Giago has idea worth pursuing

At least twice now long-time South Dakota American Indian newspaper owner and editor Tim Giago has written Sunday opinion columns in the Rapid City Journal suggesting Lakota Sioux riders be added to the wranglers who drive the buffalo during the annual roundup in Custer State Park. Giago wrote a column before the roundup urging Gov. Kristi Noem and state Game, Fish and Parks officials to take a look at doing this, and another after the roundup when nothing he suggested came to pass.
Giago argues that adding Lakota riders to the roundup would “help to promote racial harmony in a state where that harmony has often been lacking.” Giago is no stranger to promoting racial harmony in South Dakota. In 1990 he worked with our late Gov. George Mickelson and the state’s nine American Indian tribes to proclaim the first Native American Day in South Dakota in what has become known as “The Year of Reconciliation.”
Giago further states that adding Lakota riders to the roundup “would increase foreign visitor participation by at least 50 percent” and greatly benefit tourism in the state. He says there is an “extreme interest in American Indians by folks from Germany, Italy, France and Scandinavia and from many countries of the Far East.” He said these foreign (and probably other) visitors would be thrilled to see Indians dressed in their native garb “rounding up the buffalo their ancestors have hunted for generations ....”
The 85-year-old newspaperman further points out that today’s Lakotas benefit from the horsemanship skills handed down by their ancestors. “In less than 300 years some American Indian tribes became some of the best horsemen and light cavalry the world has known.” We don’t belive Indian horsemanship skills should ever be questioned as we have observed them in action at the annual Custer County Rodeo. They also turn in some great performances at The Last Roundup Rodeo in Oelrichs.
There probably are some downsides to what Giago is promoting. If this would come to pass and be properly advertised, where in the world would we put all the people? As it stands now, there were about 20,000 people who crowded along the hilltops at two different vantage points to see nearly 1,500 buffalo rounded up this year. It is a massive traffic jam when it is over as there are only two roads in and out of the north and south viewing areas.
It is difficult to understand why state tourism officials have not caught the vision of what our Lakota newspaperman friend Tim Giago is proposing. If larger-than-life crowds are the issue, we are sure that “problem” could be addressed with some innovative logistical solutions. “Where there is a will, there is a way” is the old saying that comes to mind. 
“As a writer all I can do is make a suggestion from my heart and it is up to others and the powers-that-be to down-trod or uphold that suggestion. My suggestion of reconciliation and Native American Day did not fall on deaf ears with Gov. George Mickelson. All it takes is an open heart and an open mind such as his,” Giago said in conclusion.
We believe state officials missed a golden opportunity this year, the 100th anniversary of Custer State Park, to make this happen. Now maybe we can start thinking about bringing it to fruition next year with the proper planning, promotion and leadership. It could be the start of something really big.

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