Press Release

Community Mobilizes in Bitter Cold to Shelter Unhoused Relatives in Rapid City

For Immediate Release: January 16, 2024

Rapid City, SD – Over the weekend, several community partners including Wambli Ska, Oaye Luta Okolakiciye, Lakota Homes, and the Oyate Center collaborated with NDN Collective to make sure unhoused neighbors were sheltered from the extreme weather. The groups came together in response to the state of emergency issued for cold temperatures reaching –61 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill in Pennington County over the weekend.

However, as the community came together to create a last resort warming space during the life threatening weather, city officials issued them a written stop work notice at the Woyatan Lutheran Church where the groups had erected an Arctic tent – yet officials offered no concrete alternatives or clear next steps. This took place after city officials claimed they would make temporary changes to their intake policies and promised to not turn people away from shelters – however, numerous people NDN Collective and local groups assisted had been turned away this weekend. 

In response, members of the local community mobilized in support and at their request held a livestream on social media featuring local organizers Sunny Red Bear, Hermus Bettelyoun, and community member Karin Eagle to bring attention to the city’s actions.

“The attitude of indifference city officials have towards our unhoused relatives is dangerous and deadly,” said Eva Cardenas, director of local organizing at NDN Collective. “We demand the city officials create actual solutions that meet the needs of the houseless community that are humane and beneficial to the people who are impacted rather than the band-aid policies and structures that punish and further create harm.” 

“Many of the services the city claims to provide replicate carceral structures that are punitive and further harm the most marginalized among us,” said Anissa Martin, local organizer at NDN Collective. “Many shelters require people to be intoxicated while others follow jail-like booking processes, stripping our relatives of their clothes and belongings. The criminalization and disparaging attitudes of city officials and the police create an unsafe and mediocre quality of care for our people that is not welcoming.”

NDN Collective encourages city officials to do the right thing by meeting their demands and meeting with unhoused relatives to seek solutions that are beneficial to all the people of Rapid City. Additionally, they encourage community members to join in this communal effort by dropping off warming supplies and winter clothing, donating their time to cook, bringing water and food — and to advocate and look out for unhoused relatives.


NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

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