Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Rapid City mayor's year of retaliation

The following is the opinion of 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, former mayor Sam Kooiker and Mayor Steve Allender. Photo by Richie Richards

‘That’s the way we keep the Red Man down’
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk

When Glen Yellow Robe first approached Native Sun News and shared his compelling story about corruption, a cover-up and racial bigotry within the ranks of Rapid City’s top administrators, we hesitated.

As a privately owned newspaper, wholly dependent on subscriptions and advertising sales, we knew running a story exposing racist remarks and actions by Rapid City mayoral candidate Steve Allender, could prove costly.

We sat on the story for over a month, contemplating what was at stake. Native Sun News owners Tim and Jackie Giago warned if we run the story and Allender wins, “he is going to cut us from the city budget” they said.

Our writer Richie Richards visited with Allender and told him that we had been approached by Yellow Robe and asked for his response to the allegations, which he gave us. Allender admitted to many of the allegations stating he is a different man now.

Allender knew we were sitting on a bombshell of a story and more or less told us he would not advertise with our paper if we ran the story.

We ran the stories anyway, Allender won the mayoral seat and now he has proposed to cut Native Sun News from the 2016 Rapid City budget.

Allender, presiding over his second Rapid City Council meeting last Monday night, proposed a budget cut of $40,000 to stop publishing legal announcements such as city council minutes in the Native Sun News.

“I’m not here to look good and build a political resume and worry about election. I’m here to do what I was hired to do, and that is to serve the people and do the right thing,” Allender said.

Our question is, is doing the right thing the right thing for himself or for the people?

As the new editor of Native Sun, I am experiencing firsthand what Allender meant when he told Glen Yellow Robe, “That’s the way we keep the Red Man down.”

Glen had reported to NSN that shortly after he was turned down for a promotion as a training officer, then a fellow officer, Allender snickered and laughed at him saying, “That’s the way we keep the Red Man down.”

First of all Allender tried to censor what we print by refusing to advertise with us if we ran the story. Then two weeks ago, Allender asked Tim Giago at an interview with KOTA news, if Ernestine Chasing Hawk was going to continue as editor of Native Sun News, a subtle suggestion perhaps that Tim needed to get rid of me. Tim told him, “Nope she is permanent.”

Then we get news that Allender proposed a retaliatory move against NSN by hitting us where it would hurt us the most, in our pocketbooks.

Native Sun News had negotiated with the city several years ago for the opportunity to publish the Rapid City legal announcements and city council minutes so that Native constituents would be informed about the goings on within “their” city government.

It was a long hard fight, but Mayor Sam Kooiker finally convinced city council members that Native Sun News, although not the legal newspaper of Rapid City, is still the newspaper Indians living in and around Sacred He Sapa read.

Several years ago the city set aside a budget of $40,000 a year for Native Sun. However the actual amount the city has paid to NSN thus far in 2015 is $5,755, for both advertising and publishing the city minutes. A far cry from the amount Allender claims we receive.

He also stated that only 800 people are reached weekly by Native Sun News.

Last week I ran a story that reached over 18,000 people on just our Facebook page. We also post our stories on,, and the Associated Press (AP). Other papers such as the Navajo Times, Native American Times, Natives Online, Teton Times, News from Indian Country pick up our stories. Our columns run in Huffington Post and in January we were quoted in the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Our Facebook page reaches an estimated 50,000 people a week.

During Kooiker’s last city council meeting that he resided over as mayor, he along with Allender signed a proclamation declaring 2015 as a “Renewed Year of Reconciliation.”

I do believe however that instead of having a “Renewed Year of Reconciliation,” what we have is a “Year of Retaliation” from Rapid City’s newest Mayor Steve Allender.

(Ernestine Chasing Hawk can be reached at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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