Governor Kristi Noem is trying to ban “divisive concepts” from our schools. But it appears that Kristi Noem herself is a divisive concept.
Last October, 46% of the senior class at Mobridge High School voted to invite the Governor to speak at this year’s graduation. 33% voted against Noem and 30% expressed no opinion. At Monday’s school board meeting, school board member and Standing Rock tribal member Tasha Peltier suggested Noem’s presence at graduation could cause discomfort, psychological distress, and damage to the school’s efforts to make the community more inclusive:
Peltier stated she has received many messages of concern from members of the community about the choice of speaker. She stated that it seems the perspectives of other members of the class and the community were weighed before the request was made to the governor’s office.
Peltier said she didn’t expect people to understand her perspective ant that of others concerning the choice because they have not lived it. She told the board there has been a lot of concern voiced out in the community.
Peltier also said that it has been a reality check for people when there are others in the community who don’t understand why choosing Gov. Noem is controversial and that her political message on certain subjects is divisive.
Peltier said during the class meeting in October, a vote was taken and 33% of the seniors voted against asking Noem to be the speaker, while 30% said they didn’t have an opinion. There were 46% of seniors who voted in favor of the choice.
She said as a school that has taken steps to create an inclusive comfortable atmosphere for all members of the community and this could be a step backward in that process [Katie Zerr, “Controversy over Graduation Speaker Initiates Discussion,” Mobridge Tribune, 2022.02.17].
Over 40% of the students enrolled in the Mobridge-Pollock school district are Native American. Peltier has worked with Superintendent Tim Frederick and the district’s Lakota Education Committee to promote a better learning environment and more mutual understanding in for that multicultural student body, as she discussed with SDPB in this interview last fall (starting at 14:00):
The Lakota Education Committee organizes a senior honoring and powwow around graduation time. The committee meets next week Wednesday, February 23, at 5:30 p/.m. in MS Room 106 (Miss Mielke’s room) to discuss important powwow and graduation details.
Given the Governor’s open animosity toward cultural inclusion and tribal sovereignty, it’s reasonable that Peltier and other tribal members could see Noem’s presence as a step backward for their cultural education efforts. Yet the board chose an equally reasonable stand, choosing not to interfere with the senior class’s invitation of this divisive speaker and allowing students to choose to expose themselves to divisive concepts and speakers and critically evaluate for themselves the merits of such speech.
If the board thought like Kristi Noem, it might have chosen to ban Kristi Noem from the dais.
The Mobridge Tribune is just one small town South Dakota paper with some great reporting. Recall that in 2020 Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Lynn Arnold Noem (KLAN) sued to have the checkpoints that protected Native Americans removed from the highways on reservations but now pledges her support for truckers who block highways. Whether she can continue her racist bents without alienating Republican voters will be the real test.
There are plenty of Republican voters I know of who are already completely alienated to Mrs. Noem. She continues to pander to a smaller and smaller group of radicals.
Hopefully the speech is inspirational and not political.
Thank you, Larry, for complimenting the Mobridge Tribune. If it weren’t for Katie Zerr, I wouldn’t read it anymore because of all the political propaganda like the stupid bills Thune and Noem introduce and defend full page, ripping masks off kids and bullying people.
Thank you, Cory, for addressing this decision by the Mobridge School Board. We are a border town with the Missouri River between us and Standing Rock Reservation to the west, and several small towns to our east. The businesses would close if all these people did not come to visit, shop, and entertain. I know several residents from Mobridge who shop in Aberdeen and Bismarck while the feeder towns keep their store doors open. Mobridge has a reputation of expressing racism in very blatant ways, such as 40% of our residents are native yet we haven’t one native law enforcement officer in the whole county. Natives are underrepresented in EVERYTHING around here and always have been.
Fortunately, we have some very strong native voices from parents who call out issues of unfairness at the school. JOM has been a blessing by starting the annual wacipi, representing all student interests, teaching Lakota culture, and coordinating with admin despite what the community is like. Tasha Peltier is an assertive native school board member who has the support from many nonnative members of the community, especially with this Noem business. The school is the only place in this town where skin color doesn’t matter, at least until Noem’s pasty whiteness enters the arena.
