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Legislative Session

Hau mitakuyepi na mitakolapi, iyuha cante wasteya nape ciuzapelo.   Hello relatives, friends and neighbors, I extend my hand to you with good feelings from my heart and report to you on the 96th legislative session.

It was a busy week for me as six of my bills were up this week, all on the day before crossover.  That is the day that bills are supposed to move to the other legislative chamber.  It is our longest and busiest day and went just past midnight.  We had 37 bills to cover and our first bill, HB1100 which would delay IM26 (medical marijuana) by six months, took 90 minutes to debate before passing and moving on to the senate.  We only have two weeks left in this session besides veto day.

In State Affairs Committee five of my bills were on the agenda starting with House Bill 1108:  may not prohibit the playing of an honor song or Lakota Flag Song at graduation ceremonies.  We had a good discussion but my Democrat buddy from Cheyenne River had to leave the meeting and Chamberlain Representative Reimer was a no vote as the measure moved to the floor without recommendation.  This meant I had to convince the full body to calendar the bill before it could be debated.  Unfortunately, I was only supported by 21 members, fifteen votes shy of a majority needed.    We are still not ready for some simple changes like this I guess.

Next was a $49,000 scholarship request for non-native students attending Tribal Colleges & Universities, HB1180.  I bring this bill annually and it gives me a chance to educate legislators about tribal colleges and the impact on our region.  Seven of our tribal communities have tribal colleges that support a large number of people through education, employment and other services.  The bill died 7-3-3 after a good discussion on tribal education concerns.

Next, I wanted to change a name used in Gregory County from Scalp Butte, Scalp Creek Indian Site and Scalp Creek Recreation Area to Naca Topa, or Four Head Men in House Bill HB1183.  This was met with resistance as I explained it is time to move past some of these names that serve no purpose but to cause harm.  Again, it is an educational opportunity. The bill died 9-1-3 with the one Democrat voting with me.

Next with the governor talking about civic education, I thought I’d bring back the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings for everyone bill or HB1187: an act to require schools to provide instruction on SD’s tribal history, culture and government.  Seems like a great time for all the SD school districts to learn about tribes as we ramp up civics curriculum.  But instead our Speaker said that the Arikara were eradicated, forced out, and driven from here.  He motioned to send it to the 41st Day, out of 40 days that we meet, and it was supported 8-2-3.  His poor education of natives in the state shows the need for this bill, especially from someone in leadership living so close to Standing Rock.

The last bill that I had up in committee would require we hang the tribal flags in the Rotunda of the Capitol bill or HB1189.  I had brought this bill a couple years ago when North Dakota had done something similar but was asked to pull it and let the state do something special, which never happened.  Then Nebraska and Montana followed suit last year honoring their tribes with flag displays and I still wanted to see our flags hung in the building in a prominent area.  It came out of committee 8-2-3.  This advanced to the House floor, where it passed on to the Senate after some minor changes to the bill.

The last bill I had up was in Judiciary Committee, HB1164 was a Police Reform bill.  This conversation needed to take place after last year.  It would require racial bias training, and implicit bias training as well as jurisdictional training and cultural customs training.  It would create a State Registry until a National Registry could be developed and it would ban the use of chokeholds.  Not an easy thing to do but I think it is important to have this dialogue and it started in our State Tribal Relations committee this past summer and although the committee didn’t take action, I felt it necessary to bring this bill.  It died 13-0.

I would like to encourage anyone to check out our daily session or any committee hearings that interest you.  Also, go to SDLRC on your computer to find information about bills and hearings that are taking place now or have taken place.  I thank all of you for your time and attention.  Contact me if there is anything I can do for you at my office, 605-856-8241 or email me at the  Thanks to the good folks at the Todd County Tribune for allowing me to report to the public.

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