Photo: Allen Russel
Each year, as a reward for academic achievement, students from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota are invited to attend a Rapid City Rush Hockey game. The Reservation, which has been home to the Ogala Lakota Tribe since 1889, is the eighth largest in the US. Like annual clockwork, in 2015, fifty or so 9 to 13 year old students made the hour trip for the hockey game. Throughout the game, as they sat with parents and chaperones, men sitting in a VIP box shouted racial slurs as they dumped beer on them from above. While initially investigated as a possible Federal Hate Crime, the incident was ultimately politicized and diminished down to a single charge of disorderly conduct. Despite opposition from Reservation residents, civil rights organizations and Native American advocates, the man was fully acquitted.
FBI reports in the last ten years assert Native Americans are more than twice as likely to be victims of race-based hate crimes as other racial groups. The greatest majority of these crimes are verbal harassment on the street, in public spaces and within business establishments. Further, the Bureau’s most recent report recognizes an increase in hate crimes across the board-- affecting all racial, religious and ethnic minorities. This rise is exponentially exacerbated by a 67 percent increase in reported hate crimes against Muslims.
We stand with Native Americans and support the removal of offensive representation and mainstream appropriation of their heritage. We outspokenly deny the Trump administration the arrogance to determine what is or isn’t offensive and respectfully defer to the voices of communities who have been greatly affected by a history of exploitation and discrimination.
Trump’s references to Native Americans and Muslims this week are indefensible. We urge you to write to your elected officials, donate to the ACLU and speak up and out in your own community. - Maureen Post