Local politics aren't as boring as you think they might be.

Elie Land picutred farthest from the right in the front row.

We the People is a blog series that features the stories of members, supporters, volunteers, and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Together we are accomplishing critical work in our state to protect and advance civil liberties across the Midwest and beyond.

Sometimes advocacy work can feel more like a marathon than a sprint.  

That is, results don’t often happen quickly – and sometimes require a lot of steps from getting from Point A to Point B. 

Elie Land knows that all too well. The Dell Rapids, S.D., native was a legislative page during the 2024 South Dakota legislative session and he averaged thousands of steps a day rushing between offices, hearing rooms, and the House floor and the capital coffee shop during the two weeks he spent in Pierre this year. 

But it wasn’t all coffee runs and committee hearings for the aspiring political changemaker. Elie took away some invaluable lessons from his time spent listening in on important decisions made by elected officials at the Capital – and he even learned that politics weren’t as boring as he initially thought!

“I feel like I have a better understanding as to how important it is for people to pay attention to local legislation, especially if you’re passionate about making a change for the better,” he said.

When did you first hear about the ACLU?

I heard about the ACLU of South Dakota from a club I’m a part of at school.

Which of the ACLU’s issue areas are you particularly passionate about and why?

I am passionate about disability rights, since I was diagnosed with autism, and I have many family members with disabilities. I think it’s important that people with disabilities have their voices heard. We have a lot to share.

In 2024, you served as a page in the South Dakota legislature. What was that experience like for you?

The page program was unexpectedly fun! Initially I thought it would be boring, but I was proved wrong when I met all the other pages and had some good conversations with the legislators. I also got a lot of speed walking in while I was working, because many of the legislators often asked for coffee, and it was very important to be timely with their requests.

What would you tell someone who is interested in becoming a legislative page?

Just try it out, it’s two weeks so there’s enough time to figure out your role, and you’ll learn so much. This is such an important program because local legislation is very important to listen to if you care about something that affects your community.

Outside of the legislature, how do you like to get involved in your community?

I do quite a bit of rock climbing and have met so many really awesome climbers who I like to talk to. I also do quite a bit of volunteering, mostly for outdoor work and conservation efforts.

What issues do you think are most important for South Dakotans to pay attention to?

I think South Dakotans should pay more attention to habitat destruction, and increase conservation efforts especially for future generations so they can have clean air and water. I also think that more people should know about disability rights, because people deserve the support they need to thrive.

About the Page Program: The legislative page program in South Dakota is open to high school juniors and seniors, including home-schooled students, from any school district in South Dakota, and gives them the opportunity to experience the legislative process firsthand by serving in the House of Representatives or the Senate for one of five terms during the Session’s main run. Interested in learning more or applying for the 2025 session? 

Get in touch with one of your legislators or contact the South Dakota Legislature for information.