Last Real Indians reports an ugly racial incident at last Saturday's Rapid City Rush hockey match. 57 Lakota kids from the American Horse School came up from Allen Saturday to see the game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center as a reward for participation in an after-school program. Alas, according to dad and chaperone some yahoos in the VIP box above them started "talking crap to our kids and throwing beer on some of the staff and the students" during the third period. Poor Bear says one of the VIP thugs invited him up to the VIP box to fight. The parents and chaperones chose to leave the game.

KOTA gets confirmation that there was a fracas Saturday:

Craig Baltzer, executive director of the civic center, says “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Some of the things being said to the children were racially charged. I don’t know how to perceive people would behave that way.”

For the last five years, the Rush – according to Baltzer – has invited the students to a game. Until Saturday, the students have had good experiences.

“I’m very disappointed in how people behaved,” Batlzer said. “We have to bring these kids back to have a good experience” [Jack Siebold, "Bad Behavior at Rush Game Targeted Native Americans," KOTA-TV, 2015.01.26].

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center has posted an apology on Facebook. The businessman who provided the VIP box and probably the beer also expresses his regrets:

Tom Helland, president of Eagle Sales, a beer wholesaler, said his company rents the suite and allowed guests from out-of-town to use it. No one from the distributor was involved.

Helland says he is sorry about the incident and that his company is already working with the Rush to invite the kids back so they can have a better experience at a Rush game [Siebold, 2015.01.26].

So some guys get invited to enjoy some of the best seats in the arena to watch a friendly hockey game, and instead of just having fun and cheering for their team, they decide to throw their beverages and pick on children. Thank you, hockey fans, for demonstrating the opposite of manhood.


Dakota State University football coach Josh Anderson is unhappy with Oregon freelancer Nigel Duara's portrayal of his program and his community. Actually, nobody should be happy with how they appear in Duara's exposé on NAIA football. Duara makes Anderson sound like he tricked Robert Johnson and other out-state transplants with unkept promises. He makes Johnson sound like a liar. He makes Johnson and other ineligibles sound like lazy bums who arrogantly presume to know more than their coaches. He makes the DSU athletic department sound like a welfare queen counting on Medicaid to pay for health care for the young men it breaks in the pursuit of fleeting sports glory. He makes Madison sound like a Hicksville that doesn't support college football. And he makes NAIA football sound like a pay-for-play racket filled with deluded underachievers on the field and in the classroom.

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Coach Anderson appears to have reason to feel betrayed by Duara. He tells Madison sports beater Larry Leeds that Duara misrepresented his intent in writing about DSU football:

What Anderson thought would be a positive piece for Madison became an online rant about a small Midwestern town and the allegedly unmet expectations of a California athlete.

"It is my fault because I took a man for his word when I was told there was a desire to do a 'feel good' story about a young man (Robert Johnson) from California who went to junior college and then came to DSU to do good for himself [Larry Leeds, "Website Story Criticizes DSU; Anderson Sets It Straight About Football Recruit, Program," Madison Daily Leader, 2014.12.26].

Anderson says Duara misrepresents Johnson and his situation. Anderson says Johnson simply didn't meet the staggeringly low eligibility requirements to play NAIA ball:

Students coming out of high school need to meet two of three qualifications to play at the NAIA level. They need an 18 or better score on their ACT or an equivalent score on their SAT; a 2.0 or higher GPA; and must graduate in the top 50 percent of their class.

The only thing Johnson was offered by DSU was a scholarship upon becoming eligible.

"Our football staff and academic administration did all we could do to help Robert pass some tests to help him gain credits which would make him gain eligibility last fall," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way we all had hoped, but it was not for a lack of effort on anybody's part, especially Robert's" [Leeds, 2014.12.26].

Um, Coach Anderson? I appreciate your generous words as a coach in defense of your player, even an ineligible player whose comments gave a reporter fodder for some bad press. But let me speak as a teacher: not being able to meet two of the three academic criteria listed above is almost always a result of someone's lack of effort.

Coach Anderson challenges the picture Duara paints of a town not supporting college football. Anderson highlights the meals churches and businesses provide his players, the reinstated Trojan Parent program, and the service projects through which his team repays the community. "The entire town of Madison is nothing but supportive to DSU and Trojan football," Anderson tells Leeds.

Anderson's "entire" perhaps overstates things. Duara does find one local entrepreneur, Beth Klingbile, owner of Gary's Bakery, whom he gets to almost talk smack about DSU athletics:

But not everyone is receptive, like main street cafe co-owner Beth Klingbile. She should fit the profile of a school booster: A cheery local business owner who graduated from Dakota State and stayed in town. But when the topic of Dakota State athletics comes up, Klingbile's smile is a little less certain.

