The following is the opinion of Rodney M. Bordeaux, the president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.
On May 20, 2009, the Madison Daily Leader, Jon M. Hunter, published an editorial with the headline, "Does a new airport at Rosebud help with economic recovery?" The article states, "We were taken aback by two press releases Tuesday morning, when Sen. Tim Johnson and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin separately announced $4.1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would be used to build a new airport for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe."
Hunter´s misstatements concerning the people of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are stereotypical, racist, and the kind of polemic that demonstrate the ignorant and uneducated attitudes and animosity against Native Americans that lives on in South Dakota. On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe I emphatically condemn Hunter´s comments and challenge Hunter to learn the facts before publishing "knee-jerk" reactions based upon misconceptions, racism, and stereotypical assumptions.
For example, it is true that the Rosebud Reservation is one of the poorest counties in America, but why can Hunter claim that "alcoholism and poverty are persuasive, education is substandard, and healthcare quality is questioned," without any citation to any study finding those assumptions are in fact the truth? Hunter goes on to say, "Since many tribal members don´t have enough money to buy a used car or the gasoline for it, we would guess that there are a limited number of private or corporate jets at Rosebud." If the only factual support for these statements are the gut feelings of whoever "we" are, why not simply say all Native Americans are alcoholic, poor, lazy, and uneducated people? Does Hunter imply that "we" people are the majority white population, and that therefore his statements and racially biased attitude are so widely known and accepted that he doesn´t need facts to support them? Hunter´s support for his assumptions are derogatory racial stererotypes. In fact, many tribal members are so angry that they have suggested pursuing legal remedies in court.
Adequate health care for Tribal members is a priority of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. A new airport in Rosebud , South Dakota, would permit the transportation of emergency status patients directly from Rosebud to larger hospitals in either Rapid City, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where there are trauma centers, burn treatment centers, and emergency surgery bays. At the present time the only airport for transporting patients is about 15 miles away from Rosebud, and is not sufficient to meet our needs. There are more than two hundred seventy plus flights a year from our hospital alone!
A fully functioning airport not only provides emergency medical transportation, but can foster economic development in the areas of tourism, hunting and fishing, and other tribal economic development projects. Approximately 150 jobs will be created by this funding. This is a two year project. The Tribe will seek other funding to complete the airport project.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is an economically underdeveloped area. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has fought long and hard for funding and has had to compete with municipalities, counties, states and other tribes for the same economic stimulus funds. Maybe Hunter should check his facts first. We invite Mr. Hunter to come and see for himself. He will be welcome.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:H.R.1
recovery and tribal funds