Common Sense Anti-Indianism: Border Town Violence in Rapid City, SDPosted: February 6, 2014
Paper originally presented at the 15th Annual American Indian Studies Association Conference, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, February 6, 2014. This essay is a shorter version of a longer, in-depth analysis.
NOTE: For those interested on the research and theoretical work I’ve been doing on border towns since 2012, see: Border Towns: Colonial Logics of Violence, Indian Casino Cartels or Alcohol Cartels? Farmington, NM, First Nations Sculpture Garden: Rapid City and the Politics of Stolen Ground, Why Chamberlain, SX is Indefensible, and Insanity: Chamberlain, SX and the D/Lakota Honor Song Controversy.
“[T]he ubiquitous denial of Anti-Indianism in our lives and in our scholarship obscures our necessary understanding that there is almost always reason behind tragedy.”
“Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.”
On Tuesday, August 2, 2011, the Rapid City Police Department was rocked by the unprovoked shooting of three on-duty officers. While conducting a routine stop…, a male suspect pulled out a concealed weapon and began firing. Officer Nick Armstrong, who was patrolling on a bicycle as part of the Street Crimes Unit was struck first. Officer Tim Doyle was shot in the face, but was able to freturn [sic] fire with [sic] the suspect. Officer Ryan McCandless was also hit, and fired 14 shots before falling.
Officer McCandless died later that day. Officer Armstrong died four days later. As Doyle fought to recover, the department, community, and law enforcement agencies from across the country came together as a family to grieve for our fallen heroes. [Emphases added]
Printed on the second page of the Rapid City Police Department’s (RCPD) 2011 Annual Report is a black and white photograph (see above image) of mainly white onlookers of all ages looking northward on Rapid City’s Mount Rushmore Road toward an oncoming procession. A motorcade of emergency vehicles escorts the bodies of two Rapid City Police (RCP) officers, Nick Armstrong and Ryan McCandless, killed in the line of duty. The picture evokes the well-known images of the “Fallen Heroes” of 9/11. Even the photo’s caption—“Fallen Heroes”—arouses parallels with the “unforgettable” tragedy.
This essay critically interrogates the shooting-deaths of the two RCP officers and the twenty-two-year-old Oglala “male suspect,” Daniel Tiger. I read the August 2 shootings as a spectacle of colonial violence that does political and emotional work, often obscuring and displacing histories and realities of colonial occupation and violence. Kahnewake scholar Audra Simpson identifies these colonial spectacles as especially useful “because they continue to redirect emotions, histories, and possibilities away from the means of societal and historical—Indigenous dispossession, disenfranchisement, and containment.” Furthermore, the language of the 2011 report elicits feelings of unanticipated consequences of a routine stop resulting in the “unprovoked shooting” of three RCP officers. Absent from the official narrative, however, is the routineness of stopping Native people in Rapid City and the history of colonial dispossession that epitomizes the city’s antagonistic relationship with the Oyate. The report also invokes feelings of belonging to a “community” that came together as a “family” to mourn and grieve the tragedy of “fallen heroes”—the violent deaths of RCP officers. Routineness gave way to tragedy. Tragedy gave way to collective mourning as community, as family. Yet, both terms—family and community—engender a sense of belonging, loyalty, commitment, and idealized sense of collectivity that, through emotional investment and responsible samaritanship, promises happiness. Fulfilling the promise of happiness is contingent upon committing oneself to family, community, or nation with the expectation of reciprocation, even if happiness is deferred, never achieved, or violently disrupted. Or, in the case of the August 2 shootings, community and family are defined through a sense of collective loss and collective mourning.
Benedict Anderson theorizes that collective tragedy or mourning fuels “emotional legitimacy” to “nation-ness”—or the transforming of fatality into national continuity. In this sense, family and community (or nation) become the objects of futurity, which require investments in time, energy, resources, and emotions. Threats to sense of national futurity must be vigilantly guarded against as one would protect property through the use of force and violence. Thus, in the case of a predominantly white border town, whiteness becomes, as legal scholar Cheryl Harris argues, a form of property, or “whiteness as property,” that must be defended and upheld through law, social norms, and the exercise of violence.
