Discrimination concerns rise after clash at Central States Fair

Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 7:21 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - During the last weekend of the Central States Fair & Rodeo, a series of events between the security staff and fairgoers who are part of the NDN Collective put a spotlight on what those fairgoers are calling an act of discrimination.

While making their way through security, a handful of attendees associated with the Native American activist group NDN Collective say they were forced to remove clothing with logos referring to various indigenous rights movements. Fair officials say it was a misunderstanding of Central States Fair policy on attire, as the security officers involved reportedly claimed there were no organizational logos or colors allowed. That turned out to not be the case, as fair policy does not mention anything about logos or colors, only that fairgoers had to wear shoes and a shirt.

On Wednesday, we reached out to the Central States Fair for a comment regarding the incident.

“We’re sincerely sorry for the mix-up and the lack of communication on our part to get the word completely through the entire organization, but as I mentioned, there are so many moving parts and 400 or so people out here working on behalf of the fair that it’s hard to get the correct message to everybody for every incident,” said Central States Fair general manager Ron Jeffries.

We also reached out to two of the three individuals who were involved in the video to get their thoughts on the incident.

NDN Collective said this was a racially motivated incident that occurred between the two parties. The men to whom this happened said situations like this one are what they are continuing to stand up against for the sake of the Native community.

“I don’t want them to ever go through this; they fight it enough every day, and maybe someday down the road my kids won’t have to do it, and that’s the only thing we can hope for is a brighter future,” said affected fairgoer Hermus Battleyoun.

“I just hope nobody has to go through that type of feeling; you know, to be honest, it just felt like it was just part of being Native American; you know, it hurt a lot,” said affected fairgoer Zachary Martinez.

In the coming days, NDN Collective says some in the Native American community will be demanding a direct apology from the Central States Fair and other organizations involved.