Reaction from Tribal leaders and educators after removal of Native American references from South Dakota curriculum

Video

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A draft of Social Studies content standards has been released by the Department of Education. The draft of standards released differs in some ways from the initial proposal, which was submitted by the Social Studies Standards Revision Workgroup, made up primarily of educators from across the state.

The main way that the standards appear to be altered is the removal of references to Native American culture and history.

Some examples of this are the removal of Kindergarten history standard K.H.6.1: ‘Read or listen to Oceti Sakowin Oyate stories, such as Iktomi stories and historical lore stories,’ and of Grade 4 history standard 4.H.6.1: ‘Explain how the Oceti Sakowin and Oyate culture and other groups were affected by westward expansion, the creation of the reservation system, and the US assimilation policies and programs.’

Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, disagrees with the removal of these standards.

“All South Dakota citizens need to be taught what’s going on in the state and throughout the country,” he said. “You shouldn’t gloss over it — I think our citizens deserve better. They need to know the true history so they know what they’re dealing with.”

“Particularly in South Dakota,” said Bordreaux, “they need to know what our Tribal citizens — the history our tribes have faced — and if you gloss over that, it’s a disservice to the citizens of the state.”

Bordeaux says the absence of these standards affects both those within and without the Indigenous community. “You come away with a different view, and it’s not fair to you because you’re continuing to have racial prejudices against people,” he said.

Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is also against the removal of standards requiring education on Native American history and culture. “One of the things that I see wrong is, number one, the name of the state; South Dakota,” he said over the phone. “So where did that name come from? I think that should be taught. As Native people, we are Dakotah people — I think that is important.”

What’s kind of taking place here is the old process of assimilation again, where they say ‘save the man and kill the Indian’.

Harold Frazier

Frazier says that the removal of Native American information from the standards draws to mind a grim policy from American history. “What’s kind of taking place here is the old process of assimilation again, where they say ‘save the man and kill the Indian.” This process that Frazier refers to is the historical policy of using forced assimilation of Native children using means such as boarding schools in order to cut them off from their culture and heritage.

“A word that popped into my mind was ‘extermination’,” said Frazier while contemplating this assimilation. “We’ve got to know where we come from and who we are. That’s the most important thing,” he continued. “I’ve always been optimistic that when people talk about history — let’s really talk about the true history of where we were and why we’re here.”

This sentiment is shared by Bordeaux.

“The sooner a student knows about the history of this state, especially the tribal nations, I think you can engage more with the tribal nations, understand what they’ve been through and begin to have a dialogue in you want.”

One reason Fraizer said Native American cultural education must remain is due to the potential harm caused by ignorance of this history.

“To me, part of being unified is also being respectful. We don’t need people to make fun of or degrade our symbols — and it may happen that it was not really their intention to do that, but without realizing the significance or the meaning of it, somebody may do that.”

A statement from Chairman Frazier on the proposed social studies standards

Marcia Zephier is a retired South Dakota middle and high school educator, an adjunct professor of Native Studies, and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. According to her, there is no reason that some standards, such as recognizing South Dakota’s nine reservations on a map, should be removed.

“There’s no justification in my opinion,” she said. “Why can’t our 1st graders learn that? That’s the geography of our state. That’s our geography! There are nine reservations; let’s see where they’re at!”

Zephier compares the learning of the locations of South Dakota’s reservations to the learning of the location of other state landmarks. “Just like we see where our state capital is at, and our largest city and the Black Hills,” she said.

When it comes to Native studies in South Dakota, Zephier finds the education system lacking. “A lot,” she answers, asked what needs improvement. “Even when I teach my college class, I have many students that aren’t able to identify the reservations. They are not able to identify the groups of the Oceti Sakowin — and how that evolved into what we have in the present day.”

The Oceti Sakowin Oyate is the term used to recognize tribal communities within South Dakota and is one that has been removed from many of the standards in the draft.

Two members of the workgroup that created the initial standards prior to their revision have spoken to KELOLAND News.

“This is not the final proposal,” said University of Sioux Falls faculty member Stephen Jackson. “We would expect more changes to emerge.” Jackson said Department officials told the group there could be changes to the draft, “but that those changes would be done in consultation with the group.” 

