Lakota leaders' spirits alive in SD 

I enjoyed my recent visit to South Dakota and the hospitality of the people. I took some wonderful hikes through the mountains and valleys of the Black Hills and the Badlands consorting with the ghosts of my Lakota spirit brothers — Chief Sitting Bull, Chief Crazy Horse, Chief Big Foot and the Great Wakan Black Elk.

They are all still there. The bison, deer, eagle and fox still remember them and know their names. The chiefs, medicine men and tribal people — men, women and children — still dwell in the quiet, shaded, boulder strewn valleys and along the windswept rocky ridges. Their faces are etched in the cliffs and the bark of the trees and you can see their likeness in the clouds.

Of course, it is a complex story. Black Elk toured Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the 1890s. A great medicine man turned carnival attraction. Crazy Horse surrendered to the cavalry at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in 1876 and was killed in a struggle (while trying to escape?) in 1877. Sitting Bull was killed during the "Ghost Dance Movement" at the Standing Rock Agency in 1881, and Big Foot was killed at Wounded Knee. Still they are undiminished.

Vijay Venkataraman

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Trump should reject hate groups

President Trump’s recently demoted chief strategist, Steve Bannon, touts his nationalism, but his pro-Confederate and Klan sympathies betray his cause if not his loyalty. American nationalism was sparked in the Revolutionary struggle to create a republic in a world of monarchy. The republic took form in the struggle to ratify our Constitution, and it was forged in Union victory in our Civil War. That victory confirmed that “the people,” not the states, were sovereign. Bannon’s record  repudiates that history.

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His popularity with the Klan says it all: the post-Civil War Klan specialized in the murder of black Americans and Republicans (Republicans led the fight to destroy slavery), and that Klan’s 20th century progeny perpetrated decades of violence that included the killing of four little girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church with a dynamite bomb on 15 September 1963. Denise McNair was 11; Addie May Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were 14. The little girls were not children, said Klansman Connie Lynch, because they were not human. They were not human because they were not white. Seig Hiel, indeed.

And the president of the United States still appreciates applause and support from such people.

David Miller

Rapid City

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