I won’t be surprised if there are some walkouts before Noem speaks.
Does Noemie believe, as a former killer Governor who was a seating congressional rep did when he careless murdered a bike rider, playing the race card is a sure vote getting tactical move in SD. This is not the 70s or 80s or 90s. Or is it? Don’t ask that ass wipe bunch in the 1889 boundaries of the Rosebud Reservation as they continue the swindling use of Native lands; yesterday, today and in the foreseeable future.
Racism was brought to the frontal lobe of people, just enough, to get the Noemie elected. Ha, that got SD voters what they voted for; a long forgotten queen of some kind who desires attention over governance. Deeds over words. Empty-headedness instead of though. Slick in delivery. Inept inbred republican. To stupid to be branded (or is it brandon?) America’s Governor. Humm, there is a ring to “go brandon Noemie, America’s Gov”… or maybe not.
Like the 1996 “Warrior Princess” and “Big Chief” homecoming titles at Bennett County High School back in the 90s. The awaking of the voice of Native reason comings to the frontal lobe along with common sense, good thoughts and decent behaviors wins the day.
What can Noemie say to comfort and upset the mixed student population? “I like you and I loathe you”; that will pretty much cover the intended audience on stage that celebratory day.
I hope Governor Noem exercises her first amendment rights and stands in front of the high school on the public sidewalk holding placards and urging people to honk in support.
Seriously, how many 17 or 18 year olds would even want a politician as a speaker for a high school graduation? Who was the student’s advisor, one of the parents?
I invited Kristi to speak at our 55th high school reunion…not even a courtesy reply.
On Public Division ~
Your state is a painful entity. Your majority spent vast amounts of treasure on weapons and when the one true crisis of their lifetime occurred, weaponry meant nothing. So, in their despair, they refused to even acknowledge the crisis exists.
All six states surrounding South Dakota have a much higher per capita, Covid death count. Your Governor Noem, not knowing what to do, did nothing. All executive decisions regarding citizen safety were designated (without emphasis) to County and municipal leaders. These were the women and men who saved lives and stepped up during the pandemic. Hurrah to them!
SD life is a bitter burden if you’re not white, male, and middle class. Coffers overflowing with blue state cash and your AWM’s (angry white males) won’t even acknowledge or lend a hand up to anyone they deem “poor parasites” to their overlording position. A young Ebenezer Scrooge would feel right at home among your selfish citizenries.
That’s enough from this out-of-state truth teller. But y’all good liberals must realize that your morality is judged by the actions and sentiments of your majority. You good people, you good liberal people, are swimming in the same putrid puddle with these empty bloodsuckers who drag America down daily.
Governor Frank Farrar spoke at our Lincoln High graduation in 1969. I have no idea what he said.
Thank you Cory for reporting on this. It presents an interesting challenge to Noem and the Mobridge school district audience.
Noem chose to be the face of 21st Century systemic racism in America. Her legislative agenda this year proves it with its pack full of lies to somehow justify its deliberate cruelty and shallowness. Erase the past so that nobody learns from history. It defines her deeply-set, brutal ugliness.
Mobridge is far from being the only racially divided community in South Dakota where the white population suppresses the Native population at every turn. There are examples throughout our state. She’s just pouring gas on a pre-existing fire.
The most putrid part of Noem’s racist agenda is why she’s doing it and who is her intended audience. She talks about freedom as long as it fits her political narrative aimed at exciting the racists who carried Trump into office. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the people in South Dakota, even the racists in South Dakota. It’s all an act to get national agenda for Kristi Noem and only Kristi Noem.
I did tweet the article Mr. Heidelberger is highlighting here yesterday morning and tagged it to the #sdleg 27 hours ago and some attribution for it would have been courteous. That being said, Katie Zerr has a column running about her story that is s also worth reading.
Donald Pay did graduate in 1969. I saw his name in the paper. Second column right next to article Draft Group Says Law Unconstitutional.
Unsure how there ended up with a 109 percent voting, but in any case, I would suggest to let her speak and the students who have some sense of principles, to attend the graduation and turn their chairs so their backs are facing her to express their displeasure of her bigotry and racism. First amendment rights works both ways.
