sota on-line masthead


Picture Picks of the Week

Don't miss out -- Click here
View the best pictures from this week's Sota
In full color!

Link to KXSW Reznet videos here.

SWO GIS Online

Regional COVID-19 Map

Worldwide COVID-19 Map

Web link to application:

  Obituaries Editorials Editor's column Education
Trading post



Volume 51 Issue No. 28

Anpetu Iyamni, Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Inside this Edition –

SWO Emergency Financial Assistance program launches

Sisseton IHS COVID testing events throughout July

Special Election for Tribal Chairperson is Tuesday, July 28

Unofficial list of SWO candidates for 2020 Primary, General Elections

One-day Community Wacipi held last weekend; Photo highlights coming next week

Fulfillment of a dream: Where art has taken Joe Williams

Reminder: Deadline for receiving copy is Friday noon

South Dakota surpasses 7,000 COVID-19 cases

Pierre, SD – Dakota News Now/ABC – July 4, 2020 – South Dakota health officials say active COVID-19 cases rose Saturday as the state confirmed its 7,000th case since the pandemic began.

Officials confirmed 50 new cases Saturday, bringing total known cases to 7,028. Active cases rose by 37 to 869.

No new deaths were reported, as the state's total remained at 97.

Current hospitalizations continued to decline, dropping by four to 54.

The stat processed 837 tests Saturday, just under six percent of which came back positive.

Tribal Executives issue public advisory

Warning against "'bad' faith actors"

Agency Village, SD – July 2, 2020 – The Tribal Executives today released public notice advising that parents, caregivers, and guardians be attentive for the safety of the children in their care.

It asks that they be attentive when watching over children at play – in the yard, on playgrounds, or in public parks.

Watch who children are playing with or interacting with.

If you do not know someone, ask who they are and ask for credentials.

The notice warns of "'bad' faith actors" who may have harmful intentions.

It also serves as notice to outside organizations that want access to tribal lands, including the Housing areas, that clearances or permission must be granted through the Sex Offender Registry Office, SWHA and/or the SWO Tribe.

(See the full notice elsewhere in this issue of your Sota.)

Sisseton IHS COVID testing events throughout July

Sisseton, SD – July 1, 2020 – Audrey German, SWO Community Health Education program manager, released a public notice today for Sisseton IHS COVID-19 testing for the month of July.

*Woodrow Wilson Keeble Memorial Health Care Center: Wednesdays (July 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29) 9:00-11:00 a.m.

*Old Agency District Center: Tuesday, July 7, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.

*Heipa District Center: Tuesday, July 14, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.

District testing dates will be added as they are requested.

Testing is open to IHS beneficiaries and family members.

You do not need to have symptoms to be tested.

Any questions, call: Lori Sampson, Director of Nursing at 605-742-3686; or Tracey Cooper, Public Health Nursing Director, 605-742-3767.

Also, see the notice on the back page.

Emergency Financial Assistance program launches

Assistance for laid-off tribal workers, families, who have suffered loss of income due to COVID-19

Matthew Thompson, manager of the Tribe's Homebuyer Program, has been selected to coordinate the Emergency Financial Assistance Program for laid-off tribal workers and families who suffered a loss of income due to economic impact of COVID-19.

"My office has been receiving an unprecedented amount of inquiries from the Oyate regarding the misinformation, lack of attention to their individualized circumstances, and whether anyone at the Tribal administration building even cares about their situation," he said.

"The logistics of creating a quick turn-around emergency assistance program is a challenge; however, applications should be made available online within the next 30 days to ensure compliance with applicable federal laws, guidelines, and internal policies and procedures."

"Fraud, waste, and abuse is something the Treasury Inspector General, and this program, will not tolerate when it comes to the development, implementation, and administration of federal funds."

Matt adds, "Please be patient and give my office a call, because I work for you – the people."

The following information about the program, including criteria for approving applications, comes from Tribal Council Resolution 20-057 dated June 24, 2020:

1. Program. Through the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate will provide the following emergency financial assistance to Tribal member households to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency:

       a. Emergency rental assistance to assist Tribal member households with rent payments to avoid eviction;

       b. Emergency mortgage assistance to assist Tribal member households with mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure; and

       c. Emergency utility assistance to assist Tribal member households to pay their utility fees and thereby continue to receive essential services.

