Several Native American measures await decisions from South Dakota legislators

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State lawmakers will consider a commemoration marking the 30th anniversary of South Dakota’s state holiday for Native Americans and asking people to renew the spirit that led to it.

They’ll also decide whether to ask that Congress repeal a Civil War-era act that banished American Indians from Minnesota to other U.S. lands, including what’s now South Dakota.

Representative Tamara St. John, a Republican from Sisseton, introduced House Commemoration 8003 about Native American Day.

St. John, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate member, serves on the Legislature’s State-Tribal Relations Committee that requested the commemoration.

It refers to then-Governor George S. Mickelson proclaiming 1990 as a year of reconciliation in South Dakota.

The Legislature in 1990 added the second Monday of October as an official holiday for state government employees to honor Native Americans. A related decision saw the Legislature designate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday.

The commemoration also calls upon South Dakotans to attend the Native American Day parade scheduled in Pierre for October 12 and “to begin a process of mutual respect and understanding.”

The State-Tribal Relations panel also proposed House Concurrent Resolution 6002 that calls for Congress to repeal what’s commonly known as the Dakota Removal Act.

Representative Shawn Bordeaux, a Democrat from Mission, is its prime sponsor. He is a Rosebud Sioux Tribe member.

The resolution summarizes a history of actions by settlers, tribal people and traders toward each other in Minnesota from 1858 to 1862 that led to tribal leaders attacking the New Ulm settlement, killing more than 500 settlers. In return, the U.S. government hanged 38 Dakota warriors.

Congress followed in 1863 by ordering removal of the Sisseton, Wahpaton, Medawakanton and Wahpakoota bands of Sioux or Dakota Indians and deprived them of their treaty lands. They went to reservation areas in what now are South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska.

The resolution asks for the 1863 acts’ repeal and notes that it “would not affect any property rights originally established through the law nor impact any of the land that was given to any of the tribes” during passage of the removal acts.

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