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Chamberlain School Board’s Power Trip Controls, Marginalizes Native Americans

Last updated on 2013.12.11

Following the bad precedent it set just before members of the Class of 2013 collected their diplomas, the Chamberlain School District has confirmed its misguided and marginalizing decision to keep a Lakota honor song out of its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2014—and, the School Board President implies, any future commencement ceremony.

The four veteran Chamberlain School Board members (Rebecca Reimer, Leanne Larson, Jay Blum, and Dallas Thompson) voted against including the honor song. None of the board's three newcomers opposed the song, with Foster Iverson and Marcel Felicia voting in favor of including the song and Casey Hutmacher citing an unexplained "conflict of interest" to abstain.

Reimer, the School Board President, is upset about the controversy. She made her frustration clear in a post-vote commentary shared in the nearest daily newspaper, Mitchell's Daily Republic:

Reimer said the honor song discussion was not about the students, academics or even the song itself.

“It’s about control and power. It’s about control and power,” she said. “I’m extremely disappointed in a handful of people” [Jessica Giard, "Chamberlain School Board rejects Indian honor song again," The Daily Republic, 2013.12.09].

This controversy is indeed about control and power.

It's about using the power of elected office to control who is and isn't allowed to speak. (For the record, the "isn't" category last week included Marcel Felicia, the board's only Native American member. This week, some audience members questioned the lack of student speakers on the board's agenda.)

It's about using the power of a colonizing history and a numerical majority to control the parameters of any so-called compromise.

It's about using the power of perceived authority to control the perceptions of your opponents, minimizing them as just a "handful of people" or demonizing them as being full of issues from a substandard home life.

It's about using the power of entrenched institutional racism to control the entire framework of the conversation. It's about flaunting that controlling power by characterizing majority-defined token efforts as benevolent gifts to the marginalized ...

“Our district has gone to great lengths to build relationships with the Native American population of Chamberlain School District,” [Reimer] said. “In fact, we’ve done more for this particular group than any other group in the 11 years I’ve served on the board” [Giard, 2013.12.09].

by blaming opponents' criticism, not the initially marginalizing action, for being harmful ...

“Here we are again voting on a topic which is meant to honor all and bring people together. Instead it’s dividing a community,” [Reimer] said [Giard, 2013.12.09].

and by serving as the self-imposed arbiter of when the matter is settled ...

“This agenda item has been exhausted and after tonight it’s done,” [Reimer] said [Giard, 2013.12.09].

The Chamberlain School Board majority (with the vocal support of Superintendent Debra Johnson and tacit approval of Principal Allan Bertram) has inexplicably dug in its heels on this issue for the sole purpose of asserting and protecting its own power and control. This majority apparently believes its own all-important power and control are so tenuous as to be threatened by a single song.

Though it's a different handful than Board President Reimer's, I'm also extremely disappointed in a handful of people. The citizens of the Chamberlain School District, who elected the handful of people I'm thinking of, should be extremely disappointed in them, too.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.10

    It's all such blatant Jim Crow that it's difficult to respond. I'm nonplussed.

    Jim Black Crow?

  2. rollin potter 2013.12.10

    reminds me of back in the 1990s when the superindendent of the school and the manager(president) of the bank(who was on the school board) were on the board of the Kramer trust fund to help low income students with there college education. The superindendent and the bank manager both got financial aid for there children but lower income students were denied!!! they are both out of the area now but not sure if there children ever paid off there loans!!! Not sure what ever happened to the kramer fund. Checked with the bank that was inituily in charge of the trust but they are not sure what happened to it. power and control!!!!

  3. Jenny 2013.12.11

    Sigh......SD has such a long ways to go. I really thought that small town South Dakotans had a little more respect than this. The funny thing is that SD prides itself on being a generous, friendly state that will help anyone out. Well, obviously that doesn't include native americans. Such a small gesture that would have meant a lot and possibly helped native American students in regards to pride, self-confidence, reassurance, depression, etc. I'm glad I don't live in small town SD where prejudice is alive and practiced by petty school board officials.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.11

    Chamberlain, the Montgomery, Alabama of South Dakota.

  5. Oldguy 2013.12.11

    I can't understand the harm a song would do. I wonder what cays conflict was?

