Tribal Leaders Speak to Sioux City Council About Downtown Homeless Camp Removal

Aug 2, 2021

Calvin Harlan, Tribal Historical Preservation Officer for the Omaha Tribe

Native Americans and other residents spoke out yesterday at the Sioux City Council meeting about the removal of a downtown homeless camp. Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has this report. 

  About 60 people protested the treatment of homeless people removed over the weekend from a camp near 4th street and Wesley Way. Outside of the municipal building, they carried signs saying Sioux City Has to Do Better and You Cannot Displace War Eagle’s people. Event organizer and Tribal Historical Preservation Officer for the Omaha Tribe Calvin Harlan said there was no excuse for the city's treatment of homeless people.

“Let’s move them, let’s destroy their belongings. Believe it or not, these homeless people are people. And they have feelings and thoughts. We cannot be a party to allow the city to do that.”

Winnebago reservation resident Terry Medina told the city council the people in homeless camp were treated with disrespect and disdain. 

“Instead of trying to move our homeless out of sight and out of mind, regardless of what color and cover them up, why don’t we reach down and help them up, by showing compassion, sensitivity and treating them with dignity and respect.”

Sioux City resident Josiah Flowers went further. 

“How would you feel if you guys had 10 minutes to pick up everything in your house and leave.  That’s not right is it? It’s just basic human traits that we have as people. We ask to be treated as human beings, just as you guys are.”

Mayor Bob Scott said he regrets how the removal of the camp was handled but wants to change how city workers treat homeless people from this day on. 

“What’s done is done, and what happens going forward hopefully will be more positive than what it was.”

Scott asked those at the meeting to provide contact information so the city could start a dialog with local tribal leaders about the homeless situation. =

For Siouxland Public Media News, I’m Mary Hartnett. 

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