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Heinert, Bordeaux Back Three Bills to Rename Custer State Park, Scalpy Places, and Derogatory School Mascots

Two of the Legislature’s Lakota members, Rosebud neighbors Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) and Representative Shawn Bordeaux (D-26A/Mission), are out to change some names that indigenous folks find offensive.

Heinert’s Senate Bill 178 would direct the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names to come up with a better name for Custer State Park. The board would recommend a new name to the Legislature by July 1, 2023; we’d change the signs and t-shirts by July 1, 2027.

State park frequenter Kevin Woster wrote up the case for redwashing Custer off our maps last August:

But to some—most notably many indigenous people of the Northern Plains–the Custer State Park brand comes with a bad name and a bad history. George Armstrong Custer, after all, had a bit of a reputation with indigenous people, and not in the best of ways. In some of the worst, actually.

Woodard, a retired SDSU English professor with deep connections to the Native American community, says there’s no question the name of Custer State Park should be changed.

“Custer was a reprehensible human being. Should that be masked by naming ANYTHING after him?  Should a dishonorable person be honored by having places named after him?” Woodard said. “This isn’t about political correctness. It’s about doing the right thing.”

Part of Custer’s reputation was built as an “Indian fighter” on the Northern Plains after the Civil War. And, of course, he died in one of those fights, along the Little Bighorn River in what is now Montana on June 25, 1876, a day celebrated by people of the Great Sioux Nation each year.

Custer’s expedition through the Black Hills in 1874, a violation of the 1868 Treaty, also discovered gold. And Custer’s reports of precious metals were part of what eventually led to a flood of miners and others to the Black Hills, which the indigenous people of the region considered and still consider to be sacred.

The loss of the Black Hills is associated with many things to Northern Plains tribes. Custer is one of them [Kevin Woster, “A New Name for Custer State Park? Let’s Talk About It,” SDPB: On the Other Hand, 2021.08.30].

While SB 178 awaits action from Senate State Affairs, Representative Bordeaux’s two name changers are up this morning in separate committees.

At 7:45 a.m. in Room 414, House State Affairs will hear a basket of tribally related bills, including House Bill 1144, in which Rep. Bordeaux proposes to add “scalp” to a statute (SDCL 1-19C-1) that already bans the term “squaw” from South Dakota place names. HB 1144 also orders replacement names for five map features in Gregory County: North Scalp Creek, Scalp Butte, Scalp Creek Indian Site, South Scalp Creek, and South Scalp Creek Recreation Area. The bill would logically require Gregory County to rename South Scalp Road, which leads to the South Scalp Creek Recreation Area; it would not require any name change for private campground Hillbilly Haven a couple miles south of the recreation area because white folks are free to insult themselves all they want. Like Heinert, Bordeaux does not specify what new names he wants; HB 1144 just sets the process in motion.

Meanwhile, across the hall in Room 413 at 7:45 this morning, House Education will take up House Bill 1183, in which Representative Bordeaux seeks to ban South Dakota schools from using derogatory Native mascots and names. Rep. Bordeaux tries to give school districts some grace. HB 1183 says they can keep getting use out of all the logoed basketball shorts and football helmets they’ve spent good money on for up to five years, but only if they get to work on picking a new mascot or team name, not buying any more gear with the old offensive logos, and removing any signs and building fixtures bearing the offensive branding. HB 1183 doesn’t name any specific school district, but in the press, Bordeaux tells the Sioux Falls Washington Warriors and the Britton-Hecla Braves that a change would do them good.

Hey, if the Governor can try banning ideas that make white kids feel bad, surely the Legislature can justify banning names and symbols that denigrate our Lakota brothers and sisters. But if legislators reject these bills and tell South Dakota’s original but minority population that they need to just suck it up and take their colonialist lumps, then they’ll have no choice but to turn to the Governor and tell her and her white-as-snowflake (am I missing an s?) base to back off their fake-CRT bills and take their anti-colonialist lumps.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 07:26

    I have been arguing for Lakota names on South Dakota’s geological features for at least thirty years. That war criminal’s name is on a peak in the Black Hills National Forest and should be removed. It’s time to remove his name from the Custer Gallatin National Forest, too.

  2. John 2022-02-04 08:07

    Yes, remove Custer’s name from the park, peak, county, and town. He was, among other crimes, a premeditated serial rapist.

    According to the campus leader of the Ole Miss Young Republicans . . . one does not know or like critical race theory until one tries it.
    Careful here. It might change ones mind.

  3. jkl 2022-02-04 09:50

    Derogatory – showing a critical or disrespectful attitude.

    Synonyms include belittling, contemptuous, decrying, degrading, demeaning, denigrative, denigratory, deprecatory, depreciative, depreciatory, derisory, derogative, detractive, disdainful, disparaging, pejorative, scornful, slighting, uncomplimentary

    I’m not sure how Warriors, or Braves are derogatory names. It’s not like the Redskins which is clearly derogatory. I don’t hear from the scandahoovians in the Midwest that Vikings should be removed from team names as they consider it to be derogatory.

