NDN Collective: Fourth of You Lie — Rally feed, and march in Rapid City
Native independence events smother Noem’s fireworks wish
Friday, July 9, 2021
Native Sun News Today Health & Environment Editor

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — Grassroots Native treaty rights events here during the national Independence Day holiday this 4th of July featured a peaceful but spectacular civil disobedience action: Four indigenous technical climbers scaled downtown’s landmark private grain elevator to drop a gigantic, inverted U.S. flag from the top.

“An upside-down flag represents being in distress and is a prominent symbol across Indian Country,” NDN Collective organizers said in a media release.

“That flag belongs to us. So-called Independence Day is the day that U.S. colonizers officially claimed stolen Indigenous lands as their own — the day they celebrated and continue to celebrate an outright lie that America is or has ever been a place of freedom and justice for all,” they said.

Land Back in Rapid City, South Dakota
A supportive crowd watched climbers unfurl the flag, emblazoned with the slogan “LANDBACK” and patched with the number “1,505” during a peaceful Rapid City civil disobedience action that resulted in four arrests on July 4, 2021. Courtesy photo

A supportive crowd watched climbers unfurl the flag, emblazoned with the slogan “LANDBACK”. NDN Collective generated the slogan for the 2020 Independence Day observance, when 21 demonstrators peacefully submitted to arrest in a civil disobedience action for the same treaty rights cause.

The flag bore a patch of “1,505” for the mounting number of unmarked graves detected recently during Indian boarding school investigations.

“Colonial violence is why we are currently unearthing hundreds and thousands of our children at boarding schools both in the so-called United States and in so-called Canada,” NDN Collective commented. There is no repair or justice until Indigenous peoples reclaim our land.”

As the climbers descended from the 100-foot tower using its built-in exterior ladder, Rapid City police officers arrested them one-by-one for trespass. The officers searched them, zip-tied their hands, put them in the windowless rear compartment of an unmarked white police vehicle, and hauled them off to the Pennington County Jail.

NDN Collective: Indigenous Revolutionaries Freed post LandBack flag Mount Arrest

Climber Krystal Two Bulls called on “the Indigenous peoples of the world who have been forcefully removed from their lands — at the hands of militarism, imperialism, capitalism and corporativism – to stand and join the struggle to get our LANDBACK!”

Two Bulls, who described herself as “a caretaker and protector of the Black Hills,” is Northern Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota. She is NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign Director. LANDBACK is a movement to reclaim Native rights, such as those guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution by the abrogated 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty that protected the Black Hills as indigenous jurisdiction.

The organization said the event aimed to “refute the dominant narrative” about the flag’s symbolism. “This action marks a notch in the paradigm shift, one that has a long lineage,” said climber Nadya Tannous, an NDN Collective LANDBACK campaign organizer.

The climbers wore lighted headlamps to make their way to the ground where officer lit the night-time scene with floodlights. Arrested with Two Bulls and Tannous were climbers Tytianna Harris and Martin Aranaydo. Supporters greeted them as they were released after booking the same night.

The Pennington County States Attorney’s Office is prosecuting their cases, according to the Rapid City Police Department. Assisting police with traffic control and crowd management on the scene at 426 Omaha St. were South Dakota State Troopers, Pennington County Sheriff’s deputies, and the Rapid City Fire Department.

“We’re incredibly thankful for all of the public safety personnel, many of which were forced to work on their day off, who helped ensure this event was carried out in the safest manner possible,” Chief of Police Don Hedrick said in an official report.

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