A high school rodeo club in the tiny South Dakota town of Faith has finally decided to end its annual “Slave/Branding Auction” after decades.

The fundraiser, in which Rodeo Club members would offer labor to a rancher in exchange for a donation, was nixed after the local Legion Hall host Glenda McGinnis told The Washington Post she received dozens of calls from people around the country wanting to know “how such a racist and hurtful name could be used in 2021.”

“I thought it was a joke. We have the event every year, for about 40 years now,” McGinnis, vice president of the Community Action Club that owns the Legion Hall in Faith, told the paper. “I even got a call from a local cowboy who said: ‘How’s this going down? It’s not right.’ I told him we weren’t doing anything wrong. And he explained, ‘Well, it’s how it was advertised that’s wrong.’ “

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McGinnis went on to say: “I didn’t even think of ‘slavery’ in racist terms. It’s just kids work for free to raise money for their club. Now I see; this is a very bad choice of words. But I’m naive enough, I guess.”

McGinnis said the Rodeo Club’s adviser called her Wednesday afternoon to cancel the event.

Residents of the area were stunned.

“Slave auction? Branding? It’s hateful, racist, and we’re calling it what it is,” Julian Beaudion, an African American state law enforcement officer who is part of the Coalition for Justice and Equity, which addresses criminal justice issues in South Dakota, told the newspaper.

While McGinnis expressed her remorse that the fundraiser was canceled, others noted it could have just changed its name.

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State Rep. Linda Duba said the club had the opportunity to change the name and still host the event but “instead they displayed a tone deafness that is inexcusable,” Duba told The Washington Post. “We are better than this.”

State Sen. Ryan Maher, a Republican who represents areas near Faith, called the controversy “absolutely crazy,” telling the Washington Post, “This is western South Dakota. Most people don’t even know we are here; they need to get off their high horse and let these kids be kids and do their own thing… Most importantly mind their own business. We have our culture, and you have yours. If you don’t like ours, don’t move here and don’t come out here.”

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