  6. caheidelberger 2013.12.11

    Well said, Toby. The board is digging in its heels against a demographic trend it can't stop. The longer they cling to power and privilege, the harder the ultimate transition of power will be. The board is treating a growing minority poorly. When the board members and their preferred constituents become the minority, they will have to hope nobler sentiments prevail among the new powers.

  7. Rorschach 2013.12.11

    These school board members are taking their counsel from a handful of rednecks and making the whole community of Chamberlain look like racists. It's not so, but that's the appearance of these actions.

  8. Paula 2013.12.11

    One out of three students is Native American at this school, and they still voted it down??? The four school board members ought to be ashamed of themselves (who voted no).

  9. Jenny 2013.12.11

    We can debate all day what you want to call it, Rorschach, but I didn't see any caucasian townspeople stand up to the school board ,except for the principal.

  10. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.11

    wah, wah, bawl, sob, sob. The honor business is another excuse for failure. It is a special pleading for special rights that have nothing whatsoever to do with equality, but the business of professional ethnic special privelege. This kind of tribalism seems to be a cousin of African witch doctors thinking that Blacks can get good luck by killing Albino Blacks and taking parts of their bodies. Tribalism will not help Native Americans in the modern world.

  11. interested party 2013.12.11

    wah, wah, bawl, sob, sob
    wiken's tribalism blog
    is a white guy's bog.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.11

    I just waved my magic wand and made tribalism go away, just to appease Doug Wilken.

    Wilken must get a perverse erotic thrill by degrading and disrespecting Native American culture.

  13. Truluvistru 2013.12.11

    Its not like the Honor song is asking for scalp to go along with it. If 2 school board members couldn't stand while a part of the honor song was being sung, than that shows that Chamberlain, citizens of Chamberlain aren't ready for our songs our honor songs. We honor our people for accomplishment. Maybe some day when the school board votes Yes we can sing an honor song for them. Until then we don't need to be in that Armory where people will sit and not stand while a honor song is sang for ALL graduates of Chamberlain. Maybe by the time my son reaches 12th grade they will allow it. He's 9 and in 3rd grade. Just maybe!!

  14. Porter Lansing 2013.12.11

    The majority of the state view themselves as "jailors" of the Native peoples and view their duty as preserving the racist status quo. This opinion stems from the inner guilt at their ancestors theft of property, destruction of culture and murder of the indigenous.

  15. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.11

    Most of the people in SD had no ancestors that had anything to do with reservation system and would prefer Native Americans got out of their "prisons" and participated in modern America with all its faults.

    Demanding increased special privileges for any group based on race or ethnicity is as racist as demanding reduced rights for any group based on ethnicity or race.

    Chamberlain school should abandon all graduation ceremonies, all music and mail out the diplomas. Church-related Baccalaureate services or assemblies have been moved out of schools.

  16. Jerry 2013.12.11

    As the racist ways of Chamberlain do not want to change, why bother with a graduation there where you are not welcome. Maybe have a ceremony in a special place to invite family and friends and have it there. Boycott the place completely and move on.

  17. John 2013.12.11

    Problem solved: the student body and graduating seniors just need to go, "Pentatonix" at the graduation ceremony. The school board and community can just soil themselves.

    Mandela and Martin Luther King taught us that non-violent protest will persevere over the tyranny of the majority. Just do it.

  18. caheidelberger 2013.12.12

    Douglas, I don't see anyone saying that the board's refusal to include a Lakota /Dakota honor song in the commencement somehow excuses any sort of failure. No one is saying, "Give us an honor song, or we're going to be rotten workers and parents and citizens."

    But you know, it is a little harder to be productive and caring and patriotic when the people around you keep kicking you, when the people making the rules keep telling you that you don't fully belong to the community, that the things that matter to you are not cool.

    John and Dr. King are right: non-violent protest is the answer. When civil society won't do what's right, it's time to disobey.

  19. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.12

    When young Native Americans graduate from high school and there is an honor song for them, Doug sees this as a failure. Hopefully he is the only one.

    Chamberlain will continue with their all white graduation ceremonies and exclude a native honoring song. You know why they will, they have a long entrenched sense of entitlement and white superiority.

    The school board's refusal to allow the honor song may serve a purpose, their refusal is worn like a badge of honor just as the Klan wears its sheets.