It is here at the multiple sites of community, family, whiteness, and property that produce spectacles of colonial violence and emotional economies that isolate, exclude, and cause unnatural deaths to “ungrievable” Native bodies. These emotional economies are historically contingent moral, political, economic, and social realities that produce what Raymond Williams calls “structures of feelings.” These structures of feelings are “changes of presence,” or experienced realities “while they are being lived” or “when they have been lived.” While they are “emergent or pre-emergent,” they are not adequately defined or rationalized, but felt and/or enacted, which produce what Antonio Gramsci defines as common sense, or a type of “historical becoming” that is a set of perceptions and feelings that are continually transforming and emerging. Ultimately, common sense assembles a moral economy of feelings and emotions based on structures of feelings. This common sense, everyday affective response to historic and ongoing Native bodily violence and dispossession in Rapid City generates what Dakota scholar Elizabeth Cook-Lynn identifies as “anti-Indianism.” When coupled with colonial occupation and border town realities, they produce what I call anti-Indianism as common sense.
To this effect, I examine how the legal and moral systems currently in place in Rapid City produce mobilize anti-Indian sentiment through everyday common sense, affect, and ideological practice. Through the routineness of policing Native bodies, Daniel Tiger’s violent act brought the hushed silence of everyday violences Natives experience to a public space that resulted in the destruction of his own body along with two RCP officers. This particular colonial violence is what Achille Mbembe describes as the “phenomenology of violence” or the “spirit of violence” that “insinuates itself into the economy, the domestic life, language consciousness. It does more than penetrate every space: it pursues the colonized even in sleep and dream. It produces a culture; it is a culture of praxis.”
Rapid City: Border Town
To know Rapid City, however, we must begin with the acknowledgement that it has been historically at the heart of colonial empire and occupation of Oyate treaty and ancestral homelands. Much in the same way to know global finance capital is to the know its epicenter, its capital, New York City; and to know the militarization of the globe is to know Washington, D.C. as its capital. Colonial outposts, or border towns, inhabit and make up the spaces in between the epicenters of settler colonial occupation. They encapsulate the entrepreneurial and brute force of invasion and occupation, simultaneously speculative (boom and bust) and inherently coercive toward Native land and populations. Marking historical transitions of the political economy of the Indian Wars, settlement, statehood, and economic development, the Black Hills (or He Sapa) were (and are) a central feature for the forceful subduing of the Oyate. Likewise, Rapid City served as a “gateway” for this occupying force of colonial capitalism.
Following the “Great Sioux War of 1876,” boomers and speculators highly coveted the 24 million acres of “Sioux Territory” set aside for protection under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. The 1877 Black Hills Act through stroke of the pen accomplished what could not be achieved through brute force. It “legally” ceded through Congress’ plenary power the area known as the Black Hills, which constituted a violation of the “trust responsibility” for over 1.3 million acres of treaty land. Enforcing this seizure, however, did not mean the invaders peaceably accumulated land through legal reasoning alone. Prospects of statehood and economic development would require extending the U.S. military campaigns of outright extermination to low level skirmishes with Oyate to shore up territorial security and permanence.
“Dakota fever” plagued early settlers from 1878 to 1887. Coming out of a five-year national economic recession, plans for a yeoman farming empire in the western half of Dakota Territory fueled the mass settlement of He Sapa and the surrounding plains of Sioux Territory. The population of settlers and prospectors in the area doubled from 1880 to 1890. Acreage of land deeds also correlated with the population boom, soaring from 163,739 acres in 1877 to 941,800 acres in 1878 and finally 1,123,233 acres in 1887. What was known as the “Great Dakota Boom” entailed the speculative investment of railroads, mining, homesteading, and ranching in Oyate territory. The only thing that stood in the way of securing occupation was the task of further containment, dispossession, and elimination of the “hostile element among the Indians who want to rove at will and live as formerly in their wild state.”
