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1972 Rapid City flood

1972 Rapid City Flood West Boulevard Photo by the Rapid City Journal

Local Native Americans and the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association will host a community powwow in memory of the 1972 flood on Saturday, June 9.

The powwow, which will begin at noon and conclude with a memorial dinner at 5 p.m., will include a “wiping of tears” ceremony in which the names of the 238 flood victims will be read in the presence of survivors and friends, according to Hazel Bonner, publicity secretary for the event.

The wiping of tears ceremony is typically performed a year after someone loses a loved one, Bonner said.

“We know this is 40 years ago,” she said. “But this is to look back and remember. We’re really trying to renew this community, to bring the Native community and the non-Native community back together.”

At the powwow, coordinators will give commemorative plaques to Don Barnett, who was Rapid City’s mayor during the flood, current mayor Sam Kooiker and Ruben McCloskey, who helped with flood recovery, according to Bonner. Bonner said plaques will also be awarded to family members of Bob Rogers and Jim Emery, who are now dead but were involved with flood recovery.

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If powwow organizers raise enough money, Bonner hopes to also give Barnett and Kooiker traditional Lakota star quilts. Organizers are still raising funds but have enough money to start planning the event, Bonner said.

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Barnett said the official flood committee voted not to donate funds to the powwow, but he hopes to attend.

“I have nothing but affection and respect for the Native American citizens of Rapid City,” Barnett said. “They were wonderful during the flood and suffered so much.”

Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8415 or ruth.moon@rapidcityjournal.com.

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