    When other Native Americans from around the country call South Dakota the new Alabama, the are right on target.

  20. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.12

    The failure to get an honor song will be used as another excuse for failure. The newspaper story about this reported the Native American students were allowed to wear a feather in their hair and a blanket. That is probably less annoying than mindless drumming and yelling would be, but it is also a special right given to a specific ethnic group and such demands for special rights and rites are as racist as any that are whined about by the special pleaders for native nonsense.

    "But you know, it is a little harder to be productive and caring and patriotic when the people around you keep kicking you, when the people making the rules keep telling you that you don't fully belong to the community, that the things that matter to you are not cool."

    Not sure anybody has been kicked, and patriotism is not required to study and in fact may be as mindlessly harmful as native nonsense.

    Not agreeing to mindless demands is not an indication that Native Americans are not welcome. They deserve to be treated as well as anybody else in the system and no better or no worse.

  21. Paula 2013.12.12

    "less annoying than mindless drumming and yelling would be"

    What a horrible thing to say, Mr. Wiken. Your stupidity is glaringly obvious.

  22. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.12

    Paula, tastes vary. If you prefer primitive noise and repetitive screaming to symphonies, that is your right, but it does not mean that anybody not sharing your taste is an idiot. I am not a fan of current "popular" music either because the current fad is singing with intonations that make that noise almost unintelligible.

    Stay tuned for NPR Jazz Nightly, etc.

  23. Truluvistru 2013.12.12

    Douglas sounds like you would fit right in with Chamberlain. Or maybe you live there already. A drum beat makes the sound of a beating heart to which I feel you wouldn't know because obviously you dont have one!!! Welcome to Native America!

  24. Jerry 2013.12.12

    Douglas has his ways for sure. I think I can understand those ways as the guilt of being a part of living on disputed lands that were taken questionably from the Natives. His family, like my own, probably came to this area in a land rush that could only happen when the rightful owners by a treaty contract, were basically driven from their properties. We here in western South Dakota live with that and we all know that others are aware of that little bit of history as well. The people like Douglas and the folks around Chamberlain do not want to be reminded of that historical fact and the success they have had because of it. The guilt they possess is the white man's burden for the sins of the past. There is a way forward though and that is through reconciliation and the understanding that we can all live here with respect towards one another on who we really are, equal brothers.

    For Native peoples, the idea of honoring someone or something is all part of the heart and soul of Native traditions, not too far or too deep for someone who is not Native to understand. If you listen to young people speak of their striving for success in studies as well as sports, the common denominator is the recognition from their community in song and pageantry. How shallow that folks like Douglas and the powers to be in Chamberlain have forsaken that basic understanding of vibrant life that our youth of today has to blight this special day because of their guilt of days past.

  25. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.12

    Well, the village idiot is alive and well and living on Native lands stolen from them.

    I'm guessing his spewing his hate is a cure for his erectile dysfunction.

  26. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.13

    The Lakota, et al stole the land from the previous inhabitants. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    About the wonders of Native American culture, if it is so wonderful, why didn't Natives around here have a written language and why were they a few thousand years behind cultures in Europe and Asia?

    I keep hearing about the wonderfulness of the culture in general, but no specific details in evidence of anything special. There is high quality invective from that side. If nothing else, the Native Americans seem to have adopted some of the worst characteristics and despicable habits of European culture keeping up with Whites in that regard.

  27. Jerry 2013.12.13

    Good that you recognize that there is an actual Native culture Douglas. If you really want to get into historical facts, why was it that the black plague killed millions in those early days? Could it have been because they threw there doo doo in the streets, yep, sure enough. Work on that guilt you have going Douglas, it is making you seem foolish.

  28. interested party 2013.12.13

    Wanícokan Wi - Moon When the Deer Sheds Their Horns
    Wiót?ehika Wi - The Hard Moon
    Cannápopa Wi - Moon When Trees Crack From The Cold
    Istáwicayazan Wi - Moon of Sore Eyes (Snow Blindness)

  29. interested party 2013.12.13

    Doug: if you can't smoke see a shrink.

  30. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.13


    All culture have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Generally speaking most cultures adapt the bad and the ugly of other cultures. There are few exceptions, it is human nature to do what is easiest and requires little energy. This applies to ALL cultures, not just the Lakota.

