The University of South Dakota School of Law Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) organized a Peace Gathering in honor of the 57 children from American Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation. These students, age 9 to 13, were attending a Rapid City Rush hockey game in recognition of their school accomplishments. Unfortunately, these students had beer poured on them and were subject to racial epithets. The alleged perpetrator was charged with a low level misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.
The gathering brought together almost 30 law students and faculty members into the courtroom. The Law School community was invited to write personal letters of encouragement and support to send to the students. NALSA’s goal is to send a strong message to the children so that they know we support them in their efforts to continue to strive and to grow from this negative and ugly experience.
Tysolake House, second year law student and Vice-President of NALSA, shared his thoughts on the incident. For Tysolake, this incident hit very close to home. He mentioned the obstacles he had to overcome dealing with racially charged issues as a child. He also expressed his sympathies for the children as he envisioned this situation potentially happening to his own children, who are the same age.
USD Law Professor Frank Pommersheim shared a few thoughts about how to move forward from this horrible incident. His remarks focused on the need for ‘solidarity,’ particularly from NALSA and the legal community, to show support for these young native students. These students need to know that there are many people of good will who want them to succeed.
Gene Thin Elk, Director of the Native American Cultural Center, also attended the Peace Gathering in support of the children from American Horse School. Gene expressed his support by sharing a few words about overcoming adversity and by singing a Lakota Song.
USD NALSA President