WOW, cibvet. Turn their backs to the Governor? Kristi Noem’s not had that reaction, before. The imagination is wildly triggered. Thank-you.
A Wessington Springs teacher targeted over rainbow ‘ally’ magnet is yet another victim of Kristi Noem’s christianic and religionist rampages.
I will concede one point on the choice of Noem as commencement speaker at a school where more than one third are Native Americans: She is the currently elected Governor of South Dakota. The status has merit, but only the status.
Larry, thank you for the link to the very thoughtful editorial. Katie Zerr is an excellent journalist and the Mobridge community is lucky to have her.
Let’s just spitball here and think about some other choices that Zerr addresses as putting the shoe on the other foot. How about these as a speaker for a graduation event for Mobridge and school districts with a large Native population?
– Selwyn Jones – Lives near Mobridge in Gettysburg. He’s the uncle of George Floyd who was slain by a thug dressed up as a Minneapolis police officer. He helped the effort to remove the confederate flag from the uniforms of Gettysburg police and he’s had experience addressing university students. Known for his humor, story-telling and passion for racial harmony, Jones would be an ideal commencement speaker. No state taxes would be wasted to fly him to Mobridge on the state aircraft or to provide an armed security escort of state troopers. Just a one-hour car ride and, voila! Selwyn’s in Mobridge.
– Lynn “Smokey” Hart – He rides horses better than Noem and he’s an award-winning rodeo cowboy, recently honored by being inducted into the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame. Lynn is Native American and African American. He was initially famous for confronting the South Dakota Legislature to finally adopt a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the state, and inspired the Republicans to support a Native American Day holiday in South Dakota. Like Jones, Smokey’s an experienced and entertaining speaker known for his humor and passion for peacefulness, fairness and racial harmony. His ranch is at Flandreau, which means a longer drive than Selwyn, but I’d bet you wouldn’t have to ask twice if the school pays for the gas.
– Judge Jeffrey L. Viken – He’s a white guy from Huron, South Dakota, and lives in Rapid City. He’s a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama and began his senior status last fall. He is, by all accounts, a brilliant individual who has a nearly peerless reputation as an attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Federal Public Defender and a Federal Judge with an expertise in justice for the Native community of South Dakota and for his support for economic and social fairness for Native people.
– Kevin Killer – An impressive former legislator who, as a young man, served in both the House and Senate in Pierre. He lives at Pine Ridge and currently serves as the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
– Shawn Bordeaux – Currently in the House representing Legislative District 26-A. He lives in Mission.
– Troy Heinert – Preceded Shawn in the House and recently announced his retirement from the State Senate. He is a former teacher who grew up on a ranch, former wrestling coach, rodeo clown and business owner who runs a restaurant attached to the country club at Mission. Troy is an inspiring and thoughtful speaker with great insight and a sense of humor.
– Tamara St. John – An impressive Republican House member and an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. A renown historian, Tamara is the archivist for the Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Archives and Collections. She’s the first and only Native Republican woman to have ever served in the House.
You could think of others, I’m sure.
Maybe it’s time to form a speakers bureau through the S.D. High School Activities Association or through another group. There are so many better choices for Mobridge’s senior class than the racist candidate for President of the United States, currently masquerading as South Dakota’s governor.
Your suggestions give South Dakotans a reminder that we do have so much to be proud of. And it isn’t even hard to find. Thank you and have a blessed day everyone, or else;) you better too Mr. Kurtz!
Good link, Kurtz. many thanks for it.
Thanks, Mike. I go through over a hundred media outlets in the Mountain West and northern plains every morning. The small rural papers almost always have the best news and the ag papers cover the environment at least as well as science sites do.
We’re living in very scary times.
Why would these kids want any politician at their graduation? This should be the best day of these kid’s lives.
Find a local citizen to give an 8–10-minute speech and that would be a much better for all.
Well grudz, she does have nice honkers.
The last comment was unnecessary and unwelcome. Usually don’t see women comment on men’s nice peckers.
