The Crow Creek Tribal Chairman says more must be done to bolster education in rural parts of the state.
That’s one message he brought to lawmakers during the annual State of the Tribes address.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Lee Strubinger has more.
Chairman Peter Lengkeek says the state and tribes have a shared responsibility to educate all children in South Dakota.
He says several things stand in the way of that, including access to food and educators.
“It is common knowledge that South Dakota suffers from a teacher shortage that has forced schools to hire long term substitutes to educate our children. We need to work cooperatively to find a way so that there are enough teachers for South Dakota schools, whether they are public, tribal or private.”
Chairman Lengkeek encourages lawmakers to work with colleges, universities, and the Department of Education to find ways to increase the number of educational staff in the state.
South Dakota teacher pay is at 50th in the nation.
State Rep. Tamara St. John (R-SD/Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) says part of the issue is also related to infrastructure, both rural and tribal.
“We’re very much the same. As far as supporting having great teachers. The fact that we don’t have housing. The fact that we don’t have infrastructure for housing. Those things are real. I can imagine that’s true with a lot of the rural areas.”
The Republican-controlled legislature is moving place to place $200 million into a fund for housing grants and low-interest loans.
Seventy percent of those dollars will go toward communities with a population of less than 50,000.
Crow Creek Chairman Lengkeek also criticized the new social studies standards revisions for the state that were drafted by a professor from a conservative university in Michigan.
The draft removed several references to Native American culture from the original.
Chairman Lengkeek says the state has managed the revision process for years without outside influence and interpretation.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Ojibwe) will travel to Arizona for the next two stops on the Indian boarding school road to healing tour.
They’ll visit Phoenix and a community on the Navajo Nation on January 20 and 22.
The tour is part of Sec. Haaland’s investigation into U.S. Indian boarding schools.
The stops will provide former students and descendants an opportunity to share accounts of boarding school experiences.
Shondiin Mayo (Koyukon Athabascan and Navajo) from Fairbanks hopes to be the next Miss Alaska, as Hannah Bissett reports from our flagship station KNBA.
She’s worked as a TV news reporter and hopes to complete a degree in rural development.
Recently, Mayo has worked with CBS to raise awareness on the importance of Indigenous representation in media.
“I’ve never really seen myself in media, or any other place like that. So I think I would really want to champion narrative change. Especially as a voice that is not as heard in the industry.”
Her platform focuses on bringing a positive narrative for and about her communities.
“Rural communities, like the one I grew up in, are important and necessary… I really wanted to share that message and give hope. It has really been an exciting process.”
Mayo spent the year getting ready for the competition and says she’s received much community support.
For the evening gown competition, Mayo will be wearing earrings made by artist Deloole’aanh Erickson.
“And what makes that super special is that these earrings will be reflecting a traditional design. They will also be made with natural resources. So I will be taking my heritage on stage.”
This weekend, Mayo will take part in the Miss Alaska competition in Anchorage.
The winner will go on to represent Alaska in the Miss USA competition later this year in Reno, NV.
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