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Local Control Not Enough for Transgender Fairness But Great Excuse to Kill Fairness for Indians

The Legislature eagerly passed Senate Bill 46, the transgender athlete ban, and Governor Kristi Noem made it the second bill of this Session signed into law, even though this bill is a solution searching too hard for a problem, and even though school boards and the activities association have been managing what little issue there may be to transgender student participation in sports with their own policy for years.

But throw legislators solutions to real problems creating real unfairness for South Dakotans—racist mascots and team names insulting Native kids and their heritage, old-timey place names offending American Indians in general, institutional practices subjecting all Native South Dakotans to systemic colonialist oppression—and the Legislature is more than happy to resist statutory remedies and leave it to local officials to handle the issue.

The House Education Committee yesterday killed House Bill 1183, Representative Shawn Bordeaux’s proposal to outlaw mascots and team names offensive to American Indians. The school boards opposed the bill, saying they and the activities association already have a statewide resolution opposing such offensive mascots. That resolution, adopted by the South Dakota High School Activities Association in 2016, cites evidence of real harm from racist depictions of Native Americans in schools but still only “encourages” member schools “to consider not using any stereotypical Indian imagery and Indian mascots that cause harm.” But that soft encouragement was enough for all the Republicans on the committee to rediscover their love of local control and vote 12–2 to kill HB 1183.

Across the hall, House Education rejected another bid to remove racially charged names from South Dakota’s culture as it killed House Bill 1144, Representative Bordeaux’s effort to put “scalp” alongside “squaw” as a name banned from South Dakota place names. Without any opponent testimony and without a word from any Republican about why they didn’t want to take this step, the committee killed HB 1143 on an 8–3 vote.

In that same single hour, House State Affairs yesterday also rejected House Bill 1140, which would have allowed American Indians to use their tribal identification cards to register to vote; House Bill 1143, which would have required the Legislative Research Council to provide two hours of training in Native American law to all new LRC staff and make that training available to legislators; House Bill 1147, which would have fined businesses $500 to $1,000 for refusing tribal identification cards as valid identification to cash checks and conduct other commerce; House Bill 1146, which would have given subpoena power to the State-Tribal Relations Committee; and House Bill 1151, which would have directed the Department of Labor and Regulation to gather data and publish annual reports on employment and income on each Indian reservation and each county wholly or partially within reservation boundaries.

So the day after the Governor does her national hoopla dance in the Rotunda to sign one bill addressing a fake threat to fairness, the House massacres seven bills that address real, practical challenges to fairness for American Indians in South Dakota. Our commitment to “fairness” is barely skin deep—and we’re talking the very thin skin of Kristi Noem and the other white folks in charge.


  1. Matt 2022-02-05 07:11

    Who is hurt if someone is ‘offended’?? And is a mascot really causing someone to live under colonialist oppression??

    Watch and learn.

  2. jerry 2022-02-05 07:46

    Who is hurt if someone is “offended”?? The list is long, but as it is clear from a white comedians point of view, no one. Good to be a white guy.

    In Nazi Germany and still to this day, including here in the good old US of A, it was common practice to denigrate the Jewish Race with effigy’s. Remember Charlottesville?

    “WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The defendant on trial in Poland for burning an effigy of a haredi Orthodox Jew said it was supposed to represent Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

    Piotr Ryba testified Monday in a Wroclaw municipal court about the effigy burned in the central market of the city in November 2015 at the end of a demonstration against taking in Muslim refugees.”

    There is a reason for me to compare the plight of the Native American to the plight of the Jewish Race. Both races have had extermination issues due to White Supremacy, both are looked upon as inferior when both cultures are rich in their offerings to society as a whole.

    So, who is offended by mascots and the like? Well, someone like me and many others. These should be banned outright as a show of solidarity of our entire community.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-02-05 08:34

    South Duhkota where intelligence came to die, saw what was going on and caught the last train for the coast.

  4. jerry 2022-02-05 09:16

    Very good link Mr. Kurtz. Fred is a real bag that goes along with the rest of the legislative douche bags who share his evil ways

  5. larry kurtz 2022-02-05 09:32

    There was a time when the Sioux Falls Diocese and Ku Klux Klan were antithetical to each other’s teachings but today they’re mated at the groin.

