Philip man charged for throwing beer at kids in Rapid City. Does the charge fit the crime?

The Rapid City Journal was reporting yesterday that a man has finally been named and charged with disorderly conduct after it was reported that someone was hurling racial slurs and beer at a group of native american school kids at a semi-pro Hockey game in Rapid City about a month ago:

The charge, a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine upon conviction, was greeted with anger and disappointment on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Rapid City attorney’s office filed a complaint charging that Trace O’Connell, 41, did “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly utter any words or perform any acts which physically abused or threatened any person or persons.”


The group left the game early, during the third and final period of regulation time, following the alleged harassment, which came from a suite above where the students were seated.

“After an extensive investigation by the Rapid City Police Department, a thorough review of the case by my office as well as the Pennington County State’s Attorney Office, the facts support bringing this charge,” City Attorney Joel Landeen said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

O’Connell’s attorney, Patrick Duffy, of Rapid City, said he apologized “to the children of the Lakota Nation” on behalf of O’Connell for what took place at the game. His client, Duffy said, was given orders not to speak about the incident, “and is absolutely heartbroken over everything that has taken place.”


After an exhaustive investigation, Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo said the elements for felony child abuse or malicious intimidation could not be established.

“We are bound by the evidence as it emerges in the investigation, not as it is reported in the press,” Vargo said in a prepared statement.

Read it all here.

There are a lot of parents of the kids who are up in arms over the degree to which the accused has been charged, many viewing it as being woefully inadequate. But on the flip-side, what kind of crime should it rise to the level of, or what kind of punishment should it entail?

As a parent, I can understand why these parents are not happy. They’re rightfully venting their umbrage over the whole situation. But what you read on the internet & in the newspaper, versus what a prosecutor can gather adequate evidence of are two different things.

What are your thoughts?

107 thoughts on “Philip man charged for throwing beer at kids in Rapid City. Does the charge fit the crime?”

  1. 22-18-1. Simple assault–Misdemeanor–Felony for subsequent offenses. Any person who:
    (1) Attempts to cause bodily injury to another and has the actual ability to cause the injury;
    (2) Recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
    (3) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a dangerous weapon;
    (4) Attempts by physical menace or credible threat to put another in fear of imminent bodily harm, with or without the actual ability to harm the other person; or
    (5) Intentionally causes bodily injury to another which does not result in serious bodily injury;

    4 would seem to be applicable, though I don’t know how it is applied in practice. I’m not getting into the hate crime issue.

  2. Throwing beer on people doesn’t cause physical injury although when somebody spilled a full solo cup down my back at the Fargodome one Freezing February night, it froze when I went out to the parking lot and was rather uncomfortable

      1. Say Dicta, why won’t you answer my questions about your hypocrisy on gay marriage, and your ugly irrational fear & intolerance for relative marriage?

        1. yeah, the fact dicta won’t answer you is the single stumbling block that prevents the happiness of all gay married people everywhere.

  3. I heard from reliable sources that the kids at issue were sitting, jacking around and otherwise behaving quite badly during the national anthem which is what instigated the taunting and beer pouring. This is second hand information and I was not there but if it is true, it changes the narrative a bit I think.

    I think the charge is appropriate as I’m sure the fellow was under the influence at the time but no one was actually hurt or assaulted. He clearly did not act appropriately and his actions seem to fall squarely within the definition of disturbing the peace. Believe it or not, yelling out a racial taunt at someone by itself is not illegal if there is no threat involved. I’m not justifying the behavior, just giving my opinion on the legal side and pointing out that back story has not made it into the press.

    1. Well Jon, by your reliable source, it sounds like those kids had it coming to them. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you got drunk, went to the Special Olympics Games and sprayed beer and yelled “geeks and retards” at the kids there.

      1. Good job ignoring most of my comment for your sarcastic reply. I specifically said, ” I’m not justifying the behavior” and that the comments are not a crime if they don’t contain a “threat.” That is just a legal fact… there has to be a threat. If you want to interpret that as me encouraging some sort of behavior, you have an over active imagination.

        I wasn’t there so I don’t know what was said. What is your agenda here.. Besides attacking me for no apparent reason?

        1. speaking through his attorney, the accused says he’s incredibly sorry about the incident and his part in it. i accept that. there’s no undercurrent of racial hostility comparable to the 50’s 60’s and 70’s around here. there probably has never been a greater number of people in this state committed to ending racism than there is this very day.

        2. jon i think el rayo ex just wanted to toss slurs and insults at special needs kids and blame someone else. don’t take it personally.

          1. “Special need kids”?

            Yeah right–they’re NAs so they must be special needs kids, right enquirer?

            “there’s no undercurrent of racial hostility comparable to the 50’s 60’s and 70’s around here”

            Except in 2015 when you type!

            1. You need to go back and re-read the comments, S L O W L Y, so you can actually understand what was said and not embarrass yourself further.

              1. Oh, the message was VERY clear..

                enquirer understood, in his own racist way, that NA’s must be “special needs kids”

                It truly is embarrassing that

                1. enquirer wrote what he wrote, and then followed it up with a sanctimonious quip about racism, just before making a racist remark, and
                2. that anyone bothered to defend his racist remarks.

                1. my “special needs” comment related directly to the answer to Jon posted by someone called “El Rayo” something. El Rayo mentioned having an excuse to go someplace and insult Special Olympics participants. those were the “special needs” kids that i referred to in that one instance. i have regular contact with n/a kids, i know n/a kids, no one could like and support them more than me. so shut up.

    2. While I was not there, I am pretty sure what happened was something similar to what I have seen multiple times before. Some tribal schools are very respectful of the national anthem while some are not. I cannot ever recall seeing a West River tribal school sit down during the national anthem, but Tiospa Zina back in the 1990s almost always did: students, staff, attending adults, etc. They were not just silently sitting there either. Many were openly mocking those standing and showing their respect with racial slurs and other comments. While they could not and would not show respect for 60 seconds during the national anthem, heaven help you if you as much as looked at your watch during their five to ten minute wacipi because that was something to be respected. When we talk about race relations in South Dakota, I cannot help but to think back to the hundreds of whites in a gymnasium respectfully standing and watching a wacipi that likely none of them had the slightest bit of understanding of or full appreciation for in contrast to a few dozen Native brats, both young and old, who could not spare 60 seconds of their precious time to at least pretend to care about other peoples’ customs. I guess this time someone ended up getting beer poured on them for their behavior.

