James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

James Giago Davies: School fumbles historic opportunity after incident of racism

Sturgis school board fumbles historic opportunity

By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Columnist

Sturgis is in Meade County and one of the larger high schools in the state. It is not an especially racist community for this part of South Dakota, but given this part of South Dakota is especially racist, that may not be saying much.

I have lived in Sturgis for a number of years. My boy Griffin was graduated from Sturgis Brown High School in 2016. He was president of the drama club. He does not look Lakota, so did not receive any racism himself, nor did he witness much.

Recently some students from Sturgis High School posted racist pictures on social media about their upcoming homecoming opponent Pine Ridge. From an early age they have had uncharitable remarks about Lakota spoon fed to them across the dinner table. In other words, the adult authority figures they respect most, have no respect for Lakota, and these kids internalized that attitude and then projected it back at society.

Read more on racism in Sturgis in the Native Sun News Today: Looking back on Sturgis racial incident

The Meade County School Board voted 8-0 to forfeit the football game to Pine Ridge, and cancel their homecoming parade. They did the right thing to punish the students involved, and to set up future programs and interactions with Lakota schools to create a spirit of friendship and understanding. I believe they genuinely want these things, and school superintendent Don Kirkegaard and Athletic Director Mike Paris certainly want these things.

But looking back on the decision to forfeit, the better course of action would have been to play the football game, to give the Lakota a chance to be respected and honored, to play the Lakota flag song, and have the announcer explain what the words mean.

Support Native media and read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Sturgis school board fumbles historic opportunity

James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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