South Dakotans are rising up. They want everyone to be able to learn the full history of their state and this country.
South Dakotans deserve the right to receive an equitable education where they can freely learn and talk about the history, experiences, and viewpoints of all marginalized communities in this country.
It's why the ACLU of South Dakota is opposed to bills like House Bill 1012 and House Bill 1337. But we’re not the only ones.
Read on to learn why Waniya (She/They) is voicing their opposition to bills that censor our classrooms.
I oppose classroom censorship bills like House Bill 1012 and House Bill 1337 because they are an attempt to discourage honest and open conversations about systemic racism in American history and how it still affects marginalized communities to this day.
I am here to say that we will not be censored.
As a Lakota Language teacher, I have personally witnessed the positive impact that connection with Indigenous culture and language can have on Indigenous children. Being able to freely and openly learn and discuss our history and culture is vital for healing the intergenerational trauma that has impacted every Indigenous family in South Dakota. Without the opportunity to learn a true and accurate account of our state and country’s history, many Indigenous children would be unable to access this path towards healing.
There is a long history of suppression of education on Indigenous history and culture not only in South Dakota, but across the country. it should be taught that Congressional and state policies created the oblivion of our language for our children. It also should be taught that the United States Government created the boarding schools that still exist to this day, where children were physically and sexually abused daily, forced to assimilate, and forbidden from practicing their culture or speaking their native language. It is impossible to properly teach lessons about these topics without feeling discomfort and anguish, but those feelings are important because every student deserves to know the truth.
Only when we know the truth can we reckon with our country’s history and be able to begin moving forward.
When I look at other thriving tribes that face the same systemic oppression such as the Maori and Hawaiians, these tribal people did not have culturally sustainable lives, until their language and history was restored through the education system. This is the direction we need to go in, forward towards societies that embrace the truth of our history and empower all South Dakotans to thrive, but our legislators keep pulling us backwards.
House Bill 1012 and House Bill 1337 are designed to make educators question themselves and their ability to speak freely about some of the most important issues of our time. It is our duty to ensure that our students are receiving culturally relevant teaching, equitable resources, and enjoy a safe learning environment.
Please join me in contacting our legislators today to oppose classroom censorship bills like House Bill 1012 and House Bill 1337.