Granted statehood on March 4, 1889, South Dakota’s state government began culling anxiety and hatred toward the Oyate: “Early developers firmly believed the only way to improve economic conditions in the state was to move Indians out of the way.” Rapid City and the town’s newspaper, The Rapid City Journal, became ground zero for calling for increase arms and policing of Native peoples. In fact, the infamous South Dakota Home Guard, euphemistically known as “The Cowboy Militia,” headquartered in Rapid City, became the vigilante arm for policing the Oyate if they left the reservation. In early December of 1890, they gave insidious meaning behind the phrase “off the reservation” when they slaughtered seventy-five Lakota near the Cheyenne River for leaving the Pine Ridge reservation. The Journal and the Home Guard’s calls for war and extermination came to a head when the Seventh Calvary massacred about 300 Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890. Dissatisfied with the outcomes of the so-called “Indian War of 1890-1891,” South Dakota settlers further complained that the Oyate had not been adequately punished, since not an acre of land was ceded and they had not been exterminated nor fully removed: “In frontier parlance, the Indian problem had not been settled.”
The failure of not settling the “Indian problem” through physical extermination extended into the twentieth century as federal Indian policy moved from removal to assimilation policies. Although Rapid City remained the colonial epicenter for western South Dakota, on June 21, 1906 Congress granted 1,391 acres of land to Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the construction of the Rapid City Indian School, which would annually house 250 Native students until its closing in 1934. From 1934 to 1956, the 1,391 acres were eventually sold off to the Rapid City School District (14 acres in 1948), the City of Rapid City (200 acres in 1949 and 27 acres in 1952), the South Dakota National Guard (673 acres in 1950), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (27 acres in 1953), the U.S. Indian Arts and Crafts Board (118 acres in 1974), and various Christian churches (263 acres from 1948 to 1956). The Indian Health Service retained 42 acres for Sioux Sanitarium Hospital and 27 acres were set aside for the establishment of Sioux Addition in 1962. Despite the “trust responsibilities” of Congress, little or no consent from the Oyate was given to validate these land exchanges and jurisdictional incorporation into the Rapid City municipality. Much historical scholarship has focused on the usurpation of large swaths of land from the Oyate following the Great Dakota Boom and 1887 Allotment Act, but little if any scholarly attention has been paid to the historic processes of urban land dispossessions in border towns like Rapid City.
The creation of the Sioux Addition in 1962 just north of the Rapid City’s city limits concentrated the Native urban population, but also ghettoized what would become known as North Rapid City. The Native residents of North Rapid City were largely cut-off from the city proper, without sewage and running water, voting rights, and adequate roads and infrastructure. Furthermore, the geographic and structural oppression Natives experienced in North Rapid City dispelled the relocation and termination logics of reservations being rural isolated pockets of poverty.
Life Lived in the Negative
In the Associated Press’ Great Plains award-winning August 7, 2011 article, “No Words Could Ease Such Grief,” Rapid City Journal reporter, Kevin Woster, writes the August 2 “unfathomable act of violence by a young Native American man, 22-year-old Daniel Tiger” resonates with the local Rapid City community grieving the loss of two RCP officers killed in the line of duty. “[T]he apparent perpetrator of this horrible act,” writes Woster, “was himself a human tragedy, with loved ones here [in Rapid City] who hurt.” Officers Ryan McCandless and Nick Armstrong, he continues, “made dozens of stops each week similar to the one they made with Tiger and three companions,” and the felled officers were “in the business of saving such kids from themselves, and from disastrous conclusions.” While the RCP officers lives were honored with words that “could not ease such grief,” the life and death of Daniel Tiger was chalked up as a “human tragedy.” His life could only be saved from itself. This was the official report.