    I do agree tha Scalp an Custer should be removed.

  4. james 2022-02-04 10:06

    From Wikipedia: “The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass and also commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand…”

    Would “Little Bighorn” or “Greasy Grass” be appropriate names for the park?

  5. Nix 2022-02-04 10:27

    Red Cloud State Park.

  6. mike from iowa 2022-02-04 10:36

    When soldiers slaughter innocent men, women, and kids it is called am campaign. When Indians kill a bunch of wasicus it is a massacre.

    Burn Custer’s ass in effigy and banish his whole being to the dustbins of history, never to be mentioned again.

  7. 96Tears 2022-02-04 10:40

    mfi – We don’t cotton to no Critical Race Theory mumbo jumbo ’round here! Guv’nuh Kristi Noem sez she gonna make our minds right!

  8. mike from iowa 2022-02-04 10:52

    Careful here. It might change ones mind. Excellent link, John and I have already shared it with Field Negro, a Philadelphia Black attorneys blog. Magats have no clues as to what CRT is or does.

  9. Dennis R Wagner 2022-02-04 11:18

    Why not rename the park for its most famous residents….
    Tatanka State Park. The logo and annual publication wont even need to be re-branded.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 11:23

    A South Dakota state park named for a war criminal keeps a drove of allegorical mooching donkeys as a slap in the face to the South Dakota Democratic Party and stages an annual mock bison roundup appropriated from the hunting practices of some indigenous peoples.

    Imagine the pageantry and the inter-national interest if warriors of the Great Plains in full regalia rode on to the fields with the white cowboys to participate in the Buffalo Roundup. It would be a sight that would revive a religious and historic event right before the eyes of thousands. [Tim Giago]

    Well maybe, Tim. Shall we niggle?

    Sure, the Lakota acquired horses around 1742 then used them as weapons of mass destruction conquering most of the northern plains and the Black Hills region. But, likely with help from dogs for some ten thousand years before that the ancestors of the Crow, Arikara and others drove bison over cliffs and into sinkholes like the Vore site near Beulah, Wyoming.

    It’s difficult to imagine a spectacle like that before a herd of gawking tourists.

  11. DaveFN 2022-02-04 12:15


    Thank you for the Mississippi link. Should be required reading (with an added comprehension quiz) before anyone presumes so much as to utter the acronym “CRT.”

  12. Mark Anderson 2022-02-04 12:40

    Custer died for your sins. That would serve both sides. Be a little long for the signs. Could be put up in three signs. CUSTER DIED. FOR YOUR SINS. BURMA SHAVE.

  13. Mark Anderson 2022-02-04 12:57

    I propose changing Charlie Coyote to Wiley Coyote. Not Wile E. Coyote of course, can’t pee off the Warners. As for SDSU is it really Jack Rabbit or just Jackrabbit? A female mascot named Bouncy Bunny wouldn’t be derogatory would it? I used to watch ” I’m Bouncy Bunny the children’s friend, I’ve got long ears and cotton end” on the Sioux City station. Pow Wow the Indian boy was on that show. Such wholesome children’s entertainment.

  14. RST Tribal Member 2022-02-04 14:58

    It starts with a name. Over the years the non-Indians put their descriptions on many places and cities to stamp their claim. Kinda like a cat pissing all over the place to let other cats know it was there. Natives like wolves repelled that smell and want to remove it and its pissers.

    Natives in SD are a people with a voice. No matter how the colonizers tried to eliminate the first people, by killing, by corralling, by stealing children, or by misrepresenting history. Humans. With rights. With a voice. Correct the knowing wrongs should not be a political action but a human action.

    Let’s see how it goes. Don’t expect much from the inept inbred Republicans, but could be happily surprised.

  15. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 15:10

    Senators Cynthia Lummis and co-sponsor John Barrasso have introduced a bill to permanently cancel Indigenous culture by blocking the name Bear’s Lodge or Mahto Tipila from Devils Tower National Monument in the Wyoming Black Hills. With Democrats controlling the White House, both chambers of Congress and after a tribal member has become Interior Secretary with Park Service oversight the Wyoming Republicans’ bill is likely doomed.

    The Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park memorializes Ferdinand V. Hayden who advocated for the extermination of Indigenous people and Mount Doane is named for Lieutenant Gustavus Doane who led a massacre of the Piikani, part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. But local opposition has been able to obstruct name changes so far and the Wyoming Board on Geographic Names is notoriously slow in removing offensive designations from geographical features.

    Doane Peak is in the Teton Range, Mount Doane is in the Absaroka Range.

  16. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-04 18:22

    Well…Custer’s specialty was attacking the Sioux and Cheyenne at dawn, in the winter, as they slept. He killed everone, men, eomen, children. Horses too, if he could not wrangle them and herd them toward safer ground. He did the same in the Civil War where he was ruthless and followed the Union’s scorched earth policy. He, like his superiors, Sheridan and Kearney, Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln believed in total war…against the Confederacy and against the Indian tribes. And yes, rape was a part of total war. Total domination.