State Sen. Jim Bolin is also a member of the workgroup and said that the Department was very clear on several occasions that there was the potential that the draft report could be changed. He says the revisions have been “pretty modest and minor” and said the reactions to the changes have “made a mountain out of a molehill.” Bolin said he prefers the term “adjusted”, and that he believes the changes are reasonable and acceptable.

In response to an emailed inquiry into the changes to the standards, Mary Stadick Smith, Deputy Secretary of the Dept. of Education wrote in part:

“Per state law (SDCL 13-3-48), the Department of Education is charged with preparing content standards and submitting them to the Board of Education Standards for final approval. In creating these draft standards, the department relied heavily on the recommendations of a stakeholder workgroup including K-12 educators, postsecondary representatives, parents, and representatives of business and industry. The department made certain adjustments before the release of the draft to provide greater clarity and focus for educators and the public.”

Mary Stadick Smith 

Stadick Smith also mentioned that the standards are now open for public comment, and a final public hearing before the Board of Education Standards is tentatively scheduled for March 2022. She thanks the workgroup members for their efforts and invites the public to weigh in with feedback.

Below is a comprehensive look at the grade-level standards which have been altered. Standards dealing with Native American issues have been highlighted in red, while those that have replaced them are highlighted in yellow. Other standards which have been changed but that are not directly related to Indigenous culture have also been listed below the highlighted sections.

Kindergarten Myself and My Classroom

History

K.H.6.1: Read or listen to Oceti Sakowin Oyate stories, such as Iktomi stories and historical lore stories.

K.H.6.1: Understand that there are different people and cultural groups that make up South Dakota’s communities.

Civics

K.C.6.1: Discuss the meaning of kinship to the Oceti Sakowin Oyate.

Geography

K.G.6.1: Discuss the tribal nations of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate.

Also removed from Kindergarten standards was the goal to ‘locate South Dakota on a map of the United States’.

Grade 1 Living, Learning, Working Together in the Community

History

1.H.6.1: Discuss the Oceti Sakowin Oyate creation story, including correct chronological order of the story.

1.H.6.1: Identify celebrations and traditions various cultural groups bring to South Dakota communities.

Grade 1 history also adds a standard for students to ‘identify primary and secondary sources’.

Civics

1.C.6.1: Identify symbols of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, including but not limited to star quilt, buffalo, and medicine wheels.

Geography

1.G.6.1: Recognize the nine contemporary reservations of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate on a South Dakota Map.

The following standard was also removed from Grade 1 geography.

  • Distinguish the difference between spending and saving.

The following standard was added to Grade 1 geography.

  • Explore ways in which people earn money.

Grade 2 Making a Difference in My State and Country

History

2.H.6.1: Discuss the culture of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate before European interactions.

2.H.6.1: Investigate and discuss the community’s cultures and history.

The following standard has also been added to Grade 2 civics.

  • Understand that primary and secondary sources can be based on fact or opinion.

Civics

2.C.6.1: Explore the concepts of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, including but not limited to tribal flags, celebrations (powwows), beadwork, dreamcatchers, music, and artwork.

The following standard has also been removed from Grade 2 civics.

  • Describe citizenship in our local community and state.

The following standard has been added to Grade 2 civics.

  • Understand and identify how governments are funded.

Geography

2.G.6.2: Identify names and locations of Oceti Sakowin Oyate tribes within our communities and state.

2.G.6.1: Identify the regions of South Dakota.

Grade 3 – Movement Through My World

History

3.H.6.1: Investigate and discuss a students’ community’s culture and history.

In Grade 3 history, the proposed curriculum called for a unit to ‘compare and contrast historical American figures’. This has been changed to a segment to ‘explain the importance of famous American figures including but not limited to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’.

Civics

3.C.6.1: Describe tribal organizational structures (councils, chairman, etc.) that are formed to benefit the entire tribe.

While the above standard has been removed, another standard originally designed to ‘identify the structure, roles, and responsibility of local government’ has been expanded to now ‘identify the structure, roles, and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, and federal governments’.

Geography

3.G.6.1: Research the nine tribes in South Dakota.

