Central High School students stage walkout to support teaching Native American history

Lakota Empowerment Club, a new group at CHS, staged the walkout with the help of NDN Collective, who were in Pierre speaking out as well.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 7:13 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - As the South Dakota Department of Education prepares to make a decision on public school social studies standards, people across South Dakota raised their voices, hoping to express their opinion on the potential removal of Native American history from schools.

Students of all races gathered outside of Central High School, voicing their opinion on the South Dakota Department of Education’s proposed removal of Native American history from social studies standards.

“It’s important that we know where we come from and it’s especially important for the students who don’t necessarily have a traditional background, don’t have a traditional household that they can turn to and ask questions to so at school that’s really all that they get,” said student and member of Lakota Empowerment Club, Adriana Young.

“Our school is very diverse and I think to take away one part of that diversity is crazy,” said students and club members Keera Taylor and Star Sharp Fish. “We all want to learn about each other. I want to know everything about my peers. So if a part of that was taken from me, it doesn’t make sense to me at all. The option just being gone is unthinkable.”

“When I heard about what they were doing to basically what happened to us, all the genocide, the residential schools, and everything they’ve done, it hurt my hear to hear it because it’s part of who we are, it goes back generations and whenever they said we were going to get together, and do something, I was all for it,” added Niyah Dukes, CHS student and Lakota Empowerment Club member.

Lakota Empowerment Club, a new group at CHS, staged the walkout with the help of NDN Collective, who were in Pierre speaking out as well.

Young said it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and Dejarae Little Bull agreed.

“Don’t be afraid to use your voice,” continued Young. “Don’t be scared of what other people think. When you do something that may seem small to you, it can mean a lot to a lot of people. Stand up for what you believe in.”

“I remember, Kristi Noem said she wanted to broaden what we learn in history and I just think that removing the standards in contradictory to what she said because we have a large and plentiful culture here in South Dakota,” said Dejarae Little Bull, CHS student and club member. “We have all of our tribes and the reservations and learning about that, not just to Native kids, kids of other ethnicities, it’s important for them to learn that.”

Rapid City Area Schools superintendent Dr. Lori Simon put out a statement saying, in part, “I have concerns about the recent revisions to the social studies content standards.”

And about the group that took part in and drafting the standards for review, Dr. Simon said, “In discussions with some of the educators on the committee, I have heard that many felt their expertise and work was discounted. Perhaps most importantly, the group felt key references and facts about Native American history were omitted.”

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