Friends, supporters call for release of arrested Mount Rushmore protesters

The NDN Collective, a Rapid City-based indigenous rights advocacy organization, identified two of those arrested as its president and CEO, Nick Tilsen, and Krystal Two Bulls, a founder of Voices of the Sacred, in a Saturday news release.

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A protester is arrested at the site of a road blockade in Mount Rushmore National Memorial on Friday, July 3. (Jeremy Fugleberg/Forum News Service)
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RAPID CITY, S.D. — Friends and supporters lobbied for the release of those arrested at an road blockade at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, staging a rally outside the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City on Saturday, July 4, and asking for donations to a bail fund.

Deputies with the Pennington County Sheriff Office arrested about 15 people, many of them Native Americans, at the blockade site on U.S. Highway 16A on Friday evening, after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement and National Guard troops.

Those arrested were part of a protest against a visit to the memorial by President Donald Trump, as well as racial injustice and the theft of the Black Hills from Indigenous peoples who once called it home and still consider it a sacred place.

The NDN Collective, a Rapid City, S.D.-based advocacy organization, in a Saturday news release , identified two of those arrested as its president and CEO, Nick Tilsen, and Krystal Two Bulls, a founder of Voices of the Sacred.

According to Pennington County records reviewed by Forum News Service, Tilsen remains in the county jail. He is charged with unlawful assembly, standing on a highway with the intent of impeding or stopping traffic, failure to vacate and robbery in the second degree. He is set to appear in court Monday morning.


Two Bulls was not listed as a jail inmate. Those booked into the jail wouldn't appear on its public log of current inmates if they had been bailed out. It's not clear what happened to the others who were arrested, but it's possible they were cited for lesser offenses and released without being booked.

In its news release, The NDN Collective quoted Tilsen before he was escorted away from the protest site Friday in handcuffs.

“Our people have fought for this land and we will continue to. This won’t be the last. Our goal isn’t just to resist, but to radically imagine a better future," he said, according to the organization.

A message to The NDN Collective asking for additional information wasn't immediately returned.

Outside the Pennington County Jail late Saturday morning, a group of supporters rallied to demand the release of Tilsen and the other jailed protesters.

The NDN Collective was soliciting donations to the Black Hills Bail and Legal Defense Fund to defray the cost of bailing out those protesters who remained in jail.

Jeremy Fugleberg is an editor who manages coverage of health (NewsMD), history and true crime (The Vault) for Forum News Service, the regional wire service of Forum Communications Co, and is a member of the company's Editorial Advisory Board.
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