  31. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.13

    And Europe could thank the new world for venereal disease.
    Roger's last post makes sense and has a touch of reality in it which is refreshing.

  32. joseph g thompson 2013.12.13

    Think maybe it is time the state steps in and mandates a solution statewide. Think maybe graduation should consist of only a welcoming statement by the school superintendent, and presentation of diplomas. No more speakers as they may offend someone, no music since it might offend someone and no reference to culture or religion. Any religion or cultural activity would occur away from the school. This way Native Americans, Norwegians, Germans, Christians, Jews and whatever could all have their own public honoring ceremony if they chose and not subject any else to their cultural, religious, or political beliefs.

  33. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.13

    JGT, sounds good to me. Then what would be the next excuse for mewling professionals of ethnic specialism?

  34. Paula 2013.12.13

    Yes, that's the answer (sarcasm); and while we're at it, why recognize the students who are in the top 10% by the special collars/sashes for National Honor Society. After all, with some of you people's mentality here, recognizing the top students' achievements might make the other students feel bad about themselves. Let's just make whole thing very generic and boring and very "clinical" feeling.

  35. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.13

    "Roger's last post makes sense and has a touch of reality in it, which is refreshing". Wilken, sadly you never say anything refreshing. Because of your hate of Native Americans, I now find all your comments less than credible.

    As far as "reality", you wouldn't know it if the KELO tower fell on you.

  36. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.13

    How are things with your Wisconsin tribe, Roger? I don't imagine they get KELO there.

    Reality really bites huh Rog? I guess it is just not nice to criticize special rights and rites for people convinced they are so special they are more equal than anybody else.

    You still maintaining that the Post Office doesn't deliver mail to Native Americans and that the REAs charge Native Americans extra? How about the phone system? How about the water system? How much land do you own on the reservation or will tribe even let you buy or own land on SD reservations?

    Paula, "Sterile" might be a better word than "clinical". No sense playing "Pomp and Circumstance" anyway. It is just so passe and European even if a Native American were playing the piano. "Puerile" might apply to your nonsense, insulting posts. If honor society ribbons or sashes are passed out these days, are Native Americans excluded?

    100 year anniversary of crosswords is coming up. There are a few words which might show up, but not today.

  37. Jerry 2013.12.13

    My my Douglas, here is something just for you and your guilt and hate. This comes from the Natives of the forced Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. The good people of that Native nation do and did have a written language that was centuries old by the time of the Non-Native arrival. They actually owned the land with titles and all of the rest that the non-Natives copied from them and took as their own. Their own laws and alphabets and numbers, oh my. Yes, there was much to learn from the Native brothers. But as the Non-Natives could not compete, they stole their lands and moved them to Oklahoma and along the way, many died. But they are still with us.
    The compassion of the Native peoples are spoken with eloquence. It seems kind of fitting for this season of the moon and the stars. This time of Christmas. For you, as a present to think about. May you find peace with yourself Douglas and the most important thing, forgiveness.

    "But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." -

    Can't you see? Take a moment to face the wind and draw a deep breath. Clear your mind of the hatred.

  38. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.13

    From Cory's thread Buy Back Program Seeks to Undo Tribal Land Fractionation , Boost Development.
    Doug made this comment, "If South Dakotans could wake up politically and socially, there might be hope". He has obviously excluded himself from his sentiments.
    I am exceedingly proud of my membership in the Oneida Nation and equally proud of the Lakota blood my mother has given me. If you meant some kind of insult by that comment, "go find a rock and suck on it".
    There is very little individual land ownership by the Oneida given that it is such a small reservation.
    Not that is any of your business Wiken, but yes I do own land on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
    Speaking of land ownership, how much land have you and/or your family bought and/or stolen on the Rosebud reservation? You probably paid a handful of pennies for it.
    Why should Native American students be forced to participate in a graduation ceremony that specifically excludes them? All pomp and no circumstance, but that's equal, right.
    Doug is nothing more than a bitter old white man that should heed Jerry's advice, but he won't. He loves that cozy feeling of faux white superiority and the people here on madville and elsewhere see him in that light too.

