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88% of South Dakotans Support the Opposite of Noem’s Whitewashing of Social Studies Standards

Could Governor Kristi Noem’s whitewashredo of K-12 social studies standards become a campaign issue in 2022? It could in the hands of a campaigner who knows how to convince 88% of South Dakotans that Noem is acting against their interests to please a handful of out-of-state pundits and Presidential primary donors.

South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy had Mason-Dixon poll 500 registered South Dakota voters last month and found that 88% support teaching Native history and culture in South Dakota schools. That support is stronger among independents than Democrats and a little thinner among Republicans, but with every group voicing more than 80% support, Native topics in K-12 social studies curriculum should be a hotter third rail than Social Security.



  • 61.2% very important/26.6% somewhat important — 87.8%
  • 6.4% not too important/2.6% not important — 9.0%
  • Not sure — 3.2%


  • 67.2% very important/28.0% somewhat important — 95.2%
  • 2.4% not too important/0.0% not important — 2.4%
  • Not sure — 2.4%


  • 73.0% very important/19.7% somewhat important — 92.7%
  • 5.1% not too important/0.7% not important — 5.8%
  • Not sure — 1.5%


We may speculate that Noem may persist in posturing over the social studies standards because the 12% who don’t think teaching South Dakota kids about Lakota culture is important tend to be louder and donate more money to Republicans than the sensible 88%. Noem’s opponents need to get louder about her defiance of overwhelming public sentiment and responsible history education and get voters to elect a Governor who will keep her racism and her campaigning out of our classrooms.


  1. Cully 2021-11-10 06:40

    Why release the full poll when you can milk half a dozen stories from it, eh?

  2. larry kurtz 2021-11-10 07:09

    Nick Tilsen just tweeted that there are “26 states that teach zero Native American history in k-12 schools.”

    The blow-it-all-up and “kill ‘em all and let god sort ‘em out” Republicans now run most red states and one reason Republicans don’t like Common Core history standards is that the curriculum long-ignored by textbooks includes genocide and near-extermination of American Indians by European colonialism. Teachers’ wages in red states like South Dakota surf the bottom because Republicans are Balkanizing education amid a fight over Critical Race Theory.

    Indeed, Kristi Noem’s flagrant racism could be the best fodder for Troy Heinert’s candidacy.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-10 08:59

    Hey, Cully, they spent good money on that poll. Gotta get return on investment.

    And hey, when the topics are as diverse as curriculum standards and Jason Ravnsborg (and whatever other juicy topics are coming), there is some logic to at least writing the results up in separate articles, taking time to get expert input on each topic.

  4. Richard Schriever 2021-11-10 09:40

    So what do you want to do with the whole data set Cully? Run a multivariate analysis on the thing to see whether there is a strong or weak relationship between a desire to teach Native Ameircan aspects to oyur history and gun rights – or what?

  5. ArloBlundt 2021-11-10 14:42

    Well…I’m certainly not surprised by the outcome of the poll…its the “Dances with Wolves” phenomena that awakened in South Dakotans an understanding that Indian tribes, from the Mound Builders through the various tribes of Sioux lived for centuries on the land we now claim as ours. People of my generation remember old timers with rather extensive collections of arrowheads and other Indian artifacts they had picked up in the neighborhood….this was common in eastern South Dakota. While there was some instruction in the schools, there was a good deal of personal interaction with people who had personal stories related to the displacement of the Indian people. A substantial number of folks carried Native American DNA and that was something to be proud of. People were not proud of the way that the Indian people were deprived of their lands…it was considered by most to be an ongoing tragedy.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-11-10 16:01

    Cully get out of that gully. Don’t be down and sully and most of all, don’t troll about the poll.

  7. John 2021-11-11 22:05

    Forgive my not posting this on Cory’s Nov 2d note on the Rapid City School Board, but this is bigger than one school district.
    The radicals (former conservatives) culture war, at school board meetings, is openly advocating book burning.
    Book. Burning.
    Like their cultural siblings, the national socialists.

    What’s next for these radicals? Burning witches? Rounding up undesirables?
    We and our schools need educational FREEDOM, not straight jackets.

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