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Hot Dogs and Diversity—Noem Invites Indians to Participate in Planning America’s 250th Birthday Party

It seems like just yesterday Thomas Jefferson and his pals were conceiving our new nation in liberty and realizing it in bloody war against tyranny. Now all of a sudden here we United States of America are, racing toward our 250th year of pursuing the self-evident but not self-securing principle that all men are created  equal. The three years before our semiquincentennial will whizz by like a bottle rocket, so Governor Kristi Noem declared Thursday that South Dakota needs to jump on the planning wagon that she and her Congressional colleagues got rolling ten years ago and ordered the creation of a commission to plan South Dakota’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Noem’s Executive Order 2023-11 catches my interest with its omissions as much as its commission. First, Noem studiously avoids wading into the debate over whether we should say semiquincentennial, sestercentennial, bicenquinquagenary (a missed opportunity for marketing Custer State Park! “Celebrate the Bisonquinquagenary!”), quarter-millennial, or quadransmillennial. Instead, she deems her party planners “The America 250th South Dakota Commission”.

Noem does not use this order to promote her narrow-minded theocracy. She does not mention the Creator and Supreme Judge whom Jefferson himself invoked in Declaring our Independence. Hewing to a proper separation of church and state, she speaks of our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in strictly secular terms that South Dakotans of any religious persuasion or unpersuasion may toast with Coke and hot dogs (made with kosher turkey for our Jewish friends).

Noem also doesn’t mention her favorite marketing phrase, Freedom™. She does put a capital-F Freedom in her tweet on the new commission, but the order itself  doesn’t reinforce the brand, speaking instead of liberties and opportunities.

While EO 2023-11 doesn’t cry Freedom, it does speak a word Noem’s people find anathema to America: Diversity. In Section 2, the Governor directs that the commissioners she anoints herself to anoint must include “members…representing the geographic and cultural diversity of the State”. Of course, we know that Noem has a weird definition of diversity, so that portion of her directive may only envision making sure that the commission includes pistol owners, shotgun owners, and rifle owners. But Section 3 of EO 2023-11 directs the commission to create a Tribal Advisory Subcommittee and “invite representatives from all nine federally recognized tribes within the State of South Dakota to coordinate educational opportunities, activities, and events with the Commission.” And the Governor’s Whereases mention Indians twice, as participants in the first Independence Day celebration in South Dakota in 1825 (where the menu included literal hot dog—see page 105!) and as conductors of one of the oldest regular July 4th celebrations in our state (the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate 4th of July Wacipi, bringing the pow and the wow since 1867). So without trying to get into the Governor’s head, the text of this order suggests a desire for a genuinely diverse America 250th South Dakota Commission that would make all people, especially the people who were here first, feel equally welcome at our Semiquincentennial festivities in 2026.


  1. grudznick 2023-07-08 09:32

    grudznick would be a great fit for this plum gig.

  2. AmyB 2023-07-08 09:55

    She tried to erase them from history lessons in the schools, lied about consulting with them about fireworks, picked a fight over their Covid checkpoints, targeted them when they tried to protect the water… but now wants them to help her plan a party.
    I guess now instead of her actually fixing things…we will get progress reports from the entertainment, decoration, food committees for her new political theater production.

  3. P. Aitch 2023-07-08 11:42

    For reasons of maintaining a healthy relationship with learning I only brought my daughter to South Dakota three times in her 40 years. One time attended the Sisseton Wahpeton July 04 celebration with her Grandmother. It’s worthy.

  4. e platypus onion 2023-07-08 12:23

    Hope the Indians tell her to shove it up Rushmore’s butt. With Goatzilla and Mike Zit as twin suppositories.

  5. Donald Pay 2023-07-08 13:53

    You know, I hated the Bicentennial, and I’m sure to hate the whatever you call this celebration, too. Inevitably these things generate heaping dollops of bad history, dished out with potato salad and the following day’s diarrhea. I’d rather have a Day of Reflection and Reconstruction, where we look at what’s wrong with our nation and how we are going to fix it. In fact, we should start that project now.

  6. e platypus onion 2023-07-08 15:59

    I’d rather have a Day of Reflection and Reconstruction, where we look at what’s wrong with our nation and how we are going to fix it. In fact, we should start that project now.

    A grand idea, problem is magats will claim libbies are just trying to make whitey feel bad about the artrocities they visited upon POC of all stripes and will fight tooth and nail to bury ther own history.

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