  39. Jenny 2013.12.14

    According to Southern Poverty Law Center, in recent studies of the last few years, there are more hate crimes and hate groups popping up in the Midwest than any other part of the nation. Seeing some hateful comments here, I'm not surprised.

  40. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.14

    I have not wished that a TV tower fall on anybody. I don't really hate anybody, and wish all Native Americans who wish to work and progress the best of luck and I hope all of them will get out and vote for the candidates they think will best represent them. I also respect those who do not expect special privileges under the guise of seeking "equal" rights or resorting to outright lies and baseless assertions in pursuit of special privilege.

  41. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.14

    Self-righteous Wiken is synonymous with white privilege.

    You notice that he never condemns members of his own race that are plagued by socio-economic problems. Nary a word, they must all be productive members of society according to Wiken's standards.

  42. Les 2013.12.14

    A bit of pot calling the kettle black Roger? I'm not hearing any of what you are asking for from Wiken out of your mouth either. Go dig the archives of Tom Iron from the McLaughlin Messenger Roger. This continuous cawing isn't winning anyone who isn't already on your side.

  43. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.14

    Racism will be always be personal to me, always. Every tool available should be used when dealing with a "Wiken". His type are a dime a dozen in South Dakota.
    On another post you said Tom had a way of slam dunking Indians or Whites without making it personal. For me it is not slam dunking either race, it is about dealing with racism on a personal and individual level with a "Wiken".
    Well there is an abundance of racism on a universal level, there is also racism at the level we see here. Now, some have called me a racist in my comments directed at "Wiken", that is their choice and is a typical response.
    Hopefully my comments have not been directed at whites in general and if some of them have it was not intentional and apologize if that has happened.
    Les, I'm not trying to win points with anyone, most of those that comment on madville are supportive of Native American rights and want to address racial issues, and I thank them and it gives me hope.
    What am I asking from Wiken, you ask. I don't know that I could ask anything of him other than to say to him, "where ever and however you learned your hate and contempt for Native Americans, you have an opportunity in your twilight years to "unlearn" it. When you work at unlearning hate, it is actually easier and brings a real sense of freedom.

    I know this from personal experience, there was a time in my life when I hated everything white, when I learned to unlearn it actually made me a better person.

    Let's hope that Doug unlearns too and that it will give him peace.

  44. Les 2013.12.14

    Thank you Roger. Most of all, thank you for not coming back as the quick shot but with a most thoughtful post whether or not I agree with all of it's contents.
    A note I've been carrying since a conference given by Clint Swindoll. If you're right all the time, it means someone else is wrong all the time. That's a lot of weight for anyone to carry, even me. ;)

  45. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.14


    Thanks for thoughtful response.

    The words I carry with me daily are from the Reverend Vernon Johns, Reverend Johns was the pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King was his successor.

    Rev. Johns was a civil rights activist before there were civil rights, he was especially noted for being vocal against Jim Crow laws.

    The best quote he had was, "If you see a good fight, get in it".

  46. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.14

    Roger is rapidly increasing my intolerance of fools and liars.

    I believe any claims of special privilege by whites, blacks, reds, yellows or whatever need to be challenged. If people like Roger want to play the race card in the face or realism, that is a bit like Nikita K. pounding his shoes in the United Nations. He is apparently a believer in the kill the messenger version of discussion.

  47. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.14

    You couldn't be more wrong Wiken, YOU played the race card and I responded.
    You wouldn't know tolerance if it broad sided you, lies are anything you haven't personally seen or experienced and quite frankly, I don't give a damn what you believe or not.
    The realism that you speak of, is that Native Americans students are not allowed an honoring song that would take about 5 minutes of a graduation ceremony.
    The white students are allowed their "Pomp and Circumstances" and other graduation amenities while Native Americans students are scorned for requesting the same type tributes.
    The reality is that your deceitful attitude has nothing to do with an honoring song or somebody being treated as "special", it has everything to do with your callous racism.
    I dub thee Wiken, the Craig Cobb of the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation and of Madville Times.

  48. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.14

    The realism is that a special honor song is required for Native Americans demeans them. Requiring such primitive nonsense suggests that the last hundred years of science, medicine, and increasing knowledge is beyond the Native Americans unless they get a dose of prairie nativism. It is really an insult to those Native Americans with intelligence, drive and dedication to suggest that they must have a tribal tribute or they will fail.