96Tears, great list! And yes, so many more to choose from like former alumni of whom I could list dozens. There are many from here and the surrounding area who have become successful nationally, in business, arts, entertainment, and lots more who are uplifting speakers, not bullies. They could give these kids tips on how to really do something meaningful with your life.
Noem does not like natives and teachers, especially social studies educators, so I can imagine how they will feel with her laser sharp eyes filled with anger upon them. As a former social science teacher and offended by everything Noem’s spits out of her mouth, the moment with her in the same room would be enough for me to demonstrate somehow that I find her appalling. I like the suggestion of turning the chairs around. As a member of the audience, I may walk out just as she comes out to the podium. I may even make a sign and hold it up just for her. Who knows? More suggestions if I’m in the bleachers and can’t turn my chair around?
Our high school graduation speaker at O’Gorman in 1973 was former Senator George McGovern. I remember his message very well. This was shortly after the Nixon/Watergate scandal resulting in the resignation of Nixon. McGovern’s message was inspirational encouraging our mission to be ensuring democracy prevailed and to stay involved and informed in state and national politics. In other words, the future will improve after the recent fiasco. And here we are now with unbelievable “leadership” including Noem and former president Trump and his delusional base. All of the suggested speakers for the Mobridge grads would be so much more appropriate. As the saying goes George must be turning in his grave.
The best speakers we had a graduation were students selected by their classmates.
I digress here but the article brought back a memory. When I graduated from college a Native drum group serenaded us for a while. It was a fine choice and I enjoyed the performance. However, I sat in the middle of a group of classmates who had not yet been to bed from the previous night’s festivities. The scent of alcohol radiating from their bodies was almost intoxicating. As the drumming proceeded so did their discomfort. They were so miserable they nearly slid out of their seats. I had packed a few ‘necessaries’ in a little bag under my robe so I dispensed what I had to the sufferers and helped pin askew caps on heads. We all got out of it together with diplomas in hand. One of my most endearing college memories.
V – You pose interesting ideas for how Native students and their families and friends should behave when Governor Noem arrives in Mobridge. This could be a teachable moment for everyone. Personally, I think it’s a butts-in-seats moment, preferably with all those non-white faces up front as possible.
No taking the knee with the flag because it’s all of our flag and not just the NoemBots. Don’t give her what she wants.
No turning backs as she speaks. Just give her the hard cold stares she deserves. Sit in the front so she sees your faces.
No outbursts or demeaning placards, because that’s what she wants. The narcissist wants it to be all about her and how she’s always the victim no matter how hard she tries.
No photos of her with brown faces as she did with the fool Ben Carson to show how she gets along so well with “colored folk.” Noem is in Mobridge to spike the ball on behalf of national bigots.
No applause or rising when she speaks. No laughing at her awkward jokes. Just let her see you watching her. She’ll get the message.
I’m sure she and her supporters see this as an opportunity to spike the ball on her attempts to erase history white supremacists don’t like. She’s building a national narrative of how a woman governor can betray her gender by eliminating reproductive rights … unless you are rich and can fly to pro-choice states. She’s attacking transgender children with her phony talk about protecting female athletes (hold the presses! How many incidents of this in South Dakota history? One? WTF?). As is true of bullies in politics, she is a sleazy, manipulative, yellow-bellied coward. She wants to spike that ball and play the victim at the same time. By showing up and giving her silence instead of accolades, she loses.
I guess we come from different worlds 96. I have never seen where staring or silence has really changed anyone’s behavior. If those actions work in your household, great, but we are dealing with a self-adsorbed, conceited,money grubbing trumpist governor.Nothing will change her behavior, at the very least, some action on the students part will eliminate noem political photo ops.
Scott, notice that the kids likely have little knowledge of the great list of speakers 96 suggests. There’s a wealth of talent in the state, but the kids slip into the celebrity cult that Noem is cultivating. We obviously better civics classes, but the only civics they get from Noem is stamped with her face on one side and Nordic Jesus on the other.
