News Release

NDN Collective

Today, in response to Governor Kristi Noem’s response to Indigenous-led pushback against her proposed updates to South Dakota’s social studies standards, NDN Collective released the following statement:

“Governor Noem can’t gaslight us into thinking she has any intent to provide South Dakota’s students with an accurate history of our people,” said Sarah White, Director of Education Equity at NDN Collective. “Her implication that increasing ‘references’ of Native peoples in the newly proposed standards will provide a more honest account of our people is false, dangerous, and deeply offensive. Her own — very recent — history of blatantly railing against anything that doesn’t uplift white settlers as heroes speaks for itself.

“Noem’s repeated emphasis on obscuring the truth from our youth under the guise of fostering love for one another is an insult to their capacity to hold complex emotions. We believe Indigenous students have the right to see their ancestors represented in the classroom to continue to heal from generations of harm, and white students armed with accurate information of our shared history will have a greater chance of doing their own necessary work to reckon with the past and behave differently from their forefathers.

“All of South Dakota’s youth deserve -- and need -- to be taught the truth, if we are to heal wounds that are still open, and move forward together in real community and solidarity.”

On Monday, NDN Collective led the Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children, where hundreds of Indigenous people and allies from across the state rallied to call for the immediate resignation of

Governor Noem, South Dakota’s Department of Education Secretary, the Secretary of Tribal Relations, and the Director of Indian Education.

You can view a recording of the event here

You can view the group’s additional demands here.

Directly following the march, students at two high schools staged walkouts in solidarity with NDN Collective’s message, and the South Dakota Department of Education announced a five-week delay and a larger venue in Aberdeen for the first public hearing on the proposed content standards for social studies.

In May, Governor Noem joined the "1776 Pledge to Save Our Schools," a vow which promotes “honest, patriotic education” that cultivates “a profound love” for the country in children and bar “any curriculum that pits students against one another on the basis of race or sex,” among other vows,” according to the Hill.

Noem also published an op-ed alongside Ben Carson this spring, urging educators to specifically resist incorporating critical race theory into curriculums. 

About NDN Collective

NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

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