Let's NOT "Just Get Over It"

By Karen Mortimer

“Hope Lives When People Remember” – Simon Weisenthal
On Native American day this year,  October 8. 2018, more than 200 people (Native and non-Native alike) walked to remember the children who attended and passed away at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School.
 
Snow gently fell as walkers carried signs with the names of 44 of the children. Families of these children were present and participated in a Wiping of the Tears ceremony as the walkers stood in a circle while prayers  were offered by Medicine Man, Sidney Has No Horses.  At the beginning of the walk, our Mayor, Steve Allender and Dr. Lori Simon, Superintendent of the Rapid City Area Schools launched the event with sincere acknowledgement of the history and commitment to look into the future.  We are remembering and we hope for healing.
 
We live in a place that some call ‘Racist City’.  When discussing what some call the ‘so called Indian problem’, some say “Just get over it. It’s time to move on.”  
Let’s  NOT just get over it… let’s engage in honest reflection and  a whole hearted community effort to honor the past.
 
 We are proud to call Rapid City, and the Black Hills, our home. Some of us grew up here, others chose to move here, and all of us live here today.  Learning about the connection between historical trauma, the boarding school movement and adverse childhood and adult experiences is critical to how we move ahead in building relationships. The existence of the boarding school in west Rapid City is a difficult piece of history to address. However it is our obligation and responsibility to learn about and remember the children and families who ultimately suffered from it’s existence.
 
The researchers of this history (Heather Dawn Thompson, Kibbe Conti and Eric Zimmer) have bravely and brilliantly opened up this remarkable piece of Rapid City’s past.  MOA was honored to collaborate and help sponsor the Memorial Walk on the 8th of October this year. Doing something—anything—to make our community better gives us energy. The Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors step up and respectfully participate in community efforts that bridge cultures, educate ourselves and others, and advocate and model behavior we wish to see in our community. We are walking to remember and that gives us hope. 
 
We are NOT just getting over it. We believe this walk will become an annual event on Native American Day in Rapid City.

Many people in our community—Native and non-Native alike—are still living the experiences that they lived 50 years ago… some even longer. There are issues of trust at the forefront of many of our challenges. By participating in broader conversations, within the context of the work, about the issues that impact our community we can get to the heart of understanding how we grow stronger together.
 
While we are unable to change the past, we can face the truth of this history. Together we can envision and create a better future for all of our children.
 
For more information about the history please click here.

Karissa Eifert