2. Findings. The Tribal Council finds that:

       a. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and its Tribal members suffer from endemic poverty, high unemployment, poor housing conditions, and poor health conditions.

       b. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate has a responsibility to protect and provide for all of its Tribal members, whether they reside within or outside the Lake Traverse Reservation, and that responsibility is heightened during the current COVID-19 public health emergency.

       c. This emergency financial assistance is a necessary expenditure in relation to the COVID-19 public health emergency to:

            i. Provide economic support to Tribal member households directly impacted by a loss of income due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency; and

            ii. Ensure that Tribal member households will be able to comply with COVID-19-related public health measures, including stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfection measures, guidelines and orders.

3. Eligibility. In order to be eligible for this this emergency financial assistance, a household must submit an "Application and Certification Form" on a form provided by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, together with all required supporting documentation, and the individual signing the Application and Certification Form on behalf of the household must certify, subject to pains and penalties of perjury and other applicable' punishments under the law, that:

       a. The applicant is the head of household (and is the only member of the household applying for assistance under this program); and

       b. The applicant is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (enrollment number must be provided); and

       c. The applicant had an adjusted gross income in 2019 of not more than:

            i. $85,000 for individuals filing as a single individual or married filing separately,

            ii. $125,000 for individuals filing as head of household, and

            iii. $170,000 for

            iv, married couples filing joint returns; and

       d. All members of the applicant's household are listed on the Application and Certification Form; and

       e. The applicant's household needs emergency financial assistance as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency because:

            i. The applicant's household has been directly impacted by a documented loss of income due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and is in financial distress;

       ii. In the case of an applicant applying for emergency rental assistance, the applicant's household needs assistance with rent payments to avoid eviction;

            iii. In the case of an applicant applying for emergency mortgage assistance, the applicant's household needs assistance with mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure; or

            iv. In the case of an applicant applying for emergency utility assistance, the applicant's household needs assistance to pay utility fees in order to continue receiving essential utility services; and

       f. The applicant's household needs emergency financial assistance to be able to comply with COVID-19-related public health measures, including stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfection measures, guidelines, and orders.

       g. Neither the applicant nor any member of the applicant's household has received rental, mortgage, or utility assistance from another government for the same expenses for which assistance is sought through the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program; and

       h. All information contained in the application and certification form is true and accurate in all material respects, and the applicant understands that knowingly making a false statement to obtain utility assistance from the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program is punishable under the law.

4. Assistance Amount.

       a. The Tribal Council has appropriated $4,000,000 for the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program.

       b. Emergency financial assistance will be provided to eligible applicants in the following amounts:

            i. Up to $1,000 per eligible Tribal member household residing within the Lake Traverse Reservation, subject to the availability of funds in the program; up to $500 per eligible Tribal member household residing outside the Lake Traverse Reservation, subject to the availability of funds in the program;

       c. A Tribal member household may receive emergency financial assistance, not to exceed the amounts set forth above, for:

            i. Emergency rental assistance or emergency mortgage assistance, but not both; and

            ii. Emergency utility assistance for essential utility services, including electricity, gas/propane, wood, water, sewer, and garbage disposal.

       d. Assistance is limited to only one eligible Tribal member applicant per household.

5. Payments.

       a. Payments shall be made directly to the landlord, mortgage company, and/or utility service providers identified by the applicant.

       b. All payments shall be made on or before December 30, 2020.

6. Administration.

       a. The Tribal Council has appropriated $125,000 to administer the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program.

       b. The Tribal Council delegates authority to the Tribal Executives to hire one coordinator and up to three (3) assistants, all on a short-term basis, to administer the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program.

       c. The coordinator and assistants shall receive, process, and preliminarily approve applications for emergency financial assistance.

       d. The coordinator shall submit preliminarily approved applications to the Tribal Treasurer for final review, approval, and payment.

The coordinator shall provide weekly reports to the Tribal Executives and monthly reports to the Tribal Council on the administration of the program, including the number of Tribal member households served and the amount of emergency financial assistance disbursed.

One-time grant per household –

Financial assistance available for rent, utilities, other emergency needs

By Matthew Thompson

SWO Homebuyer Program Manager

Agency Village, SD – July 2, 2020 – The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Homebuyer Program can provide a one-time, per household, emergency assistance grant to help individuals/families pay for rent, utilities, or other emergency needs.

Funding is limited and priority will be given to eligible homeowners and renters who became unemployed, lost wages, or had their annual household income reduced due to the economic impact of the public health emergency.