  4. It doesn’t reach the level of even simple assault since there was no bodily injury or threat of it involved. Disorderly conduct is what it sounds like, obviously nothing even close to a felony.

  5. As a rapid city native, and a Rapid City Rush fan this whole story is upsetting. Everything about this whole ordeal is upsetting and inappropriate. Jon’s comment on whether the students stood up during the national anthem or not (Whether he agrees with it or not), is not justification and should not even be considered regarding the actions of O’Connell. I personally am a little disappointed with the one count of disorderly conduct, and not multiple. It was very racial and inappropriate and he should have been held a little more accountable for his actions. I don’t blame Rapid City for this issue, but for the ignorance of a few. I only hope that the victims of this stupid act, the children, will not be discouraged in the long run and that they continue to succeed academically and personally.

    1. I just want to be clear, I agree with the charge of disorderly conduct (one or multiple) and I agree that the actions of O’Connell were inappropriate. I did not bring up the acts of the kids to excuse the behavior, but to point out that there is more to the story overall. The kids may not have been “pure as the wind driven snow” here either. However, with that said, please don’t mis-interpret my original post. I don’t support pouring beer on anyone or the use of racial slurs or the actions of O’Connell. He was clearly out of line. In the same vain, I don’t want him to be over-charged ether as this is not an assault and O’Connell does have a constitutional right to say anything he wants so long as it isn’t a threat. Making racially offensive statements is not a crime in and of itself. O’Connell should have been charged as he was as he was “disturbing the peace” on one or more counts.

      This reminds me why I don’t post to message boards as my posts are never properly interpreted and people tend to go down rabbit holes.

      Tough issue

      1. jon … the national anthem story you referenced was something the newspaper took a lot of heat for and it was essentially recanted. bringing it up again was like poking an open sore. other than that you’re correct.

      2. When you threw in your qualifier it put some people on tilt. This has nothing to do with the behavior of the kids, but you put it in there. Twice.

  6. Just the stupid act of one drunk bigot from Phillip. Indian haters want him to be let alone because they agree with him. The rest of us would like to see a bit more. I don’t think it was assault because the beer he threw on the kids was not toxic or dangerous and apparently nothing hard – other than the words.

    Probably appropriate. I’m sure the guy is dealing with plenty of extra crap from his employer and a small percentage of his community who aren’t Indian haters. He’s a hero to the rest of them.

    1. ah american oligarchy, in whose makebelieve world the hearts and minds of all are wide open books. hand out those scarlet ‘h’ t-shirts to the haters then.

    2. “Probably appropriate. I’m sure the guy is dealing with plenty of extra crap from his employer and a small percentage of his community who aren’t Indian haters. He’s a hero to the rest of them”

      Yeah.. probably!

      Or maybe not.

      You’ve done a GREAT job destroying someone with little more than baseless speculation.

      Say, Oligarchy, have you stopped beating your spouse?

      Probably haven’t.

      Sexually assaulted anyone lately Oligarchy?

      Who really knows, right? Probably?

      1. Anonymous 9:20,

        Here is what is also”probable”: American Oligarchy is a bigot: “small percentage of his community who aren’t Indian haters.”

        Really? Olly KNOWS a majority of the people of Philip are “Indian haters.” Pretty serious unsubstantiated claim.


        How much time have you spent in Philip? Upon which do you base this? I used to spend time in Philip but have done little but drive through in the last 20 years. Pretty big change in the attitudes of the people must have occurred or a big turnover in the population.

        Or do you just like to live in a world where you like to form unsubstantiated perceptions to make yourself feel superior?

        1. I have spent a lot of time in Phillip and towns like it.

          Bigotry is alive and well in South Dakota.

          Are you saying bigotry doesn’t exist in South Dakota? On a wide scale? Please…continue your treatise.

    3. AO, please site the lw (s) you believe O’Connell violated. You want him charged with more. What specifically would you like him charged with and what is the code you reference. Certain behavior is reprehensible, but not necessarily illegal. Boorish behavior is often seen, but not punished other than by shaming or shunning.

  7. I think there are two aspects of this:

    1) Criminal charge: The law is the law and the evidence is the evidence. If the most they can charge this @$$ is what they have done, we are a nation of laws. Hit him with the maximum and have him serve his time.

    2) Societal charge: As he is an adult, I really don’t care what the children did or didn’t do to make the situation worse. I expect him to be better than that and I expect more than an apology via his lawyer. I hope people remember his name and when heard they say “He is the @$$ who threw beer on kids at a hockey match.”

    Regarding Olly’s statement about people forming their view on this because of race, this generalization is bizarre.

    1. Nice try, Pontificator. To completely reject the idea that some people are bigots is not only a morally-bankrupt position, but a complete departure from reality. You most certainly can’t even believe it yourself unless, of course, you’re a complete moron. I don’t believe you’re a complete moron, but I am beginning to believe that you are morally bankrupt.

  8. The question in my mind remains this: “Had these guys witnessed a pack of Packer fans acting poorly at a Viking game in MN during the National Anthem poured beer on and hollered at them?”

    I highly doubt it……

    1. Charlie is right on ! Imagine a small group of Packer fans at the Vikings game, and the Packer fans are disrespectful and don’t stand or put their hands on their hearts during the national anthem. You bet some patriotic, and probably drunk, Vikings fans may say or do something in reaction. It sounds like none of us commenting here were actually there in Rapid. How do we know that there weren’t mitigating circumstances? Like natives thinking they still own the Black Hills and live in a sovereign nation and owe no respect to the USA. Maybe the insults were only aimed at the adults and maybe no beer was intentionally sprayed? Remember, it’s “assumed innocent until proven guilty”. If his attorney says he’s innocent, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and let the courts sort out this mess.