    It is helpful to remember that at the time of the Little Big Horn, Custer was a 19th century Rock Star. From the Civil War until leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln, he had been involved in nearly 100 mounted engagements with the enemy and had won every battle. He was very popular with the press and public, though disliked by his peers, generally, although only a few like Benteen doubted his bravery. Though his political positions were vague, he was a minor potential presidential candidate at the time of his death. He was a loyal Democrat.

  17. Porter Lansing 2022-02-04 18:40

    Sioux Falls Washington Warriors and the Britton-Hecla Braves?
    I helped remove the Ki-Yi name from Watertown homecoming not for my 70 year old peer group but for the teens coming up through WHS.
    It’s time to add Watertown “ARROWS” to the list of, as Cory says, “a change would do them good”.

  18. DaveFN 2022-02-04 19:53

    “Hannah Duston (1657 – 1736) was a colonial Massachusetts Puritan woman who escaped Native American captivity by leading her fellow captives in scalping their captors at night. Duston is the first woman honored in the United States with a statue.” It’s not her story per se that is controversial, but as usual, what people have made of it. Our memories reach back but a few generations if we are lucky enough to have heard stories from our grandparents, and recent atrocities are open wounds in many cases. More distant, forgotten atrocities can as well be kept alive even when generations have long past, particularly as sometimes happens, when more recent generations revive them and exploit them for political or other purposes.

    Twenty-seven colonials were slaughtered, fifteen of whom were children and thirteen captured. Hannah first related her story to Rev. Cotton Mather (incidentally, Sen. Mike Rounds is a descendant of the colonial Massachusetts Mather family, though not of Rev. Cotton; I am a Bradley and Emerson descendant, both families among the slaughtered and mentioned in the below link:).

    Hannah, hero or cold-blooded killer? That is the question. A false dichotomy of a question, to my mind.

  19. Porter Lansing 2022-02-04 20:33

    If I may, I fully recommend the new book “THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING”, written by an archeologist and an anthropologist.
    – It’s 700 pages but I’ll give this anecdote.
    – Indians in Mesoamerica were highly skilled in public speaking and debate, often ridiculing the French priests whom they first came in contact with.
    – They had a sophisticated society, devoid of government and ridiculed the strictness of the Europeans as stiff and having no enjoyment in life.
    – These facts and other commendable attributes of Indians were hidden from the world because they posed a threat to the lifestyle demanded by the Catholic Church and its missionaries who were exploring and proselytizing the Northeastern area of what would become USA and the Southeastern area of what would become Canada.

  20. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 21:09

    In 2015, a group representing dwarves asked the McLaughlin High School to change the name of its mascot. Now, the school on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has voted to discontinue the school’s mascot after receiving a request from a national group representing Little People. There was little opposition in the community to removing the “Midgets” from its roster.

  21. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 21:11

    The spectacle of thousands of hybrid buffalo being rounded up by white people is fifty years old: Ki-Yi on steroids.

  22. DaveFN 2022-02-04 21:20

    Porter Lansing

    The myth that Native Americans were indigenous and originated in North America (from the bowels of Wind Cave in the Black Hills, in the case of the Lakota, for example), rather than as science tells us, crossed into North America from a land bridge to Asia, serves only to hide, as far as we know, the fact that Native Americans themselves conquered and supplanted earlier aboriginal peoples living on the North American continent.

    “There is none righteous, no not one,” although our myths and legends would hide that fact and tell us otherwise.

  23. jerry 2022-02-04 21:56

    Not anymore of a myth than the bible.

  24. DaveFN 2022-02-04 22:32


    Myths of any kind serve to conceal as much as reveal. Why should Native American myths be any different?

  25. jerry 2022-02-04 23:03

    Judeo Christianity is built on myths, why should that be any different? How many millions of people have been slaughtered in that myth and are still being slaughtered and starved this very minute?

  26. Porter Lansing 2022-02-04 23:16

    In the sixth to the third century BC MesoIndians in what is now Ohio, Louisiana, and Missouri built grand earthen mounds, crafted precious artifacts, and began “play farming” during the same time as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Shan China were beginning to organize.
    An interesting comparison is between the Indians of Oregon, which owned slaves and the Indians of Southern California which refused to have slaves.
    This was where the complementary schismogenesis was first noted by modern scientists.

  27. Richard Schriever 2022-02-05 06:26

    Mark – for us Coyote and Vikings, those are Snack Rabbits.

  28. Richard Schriever 2022-02-05 06:36

    Porter – “earlier aboriginal peoples living on the North American continent.” I’d like to read the research you have seen on this. I have seen some that suggests there were earlier migrations to NA to the generally accepted date of 50k years ago, but none that said there were inhabitants prior to those migrations via the Bering land bridge. Dates may be off – not the process as far as I can tell.

  29. Richard Schriever 2022-02-05 06:37

    Excuse me – that was a question to Dave FN – I was confused by the addressing of the statement to Porter.

  30. DaveFN 2022-02-05 11:06


    “Judeo Christianity is built on myths, why should that be any different?”

