Nick Tilsen Statement on Interaction with Police at NDN Collective Headquarters | NDN Collective

August 20, 2021

Nick Tilsen Statement on Interaction with Police at NDN Collective Headquarters

"NDN Collective is here to do our best to stand up for Native people and build communities that create real opportunities for transformation and change. We will continue to protect our people on the streets while we create jobs, improve education, and build a more equitable future."

The following statement is in response to an incident that occurred on NDN Collective property adjacent to the NDN headquarters in Rapid City, SD on Monday, August 16 and subsequent media coverage related to that event.


My priority has always been to protect my community. When I heard that an Indigenous family had been pulled over on the Land owned by our organization, I felt a deep responsibility to make sure they were safe. It’s no secret that Indigenous people are disproportionately targeted by the police, both in Rapid City and across the United States. In fact, Indigenous people are killed in police encounters more than any other ethnic group. I move through life with this knowledge in my gut, doing everything I can to help dismantle the systems that continue to brutalize and scare my people. 

Rapid City exists on stolen land. NDN Collective now owns pieces of it — and we work hard to make sure it is a safe and welcoming place for our Indigenous community members. I did not want the police, who repeatedly violate their own laws, to set foot on the place we’ve carved out for ourselves, let alone to do so just to pull over an Indigenous mother for a broken taillight and harass her. 

I operate in the world as an Indigenous man who has been harassed, tear gassed, and targeted by police officers many times. I’m far from alone in these experiences. Native people in the Rapid City community see and experience this on a daily basis. My goal is to keep my people safe — which often means holding police accountable. I’m asking our allies who want to help us change the system to keep the police accountable by observing and recording traffic stops. While the whole policing system needs to be defunded, more eyes on officers will force them to change their conduct in the meantime. 

It is too easy for non-Indigenous people, who don’t live our day-to-day experience or hold our history, to twist our behavior and actions into the dangerous stereotype of angry “savages.” We are fighting for visibility, understanding, and a reckoning with the truth of what the U.S. government did to our people. Our stories and experiences are still taken out of context — or erased altogether. We have to live under constant double standards, villainized for actions that no one would even blink an eye over if a white person did the same thing. 

I want Indigenous folks to know that I will always stand behind them, with them, and for them. We are building a world that will allow us to not just survive — but thrive together.

NDN Collective is here to do our best to stand up for Native people and build communities that create real opportunities for transformation and change. We will continue to protect our people on the streets while we create jobs, improve education, and build a more equitable future.

Know your rights resources: 

October 2021 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Posted 6 days ago NDN Collective Celebrates Buffalo Release with Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range & Wildlife Sanctuary
The Wolakota Buffalo Range, a project of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic development arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is the largest Native owned and managed buffalo range in the world.
Posted 7 days ago ‘Racist and Irresponsible’: NDN Collective Responds to Math Teacher’s Mockery of Native Americans in Classroom Lesson
“This type of derogatory behavior by an educator is a prime example of the continued racist attitudes Indigenous people have experienced in educational systems that began with Indian boarding schools. Our Indigenous students need healing from the trauma inflicted by these ongoing racist practices. That begins with a curriculum that reflects the language and culture of the students being served."
Posted 7 days ago Revitalizing the Buffalo Nation and Building an Indigenous-led Economy for the Sicangu Lakota

NDN Collective Climate Justice Team

The Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range and Wildlife Sanctuary is a triple-bottom-line project that is creating profit, helping people, and benefiting the planet.
Posted 3 weeks ago NDN Collective Celebrates Restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante
"Today’s restoration proclamation is a promising step toward respect for Indigenous people, our connection to and the sovereignty we have over our land, and is a necessary step toward building a better nation-to-nation relationship with tribal governments in the U.S. There is still so much more work to do."
Posted 4 weeks ago Wearing Orange to Heal, to Remember, and Build Collective Power: NDN Collective Honors Orange Shirt Day

Sarah Sunshine Manning

On Orange Shirt Day, we honor all of the children who suffered unimaginable pain and devastation in boarding and residential school systems. At NDN Collective, we remember them today and every day, and we lift up their spirits– survivors who are still with us, and the countless loved ones and children in the spirit world who never made it home.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Statement of Condolence: Honoring the Life of Marie Randall Brushbreaker
In honor of a beloved Lakota matriarch and Land Defender who stood up for Mother Earth.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Launches Book at NY Climate Week, ‘Required Reading’ Calling for Bold Climate Action and Indigenous Climate Solutions
NDN Collective announces the official launch of the organization’s first book curated by the NDN Climate Justice Campaign. ‘Required Reading: Climate Justice, Adaptation + Investing in Indigenous Power’ is a practical guide for seasoned politicians and grassroots advocates alike to establish equitable and meaningful solutions to the climate catastrophe.
Posted 1 month ago 'We Matter': Native Youth Join the Fight Against Indigenous Erasure in SD State Education Standards at March, Rally and Solidarity Actions Across the State

Brandi Douglas

Hundreds participate in the Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children, demanding education equity and resignation of numerous SD public officials for complicity in Indigenous erasure
Posted 2 months ago Supporting & Honoring Our Youth: NDN Collective 2nd Annual Backpack Giveaway Draws Hundreds

Brandi Douglas

Students receive school supplies, NDN swag, free COVID-19 vaccines, and sign-up for the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy, opening Fall 2022
Posted 2 months ago NDN Collective Holding March for Youth, calling out Indigenous erasure in newly proposed SD social studies standards
Action to oppose the recently proposed updates to SD’s social studies standards by Governor Noem and the South Dakota Department of Education and uplift demands for inclusive, historically accurate education for all students in South Dakota
NDN Collective
408 Knollwood Dr
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2021 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.