      1. Native Americans ‘thinking they still own the Black Hills’ has nothing to do with this. The reservations are soverign territory and no one is under any obligation to stand or sign the national anthem or show respect to this country. You are only adding speculative fuel to the fire. If you weren’t there, then you don’t know what happened. But I get that you’ve already made up your mind – based on the statements you made – that you believe the Natives were at fault.

  9. I hadn’t heard he apologized through his attorney, but I did read that his attorney P. Duffy denies any guilt what so ever.

    I’ve also heard from this guys friends that he knocked over his full beer while celebrating a goal and didn’t notice, when the parents turned around and saw him celebrating they assumed he was celebrating having poured his beer on the kids. When the parents yelled at him, he in his drunken and now falsely accused and offended state began to lob all sorts of verbal garbage at the parents but not kids…

  10. Planning,

    The above article references Duffy apologizing for his client.

    Regarding this guy’s friends, I absolutely do not care what caused this adult to yell verbal garbage at kids or at parents in the presence of children. Being drunk is his responsibility so that is neither an acceptable excuse or explanation.

    Being disorderly and drunk in a large crowd is a formula for potentially a riot breaking out. Competitive athletic events is already an environment where emotions can be on the sleeve. The potential damage from a riot is sufficient reason to charge him with the maximum available remedy under the law and give him the maximum punishment.

    1. My bad I rarely read the articles PP links to, I just jump to the comments…

      Anyways, from KOTA; “Wednesday night, Trace O’Connell’s attorney Patrick Duffy said his client did not spray or pour beer that night and did not say anything racist to anyone.”

      I wasn’t necessarily justifying what he said to parents or children, worse, I was saying it didn’t happen at all the way it has been told in the media. Telling someone to go back the Rez is hardly racist, I tell people to go back to Sioux Falls on a daily basis no matter what color they are..

  11. The incident was only a symptom of a ongoing systemic problem. We whites just don’t get it. Time to appoint something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission the likes of which helped heal S Africa after years of the atrocities of apartheid. We establish a process that brings us together – we put the past on the table in all its ugly gore — we toss back and forth the present contentions and all this is essential to move into a amiable future together.

    We have two very different cultures. One values money and the cultural commodity of the other is honor. Ever been to a ceremony with natives, they’ll honor people for an hour.

    We have a Ferguson brewing here. Last month Rosebud declared war on Keystone. Last night RC police left a meeting fearing for their safety. Pine Ridge is calling tonight for a civil Rights Commission investigation and they’ve declared a state of emergency because of suicides.

    And there is silence in Pierre.

    I’m not suggesting we throw money or another program at a problem. My suggestion is we start showing we care. 92 suicide attempts on Pine Ridge in the last year . If those were Dakota Dunes stats we’d send the proverbial SD national guard.

    1. Speak for your own generation, I don’t value money, I value people like you not telling me I share blame or guilt for what previous generations did all the way back to a time that my family was escaping persecution on another continent.

      1. I concur with planning student. Rep Hickey, I’m not sure what acts you have a guilty conscience for, but I don’t share your ‘woe is society’ attitude.

      2. Common response but entirely unhelpful. My ancestors were still in Ireland during Wounded Knee. But there is something called indentificational repentance where someone takes ownership for the wrongdoings of the generation before them and makes restitution. It’s not just a religious penance, it’s how people groups heal and move on. It evident when any group renounces the racist past of their organization.

        And yes your generation values the material too. And yes your generation, whatever that is, is a part of the ongoing disparagement of natives in South Dakota. I guess if you were born here you may not sense it like those of us who moved here later in life. There have been many times I’ve wondered if I moved to North Mississippi not South Dakota.

        In our state we have an ongoing unhealed historical trauma and native youth are giving up hope. We should care about that and be grown up enough to own our part. Denying our part isn’t helpful.

        Today on the House floor we voted for a resolution to have a better relationship with China. We celebrated the trips our governor makes there to foster trade and goodwill. If we can do it with China, we can be do it closer to home.

        1. “We should care about that and be grown up enough to own our part. Denying our part isn’t helpful.”

          And denying incidents like the Dakota War of 1862 and the Lakota’s extermination of other tribes isn’t helpful either.

          Yet, labeling one group as victims and the other as perpetrators IS largely what it is all about, right?

          “There have been many times I’ve wondered if I moved to North Mississippi not South Dakota”

          And I have often wondered what SOOOOOO many people live and move to SD if it’s so damn backwards. SD isn’t Northem Miss., and N. Mississippi isn’t a ghetto. You’ve manage to disparage two states in one sentence, AND demonstrated your near total ignorance of both.

          Truth & reconciliation won’t bring jobs, will it? T&R won’t build a house, will it? T&R won’t bring back the hundreds of innocent women & children who were brutally raped and tortured and enslaved before being killed in 1862, will it?

          You see Mr. Hickey, FEELINGS don’t build anything. Feelings don’t DO anything. Talking about feelings may make us FEEL good, but don’t DO ANYTHNG. Just like a legislative resolution in support of better relations with China–it doesn’t do anything. LIFE AIN’T AN OPRAH SHOW.

          You, Rep. Hickey, are ignorant.

        2. ” But there is something called indentificational repentance where someone takes ownership for the wrongdoings of the generation before them and makes restitution. ”

          There’s something called psychobabble too, that attempts to assign some degree of legitimacy upon nonsense by using large, scientific-sounding words.

          NO ONE is responsible to compensate anyone for acts for which they are neither responsible nor culpable.

          It’s called basic Christian fairness. Ever heard of it?

        3. “There have been many times I’ve wondered if I moved to North Mississippi not South Dakota.”

          Common response but entirely unhelpful.

          “In our state we have an ongoing unhealed historical trauma and native youth are giving up hope”

          Common response but entirely unhelpful.

          Gosh, I too enjoy dismissing other folks’ views just by suggesting that they’re “common responses but entirely unhelpful”!

          No need to ENGAGE!

    1. re: rep. hickey’s comments – now i’m offended. we have reconciliation efforts, rapid city has had a racial issues commission for a couple of decades at least. there is some ignorance borne more of infrequent multiracial contacts with a lot of whites in this state, but on the other side of the coin the u-s brand of racial politics has created a strong separatist strain in the indian and black communities in this country and many of us non-indians and non-blacks have experienced that as well. nobody on any side is being very helpful rep. hickey.