    I didn’t indicate it was any different. You are apparently engaging in projection.

    A myth is a myth.

  31. leslie 2022-02-05 11:33

    Porter’s award-winning use of the word “schismogenesis” got me thinking.

    It is unclear “when, where and how” the American continents were populated. (The when, where, and how of this crucial migration continue to be hotly debated in archeology, anthropology, oceanography, and human geography. [2021] What is important to this discussion is the violent colonial theft of land occupied by native inhabitants. SD had a geographic naming law which worked as it was intended, regarding derogatory historical names. When Lakotas successfully renamed Black Elk Peak over the hostile opposition of Republican state government, the state board’s favorable recommendation to the federal geographic naming board, was withdrawn, and Daugaard, and Scheonbeck I believe, CHANGED the state law so Indians could no longer achieve such favorable results.

    Much like John Thune and Mitch McConnell warped the constitutional Senate Advice and Consent to exclude black, democratic President Obama’s SCOTUS pick of Merrick Garland. (Thune, speaking to reporters, added that Republicans wouldn’t let a focus by Democrats on filling the Supreme Court seat “take away from the many things that the Democrats don’t want to talk about.” [JFC John! Spin much? Rush Limbaugh is dead already!]

    An obvious solution in both cases is to undo Daugaard and McConnell’s warped, hard-line Republican obstruction. Replace derogatory names, and replace Justice Neil Gorsuch.

    Daugaard’s gambit after Black Elk Peak all but pre-approved Heinert/Bordeaux’s legislative approach today. And remember the many Republican efforts to disqualify Lakota legislators.

    BTW, Black Elk’s legendary vision on the peak that may then have been known in Lakota words “Hinhan Paha Gaga” was of dancing, rainbow-colored horses, a metaphor for the higher divine vibration of all of what we call the Black Hills. Cheyenne also may have had their own reference for the granite summit. The peak is visible from as far away as Beaver Walls near old Camp Sheridan, NE. Crazy Horse’s winter camp.

    Harney was a tool for colonial revenge of the previous summer’s deaths Grattan’s troops who attacked Indians camped near Ft Laramie over a Mormon complaint of a lost cow. Harney even accused Little Thunder of kicking over a settler’s coffee pot, at the dawn “parley” giving his mounted Calvary time to conceal behind the Indian village for his attack on Blue Water Creek, Lewellen NE.,_Nebraska

    Custer was just like Harney.

    Immortalized in written opposition to the Black Elk Peak renaming is Rancher Rittberger’s quote that the Lakota words “sound like owls screwing”. He may be the same rancher interviewed on KOTA TV last week as a volunteer fireman at Fairburn, SD.

    Harney. Custer. Thune. McConnell. Daugaard. Schoenbeck. Rittberger. And “Wash your hands” Noem, banned from the Rez, who can’t even say the word “mask” during a pandemic omicron surge. How many surges has she side-stepped now, for her political base of “Neanderthals”?

    Red-neck racists. They lead to murder, violence and hate crimes. Rounds at least talks of replacing decorated Medal of Honor recipients from the 1890 revenge at Wounded Knee for Custer’s 7th Cavalry defeat.

    We regularly, prominently, feature our own red-neck racist here on this blog. Surprising its pith is not already in this thread. But its disinformation influence is.

  32. DaveFN 2022-02-05 11:35

    Richard Schriever

    No one disputes the idea of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, of course. Most recent research published 20 Nov 2021 by Eske Willerslev from genetic analysis of a 3-4 year old fossilized boy who lived 24,000 years ago indicates that approximately one-third of his genome was Eurasian (Middle East and Europe) *as well as* his having ancestry identical to those now living in Eastern Asia.

    Any understanding of population migration and dynamic is a function of the snapshot in time of the fossilized remains one has available for analysis, and the matter is far from straightforward considering that one is using synchronic genetic data from an individual to develop and understanding of diachronic migrations of entire populations. That’s why “race” is a misleading and simplistic concept: “admixture” is more appropriate: I might regard myself as having entirely Scandinavian ancestry in a short timeframe of 7 generations (personally, I don’t) but the model of the geographic origin and early migration of Homo sapiens ultimately remains the out-of-Africa hypothesis. So much for a Scandinavian hypothesis as to my origins.

    Here is a link to Willerslev’s paper:

    In any case, there is paleoanthropology and genetics on the science side, and there is myth on the cultural side. The Wind Cave emergence story is an example of the latter, as you surely realize.

  33. DaveFN 2022-02-05 11:56

    Richard Schriever

    For a clear visual of Willerslev’s slightly earlier 2018 conclusions on Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay who lived 11,500 years ago see:

    “genetic analysis points towards a divergence of all ancient Native Americans from a single east Asian source population somewhere between 36,000 to 25,000 years ago—well before humans crossed into Beringia, an area that includes the land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska at the end of the last ice age. That means that somewhere along the way, either in eastern Asia or in Beringia itself, a group of people became isolated from other east Asians for about 10,000 years, long enough to become a unique strain of humanity.