Additional income and program guidelines may apply.

Contact Matthew Thompson at (605) 698-3234, extension 8234, or via email at for additional details.

If you are interested in learning more about other types of emergency assistance programs that may benefit you during the public health emergency, the following is a list of South Dakota Community Action Agencies, and the counties they serve:

*Inter-Lakes Community Action

PO Box 268, Madison SD 57042-0268

Phone: 605.256.6518 or 1.800.896.4105 Fax: 605.256.2238

Counties Served: Brookings, Clark, Codington, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Turner.

*GROW South Dakota

104 Ash St. E., Sisseton SD 57262-1551 Phone: 605.698.7654 Fax: 605.698.3038

Counties Served: Beadle, Brown, Campbell, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hughes, Hyde, McPherson, Marshall, Potter, Roberts, Spink, Stanley, Sully, Walworth.

*Rural Office of Community Services

PO Box 547, Wagner SD 57380-0547 Phone: 605.384.3883 or 1.800.793.3290 Fax: 605.384.3737

Counties Served: Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Gregory, Hanson, Hutchinson, Jerauld, Jones, Lyman, Mellette, Sanborn, Todd, Tripp, Yankton, Union.

*Western South Dakota Community Action

1844 Lombardy Drive, Rapid City SD 57701-4130 Phone: 605.348.1460 or 1.800.327.1703 Fax: 605.348.8440

Counties Served: Bennett, Butte, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Fall River, Haakon, Harding, Jackson, Lawrence, Meade, Perkins, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Ziebach.

SWO Pow Wow Committee update

Agency Village, SD – July 3, 2020 – Darrell DeCoteau gave this final update on Facebook on behalf of the Pow Wow Committee:

Hau Oyate, Wacipi tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.

This will be the 153rd annual SWO July Wacipi.

It was actually started in 1865 at Fort Sisseton by Gabriel Renville and the scouts but we don't get credit for those years.

Help keep this annual tradition going, come dance or sing.

One session, bring your chairs and water.

A sack lunch will be provided at 5:00 p.m.

Honorarium for dancers and singers.

Sorry to our relatives on other reservations, this is a community wacipi.

(Watch for photo highlights next week by John Heminger Photography, a follow-up report from the Pow Wow Committee when it is available.)

Special Election for Tribal Chairperson July 28

The Reservation Election Board (REB) has scheduled a special election Tuesday, July 28, 2020, to fill Chairman White's unexpired term.

Polls will be open on July 28 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with voting at each of the seven District centers.

Following closing of the polls, ballots will be counted at the SWO admin building.

Unofficial list of candidates who have filed: Delbert Hopkins Jr., Kenneth Johnson Sr., Floyd Kirk Jr., Jesse Larsen, Ella Robertson, and Lorraine Rousseau.

For more information, contact members of REB:

Angie Johnson 605-467-9737

Sonny LaBlanc 605-268-3141

Dustin Opsal 605-924-0662

Josie Bertsch 605-237-4067 (work 698-8236)

Vanessa Carlson 605-742-4035

Marjory Bissonette 605-467-1539 (work 698-8275)

(See the official notice elsewhere in the Sota.)

Unofficial list of candidates for Primary, General Elections

Deadline for candidates to file letters of intent for the 2020 SWO election was May 8, 2020.

Here is the unofficial list of candidates.

The Reservation Election Board (REB) is responsible for background checks and determining eligibility and will release an official list once the certification process is complete.

Executive Offices

Candidates for Tribal Chairperson: Delbert Hopkins Jr., John Kampeska, Jesse Larsen, Ella Robertson, LeeAnn TallBear, Donovan White (incumbent).

Candidates for Tribal Vice-Chair: Lisa Jackson, Eddie Johnson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

Candidates for Tribal Secretary: Winfield Rondell Jr., Myrna Thompson (incumbent). (There will be no primary election.)

District Offices

Big Coulee District: Danielle DeCoteau, Lydia Riveria, Norma Perko.

Buffalo Lake District: Louis Johnson (incumbent), Lorraine Rousseau, Arnold White Jr.

Enemy Swim District: Cheryl Owen (incumbent), Dallas Owen, Brice Roberts.

Heipa District: Bryan Akipa, Branden LaBatte, Charlene LaFontaine, Merlin Jay Renville, Gypsy Wanna.