      1. in short, god bless the people who are already looking past race and living in a better future already in the way they live their daily lives. we’d all love to join you.

  12. Perhaps the REAL problem here is the common practice of turning sports and entertainment venues into bars and then admitting minors.

  13. Anonymous 7:03:

    I agree. What these KIDS did or didn’t do is irrelevant. Trace O’Connell is an ADULT who was drunk in a public place and whose behavior was unacceptable. The fact he was drunk is not an excuse as he is responsible for his decision to get drunk. There are no mitigating circumstances when we are talking about adult behavior vs. that of minors (unless of course of the minors were a real imminent threat of harm which nobody has asserted).

    Nor does it matter these were KIDS from the reservation or fans from an opposing team just as it doesn’t matter when ISIS beheads a Christian vs. a Muslim of another sect. Bad behavior is bad behavior.

    Should we have a different reaction (greater or lesser) if it had been white KIDS?

    Does failing to stand for the national anthem (if it happened) justify epithets against KIDS or throwing beer on KIDS?

    I think so many of our problems are related to having different standards depending on perspective of “circumstances.” Basically a form of relativism.

    “We have a special obligation to Indians because of past wrongs” or “Indians need to prove they are loyal Americans” both change the focus from the perpetrator to the victim. The former feeds the debilitating perception of victimhood. The latter says the victim is partially responsible for what occurred.

  14. Anonymous 9:46:

    Identification repentance is not “psychobabble” but is an evangelical recognition and renaming of a concept the Catholic Church has taught and understood for 2,000 years with regard to everyone being imperfectly (because of our imperfections) part of the Body of Christ embodied in our call to perform corporal works of mercy and corporal works of charity (love).

    In the Church our call to these corporal works is three fold:

    1) Love of Jesus Christ and be a visible witness of Christ’s love for those upon whom we pour out our love.
    2) Build His temporal Kingdom in justice (giving others their due). This is the fruits of identification repentance as it heals so we can build.
    3) Atone for our sins and the sins of the entire Body of Christ. The latter part is what Hickey is referring to with “identification repentance.”

    Hickey’s call centered on the concept of “identification repentance” has merit. My problem with it as promoted is it is the cart before the horse or maybe movement without knowing where we are going (although repentance is always good for its own sake). Just as “corporate repentance” is preceded by individual repentance, I wonder if maybe we should just begin/resume/continue conversation with less ambition/promise of solution. Big vision is often thwarted because of an unwillingness to take small steps.

    In the category of “I can’t help myself.” The new-found understanding of “corporate repentance and atonement” theologically supports the Catholic teaching on purgatory but that is a different discussion. Has implications with regard to the communion of the saints and Once Saved Always Saved as well. 🙂

    1. ” Atone for our sins and the sins of the entire Body of Christ. The latter part is what Hickey is referring to with “identification repentance.”

      The Catholic church has no catechism or other teaching that requires or creates an expectation that individuals atone (or can atone) for the sins of others; nor can one offer or obtain repentance or forgiveness for the sins that others commit.

      In other words, Catholic theology regarding forgiveness and repentance is entirely PERSONAL. (Which is not to say that one cannot pray for the forgiveness of others’ sins, but that is unrelated to offering or obtaining forgiveness for another person’s sins on BEHALF of that person. Otherwise, today’s Catholics would maintain that the entire Jewish race needs to repent for crucifying Christ). In sum, you have no right OR NEED to forgive someone else’s sin against a third party, even if you claim some kind of kinship or affiliation with that third party.

      SIn and forgiveness are PERSONAL, not collective or transferable.

      And without forgiveness, there is no repentance or atonement.

      1. Sin and forgiveness are personal, not collective or transferable????

        Oh the gospel of individualism. Sin and its iniquity are passed from generation to generation until someone owns it, and repents. God does deal with individuals and he deals with people groups and nations. Jesus spoke of cities as if they were individuals. There is individual guilt and collective guilt.

        1. “Sin and its iniquity are passed from generation to generation until someone owns it, and repents.”

          Certainly not in the Catholic tradition.

          1. Original sin is cleansed by baptism.
          2. It would be highly UNChrist-like to assign collective blame/guilt/sin to those who are entirely without blame/guilt/culpability for the sins of other. That’s precisely the new covenant that Christ spoke of and offers to every believer through baptism.

          Now, it certainly is possible that via an awareness and recognition of the sins of others, and doing nothing about that sin, or benefitting from that sin, one thereby “adopts” that sin and thus commits ANOTHER sin as an individual.
          But, an innocent actor is not, and CANNOT be held, accountable for the sins of others.

          I know of no sense of Christian jurisprudence or thought that would somehow impute the sin of another onto an innocent believer, the innocent believer’s ancestors, or descendants.

          1. Then one must assume you must be unfamiliar with the American Civil War, Women’s Siffrage, The Civil Rights Act, the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa, or for that matter, the Treaty of Laramie.

            Until the individuals in society take personal responcibility to initiate needed change in their social fabric, the ‘sin’ of their ancestors persists. It’s difficult for me to understand why anyone would presume to argue to the contrary unless they in fact somehow consider themselves to be a universe of one.

  15. Anonymous 10:36:

    Good point. The call “we have to do something” often implies explicitly or implicitly nothing is being done or that nobody cares. Such an implication is counter-productive. Building on the efforts being done is going to be a lot more effective than dismissing them or not acknowledging them.

  16. Anonymous 11:17,

    Many of the Doctors of the Church (Aquinas, Theresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Lisieux) all refer to the redemptive merits of spiritual works of mercy and charity (prayer, intercession etc) and corporal works on behalf of the suffering souls of purgatory.

    Read the encyclical “Indulgentiarum Doctrina.” The following is from chapter 2: “Following in the footsteps of Christ, the Christian faithful have always endeavored to help one another on the path leading to the heavenly Father through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods (prayer/fasting/almsgiving) and penitential expiation (corporal works of mercy and charity). The more they have been immersed in the fervor of charity, the more they have imitated Christ in His sufferings, carrying their crosses in expiation for their own sins and those of others, certain that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God the Father of mercies. This is the very ancient dogma of the Communion of the Saints, whereby the life of each individual son of God in Christ and through Christ is joined by a wonderful link to the life of all his other Christian brothers in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ till, as it were, a single mystical person is formed.”