    The girl’s genome also shows that the Beringians became genetically distinct from all other Native Americans around 20,000 years ago. But since humans in North America are not reliably documented before 14,600 years ago, how and where these two groups could have been separated long enough to become genetically distinct is still unclear.”

  34. jerry 2022-02-05 12:18

    It’s a myth DaveFN, what you’re posting, according to another myth. So all the myth’s all add up too…, we really don’t know.

    Australian Aboriginal DNA in South America, how in the hell did that happen? We really don’t know.

    Even with the Chinese ancient DNA in the Americas, that still doesn’t change the fact that Custer’s name should be wiped out of public parks, city names and county names. It can be done. Look how Shannon County’s name got changed. Natives were here first so they should have naming rights….oh my, they did.

  35. Donald Pay 2022-02-05 13:46

    DaveFN writes above about an issue I have been reading about now for a few years. The field of archeogenetics is reorienting our understanding of human migration, and, thus, of how related, whether distantly or not, we humans are. “We are all related” applies to everyone. I recently read a book about the human archeogenetics of Europeans (see link below). There were multiple migrations into Europe and they all left their genetic imprint, except for the earliest human migration, which apparently died out before the second wave entered Europe. The second was dark-skinned hunters. The next wave was agriculturalists from Anatolia, who gradually displaced the hunters, but not before there was genetic interchange which remains in modern humans. The next wave was from the steppes of Asia bringing an animal husbandry culture to Europe. They displaced and subsumed and melded with the previous cultures. Thus modern Europeans derived from the mixing of the people of these early migrations. Interestingly, the people of the Asian steppes also contributed some genetics to the Asian precursors of Native Americans. So Europeans and Native Americans are distantly related. Also, both Europeans and Native Americans show small amounts of genetic interchange with Neanderthals and Denisovans. It’s an interesting field of research that has been active for less than a decade. More interesting findings are likely in the future.

  36. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-05 14:07

    I do not have to celebrate any Native American creation myths, engage in any Native American spiritual practices, or assert that the concept of race has any objective genetic validity To advocate removing the names of white racist killers from various places, eliminating the cultural co-optation and insult that takes place with racist mascots and team names, and taking other reasonable public policy actions to improve relations between whites and Lakota people and other residents of South Dakota.

  37. larry kurtz 2022-02-05 14:07

    A number of years ago, an article in Archaeology got me to thinking about mythological creatures like griffins. The earliest humans must have certainly been confounded upon stumbling across fossil finds likely influencing creation myths in nearly every culture.

    Dragons have existed in literary mythology at least since Beowulf. A Texas fossil unearthed in 1971 and reported in a story on NPR before they archived on the Web, had me thinking about the dragon myth. Now scientists have constructed a reproduction of a creature named Quetzalcoatlus capable of flying for thousands of miles non-stop.

  38. Porter Lansing 2022-02-05 14:45

    What’s the basis behind the majority in South Dakota denigrating such a truly valid and unique culture?
    White guilt?
    Unrequited competitiveness?


  39. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-05 15:00

    Well…renaming various geological features and place names to reflect a sensitivity for our Native neighbors is really a very small step to improving our relationships. The relevance of these English language names from the 19th century in the present century can be, and often is, vague and lost in the mists of history. In the case of Custer, his presence in our state was transient and his impact was transient as well. His name has been used for the past century as a Tourism Industry Marketing tool. We can move on.

  40. grudznick 2022-02-05 15:13

    It should no longer surprise me how badly my good friend Lar hates dwarfs.

  41. DaveFN 2022-02-05 17:58

    David A. Graham has a nice piece in the 27 January 2022 issue of The Atlantic: “How to Rename a Place: A little-known federal body gives official approval to what appears on maps. Now it is caught in the middle of the country’s upheaval over racism and language.”

    “Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands,” Haaland said when announcing the orders. “Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage—not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression.”

    But even the expedited process will take time. Removing all uses of “Squaw” is expected to take about a year, and that’s the simpler of the two orders. One challenge is that determining what’s offensive isn’t always straightforward. Names including a slur are easy, but others—such as Jew Valley, Oregon, named after a group of Jewish homesteaders—are less clear-cut. Another is that any feature whose name is removed needs a new one, ideally one that is locally meaningful and that will age better than whatever it’s replacing. The BGN is designed with process in mind, not justice or equity.”

    Nota bene: “Designed with process in mind, not justice or equity.” The BGN does not have as its objective to even some score however uneven, to assuage some guilty conscience whether genuine or imposed from without (although guilt is typically internalized from the outside), nor to make concessions to a given party which would be like giving flowers at a funeral–too little, too late.

    Graham also writes “Naming has always been political. When Franklin D. Roosevelt’s interior secretary, Harold Ickes, sought to strip the previous president’s name off the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, the board tried to slap him down. Ickes struck back by persuading Roosevelt to eliminate the board altogether and then changing the name. Both victories were temporary: Ickes was soon forced to restore the board, because its work was essential, and the dam’s name was later restored too. You can trace the past 130 years of American history through the changing emphases in the board’s work: far-flung new possessions like Alaska in the early years; foreign names for military charts during World War II; new names across Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union; offensive names today.”