    The professionals of racial specialness can not profit from their whining and mewling unless they can persuade people that they are being discriminated against when they are being treated equally.

  49. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.14

    Doug is pretty good on many issues, but when it comes to race, specifically American Indians, we can all see his racist rage explode. I listen to him on every topic except this one. On the subject of American Indians it seems like his normal thought processes are lost. I don't know why, nor do I need to analyze or understand his reasons. Could he change? (Shoulder shrug.) Not my problem to fix.

    In the meantime . . .

    Roger, I thought this was funny: "Well, the village idiot is alive and well and living on Native lands stolen from them."

    I think it's funny because of the clever wording, because it reminds me of the bumper sticker that said, "Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot.", and the bogus response it frequently brings. That would be, "Oh yeah! Well you did it first!"

    The most valid comeback to the last is, "So?" We know that because one person/group behaves badly is not an acceptable excuse for a very similar action.

    People have killed people from the very beginning of humanity's existence. One of the signs of civilization is that revenge murders are crimes. There is a court of law now.

    So in the case of American Indians, yup, they took someone else's land, yup, European settlers took that land from the Indians. The apparent addendum is - Now we're gonna send Uncle Sam in with bagloads of rules and regs and bucket loads of taxes that'll drive you clear outta business because we can. You have no right to complain because you did it first. Drop your damn lawsuits, fire the lawyers you can't pay anyway, suck it up about our, er, excuse me, I mean *Your* Senator, give up on Erin Brockovich and take your medicine!

    Nah, I don't buy that.

  50. Douglas Wiken 2013.12.14

    Roger, if you claim I don't criticize whites, you are intentionally blind and again lapsing into your tissue of lies and distortions.

    When you explain what is valuable about a prairie culture in the modern world, then you will be making sense. Until then your blather is empty hot air.

    I doubt most students white or red give a tinker's damn if "Pomp and Circumstance" is on the program. Do away with it and I doubt any students red or white will lapse into a blue funk claiming they are being discriminated against and refuse to study.

  51. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.14

    Joe GT, you've apparently got a lot of people on your mind. You are worried that if American Indians get to include a particular cultural component at their graduation, then All These People will too: "Norwegians, Germans, Christians, Jews and whatever. . . "

    It is already drenched in Norwegian, German, and Christian culture. That leaves out only the "Jews and whatever". Are there lots of Jews or lots of Whatevers in the Chamberlain school district asking for 10 minutes of cultural recognition annually? If there are not, your argument is purely stupid.

    I think every single school district in the U. S. of A. is spending hard-earned tax money on ways to improve education. Anyone want to bet that Chamberlain is not? It's not limited to state money, but fed too. Chunks of school time go to efforts to improve schools. Teachers lose prep time, face-to-face time with students, professional improvement, etc.

    Wouldn't it be nice if all schools had to do to give themselves a chance to improve scores was 10 minutes annually outside of the school day? No, of course I'm not saying that will fix everything, but it's little things like that which are beginnings.

    There just isn't a valid reason to Not do it. Yes = win/win. No = lose/lose.
    Giving a group a moment of respect is a powerful tool.

  52. Paula 2013.12.14

    Doesn't tradition mean anything to you, Doug? Whether a person is white, black, red, blue, orange, etc; most every nationality has customs and traditions it holds to mark holidays, special occasions, events, etc. We have a high school here (Chamberlain) which is comprised of approximately 2/3 white, 1/3 Native American. The Native Americans want to include everyone in their Honor ceremony; please someone tell me what is so wrong or offensive about that? I would LOVE for my kids to be included in such a ceremony because I would think it would make their graduation especially memorable and meaningful. We all have to live together in this big world- it would be a very important step to come together in this school district and include this Honor Song. And be a good example to the rest of the country.