  6. cibvet 2022-02-05 09:43

    I need some help to understand how there is a Jewish race. The Nazis declared them a race for extermination and yet the Gypsies and Jehovah Witnesses who were also exterminated were not a race. Standing side by side, the Jews and Arabs have the same physical characteristics and yet the Arabs are not a race. It appears to me that the Nazis called them a race because, one, they did not fit the warped Nazi idea of a superior white race (blue eyed blond) and two, they had a different religion. I believe of all the genocide in the world can usually be classified some where into a religion norm. And also Matt is so wrong in so many ways. Great reply Jerry.

  7. Donald Pay 2022-02-05 10:02

    I’ve been wondering why teams need a nickname and a mascot anyway. The Washington Commanders? It’s better than the Redskins, but I thought “The Washington Football Team,” by which the Washington football team was known for a while, was good enough.

    The Packers. It was named after a long-defunct Green Bay company, the Indian Packing Company. Curly Lambeau worked there when he was trying to gather support for a local football team. I hate Aaron Rodgers, but I love my Green Bay Football Team.

    Milwaukee Brewers? Lots of Germans settled in Milwaukee in the old days. They drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of sausage. and elected socialists as mayor. I guess Packers (for sausages) was already taken, and when they finally got a baseball team back, they didn’t want to offend anyone by naming the team the Socialists. So, Brewers fit. My favorite beer in high school in South Dakota was Pabst Blue Ribbon, so, yeah, “Brewers” is fine with me, but I’d be fine with “The Milwaukee Baseball Team.”

    Milwaukee Bucks? No, it’s not racist. There is lots of beer in Wisconsin, but turn that “b” around and you have “deer,” of which there are a lot of in Wisconsin. The wolf is gone from most of the state, so the deer can become overpopulated. So, there are a lot of white people dressing up in orange (Orange is the new White) to hunt the antlered bucks. Thus, “Bucks,” which has been an team that supports Black Lives Matter, has the “Greek Freak,” who is a 1st generation Greek whose parents immigrated from Nigeria. But I’d be fine with the Milwaukee Basketball Team.

  8. 96Tears 2022-02-05 10:36

    The black-hearted Noem was all decked out with her Hollywood hair to pose in the rotunda as some kind of hero. She even told folks “she has family and friends who are transgender, said in a press conference shortly after that she would justify the legislation by emphasizing ‘this bill is about fairness.’” [From today’s Argus Leader website]

    Family and friends? Prove it, Noem! She is a miserable chronic liar and evil bigot.

    That bill passed out of committee with only three proponents. A stooge from Noem’s office. A professor from the University of Nebraska (must be an expert ‘cause they’re from outta town!). A lawyer from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

    Golly gee, Barney, why would anyone be against defendin’ freedom?

    Here’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center reports about this hate group.

    “Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop ‘religious liberty’ legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Trump, ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBTQ rights.”

    In other words, a lawyer from the GOP Christian Taliban. Please read the full report to see who is turning the screws on innocent people.

  9. Richard Schriever 2022-02-05 12:32


    Arabs and Semitic Jews ARE the SAME race. Descendants of Abraham – all. Neither the Jewish RELIGION, nor the Muslim RELIGION, founded by that same race of people – the Semites, are racially exclusive. Both welcome any one of any race to their faiths. The adherents of Islam in fact, are predominantly non-Semitic. The adherents of the Jewish religion may be as well. Yes, it was a religion/culture thing – not truly a race thing. They have different tunings of their stringed instruments. Might as well be based on something as trivial as that.

  10. mike from iowa 2022-02-05 13:12

    If a girls team played and won against a team with a trans girl, they would have no room to complain, so it must be the losers of the world complaining. There is no guarantee the losers would have won against a team w/o a trans girl.. Pure speculation and they would play against that team maybe twice per year. Magats need to get a real life and a grip.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-05 13:24

    Matt, yes, when public institutions adopt names and symbols that reflect racism, they transmit an oppressive Colonialist message to all of the individuals targeted and dehumanized by those racist names and symbols. Those institutional statements say to minorities, “we are in power, you cannot change us, we will do whatever we want, and you shall sit and suffer in irremediable silence.”

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-05 13:25

    Matt, you need to get your education from someone other than comics on YouTube.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-05 13:27

    96, I would love to have Noem’s alleged transgender family and friends come forward and say why they believe the bill she just signed is a good idea.