    And it’s not merely a matter that names have always been political or a matter of unexamined racial slurs. Some maintain they have also been gendered and that language itself is gendered.

    I recall some five decades ago when the Presbyterian church eradicated any mention of God as a “He” in their hymnals. I suppose that must have been a perceived concession of some sort to the feminists of that time. Yes, God is spirit and they that worship Him/Her/It must worship in spirit and in truth, or so we are told. (Even so, I continue to retain my boyhood thought that God is somehow a male with a long white beard, looking much like Moses. Perhaps Charlton Heston (whose REAL name was John Charles Carter) was overly influential in my formative years; in any case, changes in the hymnal had little effect on my thoughts).

    Canadian scholar Louise Gouëffic, has in fact, collected 20,000 items of speech addressing specifically our species across the Indo-European tradition of languages in dictionaries around the globe. Of some 10,000 of the most recent and relevant she concluded that 90% embedded male bias due to the 4000 years of patriarchy, slavery and feudalism. According to Gouëffic, “… patriarchy during its 11,000-years-of-rule disregarded almost all the rules and regulations governing the making of names. Patriarchy exists to this day because the bias in language has people believe that patriarchy is “the ways it is.”

    We can change many things at some level, at least, for many a reason, or at least draw attention to them. But one can’t change the past any more than a tiger can change his/her/its stripes. That sometimes seems escape us.

  42. DaveFN 2022-02-05 19:48

    Larry Kurtz

    Thank you for that link to the NPR discussion on “Pretendians,” people with no Native American heritage who claim to identify as Native American. I especially liked hearing from Dr. Kim Tallbear who cameoed in a few reasons for such identifications:

    Dr. Kim Tallbear, Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, makes some good points, IMHO, addressing this desire to identify with Native Americans, namely:

    “TALLBEAR: I also think there is a – there’s this kind of romanticization of Native people – right? – a romanticization of that history.

    TALLBEAR: I think people don’t want to feel the historical guilt for living on stolen land. And I’m not saying they are obviously or explicitly thinking these things. I think a lot of this stuff is subconscious.

    TALLBEAR: When we have too many people who have no lived experience as Native people, when they rise through the ranks as professors, as artists, as thought leaders, as spokespeople for Indigenous issues in history without having lived those lives, they theorize in ways that do not protect our communities. They produce knowledge and artwork, you know, films – whatever field they’re in – that are not actually coming from out of Indigenous lives and standpoints, and they’re not asking questions from out of those lives.”

    Following up on your comments regarding griffins, perhaps the upcoming 25 February 2022, 2:00 to 1:30 MST, talk by Dr. Tallbear may interest you if you’re not already aware of it. For myself, I look forward to what Dr. Tallbear will have to say.

    “Settler Science and Alien Contact

    Join us for a conversation celebrating the publication of AICRJ’s special issue on Settler Science, Alien Contact and Searches for Intelligence. Featuring author interviews by guest editors David Shorter and Kim TallBear, brief talks by contributors, and a creative reading by Kim TallBear, this event will take you “where few settler academics have gone before.” You can read about the history of science, ufology, and space exploration in the context of colonization here— ”

  43. grudznick 2022-02-05 20:24

    What is the relevance of these Pretendians?

    I thought Mr. Bordeaux’s law bills got bonked on the head a couple days ago. He set a record, I am told, for the quantity of law bills from a Representative from the Rosebud.

  44. DaveFN 2022-02-05 20:29

    Nor am I, which gives me all the more reason to hear what Dr. Tallbear has to say.

  45. larry kurtz 2022-02-05 20:32

    Tamara St. John is the legislator with the most baffling story. How an Indigenous woman can be a Republican especially in South Dakota is a mystery that seems inescapable. Same with Bruce Whalen: Stockholm Syndrome?

  46. DaveFN 2022-02-05 23:05

    …And no, merely because I cite it doesn’t mean I advocate it, the simple minded notwithstanding.

  47. jerry 2022-02-05 23:25

    Custer state park, the city of Custer, and even Custer Pie, should all have their name changed, the pie is good though, .

    All non Native school mascots that have derogatory Native names, should change them. Cowboy Chronicles…just another myth. I want to read Indian Chronicles by Lakota, not Cheyenne.

  48. cibvet 2022-02-06 00:27

    After reading the Cowboy Chronicles, I think the one thing forgotten with the claim that the United States was the victors of said land and they were, is the fact they ceded much of the said land with the Fort Laramie Treaty. It was the United States that broke the promised treaty so it is somewhat demeaning to refer to the Sioux as hypocrites for wanting back what was given to them. History is written by the living winners so I view all chronicles with some healthy skepticism.

  49. bearcreekbat 2022-02-06 00:46

    DaveFN, One objection I see to the story of the Black Hills that you have linked is the following statement in the story: “the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie had previously confirmed the Lakota’s ownership of the Teton Sioux mountain range — but that treaty was rendered null and void when it was scrapped because of the war.” As far as I know Congress never abrogated or “scrapped” the Treaty of 1868.