Lake Traverse District: Dionne Lake, Michael Selvage Jr., Shannon White.

Long Hollow District: Curtis Bissonette (incumbent), Janel Cook, Gretta Lavergne, Darrell Quinn Jr.

Old Agency District: Brandon Adams, Floyd Kirk Jr., Milton "Nippy" Owen (incumbent), Gladys Renville, Martha Renville.

(Editor's note: According to the SWO Election Code, the REB is to complete certification of candidates for both Executive and Council positions by the last Friday of August [August 28, 2020]. Also, according to the Election Code, Tribal members must be on their District voting roster by August in order to vote in the primary and general elections.)

SWO DARE program receives thermometers

Agency Village, SD – July 2, 2020 – Allison Renville reported that Compassionate Colorado has donated thermometers for distribution by the SWO DARE workers to help assist Oyate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The thermometers will be provided to quarantined households along with their regular DARE care packages.

Fulfillment of a dream: where art has taken Joe Williams

By Mimi Larsen

Joe Williams is the curator and director of the Native American Program for the Plains Arts Museum in Fargo, N.D. At the same time, he is working toward his dream of creating illustrated storyboards for the film industry. The road to Joe's current art-centric world was not continuous, took several twists and turns, and hit a dead-end or two.

One day in 2013, at the end of the day, while working at his all-consuming administrative job at Circle of Nations, Joe felt like something needed doing. Every report, every task had been completed. He saw a pencil and paper, and it hit him - he hadn't drawn anything for six months. Life had gone seriously askew.

Joe was 35 years old, and a long way away from the career path he thought he'd take when he was a freshman in college at the University of South Dakota.

"I can't remember a time when I didn't draw, that art didn't have first place in my heart," said Joe.

"In elementary school, a friend and I had a rivalry to see who could draw the best GI Joe, the best Transformer, whatever," said Joe. "For me not to draw every day was something. For me to go six months without drawing?! That was a wake-up call." However, getting art back into first place again was not so simple.

Joe is the son of Joe Williams, a cultural/spiritual leader of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and retired professor Dr. Becky Thiesen, of Rosholt. He attended several different schools, moving whenever his mother's graduate studies (for two master's degrees, and a PhD) took her to various places. When he was in ninth grade, at a distant school, his art teacher encouraged him to attend the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute, an intensive two-week program for Native American high school students at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (USD).

Half-white, half-Native American, Joe was bullied no matter which school he attended, mostly-white, or mostly-Native, not fitting fully into either category. A slow burn began.

"When I went to the Art Institute, I was a little freaked-out, and avoided everyone," said Joe, who expected, yet again, to be bullied.

"After the first 12-hour day, I went straight to my dorm room to draw some more," said Joe. "There was a knock on my door, and a guy said, 'Hey, come and hang out with us.' They were all artists, and it was really cool. It was the best two weeks of my life!

"I came home with a new identity, with a confidence I'd never had before," said Joe. "I was invited back the next two years, and it was something to look forward to. It kept me in the arts, and gave me a community. It reminds me of the special bond between veterans; it's sweet."

In fact, Joe was involved in the Oscar Howe art program for 10 years, first as a student, then as a camp counselor, and later as an instructor in Drawing Fundamentals.

"The Institute became a pillar in my life," he said.

To put the bullying into context, Joe said, "The truth is, I was only bullied by a certain type of individual. Native or not, it's a flaw of limited vision by some. Even through it was traumatic at the moment, it helped and still helps me see things in a much deeper way."

The driving force behind the summer art program was John Day, dean of the Fine Arts Department at USD. He became an important mentor for Joe, who said, "He was one of the biggest influences in my life." Over the years, in different ways, John was Joe's touchstone for art, and an anchor in his life.

"John assembled an amazing staff for the Art Institute from 1999 to 2007. He retired in 2006, and [the next administrator] of the program lost its soul."

"We got there the next year, and there had been no fundraising for the program. They hadn't even ordered the art supplies." said Joe. After one more year, due to lack of support, the program folded.

It is no surprise that when Joe graduated from high school, he enrolled at USD. However, there was no illustration major, so after one year he transferred to the University of Minnesota-Morris. At the same time, he enlisted in the S.D. Army National Guard.

Over the next 20 years, Guard duty took Joe on year-long deployments until he retired: to Iraq in 2004, to Afghanistan in 2010, and Kuwait in 2016. For much of the time, art took a back seat, but Joe always used his spare time to draw, and did what he could to follow his passion.

