The history and land tenure of a portion of West Rapid City formerly belonging to the Rapid City Indian Boarding School, is currently under evaluation by researchers and government officials. As reported by KOTA News, William Bear Shield, Chairman of the Sioux San Unified Health Board, has stated that the Regional Behavioral Health Center, Clarkson Mountain View Health Facility, and the Canyon Lake Senior Center, in West Rapid City are in violation of a 1948 federal law outlining to whom and for what purposes the land could be used.
The boarding school closed in 1933 and later became as a sanitarium for Native American tuberculosis patients. After the tuberculosis epidemic had ended, Congress appropriated funds for the facility to be used as a health clinic for Native American patients in 1966.
Under the terms of the 1948 act that broke up the boarding's school's 1,200 acres, the land could be made available to the city of Rapid City, the South Dakota National Guard, the Rapid City School District, to be sold for use by religious institutions, or slated for use by "needy Indians." Bear Shield believes that Behavior Health, Clarkson, and the Senior Center to not fit these terms and, per the 1948 act, should revert to federal ownership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs agrees with Bear Shield and recently issued a letter declaring its support for a mutually beneficial solution.
Learn more about the Rapid City Indian Boarding School lands at the Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors (MOA) website. Past stories on Native American issues are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.