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Bill requiring Oceti Sakowin history & culture be taught in SD schools is voted down


Lawmakers have voted down a bill to require Native American history and culture in state-approved social studies curriculum.

The Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings are a set of resources and lesson plans adopted by the State Board of Education Standards. The curriculum focuses on cultural teachings of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota. It is available for teachers to use but not mandatory.

House Bill 1170 would have required its use in South Dakota public schools.

Representative Peri Pourier is a democrat from Pine Ridge. Pourier says she sponsored the bill to address what she calls missteps by the Department of Education when it tried updating the state’s social studies standards.

Last year a workgroup of teachers and other education professionals revised the standards which included updated references to Native American history and culture. However, the Department of Education altered the work group’s draft deleting most of those updated references.

Pourier says having all students in South Dakota learn about Native American history and culture helps bridge divisions.

“South Dakota history is native history. Native history is South Dakota. We enjoy the same land. We have a love of the land, and we have a love of our children. That’s something that we have in common.”

The bill failed by one vote. Those opposed say teachers are already using Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings in their classrooms.