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Opinion
Giago: Real problem in South Dakota is race relations


"In the 1970s when Indian women accused the Indian Health Service of secretly sterilizing them, their protests fell on deaf ears. Of course, these same legislators would have thought of this procedure as just another form of birth control and a bit more effective than the “abstinence” they a pushing.

Having published the obituaries in newspapers I have owned for the past 25 years, I know without a doubt that Indian babies are dying at a proportion much higher than that of the state’s white population. I had to print their pitiful obits every week. Not once in all of those years did I ever hear one state representative cry out indignantly over this dreadful situation.

As I wrote recently, most white South Dakotans still believe Indians do not pay taxes and that we all get a check from the government every month. If they haven’t got past this misconception in more than 100 years, where can we find progress?

At the massacre of Indian people at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek, American soldiers drove bayonets into the bellies of pregnant women killing the baby and the mother.

My point is that the biggest problem in South Dakota is not Roe v. Wade. Instead it is the horrendous race relations between Indians and whites. Many white visitors from back East are stunned to hear the racist remarks about Indians made to them by lifelong South Dakotans. As one visitor was told by a local, “Oh, you have to live here and see these drunks and crooks up close before you would ever understand.”"

Get the Story:
Notes from Indian Country: South Dakota legislator likens abortion to slavery (The Native American Times 2/20)

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