ACLU of South Dakota legal director Amiotte to speak at UN committee meeting in Geneva — The South Dakota Standard
Legal Director of the ACLU of South Dakota Stephanie Amiotte will speak about the lack of educational equity for Indigenous students in the United States, particularly in South Dakota, before the https://www.ohchr.org/en/treaty-bodies/cerd in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The United Nations Committee will consider the periodic report of the United States on compliance with the International Convention Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which was ratified in 1994, according to an ACLU statement.
“Stephanie will speak in person on Tuesday morning between 10 and 11 a.m. Geneva time,” the ACLU of South Dakota communications director said. Janna Farley told the South Dakota Standard.
The briefing will be closed to reporters and will not be broadcast live, Farley said, but an ACLU colleague who will also be in attendance will try to tape his presentation. If this happens, a copy will be made available to The Standard.
The committee’s discussion of learned everything during the briefings early next week will be broadcast live on UN web TV.
“Teaching students about contemporary Native American issues, tribal nations, tribal sovereignty, culture, Native American accomplishments, and an accurate history of Native Americans and the effects of colonization will serve to break down the invisibility and stereotypes that perpetuate prejudice. and anti-Native American racism,” according to the ACLU of South Dakota.
“But it requires the availability, access, and acceptance of Native American culture in the school setting – something that is currently lacking in the United States. In reality87% of state history standards in districts nationwide do not mention Native American history after 1900, and 27 states make no mention of a single Native American in their K-12 curriculum.
“Despite empirical data demonstrating the actions needed in American schools to overcome educational inequities and combat ethnic racism, much more needs to be done to eliminate discriminatory policies and positively demand the types of education , curriculum, and content standards that Native American students need to succeed,” said Amiotte. “Ignoring Native American contributions, innovations, and accomplishments in K-12 education exacerbates harmful biases generation after generation of Americans growing up learning a false and distorted narrative about Native Americans. Our history must be faithfully represented in every classroom.
Amiotte (seen above in an image of the ACLU South Dakota website)registered member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, joined the ACLU of South Dakota in June 2021.
Report to United Nations Committee precedes release of South Dakota Revised Version social studies content standards. The initial standards, developed by a nearly 50-person task force in 2021 — which included educators from South Dakota — allowed Indigenous students to have their views represented, the ACLU said in its statement.
“It makes them feel welcome, respected, and encouraged to receive a culturally relevant education similar to what white students already receive in the South Dakota public school system,” the statement said. “But when the state Department of Education released a draft of the proposed standards, the Department of Education had removed or changed most of the references to Native Americans proposed by the task force. Governor Kristi Noem stopped the process and restarted it with a new task force following significant criticism and outcry from South Dakotans across the state. More than 600 public comments, most opposing the Department of Education’s unilateral cuts, were made before the first public comment hearing.
The report to the United Nations Committee also follows the report published in May by the US Department of the Interior which describes the atrocities committed in boarding schools designed and operated by the federal government to eradicate indigenous peoples. The report identifies 408 federal Indian boarding schools in 37 states which operated between 1819 and 1969 and identified at least 53 schools with marked and unmarked burial places. South Dakota had at least 31 such schools.
The ACLU calls on the United Nations Committee, which is made up of 18 independent international experts on human rights and racial justice, to recommend that the United States demand that states take decisive enforcement action against discriminatory state laws, policies, or actions that destroy and undermine equity in Indigenous education, specifically raising the following issues during the appearance of the United States delegation before the Committee of August 11-12:
What new enforcement methods are being pursued since President Biden issued the October 2021 Executive Order to combat state actions, policies, and laws that censor and suppress the teaching of culture, curriculum, Indigenous history and language in public schools?
What specific steps does the United States plan to take to address the ongoing trauma and discrimination that Indigenous students continue to experience as a result of policies and laws enacted by some states that continue to promote assimilation and discrimination by through education systems?
What specific actions does the United States plan to take to implement the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that would expand its understanding of tribal sovereignty as it relates to Indian education, curriculum and content standards, and tribal schools, to advance educational equity for Indigenous students?
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and improving civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The South Dakota team is supported by personnel from those states.
Tom Lawrence has written for several newspapers and websites in South Dakota and other states and has contributed to The New York Times, NPR, London Telegraph, Daily Beast and other outlets.