One white man from Philip faces trial for allegedly throwing beer and racist insults at Lakota children. Another white man from Philip tries to put on those children’s shoes.
For blogging at its best, I yield the floor to John Tsitrian, who himself yields the floor to Philip attorney Neal Eisenbraun, who writes a lengthy, richly documented, and thoughtful epistle on the cruel and ignorant irony of a white man in Rapid City telling Lakota children to “go back to the rez.” The Supreme Court created a trust fund that has grown to $900 million specifically because Rapid City, the Black Hills, and pretty much all of West River was supposed to be the rez:
The argument that, well, $900,000,000 could solve a lot, if not all, of the problems plaguing the reservation is academic, because far more so could the return of the vast amount of land that was wrongfully taken, land from which, taking the Black Hills alone, the value of gold reaped has far exceeded the $900,000,000. Nonetheless, this is beside the point that saying, “Go back to the rez,” to a Lakota Sioux is an astonishing insult considering that, but for the most “ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings [that] will [e]ver, in all probability, be found in our history,” they would have already been on the rez, and the men in the skybox, trespassers. But for “the pattern of duress practiced by the Government on the starving Sioux to get them to agree to the sale of the Black Hills,” which the Supreme Court determined was not, in fact, a sale, those Indian children would have already been on the rez [Neal Eisenbraun, “‘Go Back to the Rez’—Thoughts on Why It Hurts So Much,” The Constant Commoner, 2015.03.25].
Eisenbraun turns from historical ignorance to young Lakota aspirations. He weaves into his essay the story of a Lakota girl from Wounded Knee who aspires to rise above the poverty and despair of the reservation to go to the big city, where she can find more opportunities and more people who think like her. She’s getting good grades to earn her way to the big city, just as the American Horse School kids earned their way to that fateful Rapid City Rush hockey game last January. Eisenbraun senses the pain young people like these must feel to aspire to bigger places, to do good things to earn a seat in those places, and then to be rejected by the occupiers of those stolen places.
Pray that we, who have no idea what it is like to not only merely survive, but to excel in an environment such as the one Carleigh struggles daily within, will begin to welcome her and all the children with open arms and love. They have suffered long enough [Eisenbraun, 2015.03.25].