  53. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.14


    With every utterance of Craig Cobb a/k/a Wiken, he demonstrates that he is a symptom of centuries and decades of racial superiority. Whatever he cannot understand or doesn't fit with his anti-Indian indoctrination, he fears and thus has to condemn and criticize.
    It doesn't matter what Craig Cobb thinks or his blatant racism, Native Americans will forever endure what remains of their culture. Fortunately I see more and more young Native Americans taking pride in their culture and participating in ceremonies.
    The beauty of that Deb, is that there isn't thing one Craig Cobb can do about it except sit on his pompous "Ivory" tower and bitch about it.
    Unknowingly, Craig Cobb is one of the catalyst that provides us to fight. Native Americans by nature are very overt and defiantpeople, we've had to be. It is the South Dakota redneck that provides that energy to fight on regardless of circumstances.
    Tribalism, whether you like it or hate it, has been the mechanism for our survival. All you need to do is look at the tribal cultures of the middle east and Africa that date back to Biblical times, and see how they have always been a threat to the so called "civilized world".
    Craig Cobb a/k/a Wiken is a sad, pathetic "little" man locked in a time best forgotten by all.

  54. joseph g thompson 2013.12.15

    Ms. Geelsdettir,
    My elimination of anything but a welcoming statement and handing out diplomas is the logical outcome of any argument over culture or religion, if you can not agree remove it all or include all. I assume that you are willing to allow Norwegian Lutherans the opportunity to express, thru prayer, their honorifics to their children so long as they include all the rest of the children in their prayer? Either allow everyone to do as they wish or permit no one to do anything.
    I don't hate anyone and I don't think any race or religion is better than another. The military and history have taught me that those who teach hate are a joke, because today's enemy is tomorrow's friend. Sadly many who teach hate and racial or cultural superiority do not even realize what they are doing, as evidenced by some of the post's here.
    The military also taught me that if you can't make everyone happy than make everyone unhappy, because they are then at least on the same page, unhappy with you.
    If you think that my argument is stupid, then it is stupid, and I will understand that you would rather live in a exclusionary society, as the Chamberlain school board does, rather than an inclusive society that I attempt to live in.

  55. Donald Pay 2013.12.15

    Back in the 1980s I was on the Board of the PTO of E.B. Bergquist Elementary School. The school had probably a 40 percent Native American student population, but people who would come to PTO events were all white. The Board thought we were failing in our responsibilities to nearly half the population of the school. We thought about it and decided to do periodic "Chili-Bingo Nights," because one of the Indian parents had told us that would bring the parents and grandparents, and the kids would tag along.

    "Chili-Bingo" is not a part of traditional Lakota culture, but it was enough to get Indian folks to a function and to begin talking about how the school could improve. Mostly, you want people to feel that the school is their school, where they go to learn and where they are valued, not just some place they go to have their Indian culture rubbed away.

    Even if you don't care about various Indian cultural events, you can view it in terms of customer service and branding. You want the folks coming in the door to feel they are welcome and that they have value. If you do that, they have much more of a stake in seeing the school succeed.

  56. joseph g thompson 2013.12.15

    Mr. Pay,
    You hit it right on the head, find ways to be inclusive. No one can complain about eating chili and playing bingo and when done in an inclusive environment it is an opportunity to learn.

  57. interested party 2013.12.15

    The best news in Chamberlain is that the median age is headed north such that it will ultimately cease to exist.

  58. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.12.16

    Joe GT, I was wrong to use the word "stupid" and I apologize for that.

    My point is that the graduation ceremony is a white European experience. Thus such groups don't need one specific cultural item. Payers would be European Christian. Standards for graduation are European Christian. Subjects taught are European Christian. Textbooks are wildly dominated by European Christians.

    Apparently something really got lost in the communication between us if your understanding is that I want an exclusionary society. It could be my fault. Sometimes I think too fast and my writing is too slow.

    I think diversity is one of the most fun experiences on this plant. Today's Strib included a lengthy article on diversity and its many measurable social, financial, cultural benefits. I was pleasantly surprised at all the benefits.

    Earlier this week I had a total shoulder replacement and stayed 2 days in Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. In that time my doctors, interns, RNs, NAs, cleaning people, and other Regions employees included immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Syria, the Ukraine, Liberia, and various places in North America. All those people were bilingual, at least, and had gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about the people of this Earth. I figured my wisest plan was to shut up and listen.

    (The doc from Syria said his family is far from the danger regions. The doc from Somalia said her people are a good distance from Mogadishu and so, safe. BTW, she said her area of Somalia has no government. They just work things out together. Isn't that the most perfect government of all?)

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