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‘That’s a deep wound:’ 3 signs vandalized on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

A semi-truck passes by a vandalized sign meant to welcome drivers entering Pine Ridge Indian...
A semi-truck passes by a vandalized sign meant to welcome drivers entering Pine Ridge Indian Reservation via Highway 73 on Feb. 1, 2021. Vandals spray-painted two other signs with the same anti-Biden, racist message, which includes a swastika and a expletive appended multiple times with the letters "KKK".(Dominik Dausch)
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:44 PM CST
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KADOKA, S.D. (KOTA) - Drivers entering the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through Kadoka are being welcomed with some off-putting political imagery.

Three signs on south Highway 73 were vandalized over the weekend - two of them welcome signs to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and all of them hit with a vulgar political message and a hate symbol resembling a swastika.

Alexander and Marina Bettelyoun of Pine Ridge say the graffiti has been up Saturday morning. They’re shocked, but not surprised by what they’ve seen.

“For me, personally, I feel like I got desensitized to it,” Alexander said. “[The] first [time] seeing this, I was like ‘Oh, wow. No big deal,’ but that’s only because you’re just so used to it. Seeing the hate - especially like this.”

Black paint was used to write messages against Joe Biden, swastikas and expletives. One message has “KKK” at the end of a curse.

Below is the original post. It contains explicit language.

“The sign itself can be replaced - it can be restored - but the message it leaves behind is lasting,” Marina said. “That’s a deep wound.”

When we contacted the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, they said it was the first time they heard about the damage.

OST President Kevin Killer issued the following statement to KOTA Territory News: “As President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and former member of the South Dakota legislature, I and all members of the Oglala Lakota Nation, vehemently condemn the hate-filled vandalism to the signs located on South Dakota State Highway 73, just south of Kadoka at the borderline. These signs serve as our welcoming emblems to visitors and guests of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and depict the pride we have for our culture and traditions as a sovereign nation. Over the past 24-hours, the signs have been spray-painted with a derogatory term involving President Joseph Biden, the letters “KKK”, and a swastika painted over our tribal flag. The Oglala Lakota Nation would like those indivuduals [sic] responsible to be held accountable for their actions, and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As a sovereign nation within the boundaries of the State of South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribe continues to extend a hand of friendship to those wanting to make a positive impact on this and future generations. We look forward to sharing our new signs welcoming visitors from around the world shortly.”

So after seeing the first post about these signs being vandalized, we stopped by to get a closer look. Alex is at a...

Posted by Marina Bettelyoun on Saturday, January 30, 2021

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