Pennington County Jail

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Weekly Drum Group Meets In Pennington County Jail

Aug 13, 2015
Pennington County Sheriff's Office

The Pennington County Jail recently reinstated their spiritual drum group. The program was originally developed in the 1990s. It allows inmates to stay connected to their culture by meeting weekly to play traditional music.

A group of inmates gathered in chairs surrounding a drum. They went around the circle and each said a prayer before they began to play their music.

The drum group meets once a week for an hour. They teach each other techniques and practice traditional Native American songs. Wayne Featherman is one of the musicians. He said the group is healing.

Victoria Wicks

Rapid City criminal justice leaders are looking for ways to lower the disproportionate number of Native inmates in the Pennington County Jail. One suggestion offered at a meeting Tuesday is to survey inmates to find out what it would take to keep them out of jail. The community meeting was led by members of the Native American Outreach Subcommittee, part of a group vying for a grant through the MacArthur Foundation.

Victoria Wicks

The American Indian population in Rapid City is about 12 percent, but Native people account for almost 60 percent of arrests. And because of societal factors such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and unemployment, Native people end up staying in jail when more fortunate people would be released. Tuesday SDPB’s Victoria Wicks sat in on a Native American Outreach meeting of officials in the process of applying for a MacArthur grant to fund solutions.