Harold Frazier
Harold Frazier. Photo by Kevin Abourezk
South Dakota Department of Education changes to workgroup suggestions on curriculum in South Dakota schools
Monday, August 16, 2021

EAGLE BUTTE, South Dakota — Recently, a workgroup was convened of more than 50 people who were responsible for this year’s review of drafting social study standards for South Dakota schools.

This group included K-12 educators, postsecondary representatives, parents and representatives of business and industry. The group put together an unprecedented curriculum designed to teach about the Lakota people, how our history has intertwined and our present-day situation.

Unfortunately, the bureaucrats and politicians who commissioned the workgroup gutted the portion of the curriculum regarding our Indigenous people. There is so much that must be taught to the children in order for them to understand the world they will inherit, and it begins with an understanding of one another. Removing the important lessons of who we are, where we came from and why things are the way they are, robs every young mind of the necessary understandings to overcome the hurdles of conflict, genocide, and historical trauma.

Land Back
Youth from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and hold a Land Back flag at the Washington Monument as part of a #ShutDownDAPL rally in the nation’s capital on April 1, 2021/ Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

If civics is truly to be taught to South Dakota’s children then I remind you that the Doctrine of Discovery is how you justify your behaviors and that Article 6 of the United States Constitution states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

This means that the treaties made with us are United States treaties, which makes them the Supreme Law of the Land and must not only be honored, they must be taught so they are not forgotten.

What is even more disturbing is the effect removing our shared history will have on Lakota children in public schools in this state. Again, they will be relegated to the “bad guy” in every fantasy about the American conquest. Ignored will be our great leaders, people, culture, contributions, and rightful lands. Again, our children will be brainwashed by oppressive versions of our shared history that assimilates them into gratitude for Manifest Destiny, rather than the truths you inflicted, and now wish to erase.

Our children were stolen from us in past generation, forcefully assimilated or secretly buried in boarding schools under the “kill the Indian and save the Man” ideologies, and it would seem that the task to erase them has not ended under Governor Kristi Noem’s administration and leadership.

This message is to our wakanyeja (children): They have tried to exterminate or assimilate us and they have failed. You are loved and important to your families and our Oyate (Nation).

You deserve to know the truth and you will not get it in South Dakota public schools. They have made that message clear.

Hecetu elo.


Harold Frazier is serving his second term as chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, an Indian nation based in South Dakota. He also serves as president of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association. He previously served as chair and vice chair of his tribe and as an area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians.