NDN Collective Responds to Gov. Noem’s Updated Social Studies Standards

August 17, 2022

NDN Collective Responds to Gov. Noem’s Updated Social Studies Standards

“The newly proposed SD social studies are merely another reflection of Governor Noem’s refusal to address inequity and racism –  whether it be in policy, practice, or curriculum. The proposed social studies standards do not accurately reflect the truths or experience of Indigenous people, specifically those of the Oceti Sakowin."

For Immediate Release: August 17 2022

Rapid City, SD – Today, in response to Governor Kristi Noem’s social studies standards which were updated after public outcry over blatant erasure of Indigenous people in last year’s original proposal, NDN Collective released the following statements:

“The newly proposed SD social studies are merely another reflection of Governor Noem’s refusal to address inequity and racism –  whether it be in policy, practice, or curriculum,” said Korina Barry, managing director of NDN Action. “The proposed social studies standards do not accurately reflect the truths or experience of Indigenous people, specifically those of the Oceti Sakowin. Sugar coated history lessons that do not acknowledge the oppression that Indigenous people in South Dakota have experienced – and continue to experience – further perpetuate white supremacy.

“The Noem Administration should be fully adopting the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings, and creating mechanisms for accountability to ensure all students in the state are learning about real Lakota values, culture, and history.” 

“It is a sad day in education today – not just for Indigenous students, but for all students,” said Mary Bowman, Founder, Oceti Sakowin Community Academy. “Youth need a well-rounded education that provides an accurate portrayal of history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Reflecting on the mistakes we make allows us to truly learn and become better.

“Kristi Noem handpicked each person on the committee, which is why very little of the Oceti Sakowin standards were included. Under these standards, Indigenous students do not have the opportunity to see themselves, and non-Indigenous students are being done a disservice by being fed a white-washed lie about our state’s history.”

“This is a curriculum with a political agenda,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective. “We organized, we called them out, and they still came back with a watered down, colonial version of our shared history. This is why we have to build community-based solutions for Native students.

“We’re not going to wait for South Dakota’s government to continue playing games with our children’s lives. At our school, we will teach accurate history, and work to turn our young people into the warriors of tomorrow. Our children will be armed with the truth – it’s the only way to battle ignorance and dismantle white supremacy.”

Next month, the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy will open, providing Rapid City with its first Indigenous-led, community based school. The school is being made possible by NDN Collective and the NACA Inspired School Network.

Last year, NDN Collective led the Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children in opposition of the SD Department of Education’s originally proposed social studies standards. The march drew thousands of Indigenous people and allies from across the state, and organizers made specific demands around drafting the standards.


NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

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