Oh V, you need to read grudz comment better. I was simply saying her honkers are good people in relation to his comment on people honking for her.. By the way, Pecker was a good John Waters movie about a young artist in Baltimore and Waters really dealt with sex alot. I only refer to the male female thing or thingy when commenting on say Putin and calling him a small dick tator. There are many of those of both sexes
cibvet – My major point was don’t play into Noem’s game by leaving when she speaks or buying into her PR stunts. Just stand your ground and show you will not be manipulated. I agree with all your fine points about Noem’s (lack of) character. She’s also not that bright. She is the spoiled mean girl in the lunchroom, surrounded by her BFFs, looking down her nose at everyone.
She reminds me of the toady from the classic movie, ‘A Christmas Story’ the one clinging and kissing up to the big dumb mean bully(trump). So insecure she has to be rude to impersonate strength to compensate for weakness. “Oh boy, you got em good, boss. You sure showed them with that wedgie!”
While exuding maturity, one can still express contrary behavior I found. Give this a try when necessary, similar to what was suggested before: stare. And while staring, slap on a half cocked grin while staring hard; straight at her zipper. Kinda silently nudge your consort and avert your eyes to her zipper. Exchange smirks and look her dead in the eye while trying to hold back a full smile. She is going to be overcome with self doubt and pert near choke believing her fly is down. She will sweat. She will be so off her game. It works infallibly. And the kids won’t have a lousier than normal talking head.
Because it is so important to attend to support the graduates in enjoying their day. But the broad needs to understand where she’s not wanted. The worse regrets are when you wish you would have done something.
I’m not around many high school students. Especially South Dakota small town, high school students. I can, however, extrapolate what this group of seniors is probably thinking. Sixty percent are probably Trump fans. Of the remaining forty percent half will leave SD after their formal education is completed. But face the truth. Most of these kids will think your Governor’s speech is appropriate and life directing. It’s their school, after all. And, it IS in rural South Dakota. It won’t be the audience Cory entertains on this minority folk’s political blog. You’ll probably see lots of red MAGA hats.
Final idea for a commencement speaker at Mobridge. Seventy-four-year-old Ernie LaPointe of Rapid City, who was recently scientifically confirmed as the great-grandson of Sitting Bull. This may be the most appropriate speaker for Mobridge on several levels.
LaPointe is a Sun Dancer, author, and orator who’s been invited to speak at a commencement exercise at the University of Notre Dame. He and his sisters (Marlene Little Spotted Horse Andersen, Ethel Little Spotted Horse Bates, and Lydia Little Spotted Horse Red Paint) have petitioned the government to remove Sitting Bull’s remains from the tourist site seven miles southwest of Mobridge to the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) where Sitting Bull had his greatest historic hour in 1876.
There are very good reasons for that move. What’s fascinating is the irony of America’s leading racist governor speaking at the commencement this spring in Mobridge.
Sitting Bull’s legacy in 1890 was pivotal to the great tragedy that pulled open the curtain of systemic evil that climaxed with the Wounded Knee Massacre. Native populations in South Dakota were being cheated during the winter after the 1890 growing season when drought and intense heat ruined crops and damaged cattle numbers needed to feed the people on Pine Ridge Reservation. Congress and their lackeys in the BIA cut rations of food and blankets needed to allow the Natives to survive the brutal cold. Out of hopelessness, people turned to the Ghost Dance ritual seeking spiritual rescue. It was practiced by a small number of tribal members, but it spooked the hell out of soldiers and guilty trading agents who knew the Indians were being cheated and forced to starve.
Part of the whitewashing after Wounded Knee was to blame the Ghost Dance trend for inciting violence among Indians. That is a lie. From Wikipedia: “Agent James McLaughlin asked for more troops. He claimed that spiritual leader Sitting Bull was the real leader of the movement. A former agent, Valentine McGillycuddy, saw nothing extraordinary in the dances and ridiculed the panic that seemed to have overcome the agencies, saying: ‘The coming of the troops has frightened the Indians. If the Seventh-Day Adventists prepare the ascension robes for the Second Coming of the Savior, the United States Army is not put in motion to prevent them. Why should not the Indians have the same privilege? If the troops remain, trouble is sure to come.’”
Too bad the others involved in setting up the disaster on December 29 were not as smart as McGillycuddy. But thousands more troops arrived and hate-crazed white people with guns were not to be deterred.
