South Dakota secretively eliminates Native history from public schools


New changes to the South Dakota K-12 curriculum have eliminated Native American history from required standards, making it possible for a child to graduate without relevant knowledge about the struggle of the Lakota and other tribes to retain their ancestral land, or their survival in the face of repeated attempts at ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide.

Starting in the 2016-2017 school year, high school students will have the option to choose from early American history, Modern American history, or comprehensive American history to fulfill their only history requirement. As a result of these standards, the Colonial Era, the American Revolution, African slavery, Manifest Destiny, the Civil War and the Women’s Suffrage movement will no longer be a part of required curriculum.  While some students will still have the option to take Early American history, many will graduate without understanding these important historical events that continue to affect this nation.

Professors at Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Northern State University, Augustana University, Presentation College, the University of Sioux Falls and Black Hills State University, have all criticized the new curriculum. They argue that students will not be prepared for college level history courses with such a weak high school class schedule. Ben Jones, dean of arts and sciences for Dakota State University in Madison, as argued that the new standards are “disabling their citizenship”.

However, the endemic problems with South Dakota’s new education policy go further than properly preparing students for postsecondary education and raise concerns about how depriving students of historical context could compound racial iniquities in a state that is increasingly known for its racial practices toward Indians.

Racial attitudes toward Native Americans, often resulting in outright discrimination, continues unabated in South Dakota. This virulent strain of prejudice is perhaps most clearly demonstrated by the unjust and despicable practices of the state Department of Social Services against Lakota families, who face much higher rates of child removal and much lower rates of family reunification that non-Native families, even when poverty is accounted for.

The removal of lesson plans relating to the long and complex conflict between Native peoples and the United States Government will only exacerbate this issue, and make it harder for young people in South Dakota to develop a fair understanding of the historical context and causations for the current conditions faced by Native peoples.

Instead of eliminating early American History classes, so necessary to the proper development of informed citizens, the state of South Dakota should be aggressively creating programs about Native history and culture. The only way to develop future solutions to the problems afflicting Native and non-Native in South Dakota, is for all citizens to have a baseline understanding of the historical antecedents to those current problems.

Teach the children about Squanto and the Patuxet Indians, who aided the first Colonists in Massachusetts. Teach the children about how the Iroquois Confederacy was the first democratic institution in what is now known as the United States.

Teach the children the wisdom of Sitting Bull, who said “White people are good at making things, but very poor at distributing them. Teach them about the Ghost Dance and massacre at Wounded Knee, the Sand Creek Massacre, and other genocidal acts.

Teach them about the Trail of Tears, the theft of vast tracts of Indigenous land, much of which was sacred and has since been sullied by extractive industries seeking wealth and personal enrichment.

Finally, teach the children that all of these abhorrent policies have created the current situation, where Indians are relegated to second class citizens in a land that is rightfully theirs. Teach the children they have a noble obligation to remedy this dreadful circumstance and honor the cultural diversity that continues to inhabit this nation. Teach them that Native Americans are still here, as a strong and dynamic part of modern America.

The rich history of their culture and people deserve official recognition at the high school level in South Dakota. Anything less is an ill-advised attempt to willfully keep a segment of population ignorant, so in their studiously designed stupidity they are better equipped to accept and tolerate blatant injustice. South Dakota can and should do better. Much better.


32 thoughts on “South Dakota secretively eliminates Native history from public schools”

  1. OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON THE American native foundation way now destroy it! What is wrong with you.OH I know your making our children Russian so that they know how Hitler tried to destroy us.I SWEAR EVERY DAY PEOPLE HATE TO MUCH AND DESTROY EVERY THING IN THEIR PATH!! Let people know it was our natives that helped us when we first came here and yes the injustice that our darling forefathers did to them.How lily white on how we make our past presidents look.Wonderful!! OUR CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW ALL HISTORY BAD OR GOOD and it should be taught in all collages.

  2. The Entire political arena needs to be cleaned out!! From the Governor to County judges/& prosecutors to Social Services! I cannot believe an entire state is allowed to continue to eliminate/steal, and think its okay. “Secretly take the history of Native s out of your books. The entire world knows the Truth! You will pay, if not in this life , in the next. South Dakota has a Proud Native people!