    That is confirmed by the story’s subsequent report that: “On July 23rd, 1980, in the United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Black Hills were stolen. . . .” If the treaty had in fact been scrapped and rendered “null and void” by Congress, then the land no longer would have belonged to the Sioux Tribe under U.S. law and could not have been “stolen.”

    According to the US Constitution treaties entered into by the US are deemed “the supreme law of the land” along with other federal laws enacted by Congress. Since the Sioux claim to the Black Hills is a claim based on a valid pre-existing treaty, the history of other tribes occupying the Black Hills prior to the US entering into this treaty does not seem particularly relevant.

  50. DaveFN 2022-02-06 18:38


    Thank you. There is mention in several sources of the abrogation of the Treaty of 1868 which set aside land for the Sioux Nation, reservation land which was in the 1877 Treaty subsequently reduced and formed into separate reservations, including the Standing Rock Reservation, owing to Congressional action which indicated the intention to abrogate the terms of the treaty.

    See, for example:

    “Where there is a treaty with Indians which would otherwise restrict the Congress, Congress can abrogate the treaty in order to exercise its sovereign right (Thomas v Gay, 169 U.S. 264 (1898); Choate v Trapp, 224 U.S. 665 (1912).”

    Or do I miss a finer distinction you may be making, and if so, what?

  51. jerry 2022-02-06 19:36

    DaveFn, what is your point? Reads like you just don’t care much for Natives. why is that?

  52. Porter Lansing 2022-02-06 20:54

    A treaty can’t be abandoned without both parties agreeing.
    That’s MAGA business and it’s fully BS business.

  53. cibvet 2022-02-06 23:43

    I think someone missed the US Court of Claims ruling which was upheld by the Supreme Court, that the abrogation of the
    1868 treaty was unjust. A nice way of saying the white congress was totally wrong and the US owes reparations for the blunder
    since the government had already sold the land and politicians had pocketed the windfall.

  54. DaveFN 2022-02-07 00:05

    jerrry .

    Think it possible you might be mistaken.

  55. DaveFN 2022-02-07 00:21


    Think it possible you might be mistaken.

    Nothing threatens us more than questioning our received wisdom. That is the message of CRT.

  56. bearcreekbat 2022-02-07 00:47

    DaveFN, If I am not mistaken in 1979 the SCOTUS ruled that the so-called “abrogation” of the Fort Laramie Treaty by Congress was illegal as it violated the U.S. Constitution. This important fact is mentioned in several of the materials that you have linked. Thus the U.S. basically “broke the law” and reneged on promises, contrary to the very laws and morals the U.S. claimed governed the conduct of the “Greatr White Father” and the Country. While Congress has the power to unilaterally repeal a law, there is no provision in the Constitution permitting it to unilaterally abrogate a treaty. Indeed, the alleged noncompliance with treaties generally is the excuse for going to war, and the 1868 Treaty was proposed in an effort to end the war with the Sioux over possession of the Black Hills. As Porter indicated, since there are two parties to a treaty both parties must agree to changes in the Treaty. Here, the unilateral effort by Congress to change or abrogate the Treaty simply broke the law. The illegal U.S. conduct, in turn, supports the moral and legal claim of the Sioux that their rights under that Treaty should be followed today as the “Supreme Law of the Land” as stated in the U.S. Constitution.

    The moral claim also arises because this Treaty was proposed by the U.S. government, not the Sioux, and the Sioux were convinced to agree to the Treaty based on the specific promises made by the U.S. government. Those moral and legal details seem to differentiate the argument that the U.S. government should not have seized the Black Hills after making these promises from any notion or argument that the Sioux’s claim to the land was no greater than other Tribes that came before the Sioux may have against either the U.S. or the Sioux since each new conquest merely constituted the spoils of war. The U.S. taking of the Black Hills was not a result of winning a war against the Sioux, it was the result of broken promises and violations of U.S. law.

  57. larry kurtz 2022-02-07 06:42

    Former pastor and South Dakota legislator, Steve Hickey has asked me not to publish it but I have a rough draft of an abstract written by his daughter, Katherine, that seeks reconciliation with tribal nations whose lands were seized through colonization with land repatriation as reparation. But it’s missing an important aspect of reconciliation: that most Indigenous peoples are socialists even in post-colonial times and it’s my view no discussion of reparations can be conducted without that acknowledgement.

    Yes, “reparations,” as in compensation for the crimes of slavery and indigenous genocide at the hands of former European colonizers – reparations, as in reparatory justice for the horrific consequences of two of the greatest crimes against humanity in the history of this planet – the 400 years of the African Slave Trade and the systematic and calculated extermination of the [I]ndigenous peoples of the Americas – reparations, as in fundamental and comprehensive social, economic and political justice, indeed, historical justice for the descendants of African slaves and native American peoples.