And that report went something like this: on August 2, 2011 at approximately 4:20 p.m. RCP officer Tim Doyle responded to what was described as a “routine stop” of four individuals who “appeared to be under the influence of alcohol” in a North Rapid City neighborhood at the intersections of East Anamosa Street and Greenbriar Streets. Shortly after officer Doyle approached the individuals, officers Nick Armstrong and Ryan McCandless arrived on scene. After officers failed to obtain the identity of Daniel Tiger (Oglala), he revealed a .357 caliber revolver and opened fire on the officers killing Armstrong and McCandless and wounding Doyle. Tiger’s shooting and killing of the officers was ruled as an “unprovoked” attack. In the exchange Tiger also sustained gunshot wounds and died the next day. In an official investigation by South Dakota State’s Attorney, a witness’ interview alleges Tiger disclosed the following: “he wanted to die because he had no job, no home, and nothing to live for; he was facing prison time if he got caught and did not want to go prison; he wanted to go out with a bang.” Another Journal article detailed a long wrap sheet of seventeen charges that included assault against a law enforcement officer, “violent or gang-related offenses,” alcohol and drug possession, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. In 2008, Tiger served a five month prison sentence was paroled and sent back for eleven more months for a parole violation. At the time of August 2 shooting, Tiger was on a 30-day suspended jail sentence for assault.
Although an adult at the time of the shooting, Tiger’s story represents a common reality many Native youth face in Rapid City. Lakota journalist Jesse Abernathy, for example, surmises that the Rapid City school district works in tandem with the Department of Corrections in the targeting the school system’s high Native population is a “school-to-prison-pipeline.” Investigating the school district’s “Zero Tolerance” policies and hiring of uniformed officers, Abernathy notes the rise in policing of Native students through the Pennington County Sheriff Department’s partnership with Rapid City public schools. With a Native high school dropout rate of over fifty percent, children as young as eleven and twelve receive harsher sentences than adults through Juvenile Detention Center-sponsored “alternative education.” As a result around seventy percent of students in JDC-sponsored education programs end up at a Department of Corrections facility, sometimes remaining there until they are twenty one.
Moreover, South Dakota’s prison incarceration rates are significantly higher than the neighboring states such as Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. With an overall decrease in crime down nine percent from the last two decades, South Dakota’s imprisonment rate is ten times higher than the national average, growing over 500 percent since 1977 (720 inmates) to 2012 (3,600 inmates). Of the 3,600 inmates, Native inmates number close 1,110, over thirty percent of the total population while only constituting about nine percent (73,835 as of 2010) of the state’s population (833,354 as of 2010).
In Rapid City, as of 2012 Native inmates make up more than forty-two percent of the inmate population (around 70 inmates total on average) of the Pennington County Jail and serve thirty-seven percent of all the time served by the total inmate population. This overrepresentation stands in stark contrast to the fact that Natives make up twelve percent (8,662 as of 2010) of the total population of Rapid City (69,854 as of 2012). The hyper-incarceration rates of Natives in Rapid City is greater than the reservation-based incarceration rates. These incarceration rates also correlate directly with reservation-based and urban poverty of Natives. For example, forty-eight percent of South Dakota’s Native population lives below the poverty line, while in Rapid City Native poverty rates exceed fifty percent.
These statistics disrupt the narratives of reservations being pockets of rural poverty and crime. The fact is that the urban Native population in Rapid City is more likely to live in poverty and be arrested than reservation-based Native populations in South Dakota. In this sense, Rapid City as a colonial border town functions to negate the Oyate’s presence through increased structural oppression. In the case of Daniel Tiger and the Journal’s pathologizing of his criminal and deviant behavior, August 2 brought to bear the public, hushed secret of Native oppression and disenfranchisement. But the routineness of the August 2 stop had a brutal and violent precedent.