  3. Maybe also teach them about the massacres of thousands of white settlers by plains indians and native “Americans”, the drunkenness and unemployment found on reservations, a culture of violence toward women and rapes, and about the fact that these “sovereign nations” wouldn’t exist without the “white peoples” taxpayer money – which none of the unemployed reservation-ees are contributing to. Teach them about the gambling on reservations that provide a backbone for an alcoholic economy and contribute to the gradual toxification of our culture by promoting all that is debased in society – poverty, sloth, drunkenness, and waste of federal resources.

    1. While we appreciate your commentary no matter how opposed to your point of view, I feel it incumbent to point out that these sovereign nations predated white people and their tax money and it was with their introduction that these nations were eroded significantly to the point of erosion.

      Also, while there are social problems on reservations we believe these are attributable to the terrible system set up and continued by white people and their taxpayer money. Thanks.

    2. Maybe also teach them about critical thinking skills & research so they can filter out the terrible distorted irrational delusional lies from people like Red Fern. Oh wait, you just have to have half a brain minimum to do that and most people are operating on much more…..

    3. Your Country wouldn’t exist if it was not for treaties. Those treaties say you have to pay for land usage. Since you are so American, What do article 1 and article 6 of the constitution say?

    4. Wow apparently the only drunks or unemployed according to you are Native Americans. I know for a fact that the amount of people in prisons are not Native Americans but rather whites, blacks and mexicans. As to your “white peoples” taxpayer money everyone pays taxes maybe not state tax but everyone does pay federal taxes so it isn’t all “WHITE” peoples tax money. If you are a God fearing white person you should know that he is always watching you and seeing the hatred you have in your heart won’t bode well for you when its your time to go. WIshing you luck in your next life think you will need it.

    5. None of those things you mentioned occurred before the white man came and introduced their decadent ways to the Native Peoples. You are the perfect example of an ignorant person with little or no education. Better get back to school and take a course on Native American history.

    6. Okay, that too.
      I guess the larger concern here is the “apparatus” is trying to eliminate an entire people from the history books, not to mention Women’s sufferage, and Slavery.
      Who are these people?
      I wonder if any of these officials will show up on the “anonymous” hit list?

    7. Yeah redflap aka fern thanks to us adapting to white man ways when none of that the stuff you threw at us was not present prior to whiteman. Every tribe was self sufficient and had no need for money. Black hills were stolen after the ” metal that makes whiteman crazy” was discovered. Europe probably needs you back home, they might need to be shown how intelligent you are there Darwins relative!

    8. @theredfern the ONLY Indian PROBLEM is WHITES like YOU! Since day one. Take some responsibility. We carry our ancestors responsibility in protecting this earth! And you go spouting off social problems implemented by your fairly young government.

