Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Chasing Hawk. The story has been updated to reflect the change.
The South Dakota Education Equity Coalition is calling on Gov. Kristi Noem, South Dakota Department of Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson and other government officials to step down after the DOE removed more than a dozen references to the Oceti Sakowin before releasing the proposed social studies standards a month ago. .
More than 200 walkers marched, drummed and mounted on horseback on Monday through Pierre as part of the Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children, demanding Indigenous history education for all ahead of the multiple public hearings expected for the proposed standards, which start next week in Aberdeen, before they’re finalized.
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Sarah White, director of the coalition, said the demands are listed as follows:
Make the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understanding standards mandatory
Move Indian education office to DOE
Honor the Laws with a Tribal Education Consultation
Study session to allow school choice opportunities
Request for Noem’s resignation; Sanderson; Secretary David Flute, Department of Tribal Relations; and Fred Osborn, director of the Office of Indian Education
Several students also spoke at the protest, including Hochocawin Chasing Hawk from Dupree High School. She said she had to teach her own classmates the Dakota 38, the 38 men who were hanged in the nation’s largest mass execution in 1862 in convictions related to the aftermath of the war between the United States and the Dakota of 1862. This was not taught in her school, she says.
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Julie Garreau, of the Cheyenne River Youth Project, said she has been an advocate for children her entire life, and Monday’s walk is one of them.
“It is important that the accuracy and truth of our story be told,” she said.
Karla Abbott, status member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe and associate professor of nursing at Augustana University, said she supports the education of Indigenous education, such as the Oceti Sakowin core understandings and standards of the state , not because people should feel bad about the story, but because students should be learning a specific story in their schools.
“The good thing about (teaching Indigenous history) in schools is that young children when they hear this information, if they are upset about it or if they feel ashamed or ‘There are issues, the teacher is there and he can guide this process of, “How do we deal with what we have just learned,” Abbott said.
She added that she is sure to educate her nursing students about Indigenous culture as they will have Indigenous patients.
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Joanna White Hat said she wanted to protest to support her children, her children’s children and loved ones. This is “how long it will take to heal historical and generational trauma,” she said. Even the rain that fell on the state capital could not stop the march. White Hat said she sees this as protection, cleansing and renewal.
“It has to start somewhere,” White Hat said. “If he’s going to take these walks and voice our opinions, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Nick Tilsen, CEO of NDN Collective, said he was proud to see the participation of young people; it made him proud to be Lakota.
“This is the land of Oceti Sakowin,” Tilsen said. “No matter what decisions they make in the building behind us, this is our land.”
The first public hearing on the proposed standards will take place on September 20 in Aberdeen.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Walkers Protested Removal of Indigenous History from Public Education