    And, as we are to imitate Christ, we are called to take the sins of others upon ourself and perform these works of mercy and charity for others (here in this life and the suffering souls of purgatory) out of love of all God’s souls. And, thus we can atone of the sins of those who came before us.

    1. You’ve conflated and confused the ability to “forgive” the sins of others committed against 3rd parties, with acts of charity/prayer performed on behalf others.

      An individual CANNOT forgive the sins of another for sins committed against a third party, for there is no offense under which the Christian is suffering.

      What you and the encyclical are referring to are acts of charity and prayer for others performed for the INTERCESSION of saints and other holy ones to seek the forgiveness and grace of CHRIST, not exercising one’s OWN ability to forgive others.

      When one prays for others or perform acts of charity for others or their souls, you are NOT forgiving them, you are ASKING THE MERCIFUL GOD TO FORGIVE THEM.

      “, certain that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God the Father of mercies. ”

      “To obtain salvation from God”–not forgiveness (or salvation) from me!

      So, in the context of Christian-Native American relations, a Catholic can pray TO GOD to seek GOD’s forgiveness of ancestors who may have committed unidentified and unwarranted acts of violence, but today’s Catholic can neither forgive his ancestors nor Indian ancestors who may have committed those sins in decades past.

      Got it?

      In fact, I’d argue that a belief that one can forgive another for a sin against a third party or in some remote time is blasphemous–it’s assuming an ability to forgive unknown others and their sins that ONLY God can offer. Now, I can ask God to consider my prayers, and ask saints to intercede WITH GOD FOR OTHERS SEEKIN GOD’S mercy and forgiveness, but I cannot give forgiveness for those sins and for those sinners in situations where I am not the offended.

      I’m quite sure that you’re misguided on this.

      Forgiveness is personal and I doubt you can find any Catholic teaching that states otherwise.

  17. I’m not sure what the Catholic Church teaches about identificational repentance. I do know it’s clearly taught in the Bible. Nehemiah confessed this sin of his forefathers. The guy who died on the cross died identificational for the sins of others. (The only church that’s 2000 years old is the Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholic branch as we know it broke off in 1053 A.D. The Protestants broke off from that in 1517. We all claim to be rooted in the original faithful branch.)

    Whether the incident in Rapid City was assault or simple assault or none of the above is not it what matter most today. When conditions are bone bone dry, even the slightest of sparks creates a wildfire. My point has to do with the conditions.

    Over the years I’ve had many couples in marriage counseling and it’s so common to hear 50 things she needs to change while he is oblivious to the fact that he is quite the jerk himself. That is the comparison that comes to mind when I hear whites talk about those Indian problems.

    1. the ignorance of infrequent contact and/or reciprocal separatism. it takes work and education to overcome that and establish a more healthy cultural contact point on all sides.

      1. and may i say given the long standing hatred of the indian schools of the last century, it’s tough to have a preacher of christ ride in here on a white horse to save the day quoting religious concepts. if rep. hickey wants to opine as a political leader on effective ways to move forward on practical cross cultural solutions, i’ll hear it.

        1. And I’m suggesting the appointment of a truth and reconciliation commission. There have been 40 worldwide since Nelson Mandela created the first commission to deal with the sordid past of apartheid in South Africa. Last year we tried an economic development commission. The tribes didn’t even show up. The place to start is not with jobs and economic development — those are things whites value. When I first moved here I did a conference called “beyond charity” to do economic development work our reservations. We got a Denver car dealer to give us 50 Indian cars and we got some land and tried to open up Gabe’s Gas Guzzlers and employ natives. That and a variety of another experiences and experiments have led me to the conclusion that the answers don’t lie in material things, except perhaps land issues. More money would just go into a black hole. Don’t hear me saying I have the answers just that I have a sense of which direction to point. The Sioux were once a proud people and today their youth have lost hope. Our justice system is skewed against them, still.

          1. “The Sioux were once a proud people and today their youth have lost hope”

            See, this is where your white guilt BLINDS you to the facts, and thus, any reasonable possibility of actually solving the problems. Without KNOWING the reality, you cannot EVER begin to solve these problems.

            Yes, the Sioux were once proud because they mastered the skill of instilling terror into their enemies (mostly other NAs) by raping, killing and pillaging …until the US Army slowly moved them to reservations.

            Just ask the Ojibwe, Pawnee, Crow or the Blackfoot/feet on what they think of the “pride” of the Sioux. In NE, the Sioux were able to nearly exterminate the once-populous Pawnee well into the 1870s.

            Your naivite is DANGEROUS.

    2. ‘The only church that’s 2000 years old is the Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholic branch as we know it broke off in 1053 A.D. The Protestants broke off from that in 1517. We all claim to be rooted in the original faithful branch”

      Well, no.

      The Roman Catholic church is 2000 years old. Rome has always been the seat of Peter–you know the apostle Peter?

      There was nothing for Rome to break from or to go to. It was always AT Rome!

      Are you sure that you’re a Christian “pastor”?

      1. Use your name and it’ll help you with your civility. Rome fell in 410, correct? Constantinople in the east was the seat of the Christian Church, correct? In 1053 there was a break and the Roman Catholic Church took hold in the West, correct? No offense intended. Take a Church History 101 course and it’ll be laid out clearly. Insinuations that one group is 2000 years old irks me as much as what I’m saying irks you. The Protesant vantage point is that we are the faithful remnant that goes back 2000 years as the Roman Church veered off into corruption in the Middle Ages. But all that is no matter here. What got us going on this is the fact the identificational repentance isn’t some new evangelical aberration. And more to the point, take religion out of it, sociologically in the nations were truth and reconciliation commissions have worked, one groups apology does marvels to heal things

        1. Steve,

          “Constantinople in the east was the seat of the Christian Church, correct?” No. The primacy of the See of Rome was recognized in the first century of the Church, at the time of Schism and is acknowledged by the Orthodox today. That said, the Orthodox hold primacy more as an honor and of stronger voice among all the Bishops and less of power/jurisdiction than the Orthodox.

