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Friday, August 23, 2013

Reconciliation at Work: Crow Creek Sioux Invite Highway Patrol to Help at Pow-Wow

Governor Dennis Daugaard tells a good story about tribal and state government taking a positive step toward building trust (I was going to say rebuilding, but has that trust ever existed?) between our two peoples at last weekend's Crow Creek Sioux Tribe pow-wow:
This year’s pow-wow marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of Fort Thompson, the headquarters of the tribe. Anticipating a large crowd for the event, Chairman Brandon Sazue and the Tribal Council reached out to the South Dakota Highway Patrol to lend a hand with law enforcement and crowd control.

State authority of any kind on tribal land has long been a sensitive issue, so the council and the chairman knew they were taking a risk. They did it for the safety of their citizens. The Highway Patrol responded enthusiastically, offering five troopers and two police service dogs with handlers for the weekend [Governor, Dennis Daugaard, "A Small, Important Step at the Crow Creek Pow-Wow," press release, 2013.08.23].
Daugaard says the tribal–HP collaboration went well: troopers interacted with tribal members with respect and cultural sensitivity. Some troopers have volunteered to help at next year's pow-wow if invited.

Our governor, however, labors under no illusion that one weekend scores all the reconciliation points he needs for 2014... or for the good of all South Dakotans:
None of us is naïve enough to think one event on one weekend will change decades of distrust. Improving race relations is an ongoing, difficult task. It requires persistence, by all involved. It also requires some risk, reaching out and getting to know each other and beginning to trust each other. At the Crow Creek pow-wow last weekend, a group of good-hearted people did reach out. It’s a small step yet an important one. We can be hopeful [Daugaard, 2013.08.23].
(Daugaard also gets HTML-special character points: that umlaut on naïve is in his original text!)

I don't like to mingle reconciliation and score-keeping. But the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe took the harder step here, setting aside their mistrust to admit they needed help and ask for help from The Man. Now it's The Man's turn to reciprocate: what can the Governor and the Highway Patrol do to reach across their mistrust and offer the Crow Creek Sioux an empowering opportunity?

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