RAPID CITY, S.D.(KOTA)- Last Saturday, Indigenous leaders marched from Roosevelt Park in North Rapid City to the Grand Gateway Hotel.
The crowd, comprised of hundreds of mostly native activists, waved tribal government and LANDBACK flags, with dozens of children holding handmade signs.
Lawrence Cross, a medicine man from Kyle, promoted a message of indigenous unity in light of recent incidents of racism seen in Rapid City.
Nick Tilsen, president of NDN Collective, spoke to rallygoers as well.
Tilsen, wearing a “Good NDN – Bad NDN” t-shirt, had a message for young members of the movement, many of whom were in attendance.
But Tilsen also clarified what marchers are metaphorically carrying with them.
Along with tribal government seals, NDN Collective and American Indian Movement symbolism was heavily featured.
While political leaders often point to “the kids” as their rallying cry, it became clear in the parking lot of the Grand Gateway Hotel the next generation of indigenous agitators are already active.
(Dee-Ja-Ray)Dejarae Little Bull and (Na-Gee)Najin Yellow Wolf, both sophomores in high school, said these kinds of events make them feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Little Bull said she experiences racism in her daily life.
Two young men from Eagle Butte, Raymond Clown and Kyler Red Dog, said they feel angry and disempowered in light of treatment from white people in Rapid City.
However, their answer was simple when asked why they came out.
Clown and Red Dog said they were serving as something of “security” for the protest, ensuring demonstrations didn’t get too rowdy. Little Bull is a member of the Rapid City Central Lakota Empowerment Club, and helped to organize a student walkout in protest of proposed education standards last year.
In light of recent incidents of racism seen in Rapid City, a collection of tribal leaders – operating as the larger Great Sioux Nation, issued a notice of trespass to the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel.
Kevin Killer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, captured the sense of frustration in the room.
Indigenous peoples came from all over the region to be a part of the discussion, including Allison Renville, who described herself as a political consultant in Sisseton.
Joanne (Bear) Beare, an elder originally from Standing Rock, believes there are ways to mend bridges.
The Great Sioux Nation ultimately said they are willing to take steps including boycotting Rapid City, potentially moving the Black Hills Powwow, and pressuring the city council to revoke business licenses.
Later in the day, indigenous activists marched to the Grand Gateway Hotel, and hung an “eviction notice” over the businesses sign.