Nick Tilsen had his court appearance regarding Mt Rushmore Protest on Wednesday

RAPID CITY, S.D.(KOTA)- Yesterday, Nick Tilsen, president of NDN Collective, appeared for an evidentiary hearing at the Pennington County Courthouse regarding an incident that took place during former President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore last year.

The incident resulted in the arrests of Tilsen and 21 other indigenous activists following a confrontation with law enforcement near Keystone.

Charges against Tilsen were not dropped, though Tilsen has previously said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the case. He faces up to 17 years in prison, while charges against the other 21 activists have been dropped.

Tilsen’s attorney has argued prosecutorial misconduct has led to violations of his right to free speech and a speedy trial, and requested charges against him be dropped.

Mark Vargo, Pennington County State’s Attorney, was unable to be reached for comment.

Tilsen argues for indigenous people, the South Dakota legal system looks very different.

Indigenous people make up a disproportionate amount of incarcerated individuals in the state, representing over a third of all inmates despite making up under 10 percent of the state’s population according to numbers from the South Dakota Department of Corrections.

A written decision is expected to provide a final update on if the charges will be tossed.