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Students in Flandreau High School walkout in protest of proposed Social Studies standards

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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FLANDREAU, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Some students at Flandreau High School walked out of class Tuesday in protest of the South Dakota Department of Education’s newly proposed social studies standards. The demonstrators say those statewide changes could eliminate several aspects of native history from the curriculum.

Flandreau student Arianna Weston says leaving this part of history out can affect how native people are treated now.

“There’s a lot of stereotypes around us as well and our history not being taught is one of the problems with those stereotypes, if they don’t teach our history in school then how are they supposed to know exactly who we are, what we stand for, and where we came from,” said Weston.

Austin Kulm says even though he is not native American, he believes learning about native history is important in South Dakota.

“They can’t erase the history of where we live, it’s American history. There’s nothing more American than Native American, they were here first,” said Kulm.

Weston and Kulm thought only a few students would participate in the walkout, but both were surprised to see dozens of their classmates show up in support.

“I thought it was absolutely amazing seeing everybody here, I wasn’t sure there would be a lot of native students because there’s a lot of opposition just everywhere in this town, but the fact that people from other races, other cultures came and supported us is absolutely amazing,” said Weston.

Marilyn Allen and several adults in Flandreau did what they could to help the students, helping with signs, and speaking to the kids about their own experiences.

“It makes me really proud to see all these kids out here today showing their support standing in solidarity whether they’re native or non-native,” said Allen

Students who took part in the walkout hope this is just the start of trying to keep native history in the school education. Many are planning to email the superintendent their thoughts about native history and the curriculum.

The proposed social studies standards are not finalized, and the South Dakota Department of Education will be holding public hearings on the proposed standards throughout the school year. The next public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25th, in Aberdeen.

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