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Thorns and Roses

Rapid City, 1971-1973

ByDon Barnett

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Coming home from a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969 and still grieving friends who had died in an unwinnable war, Don Barnett resolved to run for office and change the way decisions were made. After his bid for a seat in Congress failed, he was elected mayor of Rapid City in 1971 at the age of 28. After a rocky start colored by youthful hubris, he learned how to compromise and collaborate with the city council and other civic leaders. With voter approval of a plan to finance a new civic center, the city seemed poised for takeoff. On the night of June 9, 1972, a massive thunderstorm unleashed torrential rains over Rapid City and the central Black Hills. Swelling Rapid Creek far beyond its normal channel, the raging waters destroyed homes and businesses, swept through a nursing home, and caused severe damage to the city’s main water plant. By the time the dead were accounted for, 238 people had perished and five others were never found. Barnett spent the night of the flood helping rescuers. The next morning, he and other civic leaders began the process of recovery and rebuilding. Many people in Rapid City were still trying to put their lives back together eight months later when long simmering racial tensions between Native Americans and the Non-Native community boiled over following a barroom killing in nearby Custer county. Leaders of the American Indian Movement took to the streets, brandished weapons, and promised to shut the city down. "Thorns and Roses" provides a riveting first-hand account of Don Barnett’s tumultuous years as mayor of Rapid City from 1971-1975 and helps document an important era in the history of the city and the nation.


Publication Date
Nov 16, 2021
Biographies & Memoirs
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): Don Barnett


Linen Wrap
Interior Color
Black & White
US Trade (6 x 9 in / 152 x 229 mm)

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