          I’m confused why you would be irked by the fact the Catholic Church is 1,983 years old. Peter was the first Pope/Bishop of Rome (historical fact), Linus was the second (historical fact), Cletus was the third (historical fact), Clement the fourth (historical fact), all the way down to Francis (current fact). Whether we veered or not, we are the same historical entity under the purview of Peter and his successors.

          1. Constantine moved the Church east in 330 away from Rome. Catholics today claim Peter as the first Pope because of their interpretation of Jesus’ “upon this rock” statement. In Acts 15 at the first church council Peter was not the final say, James was. But all this is of no matter as I fully regard Catholics as a flavor of Christianity and I hope you view Protestant similarly. It is irksome from my vantage point to reference the Roman Catholic Church as being 2000 years old. Let’s not argue about it.

    3. “Over the years I’ve had many couples in marriage counseling and it’s so common to hear 50 things she needs to change while he is oblivious to the fact that he is quite the jerk himself. That is the comparison that comes to mind when I hear whites talk about those Indian problems.”


      But that has little to do with white-NA relations.

      A better analogy would be when you counsel the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of jerks and jerkettes who died 100 years ago, yet these grandchildren and great-grandchildren blame all or much of their dysfunction and crime and abuse on ancestors who died 100 years ago.

      As a responsible counselor, I bet you’d tell them to own their present problems , accept responsibility for their present condition , and MOVE ON!

  18. And lets not forget in 2 Maccabees 12:38-46 where Judas (not that Judas) and his soldiers “made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.”

    Except for those who ascribe to once saved always saved, the personal effect of individual sin and separation from God and forgiveness/atonement bringing back to unity is a point of theological unity among Christians. However, the communal impact on the Body of Christ is a point of separation.

    Catholics have always believed that my sin defiles the mystical Body of Christ and thus all other members (alive or suffering in purgatory). However, at the same time, all the good I do by Grace builds up the Body of Christ and thus all other members (alive or suffering in purgatory). This is why we say out loud to the Universal Church the Penitential Rite.


    I endorse your goal and the introduction of “identification repentance,” appreciate your recognition the problem is dire, and agree with the direction you are heading, But just as the federal government messes up a lot of things on the lower level, I think we have to be cautious on promising too much coming top down. Maybe Sioux Falls should get its “indian act” together before we start entering into what is organically occurring and to the extent we get involved it is to build and support that what is occurring?

    In my opinion, the white/Indian dynamics on the reservation or near the reservations where there are large populations of Indians is a lot healthier than what I observe in Sioux Falls. At least there, they engage every day and live the tension. I grew up interacting with Indians every day. Now, I interact with Burmese, Hispanics and Sudanese a lot more than I do Indians. Every day that passes, I feel less and less competent to comment on Indian issues even though I have lived intimately among Indians.

    Regarding your Orthodox/Catholic “history lesson:”

    While sometimes incorrectly asserted by non-authoritative people in both Churches, neither the Catholic Church (via Pope) or the Orthodox Church (via Metropolitan Patriarchs) or any other legitimate authority in either Church considers either to be “separate branches.” The best external evidence of this is our acceptance of each others sacraments and inter-communion. And, as you know, Communion and Sacraments is the strongest statement both the Catholics and Orthodox can make with regard to unity. Or, for instance, a married Orthodox Priest could become Catholic and with very little “procedure” become a Catholic Priest and vice versa.

    Despite the Schism, the Orthodox accept the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (Pope) but remain in Schism as they believe in particular the Filioque is not universal doctrine (or is it dogma?) because it was never legitimately adopted by the “whole Church.” While they no longer assert it as heretical, they do think it an unnecessary (and potentially misleading) attempt to describe the indescribable. Personally, I’m sympathetic to their perspective as I appreciate the theoria emphasis by the Orthodox with regard knowing God.

    While a stronger case (I am not asserting such a case as I reject it) could be made the Orthodox broke off from the Catholic by the facts of what occurred and chronology (the mutual excommunication is irrelevant as it has been lifted by both), since neither the Catholic or Orthodox describe the Schism as such, your characterization is factually and historically incorrect.

    P.S. On this issue, for your information the concept of “identificational repentance” is more prominent in Catholic practice/theology than that of the Orthodox. The Orthodox don’t reject it but down play it as a matter of emphasis.

  19. Anonymous 3:20:

    I never claimed I was forgiving anyone’s sins. That is an exclusive prerogative of God. The claim is heretical and blasphemous. Period and unequivocal.

    But, I can make corporal acts of atonement in my name for my sins or an act of charity in the name of others. What God does with that work and the effect to repair the effects of the sin is His exclusive prerogative. However, I can rest in assurance that nothing done (prayer or act) in Christ’s name is useless in the economy of Salvation of the whole world.

    1. PS: If I believe someone in the current or past committed an act of sin which affects me, I am called to forgive them as an act of charity for my own sake (as Job forgave those who did the harm to his family). They don’t have to ask for it (failure of them to ask is their problem).

    2. “I never claimed I was forgiving anyone’s sins.”

      I think you did:

      “3) Atone for our sins and the sins of the entire Body of Christ.”

      One CANNOT atone for the sins of the entire Body Of Christ.


      It is love “to the end”that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now “the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.” No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

      “What God does with that work and the effect to repair the effects of the sin is His exclusive prerogative. ”

      That we can and will agree on.

      “However, I can rest in assurance that nothing done (prayer or act) in Christ’s name is useless in the economy of Salvation of the whole world.”

      I pray everyday under that belief.

  20. Atone: redress, repair the consequences
    Forgive: give pardon for the act

    Those are two distinct words. I said very specifically atone and not forgive. You are conflating and equating those two words.

    As I said, whether or to the degree God accepts my act as partial or full atonement/reparation/expiation is His exclusive prerogative. But, just because my tiny and imperfect imitation of Christ in an act of intentional atonement is infinitesimal compared to that of Christ’s penultimate act, I’m still called to act in charity and not just for myself.

    While a mystery well behind me, God has called us to be cooperators and co-participants in the Economy of Salvation of myself and others.