Grade 4 – South Dakota

History

4.H.4.2: Describe the influences of various cultures on South Dakota communities.

4.H.6.1: Explain how the Oceti Sakowin and Oyate culture and other groups were affected by westward expansion, the creation of the reservation system, and the US assimilation policies and programs.

The following standards have been added to Grade 3 history.

  • Analyze causes and effects of events and developments in South Dakota.
  • Use evidence to develop a claim about the past.

Grade 5 Foundations of the United States

History

5.H.1.2: Describe the impact other countries had on Indigenous Native Americans in North and South America through exploration, conflict, and colonization.

5.H.1.2: Evaluate the physical and social effects of key conflicts with other countries on North America, from the Age of Exploration through the Revolutionary War.

The following standards have been added to Grade 5 history.

  • Create and use chronological sequence of related events to compare developments that happened during the same time frame.
  • Develop arguments using claims and evidence from at least two sources.

Civics

5.C.6.1: Introduce sovereignty as it applies to federal, state, and tribal governments.

The following standard was added to Grade 5 civics.

  • Explain how rules and laws change society and how people change rules and laws.

Geography

5.G.6.2: Explain how natural resources and migration affected the lives and culture of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate.

5.G.5.1: Explain how natural resources affect the distribution and movement of people, goods, and ideas.

Economy

5.E.4.1: Analyze the role of trade in early North American History, including trade among Indigenous Native American groups and Europeans. 

5.E.4.1: Analyze the role of trade in early North American History.

Grade 6 – World History

History

Grade 6 history does not deal specifically with Native American culture/history.

The following standard was removed from Grade 6 history.

  • Compare and contrast to identify multiple perspectives of the same people, ideas, or events (by using primary and secondary sources).

The following standards were added to Grade 6 history.

  • Use primary and secondary sources, identify and understand the ideas of a group of people in ancient society.
  • Construct arguments using claims and evidence using various sources.
  • Analyze and use primary and secondary sources to learn about and explain the past.

Grade 7 – Geography

Geography

7.G.6.1: Compare how cultural patterns influence environments and the daily lives of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, the people of South Dakota, and people around the world.

7.G.6.1: Compare how cultural patterns influence environments and the daily lives of the people of South Dakota and people around the world.

The following standards have also been added to Grade 7 geography.

  • Create an argument for the importance of the study of geography.
  • Use primary and secondary sources to draw conclusions on how past physical and/or human conditions influence present and/or future conditions.
  • Make a claim that supports how changes in technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices.

Economy

Grade 7 economics do not deal specifically with Native American culture/history.

The following standards have been added to Grade 7 economics.

  • Make a claim to support how the availability of resources provides for or challenges human activities.
  • Make a claim to show how technology affects the economic development of places and regions.
  • Evaluate how the relationship between physical and cultural characteristics of a place impacts economic activity.

Grade 8 – United States History

History

8.H.3.3: Examine major cultural traits and resiliency of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate throughout history.

8.H.6.1: Critique significant primary sources, including Oceti Sakowin Oyate Treaties, and their impact on events of this time period.

The following standards have been added to Grade 8 history.

  • Describe major military battles in the American Revolution.
  • Describe major military battles and campaigns of the Civil War.
  • Identify causes and effects of the War of 1812, Texas Revolution, and the Mexican American War.
  • Analyze the major sources of conflict that led to the Civil War.
  • Interpret the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents and evaluate their impact on the United States.

Civics

8.C.6.1: Evaluate the changing federal policy toward Indigenous Native Americans.

The following standards have also been removed from Grade 8 civics.

  • Critique conflicting points of view in the United States Government.
  • Draw conclusions on how the reform movements during the nineteenth century affected the United States.

The following standards have been added to Grade 8 civics.

  • Explain how European ideals of government influenced the development of the United States government.
  • Explain the ways in which governments meet the needs of citizens, manage conflict, and establish order and security.
  • Evaluate competing ideas about the purposes government should serve.

Geography

8.G.6.1 Examine major cultural traits and resiliency of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate throughout history.

The following standards have also been removed from Grade 8 geography.

