Four Indigenous Climbers Arrested “LANDBACK”

From NDN’s Landback campaign. 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.

Four Indigenous Climbers Arrested After Mounting “LANDBACK” Flag From 100 Ft Dakota Mills Grain Silo

Action Calls Out Hypocrisy of July 4th, Uplifts Demand for Reparations and Justice 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 4, 2021

Rapid City, SD — Today, Indigenous climbers representing 10 different Nations from Turtle Island and Palestine were arrested for confronting the legacy of white supremacy that is commemorated every 4th of July. Climbers ascended the 100-ft Dakota Mills Grain silo situated on Lakota lands in downtown Rapid City and mounted an upside down American flag with “LANDBACK” written prominently across it. 

This flag represents the murders of those children they secretly buried them without markers and thought they could get away with it. The number on the banner that is orange (1505), it represents the number of relatives that we have found so far.

Photo Courtesy of NDN Collective.

NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign team released the following statement: 

“An upside-down flag represents being in distress and is a prominent symbol across Indian Country; we have just celebrated the Battle of Little Bighorn, and at that battle the three sister nations of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho defeated General Custer and the 7th Calvary. In that battle, they claimed the American flag from the defeated US army. That flag belongs to us. Today, we refute the dominant narrative that the American flag represents a legacy of freedom, democracy, and equality.

“This day is nothing to celebrate for the Indigenous Peoples here, or anywhere else the United States has consumed through imperialism. LANDBACK is not a metaphor; it is our present reality and our future struggle. There is no repair or justice until Indigenous Peoples reclaim our land. This place, the Black Hills, represents the entire cycle of life and deserves nothing less than Return.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

“Today, we stand with our people, who are in distress, to speak the truth of what the 4th of July means in Mniluzahan, or so-called ‘Rapid City.’ The self-declared “City of Presidents” honors the legacy of past United States leadership on one hand, while brutalizing the original peoples and caretakers of the land on the other.

“Last year, on July 3rd, we saw Indigenous peoples brutalized and arrested by police atop our own sacred site and treaty lands, the Black Hills. 21 people were arrested, including NDN Collective’s President and CEO, Nick Tilsen, who is Oglala Lakota. Tilsen is still fighting the extreme charges filed against him over a year ago, having recently filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional rights violations.


NDBACK Campaign mounted an upside down flag in downtown Rapid City with LANDBACK painted across– a sign of distress and a symbol of resistance to the so-called Fourth of July and the American settler colonial project. One of those climbers is Martin Aranaydo (Tohono O’odham)

“Return Indigenous Lands to Indigenous hands. That’s it. Until we get it we ain’t gonna stop. Being up here today, looking down at this inverted flag, I’m reminded of what this flag means to me. This flag represents the military. They murdered our ancestors and tried to commit genocide against us. They did not succeed.

“This flag represents the people that took children away from their parents– babies away from their parents. Forced them into boarding schools. This flag represents a country that abused those children, beat them, assaulted them sexually, mentally, physically. This flag represents the many horrors that our grandparents, and great grandparents had to endure. This flag represents the murders of those children they secretly buried them without markers and thought they could get away with it. The number on the banner that is orange (1505), it represents the number of relatives that we have found so far. We hope we will find more relatives who can finally lay to rest peacefully.” – Martin Aranaydo, Climber.

#LANDBACK#4thofYouLie

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Today, a team of climbers with NDN’s LANDBACK Campaign did a banner drop in downtown Rapid City of an upside-side American flag with LANDBACK painted across– a sign of distress and a symbol of resistance to the so-called Fourth of July and the American settler colonial project. One of those climbers is Krystal Two Bulls, LANDBACK Campaign Director. “We are calling out all of the false narratives that exist on this day, July 4th. Calling attention to the white supremacy that exists in the Rapid City Police Department, through the systems that exist here in this city, but also worldwide. We want to make sure that we are calling out that all of this land is Indigenous Land and that we are up here today to stand and to continue to demand LANDBACK. We have tried many other ways to negotiate, have conversation, and to do all of these things to reclaim our land. It’s a fight for justice, a fight for liberation, a fight for all things good. We’ve only ever been met with violence, attacks, brutality, and criminalization. So we’re here to demand and say that we’re not stopping until we get our land back. And we will not stop. And we’re going to continue to fight to protect our lands, to protect everything that we hold sacred.” – Krystal Two Bulls, Director of LANDBACK Campaign

Follow NDN’s livestream for continued coverage: https://www.facebook.com/ndncol/videos/397600628339257/#LANDBACK#4thofYouLie

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