Native Sun News: Rapid City proclaims 'Year of Reconciliation'

The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Tim Giago, center, holding the “Year of Reconciliation’ proclamation, poses with his wife, Jackie Giago, Mayor Sam Kooiker and Mayor-elect Steve Allender. Photo by Richie Richards

Rapid City proclaims ‘Year of Reconciliation'
Mayor and Mayor-elect sign proclamation
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY –– In the year 2015, the issue of racism is still front and center, although reconciliation was declared 25 years ago by Governor George Mickelson.

The 100th anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee was in 1990 and Editor Tim Giago envisioned Indians and non-Indians in South Dakota coming together and working out their differences.

He urged Mickelson to declare a year of reconciliation and Mickelson agreed. But shortly after signing the proclamation, Mickelson was killed in a place crash and reconciliation died with him.

But for Giago, the vision never died, and this year when the issue of racism in Rapid City was headlining news stories across nation, he believed it was time to begin the dialogue of reconciliation again.

This year marks the 125th Anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre and Indians living in Rapid City and all of South Dakota, still live with the historic trauma caused by the theft of their land, their identity, their culture, their language and their way of life.

Today many face homelessness, hunger, poverty, violence, addictions and racism that keeps them from enjoying the “American Dream” right here on land that once belonged to their ancestors.

South Dakota has the distinction of having within its borders seven of the poorest counties in the nation, all on Indian Reservations.

So to mark the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Proclamation of Reconciliation, Giago urged outgoing Mayor Sam Kooiker and Mayor-elect Steve Allender to renew the efforts Mickelson began.

On Monday June 15, Kooiker and Allender both signed an Executive Proclamation declaring a Renewed Year of Reconciliation.

In a historic gesture toward improving race relations in Rapid City, Mayor Kooiker read the first half of the Proclamation before the Rapid City Common Council and Mayor-Elect Allender read the second half.

The Proclamation was then presented to Tim Giago owner and publisher emeritus of Native Sun News and his wife Jackie Giago.

Giago said he moved to Rapid City 70 years ago when his father got a job at the Rapid City Air Force Base. He said the first difficulty his family faced was trying to find a place to live.

“I’ve seen a lot happen in Rapid City and I’ve seen of changes. I’ve seen people really try to extend the hand of friendship,” Giago told the Common Council. “I know Rapid City can be the example for all the other cities in South Dakota by proclaiming a renewed year of reconciliation here.”

Hani Shafai of Dream Design International said he thinks the community needs to work on race relations and hopes the leadership in the community is serious about doing something about it instead of just talk.

“I think this is the year to start doing that because the community is in really bad need of reconciling the differences between North Rapid and South Rapid and the Indian community and non-Indian Community,” Shafai said.

Mayor Elect Allender said, “Rapid City has special problems with race relations that need special solutions. This is a good step and now it’s up to us to make sure it isn’t just lip service. That proclamation is just a piece of paper and our actions will declare if there is any value to that piece of paper.”

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Join the Conversation