"Yes, they come and ask for donations," said Klingbile. "But that's the only time I see them."

Have you ever given them money?

She shakes her head [Nigel Duara, "An Honest Game,", 2014.12.17].

Duara imputes to baker Klingbile a "less certain" smile and a lack of financial support. Take Duara at his word (and as Anderson says, we should do so with caution), and we have one person to undercut Anderson's claim to entirety. But Duara doesn't balance the brief slice of his Klingbile conversation with an interview discussing the substance of support—the team meals, the Trojan Parent adoptions—with any of DSU boosters. He squirts ink mocking booster and Dairy Queen owner DeLon Mork's name and alleged accent, but he doesn't ask Mork about the specific actions through which he supports the football team of his alma mater.

Anderson may exaggerate just a touch when he says the "entire" town supports DSU football, but Anderson isn't a journalist. He's the leader and principal advocate for his program. He's doing his job. Journalist Duara is not.

(Speaking of balance, Leeds speaks to no one but Anderson for his response to Duara. He does not interview Johnson. He does not get comment from Duara. Maybe Leeds is offering a sort of blogospheric balance: Duara peddles his bias, Leeds gives the local retort, we read both and make our own call.)

That said, Coach Anderson doesn't entirely understand the job of a journalist:

Since time has passed since he first read Duara's posting, Anderson has realized that he is not mad at the author, just really disappointed with himself.

"What I learned, and what I would like others to learn from my mistake, is that I should have had the author sign a disclaimer allowing me to approve the article before anything was allowed to be published or posted," he said. "What is done is done, but I will not make that mistake again" [Leeds, 2014.12.26].

Again, Anderson gets carried away in absolutes. I'm just a blogger (darn right you are! I can hear Duara and Anderson growling at their screens), but I have never had an interviewee hand me any sort of written contract and demand my signature before we proceed with an interview. I've certainly had conversations with sources about what's on the record and what's off. I've checked back with sources to make sure I've gotten what they told me right. But I've never given—and I doubt other journalists give—anyone I've talked to prior restraint over entire articles.

Coach Anderson, did you require Larry Leeds to sign a disclaimer before publishing his interview with you?

Anderson will likely have a hard time sticking with his disclaimer/prior restraint vow. The PR side of his job requires that he share his thoughts pretty freely with the local press. Maybe he can maintain the traditional neighborly agreement with the Daily Leader's sports reporter, but I suspect he's going to have a hard time getting a written contract from every reporter who happens to ask him for a comment on the prospects for next season.

Perhaps Larry Leeds has already reminded Coach Anderson of the proper role of journalists, over coffee at Dairy Queen. Don't overstate your case, Coach—you don't need to resort to your own exaggerations and absolutes to properly point out that Duara dinged your program and your town with sloppy, axe-grinding journalism.


Nigel Duara's article on Dakota State University football includes one intriguing tidbit on DSU internal politics:

Two years ago, after nonstop losing, Dakota State's president pledged 2013 would be [head football coach Josh] Anderson's last season. Then that president resigned. His replacement, an interim president, hasn't issued any final edict. In the meantime, in an effort to win now and save his job, Anderson decided to go on a spending spree and spent double his $70,000 athletic budget. "I told my wife, I'm sick of nickel-and-diming it," he said. "If I have to hold bake sales, I'll make the cookies myself" [Nigel Duara, "An Honest Game,", 2014.12.17].

Former DSU president David Borofsky went on a canning spree during his two-year tenure in Madison, removing the athletic director, the VP academic, the dean of Arts and Sciences, and the dean and the assistant dean of Business and Information Systems before "retiring" last August and head to a temp job in Florida.

Borofsky apparently could get by with messing with administrators, but perhaps turning his sights on popular hometown coach Anderson broke some camels' backs and got the Regents (including Madison booster Randy Schaefer) to pay attention and bring an end to Borofsky's reign of terror.

And now with the target off his back, Coach Anderson enjoys the freedom to go 100% over budget. Hmmm... I wonder if any relieved professors are enjoying that same fiscal freedom this academic year....


Dander is up in Madison about a December 17 article on about the Dakota State University football team. Head coach Josh Anderson is unhappy with how Duara portrays his program in his exposé of the shady pay-for-play nature of NAIA football. I'll have more to say about Anderson's heartburn and Duara's thesis in a separate post, but for the moment, I'd like to critique Duara's journalistic skill and apparent cultural biases.

