Gale NewsVault
This 1890 news clip was released two weeks before the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890.

A History of Racism: Rapid City Warned of Indian Threat; Ranchers Ready to 'Kill Every Indian'

Simon Moya-Smith

Just two weeks before the Wounded Knee Massacre, white ranchers were preparing to “kill every Indian” they could find. Meanwhile, residents in South Dakota were being warned that war with Indians was imminent, according to several 1890 news briefs.

The stories, dated December 15, 1890, and published by the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, stated that an Indian attack is rare for the month December, but that residents should be ready "for trouble."

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"Rapid City or Deadwood are more likely to be attacked than Pine Ridge," the story states. "It is not there, but here, that there will be trouble."

The following brief reported of ranchers who were arming themselves with Winchester rifles and swearing to kill as many Indians as they could.

"Everyone we met had Winchesters, and several of them swore that hereafter they would kill every Indian they found this side of the Cheyenne," the story read.

Just two weeks after the publication of the briefs, on December 29, 1890, the U.S. Seventh Cavalry murdered an estimated 300 men, women and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Twenty of the soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. The medals have not been rescinded.

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Today, many claim Rapid City's discrimination of Native Americans still looms 125 years later.

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On December 20, Allen Locke, a 30-year-old Native American man, was shot five times and killed by police one day after he attended an anti-police brutality rally in Rapid City. One month later, an estimated 57 Native American students from the American Horse School in Allen were sprayed with beer at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and told to "go back to the reservation."

The man who killed Locke, Officer Anthony Meirose, was not indicted, and the although Rapid City police have suspects in the case regarding the Native American children no arrests have been made.

The recent escalation of incidents between Native Americans and whites in Rapid City has prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to send a mediator to stave the tension. On Monday, a community forum was held at a church to discuss how city officials and Native Americans can heal as community going forward, according to reports.

Editor's Note: The Rocky Mountain News clips were located during research conducted by ICTMN Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith using Gale NewsVault at Columbia University's Butler Library in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @simonmoyasmith.

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