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Analysis: Wanting the region's indigenous history taught in schools

SDPB Radio
Jackie Hendry

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

On this week's "Dakota Political Junkies," Mike Card and Jon Hunter visited about this week's demonstration in Pierre by those wanting Oceti Sakowin social studies to be taught in South Dakota's schools.

The demonstration, summarized

Dozens marched in Pierre on Monday. They oppose a draft of new social studies standards that removes many references to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people.  

Organizers say it’s an active erasure of tribes in the state. 

Sarah White of the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition read a list of demands. They include moving the Office of Indian Education back under the Department of Education, requiring Native American content standards in all levels of South Dakota education, and tribal consultation in state education decisions.  

“And the fifth demand relatives, that you are hearing for the first time today, on behalf of the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition and our coalition partners, we are demanding for the resignation of Governor Kristi Noem,” she announced to cheers from the crowd. 

White also read calls for the resignations of Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson, Secretary of Tribal Relations David Flute, and Director of Indian Education Fred Osborn.  

Noem says draft changes are not political

The Department of Education released its draft standards last month. They differed from an earlier draft by a working group of about 40 stakeholders. The state’s draft cut some concepts related to indigenous history and added other concepts. 

Governor Kristi Noem says calling the draft “political” is speculation.  She says Indigenous history is important to include in the standards. 

“And it’s all a little ridiculous, honestly,” Noem says.

The Department of Education says in a written statement, “The department made certain adjustments before the release of the draft to provide greater clarity and focus for educators and the public.”

Updated: September 16, 2021 at 9:10 AM CDT
This story has been updated with new information. State officials have rescheduled the first public hearing on the proposed social-studies standards to Oct. 25
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