Native Americans

Sculptures by Peggy Detmers stand outside Tatanka: Story of the Bison near Deadwood. The sculptures include 14 bison being chased by three Lakota hunters on horseback. (Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism)

State Supreme Court hears Kevin Costner dispute, pandemic relief case

BY: - March 22, 2023

The state Supreme Court examined disputes over sculptures commissioned by the actor Kevin Costner and pandemic benefits paid to a business owner as justices heard arguments in several cases Wednesday. The court held its first of two days of oral arguments for its spring term on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings. The […]

A voter fills out a ballot on Nov. 8, 2022, at a polling place in Sioux Falls. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Board of Elections changes voter registration form to comply with tribal lawsuit settlement

BY: - March 15, 2023

The South Dakota Board of Elections voted Wednesday to change the state voter registration form to fit the requirements of a 2022 lawsuit agreement between Native American tribes and the state. The lawsuit alleged numerous violations of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to allow people to register to vote while applying for […]

A screenshot of the new app that helps people learn the Dakota language.

New Dakota language app helps bridge gap between elders and youth

BY: - March 7, 2023

Khloe Cavanaugh learned some Dakota words from her grandfather growing up on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota. He was one of the few fluent first language speakers on the reservation. “I have an Indian name and I didn’t know how to say it in Dakota, so he taught me how to say it […]

The South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

House tanks last remaining bill to address Native American disparity in foster care placements

BY: - March 1, 2023

PIERRE – The House of Representatives shot down a bill that would have created a task force to study the causes and possible solutions for the disparate representation of Native American children in the foster care system. Senate Bill 191 sailed to the House with unanimous support from a House panel earlier this week. It […]

Sen. Red Dawn Foster, D-Pine Ridge, foreground, listens as Rep. Scott Odenbach, R-Spearfish, asks a question about a proposed task force on Native American children in foster care on Feb. 27, 2023, during a hearing at the Capitol in Pierre. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Panel backs task force to study foster care for Native American children

BY: - February 27, 2023

PIERRE – A House panel on Monday endorsed a two-year task force to study Native American overrepresentation in South Dakota’s foster care system. Senate Bill 191 cleared the full Senate last week. It’s the only bill related to Native children in foster care to have survived past a committee hearing so far this session.  The […]

Daughter-mother duo Marcella Gilbert and Madonna Thunder Hawk (left to right) pose for a photo for the "Warrior Women" documentary film. (Courtesy of Castle King LLC)

Mission of Wounded Knee activists continues 50 years later with children, grandchildren

BY: - February 27, 2023

The world had largely forgotten about Native American people by the early 1970s, said Marcella Gilbert. Native populations had been decimated by disease and colonization; their sprawling homeland where ancestors had roamed was splintered into reservations. The Lakota language was nearly extinct and practicing the Lakota religion was illegal. “People across the world didn’t even […]

South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn greets students inside the American Indian Student Center on campus. Part of the Wokini Initiative's funding went toward the construction of the center. (Courtesy of SDSU)

‘They saw the potential’: SDSU program boosts Native American success

BY: - February 20, 2023

South Dakota State University was the only college that sent recruiters to the reservation during Traelene Fallis’ junior year at Crow Creek Tribal School. So, she only applied to SDSU. “It just felt like they actually wanted me to be here,” Fallis said. “They were doing all these things because they saw the potential in […]

Marcella Gilbert organizes Lakota cultural activities and provides respite care for parents at the Children’s Village operated by Simply Smiles in La Plant, South Dakota. Bryan Nurnberger, president and founder of the nonprofit, serves as interim director of the foster care village. (ARIELLE ZIONTS / KHN)

It takes a village: Foster program is a new model of care for Indigenous children

BY: - February 14, 2023

LA PLANT, S.D. — Past a gravel road lined with old white wooden buildings is a new, 8-acre village dotted with colorful houses, tepees, and a sweat lodge. The Simply Smiles Children’s Village, in this small town on the Cheyenne River Reservation, is home to a program aimed at improving outcomes and reducing trauma for […]

Retired teachers, educators and community members lined the sidewalks outside The Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City on Feb. 10, 2023, protesting the proposed social studies standards ahead of the latest state Board of Education meeting. (Courtesy of South Dakota Education Association)

Opponents urge board to ‘go back to the drawing board’ for social studies standards

BY: - February 10, 2023

The public had a third opportunity to speak to the South Dakota Board of Education about proposed changes to the state’s social studies standards on Friday at The Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City, and many used the opportunity to criticize the current draft. Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, […]

Flags from various tribal governments on display near Cannonball, ND in 2016. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SD tribes would lose millions for tribal government if state eliminates food sales tax

BY: - January 26, 2023

PIERRE – A food sales tax cut that passed a House panel Thursday morning has raised concerns for South Dakota’s nine tribal governments. An official with the Bureau of Finance and Management estimated that the tribes would lose about $2 million in funding for tribal government operations if the food tax is eliminated, but admitted […]

State Sens. Lee Schoenbeck, left, R-Watertown, and Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, attend a committee hearing during the 2023 legislative session. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Bill to change the makeup of state Tribal Relations Committee passes Senate

BY: - January 23, 2023

PIERRE—A bill that would change the bipartisan makeup of the state’s Tribal Relations Committee passed through the Senate 27-7 on Monday and now heads to the House.  The bill, introduced by Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, R- Watertown, would strike a requirement for balance between Democrats and Republicans on the committee. Opponents argue that the move will […]

Inside the state Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘Center for American Exceptionalism’ gets first committee endorsement

BY: - January 23, 2023

A House panel endorsed a bill that would create a Center for American Exceptionalism at Black Hills State University on Monday. House Bill 1070, introduced by Rep. Scott Odenbach, R-Spearfish,passed through the House Education Committee on a 9-6 vote and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill would allocate $150,000 for the center, […]