WaPo: SD tourism staff learn about Lakota culture, Pine Ridge reservation during diversity training
By Associated Press, Published: May 23
KYLE, S.D. — As summer tourism season kicks off in South Dakota this weekend, staff from several of the state’s most popular attractions are learning about Lakota culture in an effort to drive visitors to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Starting Wednesday, more than 100 employees from attractions across the Black Hills — including Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park — are taking part in a two-day diversity training. This is the second year that the Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce has offered the training.
The training, which will be held at Crazy Horse Memorial, will teach staff members about the Pine Ridge reservation’s tourism resources, infrastructure and culture practices, said Ivan Sorbel, executive director of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce. By teaching front-line tourism staff about the reservation, officials hope it will help drive tourists to the area.
“The biggest question we get here is, ‘Is it safe to visit the reservation?’” Sorbel said, adding that many people associate Pine Ridge with gang-related violence. “What we’re trying to do is shed that image and shine a new light.”