Every Saturday, Buffalo Post features stories from Native Sun News, published in Rapid City, S.D.
By Randall Howell
Native Sun News Correspondent
WANBLEE –– Tag used to be a school-yard game.
That kind of tag is rarely played by school children anymore.
Today, the word has taken on a new gang-like meaning, often referring to a graffiti-based, black-paint “tag” or symbolic territory marking on the exterior walls of a house or public building, such as a post office.
And, a significant number of Wanblee residents say they have had enough of that kind of tag to last several lifetimes.
“They (graffiti vandals) have tagged and retagged some buildings around here many times,” said Phyllis Swift Hawk, a long-time Wanblee resident and one of those re-organizing and rekindling the community’s five-year-old, unimplemented Neighborhood Watch program.
“The initial momentum ran out of steam somewhere along the line,” said Swift Hawk, who is helping spearhead the revival of the program, which has Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Department of Public Safety cooperation and blessing. In fact, Sgt. Larry Romano reportedly has been assigned to the community, though the Wanblee Law Enforcement substation has been shut down after the building recently was condemned as structurally unsound, according to Swift Hawk.
“We have to do something to turn this thing around,” said Swift Hawk, who noted that the fading away of the first such program left community members awash in a subsequent sea of drug use, under-age drinking and vandalism.