actually non-taxable federal land for decades. And they also believed that jurisdiction didn’t belong to the city, it belonged to the federal government," Thompson says. "So you had a lot of animosity where people didn’t understand why the city was coming on their land, why the city was trying to tax them, and this helped clarify a lot of those points for people.”

Thompson says the story of the Sioux San Lands and West Rapid City should bring people together to talk about those difficult issues in the community.

Part of the discussion is the protection of some unmarked graves of Native children who died while attending the boarding school. Thompson says the graves are in the process of getting protected.

“We received a number of oral histories from some elders in the community about preciously where they are located. And we did in fact send some tribal historical preservation officers to confirm their location. It is an undeveloped area of land," Thompson says. "It is not on anybody’s personal property. There’s no housing on it. Thankfully it’s been undeveloped this entire time.”

A second presentation of “An Inconvenient Truth” will take place in Rapid City at the Journey Museum on May 18.