    9. How can anyone be taught what you declare is wrong with Native life if the state has decided to remove all traces of Native history? This ridiculous and unnecessary decision is hurting no one but SD students who will all look like fools when they attend college outside of the state as they will be blissfully ignorant of their own state history. But to your point, remember, this was and still is Native land. The European invasion brought about explorers and missionaries and a part of invading a new land, any new land, involves the killing of those coming where they are not wanted. They walked into their own deaths even though they were warned. But when you compare the two, I highly doubt the numbers of trespassing white people does not at all compare the the population stats of the ORIGINAL AMERICANS, whose numbers were estimated to be around 20 million. A few short years later when the calvary was extremely successful in massacring my ancestors, the number had dropped to less than 20,000 across the nation. So if you want to talk MURDER, it is the white man who is guilty of this crime. The natives were simply defending what was originally and still is their land. As far as the Government ‘supporting’ Natives, it is obvious that even WITH education about what really happened in this country…the American Holocaust…people like you are not aware what really happened. That I don’t find that surprising as I am aware that pure ignorance is the root of racism. Your ancestors signed treaties that provided ALL necessary support for Natives for the remainder of time for the ‘use’ of land that belongs to Native Americans. This support is an all encompassing matter…shelter, medical care, sustenance and education to name a few of the items agreed to by both sides. So while you might scream drunkenness, unemployment, lack of proper education and whatever else your ignorant mind tells you is wrong with our culture, remember that this is ALL the result of what the European Invaders…YOUR ancestors agreed to. This is not the failure of Natives, instead it is the tremendous and miserable failure of the White man and his greed. The fact that the GOP elected leaders are removing all traces of Native American history seems to be a moot point as is evidenced by your errounous comments. Even though your generation was made aware of the history of this racist state…one of the most racist and anti-Native states in the union…people like you will be equal in education to the future generations of white people born and raised in South Dakota. Even though this should be considered a slap in the face of Natives across the country, the only people it is hurting are the future generations of white people. Natives have maintained their history by word of mouth and not written materials whereas the white man has to have everything recorded on paper in order to remember, or in this case, to try to erase the criminal beginnings of this state and the culture of a good portion of the FIRST TRUE AMERICANS, the Native Americans. The Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes will always be a part of the history of this state as nothing can change history. If it makes the Republican party feel great about their bottom of the barrel state by removing our history, then by all means do as has been secretly passed by your elected leaders. But the fact remains, South Dakota was started by criminals whose hands are and will forever be covered with the blood of the Native population. At least there is one thing you racists can be proud of. The extermination of Native Americans was so successful it was the basis of one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity in the world’s history. Adolph Hitler used this model of ethnic cleansing to eliminate a good portion of the Jewish population. The reservation system gave him the idea of concentration camps. Methods of murder and mass, unmarked graves also came from the US Government and the systematic elimination of an entire race of people…the AMERICAN HOLOCAUST was used as a model of action by the Nazis. How ironic…one of the worst cases of mass murder in the world influenced yet another case of mass murder half way across the globe. If South Dakotans can’t be proud of that fact, I don’t know what would make you ignorant, racist, bigoted white people happy.

    10. This comment is an example of why educating all Americans, not just SD people, is crucial. Clearly there is a lack of understanding about treaties between nations that were agreed to by the USA and hundreds of sovereign nations providing “compensation ” for the expansion of America. Let’s let go of misconceptions and learn respect.

    11. Redfern’s comment is an example of why educating all Americans, not just SD people, is crucial. Clearly there is a lack of understanding about treaties between nations that were agreed to by the USA and hundreds of sovereign nations providing “compensation ” for the expansion of America. Let’s let go of misconceptions and learn respect.

    12. @TheRedFern; you SERIOUSLY need to get yourself better educated about any subject of this importance PRIOR to commenting about it.

      Your diatribe is laden with SO MUCH ignorance that you come across as an absolute moron in every sense of the word.

      Most, if not all of the things you mention are related to, and are attributed from the very fact that native peoples have been mistreated, lied to and otherwise decimated by our forefathers – who by the way were IMMIGRANTS, FOREIGNERS, and TRESSPASSERS on this land.

  4. Your ignorance is showing TheRedFern. Read a book instead of spouting off a litancy of insults no doubt imbedded in your brain and attitude by racist genes. In fact, go to the library, look it up. Buy Black Hills White Justice and read it. Ignorance is slothly, unmotivated, and unacceptable in this day and age. Ignorance breeds ignorance

  5. I’m surprised they even had that in their curriculum at all. It wasn’t taught to me when I went through school. I’m glad it WAS in their curriculum. I wonder when they put it in. Taking it out now feels like a whole extra level of willful ignorance and hatred of native peoples. Yuck. Bring it back.

  6. Were it not for the Native Americans, the Europeans would not be here. I just cannot understand why there is so much hated toward the Native Americans, especially in South Dakota. (State name: Dakota)

  7. Yeah redflap aka fern thanks to us adapting to white man ways when none of that the stuff you threw at us was not present prior to whiteman. Every tribe was self sufficient and had no need for money. Black hills were stolen after the ” metal that makes whiteman crazy” was discovered. Europe probably needs you back home, they might need to be shown how intelligent you are there Darwins relative!

  8. research the people who have say about the curriculum and see if their names are on “Anonymous’s list of KKK members that were outed!” then i think we will have a better understanding of who is rewriting history

    1. No it’s secretively. Secret means to hide something from knowledge, while secretive means having an inclination to hide something from knowledge. While South Dakota, in this particular case, made their education program public, they did so in the least transparent manner while still abiding by public disclosure rules. Hence, secretively.

  9. Freaking idiots history is a must..have, all of not buried the natives, enhanced is the root of our country.

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