Hundreds Demand Resignation Of South Dakota Public Officials

Above Photo: NDN Collective YouTube video ‘Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children LIVE in Pierre, SD’. NDN Collective/YouTube.

Newly proposed social studies standards blatantly erase Oceti Sakowin history.

Yesterday, NDN Collective’s Education Equity team led hundreds of Indigenous people and allies from across the state in the Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children, demanding the resignation of numerous SD Public Officials for their roles in the newly proposed social studies standards that blatantly erase Oceti Sakowin history.

You can view the live stream of the event below:

The group met at the Steamboat Park amphitheater, then moved to the Office of Tribal Relations, and ended at Hilger’s Gulch, directly across from the Department of Education. They’re making the following demands:

  • Immediate resignation of the following individuals::
  • Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota
  • Tiffany Sanderson, South Dakota’s Department of Education Secretary
  • David Flute, Secretary of Tribal Relations
  • Fred Osborn, Director of Indian Education
  • Make Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings & Standards explicitly inclusive within state standards.
  • Move the Office of Indian Education back under the Department of Education.
  • Honor South Dakota law and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with regard to tribal consultation for the full inclusion of Tribal Chairmen & Tribal Education Departments in state decision-making impacting education.
  • Hold study session to enable opportunities for school choice specific to Indigenous education.

“The strength and courage that was displayed by youth at the March, as well as those who organized in solidarity, was awe-inspiring. Everything about the day was a beautiful testament to youth leadership and the power and sacredness that their being exudes. Youth should not have to settle for scraps of equity when we have an opportunity for our education standards to honor and value all South Dakotans inclusively.”- Sarah White, Director of Education Equity, NDN Collective

“While today was clearly about addressing racist policy making at the state level it was also about visibility. We publicly announced opposition to the proposed social studies standards and the Governor, Department Of Education, and the office of Indian Education are officially on notice. Most importantly, we sent the message to our Indigenous youth across the state that we see them, their identity is important and valuable, and we are in this fight for education equity with them.”- Amy Sazue, Education Equity Organizer, NDN Collective

“My grandson Kingston, made a sign today that said we matter. Today we showed the wakanyeja, our word for children, which means sacred beings, that they matter. Wopila for all that marched and those that showed support! We will keep fighting for inclusive education for our wakanyeja, because our kids matter, and they deserve it.”- Mary Bowman, NDN Collective NISN Fellow

“They tried to kill us. They tried to assimilate us. They tried to use education as a weapon and now we’re reclaiming that power. We’re reclaiming that through our language. We’re reclaiming that through our culture and we’re reclaiming that through our ceremonies.”- Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO

“Our State has many lessons to learn from past events and those realities are harsh. We chance continued cycles of racial tension, cultural misunderstandings and erasure of history if we dismiss such critical information. I want to learn my entire State history. I want to be a part of the future state community who learns from the past and redefines and improves our state for generations to come. As students of this State, we deserve the truth.”- Kansas Clifford, Little Wound High School student

“When our children learn of their true heritage and their ancestors, among their non-Indigenous peers in the classroom, it is healing for everyone and lays the foundation for the seventh generation. This benefits not only our Indigenous youth, but all our relatives and neighbors in the state of South Dakota.”- Scott Herman, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Last month, NDN Collective responded to the blatant erasure of Oceti Sakowin history in newly proposed standards, and called on supporters to call elected officials, the Secretary of Education, and their local school districts to advocate against this erasure.

Oceti Sakowin Community Academy — the Indigenous-led school being opened by NDN Collective in partnership with the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) — will open for kindergarten students this fall.