In his attempt to paint some cultural context for his far-flung readers, Duara, who grew up in Florida, got bad grades in J-school in Missouri, and now lives in Oregon, opens his piece by painting my hometown as Nowheresville:

The Middle of Nowhere, the very dead center, is probably somewhere on South Dakota's Country Highway 40 in Lake County. The city of Madison, pop. 6,474, birthplace of Entertainment Tonight co-host Mary Hart, is a good enough place to start looking. The town's motto is "Discover the Unexpected." That's as close to a warning as you'll get [Nigel Duara, "An Honest Game,", 2014.12.17].

Middle of Nowhere? Duara has apparently never driven out to interview Larry Rhoden in Union Center.

While I am glad to get an outsider's perspective that matches with my own long-standing assessment that our town marketing slogan invites ridicule, an article that opens with two glaring inaccuracies does not bode well for the writer's commitment to the truth.

  1. There is no "Country Highway 40" that runs through Madison. There is a county road designated as "40," the old pavement that runs west from Bourne Slough, turns to gravel where the old highway curves north at the old implement dealership, and continues west to the back end of Lake Herman State Park and Dirks Resort. Look at all the places on even that back road!
  2. The population of Madison, by the most recent published Census estimate, is 6,949. 6,474 was the 2010 Census count.

Duara isn't making things up when he says Madison is quiet, even on a home game day. "Madison is in a perpetual state of quiet during the harvest season," writes Duara, "when life in the Midwest should be rowdiest." Duara misses the fact that on a sunny October day, that harvest may have many people out in the fields working (which Duara saw on his way into town, men in a combine, but failed to put two and two together). I don't know what Saturday Duara visited, but he also ignored the competition of hunting season, which could draw many sportsmen away from the stadium for sport of their own. For all his striving to be an astute cultural observer, Duara seems to have been wearing blinders to some fundamental aspects of local culture.

Duara then gets personal in a way that further reinforces my impression that he wrote more of what he wanted to see than what he really saw. I don't know what to say about the journalistic credibility about a writer named Nigel Duara who says DeLon Mork is a funny name. "Unlikely" is the word Duara chooses to describe one of the most respected names in South Dakota business. Duara also sees fit to cast Mork in Fargo:

Mork owns the Dairy Queen in town, as did his father and his grandfather. He survived testicular cancer, twice. On National Blizzard Day, he outsells any DQ in the country. He busies himself around the store, fiddling with the shades or clearing counters. Customers leaving get a "see yuh!" in his heavily-accented speech from the Upper Plains. People like DeLon Mork.

A few wins and a few more close losses have him in high spirits.

"Aw jeez, dey're just turnin' it around up there, aren't dey!" he says, his perpetual smile brightening. He, perhaps more than anyone else, believes in this team and his friend, Coach Anderson [Duara, 2014.12.18].

Duara provides no phonetic transcription of anyone else's speech in this article. He certainly doesn't attempt to capture the regional flavor of the speech of California transplant Robert Johnson and his acquaintances back in exotic Palo Alto. He quotes Trojan player Cliff Marshall in standard English, with complete ending consonants and no hint of his Chicago dialect. He gives a hint of dialect from Johnson and another ineligible player, Collins Macauley, whom he catches leaving out a linking verb and an auxiliary verb in the midst of arrogant presumption against their coaches ("These the real coaches... they calling everything wrong") and using foul language.

Duara takes the one local booster who more passionately than any other can challenge Duara's desired portrait of Madison as a losing town and paints him as an ill-spoken yokel.

As Duara acknowledges, people like DeLon. I like DeLon. And DeLon's a tough enough guy that he probably doesn't care what Duara says about him. But I take it personally that, in pretense to literary wit, Nigel Duara thinks that twitting DeLon Mork, not to mention the entire town of Madison, helps advance his thesis that DSU football is part of an abusive NAIA system.

Were he to notice, Duara would likely twit my response here as small-minded, small-town defensiveness, another aspect of the dull culture that annoyed him so one sunny Saturday in October. The thing is, I agree with much of Duara wrote: Madison is not a big-league town. Dakota State University does not play big-league football. But Duara, with his simple inaccuracies and cultural bias, is not writing like a big-league journalist.

Bonus Copy Editing: Duara says Johnson has a tattoo consisting of "blueish rhombuses." I have a hard time finding a dictionary that will attest blueish as a preferred or even acceptable alternative spelling to bluish. And come on: if you love language, if you're swinging for the literary fences, you don't miss a chance to say rhombi.


