- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Rapid City’s Human Relations Commission is trying to get a handle on mounting racial tensions in the community, as American Indians raise concerns about safety.

Former Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer said he doesn’t think the city and commission are doing enough, and it might cost Rapid City a popular basketball tournament.

Some American Indians say racial tensions were exacerbated by reports of Native American children being subjected to racial slurs and sprayed with beer at a minor league hockey game in Rapid City in late January. A similar incident was reported during a recent stock show and rodeo at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Brewer has formed a group to confront racism, and hundreds of Native Americans rallied outside the Civic Center on Tuesday night. The city’s Human Relations Commission held a public meeting Wednesday, with U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service representative Carol Russo in attendance.

Russo said the government won’t tell Rapid City what to do, though it can help guide the city through conflict.

“You’re the experts of the community. You know what it is you need,” she said.

The commission is developing public service announcements to improve race relations and will take comments and suggestions to encourage an expanded conversation on race and prejudice, Vice Chairman Andy Ainslie said.

“Our goal here is to help people who have been discriminated against to become reconciled with those who have been the source of discrimination,” he said.

Brewer said more needs to be done.

“It’s great to have the reconciliation here, but we need the Department of Justice to come in and investigate some of the things that are happening - not just what happened recently, but what has been happening for years,” he said.

The Lakota Nation Invitational is considering moving the annual basketball tournament to a different city.

“We have to look out for the safety of our children,” Brewer said. “We don’t want to run. We’ve been here for 38 years. But we’ll have to see what happens here.”


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