My name is Joanne Beare. I am an elder Lakota Woman. I grew up in Pierre, South Dakota, and now live in Rapid City, SD. I worked at the Pierre Public Schools as Indian Education Director for 18 years, so I know many of the Native American families in Pierre.
I am writing about a recent article that was written in the Pierre Capital Journal by Stephen Lee, the article was about Louise Lola Bear Stops who recently passed away. In the article all that was written was Lola’s past criminal records. Lola’s body was found near Missouri River in Pierre.
I felt an obligation to my Native American People and culture to respond to this article. I called the Pierre Capital Journal and told them that in our Lakota Culture they were very disrespectful to write about Lola in this negative way as her whole family is grieving her passing. I said all the races in the USA and Pierre have friends and relatives that may have alcohol & drug related problems in their history. This is not just an “Indian” problem. In today’s world with all the hate crimes and hurtful people, things need to start changing. Hurt people hurt people and well people help people. This article pretty much stereotyped Lola to be a criminal. When a newspaper writes negative things like this especially after a person’s passing, then everyone that is Native American see a paper that is prejudice and judgmental towards Native Americans.
Would they write such a story about one of Pierre’s prominent citizens? The capital of Pierre is surrounded by several reservations, Crow Creek, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, and Rosebud. I am sure many of our Native American people read the Pierre Capital Journal. So I am challenging the Journal to reach out to our people and write about positive things about
our people and culture. This is how your paper will flourish.
I was asked if I knew Lola, I said yes, I know her and her family. Lola was a very kind caring young Beautiful Spirit. The Bear Stops family is a good family, they practice their Lakota Spirituality on a daily basis. Juanita Bear Stops who is Lola’s mother is a very strong Prayer Warriors that attends Sundance yearly to pray with all her relatives. This is why I felt the need to write this article because people need to show their respect towards this family who is grieving. Not only is the family grieving the passing of a loved one, but the mother of Lola is undergoing heart surgery. The community needs to embrace this family, not shame and humiliate them.
I am a strong believer in uniting all races through Love and understanding.
I am grateful to the Capital Journal for allowing me to write my own article to address this issue. The man Stephen Lee, who wrote the article says he apologizes for any disrespect the article may cause the Bear Stop Family.
My Love and Respect goes out to the Family of Louise Lola Bear Stops. She was one of my students when I worked at Pierre Public Schools. I only seen Lola as a true Lakota Spirit who did her best in this physical word. Lola is now on her Spiritual Journey home. Thank you.
/s/ Joanne Beare, Rapid City, South Dakota