A nurse from Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota was fired after a 13-second video surfaced of her going on a racist rant against Native Americans.
The video, which surfaced Sunday morning, can be viewed here.
In the video, the nurse, allegedly Ryane Oliva, can be heard calling Indians foul names in an expletive-laden and vulgar tirade that in many ways demonstrates the palpable racism that permeates South Dakota.
Other posts made by Oliva, including a Snapchat post that contained the N-word in the text, likewise surfaced. The Snapchat post was sent to the 15 year-old daughter of Manilla Thomas, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Thomas is the one who originally posted the video of Oliva’s rant.
Cody Hall, another Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member and co-founder of Last Real Indians, decided to create a Facebook event page for a rally to protest Oliva’s employment. The rally was set for Tuesday May 12th, but Rapid City Regional Hospital announced that Oliva had been fired on Monday. Brent Phillips, President and CEO of Regional Health, wrote:
“Regional Health has a zero tolerance policy regarding this type of behavior by its caregivers inside or outside the workplace. We will not stand for any type of racism or bigotry on the part of our caregivers or physicians. We take this type of behavior very seriously and the employee has been terminated, as it clearly violates the Regional Health Code of Conduct.”
This is not the first time Regional Health has been criticized for its treatment of Native Americans. In 2011, Vern Traversie, a Lakota elder, said he awoke from a double-bypass surgery with “KKK” and other wounds carved into his chest and abdomen. A YouTube video and a “Justice for Vern Traversie” Facebook were created to bring awareness to both this particular hate crime and the racism that Native Americans face across the nation.
In response to Oliva’s racist video, Regional Health invited community members along with Native American, African American, and Rapid City leaders to gather together on Tuesday May 12th “in a show of solidarity.”
“Together, we will show we are stronger when we stand together and there is no place for racism or bigotry anywhere in our great state,” Phillips said.
The state of South Dakota has continually been under fire for its treatment of Native Americans. Not only have there been multiple hate crimes committed in highly Indian-populated areas like Rapid City, but the state government itself has been illegally taking Indian children away from their families and tribes. While the Lakota People’s Law Project is glad that Regional Health recognized Oliva’s rant as offensive and unacceptable, we also know that much more has to be done to stop the racist and unjust treatment of Native Americans both in South Dakota and across the nation.