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Investigation into racial incident expands, all homecoming events cancelled
F.Ganje & Gary Matthews - October 12, 2017

STURGIS, SD – After a day of phone calls and video conferencing with Pine Ridge school officials, the Meade School District decided late Thursday afternoon to cancel all 2017 Sturgis Homecoming activities. This includes the homecoming parade, football game and dance.

The cancellations have come about following an incident by some Sturgis Brown High School students who painted a car with racial slurs, destroyed it and posted on social media while including racial profanities. The activity is called a ‘car bash.’ While such events were part of Sturgis homecoming activities in the past, the school stopped sanctioning them years ago, according to school officials.

A late night post and apology on the evening of the incident from assistant Sturgis Brown High School Principal Chad Hedderman was followed the next morning with an apology from the Meade School District Board, administration and staff.  Sturgis police were also contacted as were school officials in Pine Ridge.

Since that time, discussions have been ongoing between the two school districts, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the South Dakota School Activities Association and the South Dakota U.S. Attorney General’s office.  According to SDHSAA Executive Director Dr. Dan Swartos, the first priority is determining if the homecoming game can be played.  “The safety of players and fans is most important,” he notes. While commending district superintendent Don Kirkegaard for being proactive, Swartos says, “It’s important the district work diligently with law enforcement to get to the bottom of who was behind this.”

Sturgis Brown High School Principal Pete Wilson says it’s a sad day for Sturgis.  “Comments from Sturgis Brown High School students that were painted on a car are derogatory and racist towards the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Native Americans everywhere.  From my standpoint, it is disheartening that students would stoop to this level.”

He continued, “The phrase, ‘go back to the rez’ is offensive at every level. This is the worst kind of bullying. It’s past bullying; it’s hatred, it’s racism.  I’m appalled and ashamed at the actions of some of our students.”

The cancelled football game is the first such cancellation because of racial tensions in the history of the Meade School District.



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