Item #6 of new business on the Sisseton School Board agenda Monday night was “Motion to modify/change homecoming for SY 2017-2018.” Sisseton correspondent Sierra Smiley Wolcott reports on Facebook that the board decided to spend this school year coming up with new homecoming traditions to replace the racist “Redmen” cultural misappropriations around which past homecoming activities have revolved. This decision comes just three months after the board narrowly affirmed its culture-pilfering homecoming practices and less than two months after the last board election brought Sisseston-Wahpeton Oyate tribal member Debra Flute onto the board.
Wolcott says the board directed new superintendent Dr. M. Neil Terhune to “make changes” to this year’s homecoming events “such as no more medicine man.”
Indian rights activist and former Tiospa Zina Tribal School teacher Sarah Sunshine Manning sees the Sisseton board’s decision as one more small step toward progress against racism:
Awesome. And just think, with each presentation of facts and studies, some of the most stubborn of attitudes are being chipped away at, little by little. They may not seem to acknowledge the facts right away, as many just have too much pride, and a lot of fear. Bottom line is that bigotry within the school system in the form of outdated traditions and racial mascots are just not justifiable, in any way shape or form. Any rational or intelligent person, especially in the field of education that actually looks at the research responsibly or takes a moment to listen to the youth who are negatively impacted cannot deny this. The more they deny the harm, the more they try to justify the unjustifiable, the more they draw negative attention to themselves as defenders of bigotry. Meanwhile, the majority of the world has taken progressive steps forward. Glad they now have the leadership to at least take a baby step. Baby steps are still steps, nonetheless [Sarah Sunshine Manning, Facebook comment, 2016.08.08].
Keep stepping in the right direction, Sisseton. And Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, tribal parents and students, and all who love justice, keep helping those steps along.