After his service in Iraq, life didn't go so well, as Joe was affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Lightning storms brought on the same reaction as if being mortared. He was eating all the time, and gained 30 pounds. He was so angry, he almost got himself kicked out of USD, after behaving inappropriately to a professor.

"My actions were wrong," said Joe, "and I got called into John Day's office. He was a former Notre Dame boxer; he was tough. When I was younger, he had scolded me from time to time, and I was expecting a lecture. Instead he, he smiled, and said, 'Joe, I know you're above this; you're going to be okay.' It disarmed me."

With encouragement from his then-girlfriend and now-wife, Ciciley Littlewolf, Joe went to the Veterans Administration hospital for treatment of PTSD. With every deployment, the PTSD increased, but he continued to get help at the VA.

"My year at Morris gave me the confidence to go to California," said Joe. In 1999, he enrolled in the Academy of Art, a private college and a feeder program for all the major animation studios in the state: Walt Disney, Pixar, Lucas Films, etc. He studied storyboarding in the Film and Television Department.

According to one web site, a storyboard "is a roadmap that will guide your journey from script to screen… a visual representation of a film sequence that breaks down the action into individual panels. It is a series of ordered drawings, with camera direction, dialogue, or other pertinent details. It sketches out how a video will unfold, shot by shot."

After a wonderful year in San Francisco, and making lots of important contacts, Joe had to quit the program because the tuition and expenses were too high. He returned to USD, and received his bachelor's degree in Native American Studies in 2006.

Fresh out of college, and based on his military training, Joe was hired as a Child Protection Officer, and a School Resource Officer at the Circle of Nations residential school in Wahpeton, N.D. Over the next seven years, he filled various rolls at the school. It was his commitment and passion for the students there that unintentionally put art on the back burner.

The revelation that art had not only taken a back-seat, but had totally disappeared from his life for six months, made Joe decide it was time to quit at the school.

Only months later, John Day died, and a memorial service was held for him at USD.

"It was a gut-punch when he died," said Joe. At the memorial, friends from his art days at USD asked, 'Where are you teaching now?' 'Are you running a gallery?'

"I left there embarrassed, because I was working for a gravel company at the time, shoveling rock," said Joe. "I thought, 'This is ridiculous. Where am I going?' I reflected on the conversations I'd had over the years with John, and decided I needed to get back to it. I decided I would go to graduate school, and I'd open a gallery."

"My wife deserves a lot of credit for where I am now," said Joe. "She holds me accountable, and when I said I wanted to pursue art again, she said 'Stop talking about it and just do it, then.'"

Ciciley follows her own advice, and graduated with a pre-med degree from North Dakota State University in 2014.

With his new conviction to pursue his art studies again, Joe asked Ciciley to take a year off to go with him to California before starting medical school at the University of North Dakota. She agreed, and Joe headed back to what was now called the Art Academy University, to work on a Master of Fine Arts degree in storyboarding.

"On the very first day of classes, our unit got called up for deployment to Kuwait," said Joe. "It felt like another roadblock was being placed in front of my dream again, but I wasn't going to let circumstances stop me this time."

The deployment notice was far enough in advance that Joe was able to complete the academic year. With one year to go in the program, and not to be deterred by his overseas service, Joe continued his coursework while in Kuwait. Every day, after a 12-hour shift he worked on his studies, and typically got about four hours of sleep a night.

Upon his return, Joe started looking for a place where he could open a gallery, and at the same time looked for an art internship, a requirement to complete his degree.

The Plains Arts Museum had an empty space that would be perfect for the gallery Joe had in mind, but reality hit when he heard the price to develop it was a quarter of a million dollars. However, as it turned out, Laura Youngbird, the director of the Native American Program said they could sponsor a graduate student for an internship.

"It was exactly what I would have done as a gallery owner, so I jumped in," said Joe. "Pretty quickly, they liked what I was doing, and I liked it." Laura was due to retire in two years, and felt Joe would be a good replacement. However, the museum had no funding for the interim year following his internship, so Joe had to hire on somewhere else.

As luck would have it, Joe received a call from Circle of Nations asking him if he'd consider being the director of the residential program for the upcoming year. He said yes. After that school year ended, Joe painted murals all over the school, and then headed to his new post at Plains Arts.

