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Chief Judge Viken Addresses Racial Prejudice In South Dakota

The Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of South Dakota wants a discussion on racial prejudice. Jeffery Viken is speaking on the subject at Black Hills State University in Spearfish on April 9th at 7:00 p.m.

Viken says that a lack of information and education can lead to racial prejudice. He says he saw the need for cultural awareness in a local school.

“I had an experience speaking to a middle-school class in West Rapid City several years ago. In the midst of describing the Constitution and how it works I mentioned treaties, and the 1868 Treaty at Ft. Laramie and the effect it has on our area, and a very bright student raised her hand and asked, ‘Why are there so many Indians around here?’ And so we had a conversation about it with the students and it was very clear they were not taught and had no understanding of the historical underpinnings of why this beautiful land base we call the Black Hills is shared by more than one cultural group. And because of that experience I really think we need to consider and reflect on what young people are learning, and what adults are learning about these issues,” says Viken.

Viken says education is crucial to understanding and accepting those that come from different cultural backgrounds. He says a peaceful co-existence is possible. Viken is a South Dakota native with a long history in the state’s court system. He was appointed to his current position in January of this year by President Obama. Viken’s speech at Black Hills State is open to the public.