A bill to rename Shannon County as Oglala Lakota County sailed over its first legislative hurdle in an unanimous vote before the Senate State Affairs Committee.
In November Shannon County voters, which is on the Pine Ridge Reservation, approved the name change by a large majority.
Proponents of the change say the county’s current namesake doesn’t have the best history regarding the treatment of Native people. Jesse Short Bull a Lakota from Interior testified in favor of the bill. He says Peter Shannon was a judge during the late 19th Century. Short Bull says Shannon presided over early efforts to break the 1868 Treaty.
“He was appointed by President Chester Arthur for the first ever Sioux Land Commission of 1882 and it was that commission that was looking to open up a lot of excess land here in the reservation,” says Short Bull.
No one spoke against the bill and it passed with no dissenting votes. It goes next to the House floor. This session lawmakers are also considering legislation that would streamline the county name change process, and remove legislative approval requirement once voters approve the name change.