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ACLU of South Dakota representative appears before UN committee

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ACLU of South Dakota
ACLU of South Dakota Legal Director Stephanie Amiotte appears before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota wants a United Nations panel to probe the United States’ lack of Native American history in education.

Stephanie Amiotte appeared before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday. The committee is conducting a regular review of the United States’ compliance with the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The convention requires signing countries to “adopt all necessary measures for speedily eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and manifestations.”

“For over a century and a half, the United States education system was used as a weapon against Native Americans,” Amiotte said, referencing a May 2022 report documenting abuses in Native American boarding schools.

The ACLU of South Dakota joined several nongovernmental organizations in informal discussions last week. Amiotte said the 18-person panel should examine the way Native American history is taught at schools in the United States.

“Reports to Congress show that 80% of state history standards do not mention Indigenous history after 1900. And 27 states make no mention of a single Indigenous person in their elementary and secondary school curriculum,” she said. “Studies show that this fuels harmful biases in generation after generation of Americans who grow up learning false distorted narratives about Indigenous people.”

Amiotte criticized a South Dakota law that bans public universities and technical colleges from requiring students to attend events where “divisive concepts” about race and sexuality are promoted. She said the law “has the effect of criminalizing teaching students about Indigenous history, culture, language, and assimilation policies of the U.S.”

The United States’ formal appearance before the UN committee will begin Aug. 11.

Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
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