More from Wikipedia: “On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was arrested for failing to stop his people from practicing the Ghost Dance. During his arrest, one of Sitting Bull’s men, Catch the Bear, fired at Lieutenant ‘Bull Head’, striking his right side. He instantly wheeled and shot Sitting Bull, hitting him in the left side, and both men subsequently died. The Hunkpapa who lived in Sitting Bull’s camp and relatives fled to the south. They joined the Big Foot Band in Cherry Creek, South Dakota, before traveling to the Pine Ridge Reservation to meet with Chief Red Cloud.”
And you know the rest, including the award of 20 Medals of Freedom, the military’s highest honor, to soldiers who murdered 300 men, women and children. Sitting Bull did not lead the Ghost Dance fad. He just was a reminder of the long-gone past and fell victim to false assumptions that rattled around in the empty heads of dimwitted soldiers still smarting over July 25, 1876.
This is the kind of diabolical hate- and greed-motivated actions that “won the West.” It is at the core of how the Upper Great Plains were plundered under the banner “Manifest Destiny.”
But that was far from the last indignity to soil the legacy of the great leader Sitting Bull.
Sitting Bull’s home was near Bullhead, SD, along the hilly shores of the Missouri River. His body wasn’t allowed to return home. It was removed to the protected confines of Fort Yates, North Dakota, which would prevent the grave site from being seen as a touchstone to the past and the honor of a fallen leader.
The most shameless indignity occurred 63 years later, as described in an October 28, 2021, Dickenson Press article written by Jeremy Fuglebert. It involved a group of Mobridge businessmen (body snatchers) in 1953 who thought it would be really cool to bring Sitting Bull back (not to his home) to South Dakota: “Flouting state and federal authorities, they dug up the chief’s bones and snuck them across the border, onto the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Reservation. There, they buried them on a Missouri River bluff near Mobridge, poured cement over the grave and erected a memorial.”
Obviously, tourism dollars were at stake! More from Fugleberg’s article: “North Dakota officials have disputed the South Dakotans actually retrieved the body of Sitting Bull, claiming they instead took the body of another man.”
That dispute came to an end last fall when researchers determined the body under all that cement at the Mobridge tourist trap was the remains of Sitting Bull. A clipping of hair taken from that body linked up with LaPointe’s DNA. The lesson here is ugly systemic racism against Native populations is alive and well and never receded in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
That’s what Kristi Noem and her NoemBots in the legislature do not want new generations of citizens to know. It’s exactly what needs to be in the history books in our schools if we are ever to be truthful and begin to start coming to any kind of reconciliation with the people our nation systemically humiliated, murdered and suppressed. As long as voters hand power to Krisit and her NoemBots, things will never improve.
Amen. A woman. One of my dad’s old history lessons he passed down when I was still a buckaroo was recalled thanks to 96Tears’ tutelage of the importance of reconciliation with history. The reason I loathed the morbid movie and refused to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was thanks to my dad telling me the author, L. Frank Baum was a racist pos. According to my dear ol pappy, he had a newspaper in South Dakota and published several articles persuading good christian white folks that every last Indian must be killed. One of his hate bread editorials was published just before the Massacre at Wounded Knee and instigated such a fervor in regards to the imminent necessity to purify the nation and exterminate all Natives, it is credited, along with the unlawful Ghost Dance, for the panic and fear, and ultimately, the mass murder of The People that infamous day. I’m sure that lecherous book is chalk full of racist messages meant to take root in its young audience. What a sick, yet unsurprising American children’s classic.
96 tears, not only that but they put a horrible Ziolkowski carving at the grave site. He must have been drunk when he carved it. Definitely a bad day at the office. Sorry Korzak lovers, anatomy will be the death of me. I do love Crazy Horse and would never joke about it’s pointing the way to the men’s room, not ever. I would however blast away Stone mountain. Rushmore I would leave, North by Northwest made it fine for me. I really didn’t like the the Taliban blasting away the Buddha in Afganistan so I guess I must hold my nose at Stone mountain. Maybe paint it black like the Rolling Stones but that would be racist too. Its a hard life after all.