New Homeless Camp established along Rapid Creek demands action from Mayor, City

Oct 16, 2020

Camp Mni Luzahan
Credit Lloyd Big Crow Sr.

Mni Luzahan Creek Patrol in Rapid City, along with a variety of other groups are establishing another homeless camp alongside Rapid Creek near the Central States Fairgrounds, Oct. 16.

Creek Patrol says that they are doing their best to keep the homeless safe not only from each other but from people who go as far as assaulting the homeless or yelling racial slurs, some of these assaults have been reported and documented by local law enforcement.

Last week the leaders of the Creek Patrol meet with Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender to present him with a short term goal and a long term in regards to solving disputes between homeless people who they are trying to keep safe and warm, especially with the potential cold weather.

Allender has said that “...it’s a rumor that homeless people are dying from exposure.” According to local news reports, there have been 7 deaths due to exposure in the last five years. This newly established camp is aiming to prevent that by providing shelter and supplies.

One member of the creek patrol, Hermus Bettelyoun, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, started with the Creek Patrol while it was in it’s infancy 3 months ago, since then there have been at least 3 people who patrolled the creek and as many as 40.

According to Bettelyoun, the cause isn’t new but he feels like they have gotten further than previous advocates have, and although there is always a bad side to the good, if people look at this issue with an open heart, they will understand the importance of the situation.

“They push us off to the side and they don’t want to deal with it, so their thing is to throw everyone in jail and refer to our people as drunk and druggies, which there is a good number of them who aren’t, they just have nowhere to go,” said Bettleyoun. “They live along the streets and they live in the trees here in Rapid City, because they have nowhere to go and they’re sober families out here and they don’t see that, they just look at the bad side of things without who is actually in need of help...everyone is in need of help, but there’s those sober parts but there’s a lot of them but they just stay hidden because they get ridiculed and they get pushed down by racist people here in this town.”

The camp’s demand is for the Mayor Allender to set aside a parcel of land for the homeless to camp to stay safe and warm for the winter.