  14. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-05 20:02

    Well…as Senator Tim Johns pointed out, the biggest donor of funds for the operation of the ACLU in South Dakota is the State legislature and Governor Noem…Governor Noem keeps pushing her unconstitutional statutes through the passive legislature and the ACLU keeps suing and winning, which includes an award for legal fees, and even damages. So, the Governor gets to pretend she’s protecting girls from some phantom competition that does not exist and the ACLU strikes blows for human dignity. As far as our collective treatment of Native people as reflected in the inaction of the legislature….Shameless…period.

  15. Mark Anderson 2022-02-05 21:28

    The Native Americans will have to bring back the old Fighting Norwegians. This is an old problem.

  16. DaveFN 2022-02-05 21:35

    From what I have seen, Native Americans are strong enough to ignore all manner of slights and offense. Not that they should have to. But while kowtowing to them may assuage our conscience, it is for all that nothing but a veiled form of condescension.

    To think we know best what is good for both them and us is the height of insult.

  17. DaveFN 2022-02-05 22:58

    I might as well have written “a veiled or not-so-veiled form of condescension.”

  18. RST Tribal Member 2022-02-06 12:55

    Not surprised by inept inbred Republicans actions or lack of sensible actions. Maybe next year, or the year after or so on and so forth.

    When expecting sensible and doing the right actions from inept inbred people is dreaming and wishing for the newly impossible. Since the 1880s it’s been a struggle for equality then it got worst after November 2, 1889.

    Actions speak louder then words. As 1 inept inbred mentioned, “get over it”. The land was taken. The children were taken.

    The assimilation and acculturation policies and practices are ongoing.

    It was said by the inept inbred, “we let you have your language back, we let you have your reservations, you can pow wow anytime and we even let you have eagle feathers”. What more could you want?

    Yep, what more?

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-06 13:41

    DaveFN, I don’t think we’re kowtowing to anybody here when we look at the empirical evidence cited in the SDHSAA resolution and say, gee, using racist mascots and team names does real harm to Native Americans, so maybe we ought to knock it off. and look at the other bills I mentioned that the Republicans summarily killed. I don’t think it’s kowtowing to go gather and report economic data for the tribes and their communities so we can form a better evidence-based policy. I don’t think it’s kowtowing to recognize legitimate identification documents from the sovereign tribal nations for the purposes of commerce and voter registration.

  20. DaveFN 2022-02-06 18:05

    Cory Allen Heidelbeger

    Yes, discontinue mascots, etc. AS LONG AS one isn’t doing it in with a motivation of kowtowing and/or condescension for whatever unarticulated reasons including, but not limited to, feeling good about ourselves, attempting to exculpate ourselves from our own imbrication in a much larger issue not so easily addressed, kowtowing in order to get votes (“We’re being represented by men who are kowtowing to minorities where they can get votes, and I think it’s bad for our country and I’m sad to see minorities make so much of themselves as a hyphenated-American.” — John Wayne, BBC Interview, 1976) and all kinds of ulterior, unexamined motives.

    Also we must be aware of the the potential effects of discontinuation of Native American mascots:

    Prejudicial reactions to the removal of Native American mascots
    Tyler Jimenez, Jamie Arndt, Peter J. Helm First Published December 10, 2021
    in Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

    As Native American mascots are discontinued, research is needed to understand the impact on intergroup relations. Such discontinuations may be threatening to some and increase prejudice against Native Americans. In Study 1 (N = 389), exposure to information about a Native American mascot removal increased punitive judgments against a Native American in a hypothetical legal scenario, particularly among those high in racial colorblindness and those residing in the implicated geographical location. Study 2 (N = 358,644) conceptually replicated and extended these findings, using population-level implicit bias data to perform a natural quasi-experiment. Prejudice against Native Americans increased in the year following the removal of two Native American mascots: “Chief Illiniwek” and “Chief Wahoo.” However, in the case of Chief Illiniwek, the effect diminished after 6 years. Together, the studies contribute to understanding the psychological impact of Native American mascots, offering a first look at how their removal influence intergroup relations.

  21. Porter Lansing 2022-02-07 12:05

    “Don’t “kowtow” and remove things white people invented that infuriate tribal members.
    It makes me feel guilty for what my ancestors did to Indians.” – W.P.G. (white privileged goober)

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