Joe Valandra: Racist treatment of Indians persists in Rapid City

"I read with great interest the opinion piece written by Lise Balk King entitled, “Vern Traversie and the Worst Place to Be an Indian.” I was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota, attending the public schools and experiencing much of what Lise writes of from her point of view. As I have grown older and had the good fortune to live and work around the world, I often think of my youth and how the adventure that my life is would have been unthinkable if I had stopped and done so 40 years ago.

There is and was a large supportive Native community in Rapid City. I was also lucky to have a large family on the Rosebud. The center of my upbringing in Rapid was the Sioux San and the St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church—the San because that is where I went to the doctor and dentist. The Church because that is where my family worshiped, where I was required to attend religious training, and also because that is where we received our commodities from the federal government. The commodities allowed us to have food on the table; I still remember watery powdered milk mixed with 2 percent milk as something as near to cream as I could imagine.

But I digress. The attitudes prevalent toward natives during my youth clearly persist. It is with great pain and anger that we all see the manifestation of this racial and cultural prejudice on the body of Vern Traversie. We are all diminished by these hateful acts of ignorance."

Get the Story:
Joseph Valandra: The Vern Traversie Case: Rapid City, Then and Now (Indian Country Today 6/10)

Related Stories:
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Lise Balk King: Rapid City -- one of the worst places to be Indian (5/31)
Native Sun News: Rapid City hospital put in unhealthy spotlight (5/23)
Hundreds march in support of blind Cheyenne River Sioux man (05/22)
Evelyn Red Lodge: Lakota man accuses hospital of mutilation (04/26)

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