At next week's meeting on the School of Mines campus, South Dakota's Regents will discuss allowing our six public universities to fund scholarships with tuition remission and late-payment fees. The information sheet accompanying that agenda item itemizes the current sources of scholarship money on each campus and breaks down how much money goes to athletic scholarships and how much to general scholarships.

Scholarships FY2014 Institution-funded athletic Institution-funded general Foundation-funded athletic Foundation-funded general Total Athletic/ Total
BHSU 41,912 62,180 416,738 646,075 1,166,905 39.30%
DSU 74,615 0 210,968 494,675 780,258 36.60%
NSU 0 60,000 992,031 823,937 1,875,968 52.88%
SDSM&T 0 0 789,284 1,675,074 2,464,358 32.03%
SDSU 2,744,037 1,637,612 886,230 4,589,191 9,857,070 36.83%
USD 2,524,445 126,792 746,910 5,643,805 9,041,952 36.18%
System 5,385,009 1,886,584 4,042,161 13,872,757 25,186,511 37.43%

In the last academic year, our six public universities mustered $9.4 million to lower tuition for the providers of our gladiatorial entertainment. That's 37% of the total scholarships our Regental system handed out. Notice the only university whose athletic support notably exceeds that average is Northern State: Aberdonian athletes get almost 53% of NSU's scholarship dollars.

Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

In this guest column for the Madville Times, actual live Native American Tasiyagnunpa Livermont weighs in on Watertown's cultural misappropriation, football, war, and racism:

Nobody likes to be told they are wrong.

Let alone racist.

I get it.

You feel like you are a pretty good person, and then suddenly, into your world of your own worries and personal concerns, some ticked off minority tells you that your world is not their world.

Your coziness, your personal issues and your own worries, yes, even those charming little things that you personally find comfort in, like football, don’t matter to them.

How dare someone criticize a group of children dressed like Indians during homecoming?

Or the name of a football team?

What is more laid-back and innocent that a game?


I know, I know, Indians just need to get over it.

The Indians lost, America won, and just move on, people.

For God sakes, we bombed Japan and they’re doing just fine.

What the hell does football have to do with war, anyways?

Turns out, a whole lot.

American Football is the vehicle by which historically we have trained our military during war and kept youth fit for the military.

In fact, the military can be thanked for democratizing football, because in the 1800s only America’s elite Easterners in fancy colleges played or cared about football.

Back then, football was violent and bloody, and played by America’s most wealthy.

Last week, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aired a segment that he had to give a lengthy forward to, because as one website put it, “Washington football fans freak out when confronted by actual live Native Americans.”

My fellow Americans, and South Dakotans, let me tell you something utterly shocking.

American Indians are not dead.

Oh, we were butchered, slaughtered, murdered and fought against, to be sure. We have suffered disease and war, both in our own lands and during major wars of American history on these shores and over seas.

We have been starved, marched, imprisoned and stolen from.

And yes, there are tribes that no longer exist in our country, utterly succumbing to Manifest Destiny.

Tribal differences aside, the homogenizing affect of hundreds of years of genocide and war has given us a solid voice.

And that voice says, stop glorifying our deaths.

Stop lying to yourselves that you are honoring a culture by calling it a slur associated with blood money.

In a country that prides itself on leading the overthrow of a government that murdered, imprisoned and yes, traded the body parts of a minority, America—you can be better than this.

The settler colonial worldview gave birth to a myriad of false stories, mythologies and justifications for how America treats those indigenous to this land.

Among these is a cultural agnosia that perpetuates us as things of legend and story.

In this agnosia, American Indians become nothing more than characterizations in stories like the Indian Maiden in Peter Pan.

Or Slurskins in the NFL.

And when presented with "actual live Native Americans," American football fans don’t know how to react.

The American Indians didn’t all die, as their history books taught them.

Even in South Dakota, in a state (and territory) named for an American Indian tribe, the Dakota, children of pioneers protected by forts against Indians, still think it is cute to re-enact their own false mythologies of Indians and dress up in faux-buckskin.

What would those children do if some South Dakota tribal students walked up to them and said, "Stop. We aren’t fantasy or figments of your historical imagination. You may not imagine us away into colonial imagery of pilgrims and Tonto and autumn displays of corn and leaves."

Would those children react the same way as fans of the Washington Slurskins did when "actual live Native Americans" went to FedEX stadium and were threatened to be "cut."

I don’t know.

I want to believe better than that of my fellow South Dakotans. I want to believe better of the children my son could play football against at State.

