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Chamberlain School Board Denies Singing of a Lakota/Dakota Honor Song

Tally Monteau-Colombe
5/21/13

Mitakuyapi, Cante waste napeciyuzapi.

I am a parent of children who attend school in the Chamberlain School District in Chamberlain, South Dakota, and I am also one of the individuals who is involved in a movement against the decision that the Chamberlain School Board has made to deny that a Lakota/Dakota honor song be sung at the high school graduation service.

I did attend the meeting in which the final determination was made. I knew that the school board would most likely say no but there was a little bit of hope in my heart that they would make the decent decision. In a town where race relations have been tense for many, many years, I was hoping as a parent that these elected officials would support the struggle for equality and, most important, reconciliation. However, they just intensified the underlining feelings that a lot of us have had towards each other. Like many Native Americans who grow up here in South Dakota, I grew up with mistrust towards white people; it’s a reality that my grandmothers prepared me for.

My husband and I made the choice to send all eight of our children to Chamberlain, but a few years ago there was an incident in which some non-Native students wore "White Pride Worldwide" shirts to school and we pulled our four older daughters out of the middle school and high school. Our four younger children attend Chamberlain Elementary School. I send my children to Chamberlain because I want them to grow up appreciating the differences in people, that you may not look the same or have as much money, but you can still get along, to have compassion towards people even though you are different. But to me when the Chamberlain School Board made their decision, it was like they were unaccepting of my children, my children’s culture, and my children’s language.

Chamberlain is a border town and like all border towns in South Dakota, the race relations are not the best. I think that with some of the statements made at the school board meeting, they reflected the true colors of how this little town perceives us Native Americans. Furthermore, without us Native Americans, would this town “survive”? We bring hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars of economic stimulus to this town. We have two reservations that utilize the banks, the small business, the restaurants, and millions of dollars of Federal Impact Aid money that goes to the Chamberlain School District because of the Native American students. Yet they cannot give three to five minutes of time so that we may honor all the graduates at such a celebrated event in their lives?

In my opinion, it’s the action of letting the Honor Song take place that's important; that Chamberlain society will have to accept us Native Americans as equals and from a town where it was once legal to shoot a group of three or more “Indians," they may not be ready to move forward.

Tally Monteau-Colombe is a Culture/ Language Teacher at Crow Creek Tribal Schools in South Dakota. Previously, she taught at Lower Brule Day School.

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Anonymous's picture
I found the website and the fax number! I am writing a letter and faxing it to them! I support this! I struggle with this at my school and live in a town where native people make up most of the population but our school is run by non-native people. I support! Hope everyone else can take the time to send a quick letter!!! Bring it to their attention even more!!! Chamberlain School District FAX 605-234-4479
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
The State of South and North, and mid west states for centuries have tormented, divide, dehumanized, exploit, desecrate, abandon, neglected, hate, prejudice, and the most racist colonized states in the union of the U.S.. They are protected by Washington to maintain First Nation's persecution, repression and oppression and complete annihilation, exploitations of land, resources, European American dominance of a free indigenous peoples, they're sovereign first nationhood's, indigenous societies and international aboriginal and indigenous red government's. South Dakota historically is the most racist towards a people of color, another culture, and our sovereign indigenous government the Sioux Nation and our free red peoples, nothing has change with this last generations of U.S. white invasive occupation of divine indigenous sovereign homeland's given them by Christ the Son of God! The Great Mystery!!!! They are the gatekeepers of international crimes of human rights and civil rights violations and crimes against humanity and are protect by corruption's. They are protected by the U.S. so they can steal, kill, and destroy more and exterminated any remembrance of our legal and divine inherited ordained rights and dominion of this indigenous aboriginal continent, land, resources and destiny as free inherited divine sovereign red indigenous nationhood's of God and this red Homeland that will always belong to us! The whites are coveters, and more Oklahoma's National sin' and transgression against God and all First Nation's, will wipe out the U.S and any evil, that they, as a white race of people any remembrance of they're , existence, crimes here on our divine red homeland's, injustice and crimes against Life and all of Humanity, forever! The Whites of the state of South Dakota, are racist pigs, land squatter's, lair's and hater's and destroyer's of Goodness, Unconditional Love, Human Understanding of authentic Peace, also, the Son of God, The Christ and his red Children! The State of South Dakota will never and they're leadership, will never enter the Kingdom of Christ, in the mental illness and spiritual corruption and satanic worship to the Beast, called the United States of America and the New World Order of World Blasphemy! Wanbli 2013
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Know what you know and be FOREVEAR song
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I know exactly what Tally is speaking about when she says that there is much racism in Chamberlain as I was born and raised there; my father was born and died there. My family was a part of Chamberlain for over 100 years - Chamberlain is my home. But, what the Chamberlain School Board did is not right. There are many Native American students that go to school there and their Honor Song should be given equal time at graduation. It is the hope that someday the Chamberlain School Board will do what is right to honor ALL students. Terri Rutan Landon Planning Administrator Lummi Nation Planning Dept. Bellingham, WA
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
the school board administration had just showed their true colors...come one now get out of the box...think...what u afraid of...indians are getting educated..isnt that why we/our ancestors were forced to get an education...wheres your honor and responsibility...shame on you people..im gonna be honest here..and use these terms...get your head out of your asses...there aint no honor in that..im sorry for being so rude here..but in this day and time...your children had the honor too..but its not as strong as we have to move on..shame on you! sorry im angry!
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Wake up and smell the coffee " White America". The time is long past for animosity and prejudice to cloud your judgement on these important issues. Embrace the Lakota /Dakota cultures and celebrate with them as they realize their destinies. All native cultures should have freedom of expression. 15 minutes to sing a song of celebration for these students is not asking to much, it wouldn't delay the ceremony .
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Your Grandparents warned you to keep you safe.People still dont get the fact that Natives spend money and buy from there stores..Money is all they hear..Its a shame it is still like this in many places but it is..We ARE equal in every way..
Anonymous