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NDN Collective staff weigh in on proposed changes to South Dakota history curriculum

Following the announcement of those proposed curriculum changes, some in the state are criticizing the South Dakota Department of Education for removing references to Native Americans and their role in history, calling the move politically driven.
NDN Collective
NDN Collective(NDN Collective)
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 4:22 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Following the announcement of those proposed curriculum changes, some in the state are criticizing the South Dakota Department of Education for removing references to Native Americans and their role in history, calling the move politically driven.

In the newly proposed guidelines, references to the Oceti Sakowin, or Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota people would be removed from social studies standards.

NDN Collective responded to the proposal.

Amy Sazue, the education equity organizer for NDN Collective, pointed out that Native American students already see few references to their heritage in history books, and this decision would not only hurt indigenous student’s dropout rates and proficiency but heighten divisiveness between races.

”It also will continue this divisive nature of race relations right now,” said Sazue. “We were just getting to a point where I feel like locally that we were starting to understand how working together to address some of these things in a way that is honest and truthful, but also with the commitment to moving forward and doing something that would make positive changes that we’re all wanting to see, are all being thwarted by this.”

Erased from history. A phrase many of the NDN Collective staff used when reacting to the state’s proposal.

They also aimed their frustration at the governor.

“She doesn’t understand,” continued Sazue. “And I think she’s committed to being divisive and elevating herself and her narrative to the national platform and is not worried about what the implications for Indigenous children and our indigenous people, what the implications are on our communities. I think she just has a real commitment to elevating herself and her narrative and getting on the Republican platform for a national seat.”

Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective provided a statement as well, saying, “Indigenous children were taken from their homes, mouths washed out with soap for speaking their language, and buried in graves during the boarding school era. That is the legacy of education for Native students in this country– forced assimilation, indoctrination, and erasure. Now, Governor Noem wants to virtually erase us from history books. Kristi Noem is a racist, irresponsible leader. She’s a disgrace to this entire democracy and her actions are absolute violence against Indigenous people. This country needs courageous leadership leaning into transformative change, not leaders who impede human progress and perpetuate outdated white supremacist constructs.”

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