  58. larry kurtz 2022-02-07 06:47

    Democratic former Representative Kevin Killer backed the name change to Oglala Lakota County from one based on white conquest. Receiving strong support both at the ballot box and in a petition drive leading up to the election, Killer helped get the issue passed in 2015. He is a recipient of a Bush Foundation grant.

    After taking part in the August 400-Year Return trip to Africa hosted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) he posted a reflection of his sojourn.
    Every year, I take friends to the Wounded Knee Massacre site to share this important story about my Oglala Lakota Nation. On December 29, 1890, more than 300 men, women, and children were killed by the U.S. Cavalry on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. As different as the histories of Native people and enslaved Africans are, I wanted to bear witness. As we walked in the footsteps of people who were enslaved, I thought about how powerful it could be if our communities can work toward a more accurate historical narrative. This narrative change work happens everyday with our Oglala oyate (people) through language preservation efforts and traditional ceremonies held throughout the year. And that narrative must be one that honors the sacrifices and contributions of Native people through loss of life and land, and Black Americans through loss of freedom during slavery.

  59. jerry 2022-02-07 10:30

    DaveFN, Your equation to the CRT is CYA. I’m pretty clear on where you stand dude. Some on this thread, are just more articulate in their description of the past and why it’s important to move to better ways in the future, than me.

    A key ingredient would be to get rid of offensive names and disgusting mascots.

  60. DaveFN 2022-02-07 18:30


    Thank you for your explanation yet I remain confused.

    You had earlier indicated “As far as I know Congress never abrogated or “scrapped” the Treaty of 1868,” hence my response.

    But now you seem to be in agreement that the Treaty of 1868 was abrogated by Congress.

    So, are you saying that the Fort Laramie Treaty was or was not abrogated by Congress?

    SCOTUS argued March 24, 1980:

    “In 1877, Congress passed an Act (1877 Act) implementing this “agreement” and thus, in effect, abrogated the Fort Laramie Treaty. ”

    “For over a century now the Sioux Nation has claimed that the United States unlawfully abrogated the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868, 15 Stat. 635, in Art. II of which the United States pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be “set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named.”

    “On June 30, 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government had illegally taken land in the Black Hills granted by the 1868 treaty, by unlawfully abrogating article two of the agreement during negotiations in 1876, while failing to achieve the signatures of two-thirds the adult male population required to do so.”

    “This is a classic broken treaty,” says Hirsch. “It is such a naked example of a treaty abrogated by the United States in which the U.S. shows profound lack of honor and truthfulness.”

  61. larry kurtz 2022-02-08 07:51

    No doubt bcb knows more but despite the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 that distributed unceded lands in the public domain to raise funds for colleges. The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are directly linked to the Native American Genocide.

    The United Snakes entered into 368 treaties with tribal nations and in 1980 attorney Mario Gonzalez filed the federal court case stopping payment of the Black Hills Claim award to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Gonzalez contends that the commission charged to make peace with tribes inserted language into the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 that Red Cloud had neither seen nor agreed to in negotiations. After the defeat of the 7th Cavalry at Greasy Grass in 1876 and the Great Sioux War Congress abrogated that treaty in 1877 and the Utes, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne and others who migrated, lived and hunted all along the Front Range were driven into concentration camps.

  62. larry kurtz 2022-02-08 07:54

    The United States’ longest war wasn’t in Afghanistan; it was against Indigenous Americans and ran from about 1785 to at least 1973. Leonard Peltier is a prisoner of that war.

  63. bearcreekbat 2022-02-08 10:13

    DaveFN, Sorry for the confusion. Whatever term you might prefer to use, whether “abrogate,” or violate, or lie, or break promises, or commit an illegal or unconstitutional act, etc., etc., the point I hoped to make is that the Sioux have a much different and much stronger moral and legal claim to the Black Hills against the U. S. than prior tribes might have against the Siouix Tribe. Hence the argument that since other tribes might claim the right to the Bl;ack Hills mbecause they possessed the lands before the Sioux misses the point – the Sioux claim is not based on the fact that they possessed the Hills before the US, it is based on the promises made by the U.S. in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which is supposed to be “the supreme law of the land” according to the express language in Article VI, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution (“. . . all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land. . . .”)

    The Merriam-Webster online dictionary of definition of “abrogate” states:

    Definition of abrogate . . .
    1. formal : to abolish by authoritative action : ANNUL
    abrogate a treaty
    2. formal : to treat as nonexistent : to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility)
    The company’s directors are accused of abrogating their responsibilities.

    So if we, or the courts and writers you reference, are using the term “abrogated” in the sense that the U.S. failed “to do what is required,” when it violated U.S. Constitution by “abrogating” the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, then I fully agree that your comment correctly stated the Treaty was “abrogated” by the U.S. If the term “abrogated” is used in the sense of lawfully disregarding or changing Treaty promises, however, then in my view it was not “abrogated” in the lawful sense. Hope that clears this up.

  64. leslie 2022-02-16 23:54

    For example: I “abrogated” my promise to deliver a widget like a musical instrument (because of tonight’s snowy country roads) thus failing to call ahead, but the promise to deliver is still intact, awaiting better weather.

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