The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce met Thursday morning to reveal a new initiative to promote racial equality in the workplace. It’s a pledge, called “In the Spirit of Mitákuye Oyás’in or We Are All Related” and comes after a yearlong process of identifying social issues in the city.
The pledge to end discrimination in Rapid City businesses came after the Chamber was approached by Community Conversations, an organization formed to address racial inequality.
Bill May is the chairman for the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce. He says the Chamber encourages all businesses in the area to post the equal treatment pledge and follow through with its promise.
“So we’re trying to be an active and helpful participant in making Rapid City more inclusive, and making sure that the Native population, of Lakota primarily, are welcome in all businesses and that they feel that they are a big part of this community because they are,” says May.
Some think the pledge will also benefit South Dakota’s economy. Emma Mincks is a member of Community Conversations. She says many of the surrounding tribal communities come to Rapid City to shop. She adds that this equal rights pledge helps South Dakota’s tourism industry.
“It will help with people who are coming from out of state, but also people who are traveling into Rapid from all parts of the state, from reservations, from the east side of the state, it just shows that Rapid City’s really dedicated to making our community more safe and welcoming,” says Mincks.
Chamber officials say the pledge is just one step to improving overall race relations in the city. They hope to continue the initiative by educating businesses about cultural and historical issues significant to the Lakota people.