SIOUX FALLS, SD (April 20, 2021) The Oceti Sakowin Caucus of South Dakota, composed of Indigenous citizens from across Turtle Island, is rooted in the fundamental value of Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related.

“The tragic circumstances that led to grief for two families and a community have been legally resolved with justice served to the family of George Floyd. It is important to understand that this does not mean police brutality and racism ends with this guilty verdict, but that this verdict is an affirmation that police brutality and racism exists. The hard work of looking at ourselves begins. It is our hope that the institutions of law and order begin to understand what this means for the people they protect and serve, and is a wake-up call on how they protect and serve.

“I cannot imagine a greater tragedy – a not guilty verdict? Or the entirety of this judicial system believing that the work is completed – that somehow this verdict has rid the system of the only bad apple. The truth is – this is only the beginning – or at least it should be. We have healing, listening, educating, and a great deal of follow-through to complete. It would be the greatest disservice to the memory of George Floyd and his family if everyone stopped in the belief that something greater was accomplished today. Unarmed black and brown people are still being shot by white police officers and there are pending cases yet to be determined – those people and their families deserve some form of justice too. We must remain committed, firm, and united in our audacity. Lives literally depend on it.

“The knee of oppression that brutally ended the life of George Floyd, was a manifestation of systematic racism that has, for generations, stolen the lives, freedom, and dignity of Black and brown people. The guilty verdicts reverberate the clear message that police officers must be held accountable for their actions and that racial justice and racial equity are foundation for true police reform.”

Please direct questions to SDDP Native Outreach Coordinator Cante Heart via email at

or by phone at (605) 787-1365.