Joe has been the Curator and Director of the Native American Program since June of 2019. With his transition into the position, he and the museum's CEO have talked about the vision they have for the program, and the direction they want it to take.

"We want to make the programming approachable for everyone," said Joe. "We need to humanize Native Americans. We want to communicate the story of Native Americans, who are the same as the general population, though they have had a different experience. There are cultural differences that a lot of people don't take into consideration, or don't take the time to understand. We want non-Native Americans to come in, bring their guard down, and hear the stories of Native Americans.

"We also want to provide a space for Native American art, and want our people to feel they can come to a place where exhibitions reflect our culture and our story. This is their place as well as anyone else's."

Typically, the program hosts two to three shows a year. Last February, the artwork from Racing Magpie, a Native arts gallery in Rapid City, was highlighted at the museum.

An exhibition, called "She Gives," of the visual arts of Dyani White Hawk. Dyani explains that, "The title comes from a series of paintings that explore the legacies and blessings indigenous women at large have gifted to our artistic histories, as well as the health and well-being of our communities. The works, meant to honor and pay tribute to the unwavering strength of women, extend to feminine forces at large, including our collective mother, the earth." This is the first exhibition in which White Hawk will present works spanning such a broad range of artistic mediums.

Slated to begin on March 21 and run through October 3, the corona virus pandemic put the opening off until the museum re-opened on June 6, with Covid-19 safety measures. White Hawk is primarily a painter, but her show includes sculptural beaded works, video installation, printmaking, and photography, gathered from museums and galleries across the country.

Joe has added two other elements to the program: video interviews of Native American artists, and a summer art institute, exactly like the one that inspired and uplifted him in high school.

"The program was revived at USD in 2013, and we [unofficially] call that Oscar Howe South, and ours Oscar Howe North," said Joe. Unfortunately, the pandemic safety measures forced the in-person program (to have been held at Circle of Nations) to an on-line platform, with 15 students participating.

It would be easy for Joe to let his own artistic talent to be sidelined through his work at the museum, but he is not letting that happen.

Through contacts at the Art Academy University, Joe was able to connect with a former Effects Supervisor at Lucas Films, Sergio Paez, and was accepted into a one-year mentorship program in the fall of 2019.

"It's like a graduate school course," said Joe. "They select, guide, and challenge storyboard artists to up their game." He was given challenges to work on, which he was able to do remotely, from his home studio in North Dakota.

"The museum is my priority right now," said Joe. In the meantime, he is working on his storyboarding portfolio, and was recently contacted to work on a MMIW film.

"It's based on true stories, but fictionalized," said Joe. "We'll see where it goes."

(General admission to the Plains Art Museum is free. See for more information about the Dyani White Hawk exhibition, including a podcast interview with her.)

Legislation to help victims of Human Trafficking takes effect July 1st

Pierre, SD – June 30, 2020 – On July 1, 2020, legislation to better protect and help victims of human trafficking in South Dakota will take effect. The South Dakota State Legislature passed and Governor Noem signed HB 1047 during this past legislative session to put these reforms into effect.

"People are not for sale in South Dakota," said Governor Noem. "Fighting human trafficking has been a priority of mine for years, and it will remain a priority of my administration moving forward. This bill takes important steps to protect our state from the horrors of human trafficking, crack down on traffickers, and provide for victims through expanded services and resources."

Gov. Noem's legislation received unanimous support from both chambers of the legislature. HB1047 takes a four-pronged approach to protect South Dakota from human trafficking by:

Ensuring traffickers are prosecuted for their crimes by amending the criminal code to add "purchaser" and prevent a defense of "consent" or "mistake of age."

Paving a path to a clean record for minor victims with convictions for crimes they were forced to commit.

Increasing access to victim resources that includes reimbursement of expenses like hospital stays and mental health counseling.

This legislation builds on Noem's work in 2019 that further defines coercion and strengthens prosecution against traffickers. In Congress, Noem was an outspoken advocate on legislation that protects people against human trafficking and championed the decade's most comprehensive anti-trafficking initiative.

To learn more about HB 1047, visit

Fines for drivers failing to move over increase in SD

South Dakota's new 'move over' driving law has gone into effect

Pierre, SD – AP – July 2, 2020 – South Dakota's new 'move over' driving law has gone into effect. It increased the minimum fine for violators from $122.50 to $270.

If a driver fails to move over on the roadway and causes a crash with an emergency vehicle, the offense is now a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Another provision requires drivers to move over for vehicles that use an authorized blue light while working along a highway.