On May 7, 2010 twenty-two-year-old college-bound Oglala man, James Capps, was shot five times in the back from fourteen feet away by Pennington County Deputy Sherriff’s Deputy David Olson for allegedly reaching in his pocket when commanded to turn around. Capps was unarmed except for a piece of driftwood found near his body. Officer Olson pursued Capps for allegedly stealing a bicycle. An internal investigation revealed Olson’s killing of Capps was “justifiable.” Prior to these shooting deaths, eight men’s bodies (six of whom were Lakota) were found drowned in Rapid Creek between 1998 and 1999. Although many suspected foul play, the RCPD ruled the deaths of Benjamin Long Wolf, George Hatten, Alan Hough, Randelle Two Crow, Loren Two Bulls, Dirk Bartling, Arthur Chamberlain, and Timothy Bull Bear as drowning after drinking heavily.
No public ceremony was held to commemorate Tiger, Capps, or the eight drowning victims. Although the Oyate publicly protested in 2010 and 2011 after the deaths of Capps and Tiger in what has been labeled as “war against Natives by the RCPD,” RCP Chief Steve Allender reasoned at a community forum in March 2012 that there is no war and that: “There are so many sides to the story. We have the Native people, who want to see the land given back, and the people who are more assimilated into non-Native culture; and the people who are very traditional… All of these groups are asking for different things and it is difficult to determine what we are supposed to do.” In one sweeping statement, Allender equated the Oyate to a spatially and temporally fractured community of those who were too Native and those not Native enough—or read differently, Natives presence still remains a spectacle for conjecture. Lenape scholar Joanne Barker observes this kind of logic as enabling the production of legal and social justifications for whites occupying Native lands. She writes, “Natives are never quite Native enough to deserve the distinction and rights granted to them under the law which extends ‘special’ rights and privileges to Natives out the benevolence of those in power.” Asking why the RCPD was not outraged over the unnatural deaths and killing of the Lakota men, Elaine Holy Eagle posed the question more than a decade earlier at a 1999 community forum: “Is it because people are conditioned to believe it’s okay if an Indian person is killed?”
Indeed the August 2, 2011 shooting deaths of two RCP officers at the hands of Daniel Tiger ruptured and brought to the surface Native lives lived in the negative of the colonial border town of Rapid City. It was never a question if the unnatural deaths of Natives at the hands of police or the everyday violences experienced under occupation were to be grieved. They are simply ungrievable. Nonetheless, the mass incarceration and criminalization of Native bodies is seen as an everyday lived reality. Anti-Indianism as common sense, as an historical phenomenon, left unchallenged, renders Native lives as the disposable refuse of an unfavorable history and therefore ineligible for meaningful mourning, personhood, and realization.
 Emphases added. Rapid City Police Department, Annual Report 2011 (Rapid City: City of Rapid City, 2012), 5.
 Audra Simpson, “Settlement’s Secret,” Cultural Anthropology 26(2) (2011), 206-207.
 I use the term Oyate to describe the Oceti Sakowin (Nation of the Seven Council Fires or the Great Sioux Nation). Although “Sioux” is the most common name, it is also a contentious label that was given to the Oyate. Official titles of the Oyate do, however, use “Sioux” as a general description (such as the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, etc.). For the proposes of reclaiming and claiming what we have historically and continue to call ourselves, I will use Oyate to describe the people and nations of the Oceti Sakowin or “The Great Sioux Nation.”
 See Mimi Thi Nguyen, The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages (Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2012).
 Sara Ahmed, “Happy Objects,” in The Affect Theory Reader, eds. Melissa Gregg and J. Seigworth (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 38.
 Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” Harvard Law Review 106(8): 1707-1794.
 Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 131-132.
 Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks, eds. and trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971), 326n5. I draw specifically on the the translators’ note that provides an alternative translation of Gramsci’s definition of common sense as “part of the historical process.” They write: “In the original ‘un divenire storico’—historical becoming. For this aspect of common sense see Int., p. 144: ‘Every social stratum has its own “common sense” and its own “good sense”, which are basically the most widespread conception of life and of man. Every philosophical current leaves behind a sedimentation of “common sense”: this is the document of its historical effectiveness. Common sense is not something rigid and immobile, but is continually transforming itself, enriching itself with scientific ideas and with philosophical opinions which have entered ordinary life. “Common sense” is the folklore of philosophy, and is always half-way between folklore properly speaking and the philosophy, science, and economics of specialists. Common sense creates the folklore of the future, that is as a relatively rigid phase of popular knowledge at a give place and time.”
 Cook-Lynn writes, “The traits of Anti-Indianism are as follows: first and foremost, it is the sentiment that results in unnatural death to Indians. Anti-Indianism is that which treats Indians and their tribes as though they don’t exist, the sentiment suggests that Indian nationhood (i.e., tribalism) should be disavowed and devalued. It is anything in history and literature that does not invest itself in Indian audiences. Second, Anti-Indianism is that which denigrates, demonizes, and insults being Indian in America. The third trait of Anti-Indianism is the use of historical event and experience to place the blame on Indians for an unfortunate and dissatisfying history. And, finally, Anti-Indianism is that which exploits and distorts cultures and beliefs. All of these traits have conspired to isolate, to expunge or expel, to menace, to defame.” In Anti-Indianism, x.
 Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 173, 175.
 Mario Gonzalez in Mario Gonzalez and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle of Indian Sovereignty (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 137.
 Herber Schell, History of South Dakota, 4th ed. (Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2004), 158-159.
 General Nelson Miles quoted on December 15, 1890 in Rapid City, SD in Philip Hall’s To Have This Land: The Nature of Indian/White Relations, South Dakota, 1888-1891 (Vermillion: University of South Dakota Press, 1991), 136.
 Hall, 2.
 Gonzalez, The Politics of Hallowed Ground, 177.
 Hall, 128.
 U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Sioux Sanitorium Lands, Rapid City, South Dakota (Aberdeen: BIA Area Office, 1974).
 See for example: Jeffery Ostler, The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism From Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) and The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground (New York: Viking, 2010).
 U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Urban Indian Problems: Subcommittee Hearing at Rapid City, SD on September 8, 1971 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Press, 1971).
 Kevin Woster, “Personal Column: No Words Could Ease Such Grief,” Rapid City Journal, August 7, 2011.
 Kevin Woster, “‘Routine stop’ turned into a nightmare,” Rapid City Journal, August 3, 2011; State of South Dakota, Office of the Attorney General, Rapid City Police Department Shooting Summary Detailing Events that Took Place on August 2, 2011 (Pierre, 2011), 1.
 State of South Dakota, 1-3.
 David Montgomery, “Shooting Suspect had Long History of Trouble,” Rapid City Journal, August 4, 2011.
 Jesse Abernathy, “Educators Discuss School to Prison Pipeline,” Native Sun News, November 7, 2011.
 State of South Dakota, South Dakota Criminal Justice Initiative, Final Report November 2012 (Pierre: 2012).
 Andrea Cook, “Violent Crime Rates Rising in Rapid City,” Rapid City Journal, February 26, 2013.
 Suzanne Macartney, Alemeyehu Bishaw, and Kayla Fontenot, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty Rates for Selected Detailed Race and Hispanic Groups by State and Place: 2007-2011: American Community Survey Briefs (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2013), 1, 10.
 Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy David Olson Shooting Summary that Occurred on May 2, 2010 (Rapid City: Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, 2010).
 Chet Brokaw, “Multiple Drownings Stymie South Dakota Police,” Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1999.
 Karin Eagle, “Racial Tensions are Still High in Rapid City,” Native Sun News, March 30, 2012.
 Joanne Barker, Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 6.