Black Hills treaty defender faces felony charges

The leader of an Indigenous-led advocacy organization, who spent the holiday weekend in jail after defending his people’s unceded territory in the Black Hills, is facing serious charges.

Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, president and CEO of NDN Collective, is charged with multiple offenses, including two felonies, related to the July 3 Mount Rushmore protest that ended with 20 treaty defenders, 19 adults and one juvenile, in jail, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. One counter protestor was also jailed. 

Tilsen was charged in Monday’s court appearance in Rapid City, South Dakota, with second-degree robbery, simple assault on a police officer and three other minor charges. He could face a maximum of 13 years in jail if convicted. Tilsen’s bond was set for $2,000 and has since been posted, according to his lawyer Bruce Ellison, who spoke with journalist Lorenzo Serna on Facebook live after the court hearing.

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