Chesie's Journal: Courageous Voices: Anyone Listening?

At yesterday’s Open Mic at the Riverton Peace Rally, we heard several tribal members share their stories about the violence Native Americans suffer, significantly more than white people.

For Kathleen Sunrhodes, this was the first time that she had spoken publicly about the murder of her son two years ago. It takes courage to speak up. Frances Blackburn told us about how she was labeled “a terrorist” by local law enforcement for advocating for her son after he was shot by a BIA officer.

Nicole Wagon, an RPM board member, not only shared the stories of the deaths of her two daughters, but she also shared about her continuing advocacy for Murdered & Missing Indigenous People. Dr. Blanche Ridgley observed that racism is worse now than five years ago in Riverton.

When we had spoken at the Riverton City Council meeting last Tuesday, our words fell on deaf ears (read report from County 10). We simply again were asking for Native Americans to be included in the decision-making process to hire a new City Administrator who could address racism. We were told that racism does not exist here and that addressing social issues was not the role of the City. Later that evening, City Council in closed session decided to hire Kyle Butterfield, the Public Works Director, as the new City Administrator, without any public input.

We will go back again to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 16, 7 pm. If you live, work, shop, or recreate in Riverton, join us. Let them know that we will keep returning until we are heard.

Sign our online Petition requesting that the Riverton City Council directs the new City Administrator to take steps outlined in the Petition to eliminate institutional racism in policing and other policies that disparately and negatively impact Native Americans.

You may sign the Petition regardless of where you live. If Native Americans have the courage to speak up, you need to have the courage to have our backs and to stand with us!

Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.

Chesie Lee

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