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How historical trauma is impacting Rapid City’s indigenous community

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:09 PM MDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:30 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Drugs, poverty, and violence. This is how historical trauma carried over from generation to generation manifests in communities across the country. Rapid City has seen several incidents in the past few months that many say are rooted in generational trauma.

Chris White Eagle runs Wombli Ska Teen Center, an organization in north Rapid dedicated to giving indigenous youth a safe place to hang out. He finds that many of the youth coming in to seek help are going through hard times at home.

“They live with grandma, and mom and dad are gone for whatever reason,” White Eagle said. “Incarcerated, passed away, or are just not around, and grandma has her hands full. There are a lot of situations like that. It’s also drugs, and it’s sad.”

The Rapid City Police Department has taken steps in recent years to build bridges in the community and address some of the historical trauma.

Tyler Read is an RCPD community engagement specialist. He said that the drug problem in the community is a major consequence of trauma, and is breaking families and the community apart.

“We need to address what has transpired, what it is that’s hurting us so badly that we’re losing our sense of connection to each other.”

Johnathan Old Horse, the pastor of Woyotan Lutheran Church, says he hopes the youth, who are in desperate need of help, use the opportunity to break the cycle of trauma.

“That young man, that young woman, all their personal problems are still there on top of everything they’re carrying, from their mother all the way back to when these things started to happen. In my heart, I don’t believe there’s any real fix for that in the short term. It’s going to take all of us coming together to really understand what happened with the boarding schools and some of these other things that are contributing to not being good neighbors with each other.”

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