  21. Steve,

    The seat of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople. Not the Church. The Orthodox don’t even assert it even slightly as it would conflict with their concept of the College of Bishops and diocese.

  22. Even if you’re right Troy about your theology on all this I still will never ever feel the need to apologize or atone for the sins of the US federal government at time when my German ancestors were being run out of Russia.. I forgive the Russians and the Sioux can forgive the Anglo-Saxons who were running the US.. Just as I hope the Pawnee, Blackfoot, Mandan and Arikara have forgiven the Sioux..

  23. ‘malicious intimidation could not be established.’ Well only if you do not understand racism.

  24. Planning Student:

    I hear you. When all of the fighting had been occurring here my Irish ancestors were living under the yoke of the Brits, my German ancestors were in a refugee camp in Luxembourg after being pushed out by Bismarck, and my Danish ancestors were finding out Denmark wasn’t any kinder to Jews than the Germans. But, I wonder about my ancestors who were in Virginia prior to the Civil War. Where they slaveowners?

    My point is we all likely have ancestors who did harm. And, today we live in a place where our neighbors are in a bad place. The tragic conditions of our reservations should not be a situation we wash our hands of even if we have no direct (and probably no indirect) responsibility for these conditions.

    One of the things what Steve proposes with regard to “idenficational repentance” is we take on the sins of others and express sorry for them and a desire to HELP make it right. Isn’t this an OPPORTUNITY to be Christ-like? Praise be to God for such an opportunity.

    I get some of the resistance to this may be grounded in a fear the solution will be OUR responsibility and absolve the Indians for their responsibility for the situation. I have the same reaction. But, in reality that isn’t true for being Christ-like doesn’t stop with the repentance. In fact, it gives us the strength to be more Christ-like and this includes speaking truth to the Indians, for instance in these ways:

    1) I’m not sexually, physically, and emotionally abusing your children. Indians are doing that. What are they going to do to stop it? How can we help stop the abuse? Why do you find such a home better than allowing them to live with a white family off the reservation?

    2) I’m not making your adults be on or tolerating teens on a perpetual binge. What are they going to do to stop it? How can we help stop the abuse?

    And so on.

    We can repent for the sins of our forebears but we can’t help them without their cooperation. If they don’t want our help, we have no choice but to watch for we shouldn’t impose our will on our neighbor. But, we can repent. What harm does it do? I see none. At the same time, repentence is a necessary part of unity. And, isn’t being in closer unity a good thing?

    1. “But, I wonder about my ancestors who were in Virginia prior to the Civil War. Where they slaveowners?”

      Wonder all you want….

      but I wonder if today’s Lakota and Dakota wonder whether their ancestors raped, killed, pillaged, and enslaved thousands of innocents of all colors?

      Where their ancestors killers and rapists and slave owners?

      1. Irrelevant. Suppose they do wonder that. Suppose they were. Then what? It’s the ‘Then what’ that makes the difference. Would you still do it now if you could? Would they?

        Reconcilliation starts by assuming goodwill toward others and a desire for peace in every heart. Assuming otherwise does nothing but perpetuate the problem.

        1. “Reconcilliation starts by assuming goodwill toward others and a desire for peace in every heart.”

          Well no.

          In this context, it’s clear that Mr. Hickey does not assume any such goodwill, for he couches this in terms of victims & perpetrators.

          Without honesty and a factual foundation, there is no & cannot be any reconciliation.

          Assuming reconciliation can occur with honesty does nothing but perpetuate the problem of “good guys” v. “bad guys.”

          1. I hope that all somehow makes sense to you, given that you took the time to write it, but I gotta tell ya, I can’t make heads nor tails of it.

            If your intention was to communicate a rebuttal to my assertion, my reply to you is that I don’t understand what you wrote, sorry.

            1. You claimed that reconciliation requires “goodwill”.

              In order to have goodwill, one must recognize and acknowledge the factual history. (Hickey has yet to do this). Otherwise we’re just operating on assumptions and feelings.

              It’s DISHONEST to frame this issue in terms of “good guy v. bad guys”, as Hickey has done.

              Without honesty, there is no goodwill or reconciliation possible–we’ll accomplish little more that commiserating over our FEELINGS.

  25. A truth and reconciliation commission can be called just about anything. In Guatemala in 1997 they called their commission a Historical Clarification Commission. Both sides, all sides, get to speak and things Troy mentions would come up too. This doesn’t get better by bringing in a Civil Rights probe to look closer at the incident in Rapid City. Did the beer spill on the kids or was it poured? In Ferguson, were his hands up or not when the officer shot? Who really knows anymore and to fixate on those details ignores what is really going on. Again, even the smallest spark starts a wild fire if conditions are bone dry. We need to look at the bone dry conditions in South Dakota. Until we do so we will have headlines every six months about an officer tasing a drunk native twenty plus times and a drunk hockey fan heckling native kids.

  26. Planning Student,

    One more thing. If you have gone to the “American Sniper” there was a scene where a very young boy picked up an anti-tank rocket and aimed it at our troops. The kid was in the rifle sight of Chris Kyle yet he didn’t pull the trigger giving the kid the opportunity to do so. It was a poignant moral moment where I believe Kyle knew this kid wasn’t an enemy combatant because of his age he didn’t know what he was doing and was brain washed. A powerful moment of morality in war where I believe Kyle knew if he pulled the trigger he’d be no worse than the enemy.

    In contrast, you have Wounded Knee where army snipers laid on the high ground and fired down on defenseless women, children, and elderly. No matter the reality we weren’t there, we didn’t pull the triggers, do you not feel a desire to express deep sorrow and maybe even beg for forgiveness on behalf of those who in the name of the American government probably under orders massacred the defenseless?

    Wounded Knee gives me empathy because except for the reality my German ancestors weren’t murdered, what Bismarck did to push them Luxembourg for no other reason than they were Catholic and opposed his policies and the oppression of my Irish ancestors are threads that are part of my family lore. You seem to have a similar story in your family.

    I think maybe we remember our family story so we have the will to stand in stead to help our current neighbors rise up from their current tragic conditions.


