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Amended Sioux San land swap passes 9-1

                 Tatewin Means

RAPID CITY – An amended resolution for a land swap to resolve three outstanding land deeds associated with the Rapid City Indian Boarding School lands was passed 9-1 in Rapid City Council on Monday, Nov 16. The resolution was not presented to the public prior to the meeting and council members only had a day to review the material.

Ritchie Nordstrom, who was indicated as one of the authors of the amended resolution with Heather Dawn Thompson and Greg Strommen, made the motion to approve. He said that the three main changes from the original resolution was the replacement of the word “swap” for “exchange”, set a hard due date of June 30, 2021, and set the compensation at 20 million dollars.

Darla Drew then called on Tatewin Means, a citizen in support of the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project, and asked who all supported the new and revised amendment. Means presented a long list of elders, individuals, and organizations. Means, however, was one of a few citizens in the audience for the meeting which was a stark contrast from previous meetings where many people showed support.

Greg Strommen, one of the creators of the amended resolution and previous outspoken opponent to the original resolution, said “I am kind of a bottom line guy and I thought that the bottom line here was a good bottom line and that is to come up with a way, a coalition, to fund then to build a cultural heritage center that honors the Native Americans right here in Rapid City. I think our community, our state, our nation can benefit from that.”

Former Rapid City Central High School principal Pat Jones voiced concern for the resolution but admitted that something for the Native American population needed to be done. “We are going to do something. Whether it is this, or something else, we are going to do something,” said Jones. “I just don’t know that this, as presented to us, is exactly the right thing for us to do right now.” Jones was the only dissenting vote.

John Roberts of ward four was concerned that passing a resolution that was not made public prior to the meeting would result in an open meeting violation. Rapid City Attorney Joel Landeen replied that resolutions do not need to be made public prior to voting like ordinances, and that the amended resolution was very similar to the original resolution.

Newly sworn in Rapid City Council member Ron Weifenbach of ward one also voiced concern but ended up voting for the amended resolution. He said that he was not clear what the end goal of the resolution was, and that the council supported initiatives of the same nature in the past while he was a council member and they did not amount to anything.

After the passing of the amended resolution, a coalition will be made of citizens to come up with a plan which will be presented to Rapid City Council by June 30 per the Department of Interior’s approval.

The original resolution was presented to Rapid City Council by the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Project to resolve three outstanding land deeds which are operating illegally per a law passed in 1948. The three land deeds are currently operating as the Monument Health Behavioral Health Center, Clarkson Health Care, and Canyon Lake Activity Center. If passed, the original resolution would have guaranteed 20 million dollars from the City of Rapid City to create a convention center and cultural heritage center for Native Americans in Rapid City in exchange for the three outstanding land deeds.

An ordinance considered at Monday’s meeting which would allow hens to be cultivated within city limits was tabled for another session.

(Contact Travis at

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