The NDN Collective and the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition organized about a hundred people to march in the rain in Pierre Monday to protest the Noem Administration’s ideological whitewashing of South Dakota’s draft K-12 social studies curriculum standards. Echoing language used by the NDN Collective in its initial August criticism of the objectionable changes, Cante Heart, Native outreach and field director for the South Dakota Democratic Party, said marchers seek to “stop the erasure of our people in the Indigenous history and the history books.”
The Governor responded with a Twitter video saying she hasn’t been a part of the revision of those standards but wants “an honest and a true accounting of our history.” She says twice that the current standards refer to Native American history six times, while the proposed standards as revised by her Department of Education August 5 refers to Native American history 28 times.
Counting independent instances of the terms Native American, Indigenous, tribal/tribe(s), and Oceti Sakowin in the standards themselves and not the explanatory material in the DOE draft, Noem’s tally is correct. The tally of references to Indigenous people, history, culture, and government in the original draft created by 46 actual educators is 59. So is Noem Administration filling the standards glass almost five times fuller than it used to be, or is it dumping out over half of what the educators proposed?
NDN Collective director of education equity Sara White throws her B.S. flag at the Governor:
Governor Noem can’t gaslight us into thinking she has any intent to provide South Dakota’s students with an accurate history of our people…. Her implication that increasing ‘references’ of Native peoples in the newly proposed standards will provide a more honest account of our people is false, dangerous, and deeply offensive. Her own— very recent—history of blatantly railing against anything that doesn’t uplift white settlers as heroes speaks for itself.
Noem’s repeated emphasis on obscuring the truth from our youth under the guise of fostering love for one another is an insult to their capacity to hold complex emotions. We believe Indigenous students have the right to see their ancestors represented in the classroom to continue to heal from generations of harm, and white students armed with accurate information of our shared history will have a greater chance of doing their own necessary work to reckon with the past and behave differently from their forefathers.
All of South Dakota’s youth deserve—and need—to be taught the truth, if we are to heal wounds that are still open, and move forward together in real community and solidarity [link added; Sara White, quoted in NDN Collective, press release, received by DFP 2021.09.16]
The Department of Education was going to start public hearings on the proposed social studies standards and revised standards for vo-tech and fine arts next Monday, September 20, here in Aberdeen. But the day after the Pierre protest, the Department of Education postponed the Aberdeen meeting for five weeks, until Monday, October 25, and moved the meeting from Holgate Middle School to the Ramkota. DOE also announced they’ll hold a public hearing on the standards in Sioux Falls on November 15 at the Instructional Planning Center at 201 E. 38th St. Hearings in Rapid City and Pierre will take place in 2022.