Cultural criticism can hit awful close to home. It can feel personal, because we are all products of our cultures, and it is against what we know about ourselves.

So is racism.

Yes, even the sort that puts on a jersey and takes to the battlefields of American football.

Go team!

Tasiyagnunpa Livermont is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She consults with small businesses on marketing and blogs at Sustainable Dakota.


And another thing: Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey's poopy-sex tirade veers around the corner to attack the South Dakota High School Activities Association for establishing policies on transgender student participation:

The South Dakota High School Activities Association is presently considering changing the rules to accommodate transgender kids. Forty-one percent of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria attempt suicide, that's twenty-five times the rate of the general population– certainly tragic and urgent but not a word from the medical and psychological communities? So really, we are letting our basketball coaches sort it out while ACLU lawyers look carefully over their shoulders!?

Letting boys play girl sports is not the starting place to fix the suicide problem or the very real daily struggle these students face dealing with something they have been handed in life. Society is broken and people have broken identities. Is it really best for us to break down the one remaining thing that has been working in society to try to fix the broken in our midst? And does it really even do that, or does it merely put them in more places exposing them to additional painful ostracization all the while transferring serious anxieties to other innocent and impressionable ones in those locker rooms? We need to have compassion but there are unintended consequences to consider too [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "A One Way Alley for the Garbage Truck," Facebook post, 2014.04.28].

From a pure composition teaching perspective, Hickey's digression on the SDHSAA and transgender students does not fit with his main thesis, that anal sex is unhealthy and we thus should not overturn South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage. Accommodating the needs and desires of students who feel their psychological identity does not match their biological sex is really an entirely different issue. Transgender students may or may not be engaging in any sexual activity, and what they do with their anuses (ani?), mouths, and other equipment is (1) none of our business and (2) irrelevant to whether they are allowed to participate in basketball or volleyball. (Hey, kids, did you notice this question won't come up at all in debate, interp, one-act play, or any of the other fine arts activities the SDHSAA offers?)

Whether we assign transgender students to boys or girls sports is a sensitive topic, requiring thoughtful deliberation. Having very little experience in this area, I will tentatively suggest that, while I don't want to question anyone's chosen identity, basic hardware questions apply. If you are a female trapped in a male body, and you haven't started the physical treatments to change your body, you have a male body, and it's only fair that you compete against other male bodies.

But in the mean time, what you do with that body when you are not on the court or the track is your business. Follow training rules, be healthy... but don't let Pastor Hickey tell you that your sexual choices should affect whether or with whom you get to play ball at school.


Also on the agenda for today's state Board of Education meeting in Sioux Falls is the first public hearing for new state physical education standards. A team of 26 South Dakota PE teachers and other experts have written up proposals for helping our kids become "physically literate individuals." What do these experts expect of our physically literate kids?

  • Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates proficiency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Standard 2: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics to enhance movement and performance.
  • Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Standard 4: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self, others, and environment.
  • Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, employment opportunities, and social interaction [South Dakota Physical Edcuation Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education, revised February 2014].

For today's workout, let's put on our Common Core tinfoil hats and see what could possibly be wrong with this effort to make our kids better, stronger, faster:

  1. The proposed South Dakota PE standards pretty much copy national standards written by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
  2. The national task force that worked on these standards "sought to ensure that... the standards parallel common core standards language/structure." Aaaaahh! Common Core!
  3. The South Dakota educators slip the word environment into Standard 4. Aaaahh! Agenda 21!
  4. The PE standards make frequent mention of "invasion games," obviously intending to train our children in the techniques necessary for storming the Church at the Gate and forcing Pastor Hickey to pronounce homosexuals wife and wife.
  5. Standards S3.M18 and S1.H2 recommend yoga as a fitness activity. Aaaaahh! Hindu devils! New Age Theology!
  6. Also promoted by the PE standards: square dancing. Aaaaa—wait: acceptable, but only if we integrate this standard with our technical education standards and teach square dancing in skid-steers:

The Board of Education is holding a public hearing on these P.E. standards today. They're introducing the P.E. standards before Senate Bill 64 takes effect, so technically, the Board doesn't have to hold the three more public hearings that would be required by the only bill passed out of the anti-Common Core hubbub this session. But if you ask nicely, perhaps with a nice rhythmic dance routine demonstrating your physical literacy, maybe the Board of Education will oblige with another hearing.

Now, time for that nice morning walk....

p.s.: Standard S1.H2 also proposes teaching high school kids parkour. Elementary teachers sigh at seeing undone their years of labor to get kids to walk quietly and single file.


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