    I agree with your intent and do appreciate your introduction of the concept of a corporal repentance/expression of sorrow and regret. I’m just not convinced the environment is ripe for what you propose on the scale I think you are proposing it.

    There is a maxim attributed to St. Francis: “Do the right thing for the right reason at the right time.” I think the time isn’t right because I’m not sure those of us not living in the tension (on or closer to our reservations) have our act together and here needs to be more receptivity on the reservations which I think will come from what is being done organically needs to produce more fruit.

    I know standing back or not being more proactive is hard when we look at the tragedy. But, patience is a virtue and being willing to do things on His time is a sign of Trust.

  27. i posted some of the earlier comments calling for a strong political solution and blasting the introduction of a christianity debate to this topic. please work for a good political basis for the formulation of proactive solutions if you’re an elected official. please.
    consider: into what problem has the christianity debate been injected, where that problem has been more quickly helped or solved? hardly any. leaders from our earliest time had excellent private morals and a deep religious faith, and when it was politics time, they engaged in politics, not religion.
    the phrase “religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel” wasn’t coined in a vacuum. though christian attitudes were crucial in the founding of the nation, and the ending of slavery, religion was used to its own detriment in justifying ‘manifest destiny’ and the attempted re-education of the tribes which followed.
    even today, how many instances of sex abusers and pedophiles hiding in ministry have there been, and why are they found there if not for the fact that their close friends and fellow priests wrestle with “love the sinner hate the sin” rather than immediately call the authorities? sadly, it’s a matter of record now.
    our god-fearing founders had no doubts about the power of political leadership, and i think state and city political leaders need constant contact opportunities with tribal leaders. i think a lot of good can come from it.
    more politics, more leadership.

  28. Good exchange here between Hickey and Jones. Thank you gentlemen. It’s rare and refreshing to see such discussion out in the open, and like the white/Indian relationship in South Dakota, a dialogue that’s long overdue.

    If I may add a few thoughts:
    1. On forgiveness. It seems to me that it is by definition a social phenomenon and not simply a matter of one’s relationship with his/her personal God. And there are levels of social transgression ranging from person to person to nation to nation, from race to race, faith to faith, and yes from generation to generation. In other words, any context in which ‘society’ is manifest.

    2. For Christians, regardless of denomination, the model for how God will forgive is the way in which we are willing to forgive one another. See ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ We are only entitled to true forgiveness from the Almighty to the degree we forgive one another. That appears to be the standard Jesus set. Not ‘forgive one another the way God forgives you’, but rather ‘if you want God’s forgiveness, you must first forgive one another.’

    3. In either case it is never the prerogative of the tresspasser/transgressor/oppressor to demand forgiveness, but rather to only to petition for it by one’s actions toward others. In that sense, social justice is a completely different conceptual framework than our concept of legal justice. Different laws, different ‘court’ and different rendering of verdict.

    Again, thanks for the exchange here. So, when do we get to the part where ‘we forgive those who tresspass against us?’ because, at least to me, that seems like the place where our own forgiveness and reconcilliation awaits.

  29. and i’m going to make one last pitch for better political cross-connections and relationships as a longterm improvement strategy. there’s nothing that reduces the image of oppression like sharing the power, authority and ultimately the responsibility for the public good.

  30. Anonymous 10:56:

    You seem to be confusing (and it could be because of a lack of clarity on my part) eternal consequences for sin and temporal consequences of sin.

    In response to Hickey’s comment: “Sin and its iniquity are passed from generation to generation until someone owns it, and repents.”

    You said: “I know of no sense of Christian jurisprudence or thought that would somehow impute the sin of another onto an innocent believer, the innocent believer’s ancestors, or descendants.”

    That is absolutely true of eternal consequences relating to one’s particular judgement. I’ve never, ever intended to imply otherwise.

    What we (or at least me) are talking about is the temporal consequences of sin and how it is repaired in this world.

    Example #1: I steal and confess my sins. I’m forgiven. However, I’ve done nothing to repair the temporal consequences (i.e. give the money back/make restitution). Thus, someone is suffering whether they know it or not as a result of my sin.

    Hoping the example #1 is clear so I can transition to Example #2:

    I’m an alcoholic and it causes me to get divorced and causes a lot of sickness in my children. Who pass the effects of the sickness onto their children. No matter if I’ve confessed my sin, been forgiven there is no real tangible way for the temporal consequences being repaired/atoned/restitution.

    But, the Church teaches anyone can make a corporal work of mercy or charity or spiritual work (i.e. prayer) in the name of past sins (mine or someone elses) and somehow the Graces of God repair the TEMPORAL consequences of my un-atoned sins on my children and grandchildren and healing occurs such that the cycle caused by my alcoholism is ended going forward.

    Does this make sense?

  31. Hate to ask a stupid question but I’m not sure how to keep up with comments on this blog. Now there are 102 and I cant tell what the new ones are.

  32. Mr. Hickey there are usually not that many comments on the press release bloggings so it is not a problem. I am sure Mr. PP has a way to color the ones you haven’t read or is working on one for these kind of bloggings.

  33. It’s a lot to read but the interviews with Poor Bear and Means are posted on the Rapid City Journal site.

    It seems like those in the box were trying to get the kids to yell and join their raucous. They said kids from the reservation know how to yell. Means didn’t want them interacting and that’s when she said she heard go back to the rez. Beer got spilled or thrown somewhere during this time.

    Poor Bear didn’t hear anything other than what Means told him, and he got mutually verbal but escalation was avoided. He then wrote the Facebook entry to explain to parents why they left early. Two or three times in the interview he says he didn’t know it would go this far.

    Honestly I don’t know if a person can draw definite conclusions, but along with the police investigation it makes a person doubt the claims of racism or anything criminal directed toward the children. Also possible the story was exaggerated but nothing close to how some with a political agenda have created a far different narrative than fits the information available to us.

    The outcry and calls for vilification don’t fit in my opinion, but all should be encouraged to read the interviews for further insight.

  34. Being drunk, rowdy, and stupid is far different from being racist. Some have been making things up like they were trying to pick up the young girls. If you google the incident you’ll find social sites calling for violence or as darn close as you can get to it. Read the interviews.

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