  • Describe major military battles in the American Revolution.
  • Describe major military battles and campaigns of the Civil War.

Grades 9-12 – United States History

No direct references to Native American history/culture have been removed from Grades 9-12 history, though the specific term ‘Oceti Sakowin Oyate’ has been removed.

The following standards have been removed from Grades 9-12 history.

  • Students will use multiple perspectives to identify and assess the causes, events, and impacts of the Cold War Era on domestic and international affairs.
  • Identify the causes of and evaluate to what extent the Populist Movement, Progressive Era, the New Deal, and Great Society both succeeded and failed in their intentions.

The following standards have been added to Grades 9-12 US history.

  • Assess the development and progression of domestic and international security and their impacts on American society over the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Trace the development, role and impact of mid-20th and 21st century telecommunications and other technology on South Dakota and the rest of the United States.
  • Identify and analyze cultural changes throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Analyze and evaluate how individuals and groups responded to social, political, and economic problems in the United States from Reconstruction through the modern era.
  • Identify the causes and describe the events in American history, including but not limited to the Founding, American Revolution, Westward Expansion, and the Civil War and their effects on contemporary American history.
  • Identify the causes of and evaluate to what extent the following are examples of the tension between individual rights and role in the government: the Gilded Age, the Populist Movement, the Harding-Coolidge Presidencies, Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan Revolution to Clinton’s “end of welfare as we know it” and balanced budgets.
  • Identify and describe American economic and financial shifts and panics of the 20th and 21st centuries, including, but not limited to, the Great Depression, stock market crashes, and changing finance regulations, and assess their effects on present day events.
  • Examine various 21st century foreign and domestic events, such as 9/11, environmental disasters, social movements and their impacts on the United States through the development of new domestic policies and security.
  • Identify Constitutional amendments and critique their effects on American history post-Civil War Era to present day.
  • Evaluate the advancements and limitations of America’s founding documents and other primary sources and assess how these documents impacted future domestic policies and changes in American society.

Grades 9-12 – World History

9-12.H.2.2: Examine and draw conclusions about the ways in which exploration, imperialism, and expansion shaped the points of view of global populations, including indigenous peoples.

9-12.H.2.2: Examine and draw conclusions about the ways in which exploration, imperialism, and expansion shaped the points of view of global populations.

9-12.H.6.2: Analyze and evaluate how global economic, political, technological, and social trends have influenced South Dakota history, including Oceti Sakowin Oyate and other peoples who have settled in the state.

9-12.H.6.2: Analyze and evaluate how global economic, political, technological, and social trends have influenced South Dakota history.

The following standard has also been added to Grades 9-12 world history.

  • Evaluate how the implementation of fascist and communist ideologies led to purges and mass deaths throughout history, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China.

Grades 9-12 – Civics/Government

No direct references to Native American history/culture have been removed from Grades 9-12 civics/government, though the category of indigenous Native Americans has been removed from standard 9-12.C.5.9.

Standard 9-12.C.5.6: ‘Explain how increasingly diverse choices of media and communication outlets influence political institutions and behavior,’ was changed to read ‘Explain how the proliferation of media sources and new options for communication have shaped the political behavior of citizens and leaders.’

The following standards have been removed from Grades 9-12 civics/government.

  • 9-12.C.2.1: Analyze the direct and indirect effects of critical events on the origins of the United States government.
  • Develop arguments for and against the use of the Electoral College.

The following standards have been removed from Grades 9-12 civics/government.

  • Explain the purpose of the Electoral College.

Grades 9-12 – Geography

No direct references to Native American history/culture have been removed from Grades 9-12 geography.

The following standard has been removed from Grades 9-12 geography.

  • Critique the role of multiple perspectives in contemporary geographic policies and issues in South Dakota and around the world.

Grades 9-12 – Economics

No direct references to Native American history/culture have been removed from Grades 9-12, though in standard 9-12.E.4.8: ‘Explain the structure and function of the US banking system at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels has been changed to remove the terms ‘local, state, tribal, and federal levels.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Political News

More Politics

Latest Local News

See More Local News

Latest State News

See More State News

Inside KXNET.COM

More Don't Miss

KX News Trending Stories