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News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Lynch them abortionists, burn them books

I have lived in South Dakota for 43 years, half of my lifetime. After four decades, South Dakota has never become home to me. The state has some attractive qualities, but they are overshadowed by some corrupting factors that are a serious malignancy. I ended up here because I found a professor's job here at a time when the U.S. higher education system had produced far more doctorates than there were jobs nationally. I felt fortunate to get the job. At the time South Dakota was not much different than its midwestern neighbors. But as the 21st century progressed, the state went on a regressive course that disqualifies it from being considered a democracy.

I moved here from Illinois where I was a registered Republican, what is termed a Lincoln Republican. My special area of study and teaching is Native American literature. Before moving here, I had developed many contacts within the state with whom I met and corresponded in the course of my work. But after I had been here for a while, I noticed a coolness from my Native American associates. I mentioned it to a friend from Pine Ridge. He said the coolness was because I had become an employee of the state of South Dakota. Therefore, my contacts were not sure I could be trusted.

That situation was a reflection of a defect in the state that has grown into a major deformity. With nine tribal nations holding territory in the state, there has always been tension since the western Indian wars. But rather controlling and diminishing discrimination and racial hatred, the state has firmly developed in a way that establishes those defects of mind and character as an identifying part of the culture. It has established a single-party system of governance that solidifies and perpetuates a philosophy that is in basic contradiction to the moral and intellectual premises of American democracy. Ignorance and malice are considered admirable traits. When it came time for me to vote, I registered as a Democrat.

The problems in South Dakota are reflected in the daily news:

  • A hotel in Rapid City posts a notice that it will not allow Native Americans to stay there.
  • Some school board members announce that they intend to destroy some books.
  • The people establish a referendum to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. It passes, but the governor finds a way to obstruct it.
  • A panel of 40 people, many of them classroom teachers, produced a set of standards for teaching social studies in the public schools. The Department of Education edited out requirements for Native American history and sent it to the governor who rejected the entire project and appointed a panel of her pet hacks to create standards more to her liking.
  • South Dakota still vies for top place in leading the nation in the brain drain, the loss of talented and educated people to other states.
  • SmartAsset ranks the South Dakota higher education system as the worst in the nation.
South Dakota has created a fantasy that it is a place of honest, kind, hard-working people of good will. The news coming out of the state refutes that myth. So does the voting record of its people during the 21st century.

The facts show that if you wish to live in a place of good will, nice people, and a functioning democracy, South Dakota isn't it.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Newquist you and Dr. Fuller were a few of the best and most enjoyable professors I had at Northern. It was a summer Creative Writing class taught by both of you. You both may have referred to it as the Dave & Dave show. After taking a year off from graduating from Roncalli I enrolled at Northern in 1983.

There was an Anglo professor there who specialized in teaching various Native American history and culture classes who was known to immerse himself in their culture. His classes were required for future South Dakota educators if I remember correctly. My younger brother and I both had a desire to take this class as an elective to better understand, learn, be able to relate and be respectful to Native Americans that had moved to Aberdeen to work at IHS or BIA where our mother(non-native) once worked and developed life long friends being her 2nd job out of college. They may have moved to attend Northern or for other opportunities. One family business was our rental properties and this Native American history and culture class would help us break down possible barriers and open up other opportunities.

My brother was the first to take this class (fall semester 1985) and would remember him coming home for a family dinner and be excited sharing with my father, mother, sister and I what he had learned and we would be excited to learn and ask questions. By the time I was ready to take this class as an elective in my schedule this professor had resigned from Northern and transferred to another college or university. I was really disappointed and still regret it to this day.

I remember classes covering South Dakota Native American history when I was in the Aberdeen Catholic School System and especially at Roncalli High School. An example was the tribe that lived in the Aberdeen area. It was fascinating.

Fast forward will Governor Noem's hand picked panel not include in their curriculum the Fort Laramie Treaty? The Dakota War? The history the state's name? The nine tribes with their rich culture and history? Examples taught could be European settlers dismissing members of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate as primitive to later find out they were quite advanced in regards to astronomy and in other areas if I remember correctly. So much to learn, discover and appreciate.

Miranda Gohn

Eve Fisher said...

Let's also not forget the egregious cases of outright corruption: EB-5, GearUp, tons of Covid money going missing. I always end my blog posts on South Dakota with the tag line, "South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry and act like Goodfellas." And it's true.

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