"There are more people working in emergency services such as tow truck drivers, ambulance personnel, and just motorists that are pulled over and stopped on the side of the road for an emergency, so this new law is more geared towards protecting all of those individuals," Watertown Police Department, Captain Steve Rehorst tells KELO-TV.

Moving over still applies for emergency vehicle with flashing amber lights.

And all traffic must still stop for emergency vehicles with flashing red lights.

Earlier this year, tow truck driver Dale Jones was working near Watertown when a car lost control and hit him.

"In the case of Dale Jones this year where he was helping a motorist and pull them out of the ditch, you don't know what that emergency service worker is doing on the side of the road," Rehorst said.

Bill to update E-SIGN

Washington, DC – July 2, 2020 – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over technology and consumer protection, today introduced the E-SIGN Modernization Act, legislation that would streamline how consumers consent to receiving electronic documents like bank statements, account information, and contracts. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) became law in 2000 and provides a framework for how transactions involved in interstate or foreign commerce can be completed using electronic signatures and electronic documents.

"As technology continues to advance and transform, so too should the laws that govern it," said Thune. "Computers, smart phones, and other devices are more reliable and accessible than ever before. This legislation makes necessary updates to E-SIGN to reflect these advancements in technology and make it easier for consumers to receive documents electronically."

"Given the major advancements in technology and consumer accessibility that have occurred in the past two decades since the E-SIGN Act was first enacted, it's time to modernize this law," Moran. "This legislation is a timely update to expand consumer access to online and mobile financial services in line with modern practices."

"During this challenging time, Americans are increasingly faced with outdated barriers to accessing critical documents and bank statements electronically," said Young. "The E-SIGN Modernization Act will streamline this decades-old system and allow more people to access their bank information from a computer or other electronic device."

"As we mark the E-SIGN Act's 20th anniversary this week, we applaud Senator Thune's leadership in modernizing the law while preserving its important consumer protections," said Rob Nichols, president and CEO of American Bankers Association. "This legislation will help ensure customers' requests to access digital banking services are quickly honored, particularly when brick-and-mortar operations are disrupted or customers are temporarily displaced. This update to one of the landmark laws of the internet age will also mean more widely-available and innovative choices for bank customers, including the ability to more easily manage how much paper they receive."

"The E-Sign Modernization Act of 2020 is a strong step toward balancing community health with financial well-being," said Jim Nussle, president and CEO of Credit Union National Association. "Enhancing consumer access to online services will ensure that consumers and the financial first responders meeting their pecuniary needs remain safe in our current operating environment."

E-SIGN currently requires consumers to reasonably demonstrate that they can access documents electronically before they can receive an electronic version, which is an outdated requirement that is no longer necessary given advancements in technology. The E-SIGN Modernization Act would remove this requirement, so once a consumer is provided with disclosure information and consents to receiving documents electronically, he or she can obtain them through those means.

How seniors can protect their Health and Finances during the Pandemic

July 1, 2020

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, health officials have been clear and consistent in their message to seniors: While anyone can fall victim to COVID-19, those who are 65 and older are in an especially high-risk group.

That's why older Americans need to be especially careful and – in the case of the very elderly – family members may need to step in to make sure they are taking the right precautions, says Chris Orestis, the president of LifeCare Xchange and a national senior care advocate.

"As with just about everyone, coronavirus is touching all areas of the lives of seniors, from health to finances to how they socialize," Orestis says.

He offers a few tips on things seniors and their families can do:

Prioritize healthy practices. Follow health guidelines. Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and sanitize surfaces. "Social distancing and staying in place have become important new additions to our lifestyle because avoiding contact with infected people is the surest way to prevent contracting the virus," Orestis says. "Grocery stores and retailers have set up senior-only shopping hours, and seniors should take advantage of those. In addition, food delivery services can bring take-out meals or groceries to your home."

Trust nursing homes. "Despite the tragic deaths that occurred at Life Care Center's nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., the nursing home industry has been working around the clock in every community to protect their residents," Orestis says. Nursing homes are always vigilant for influenza, pneumonia, and other viral outbreaks. "If you have a loved one in a nursing home, do not go visit," Orestis says. "Stay in touch remotely through a cell phone, computer, or the staff to help the nursing home avoid contamination."

Know what financial resources are available. "We've experienced a stock market drop, but It is important at times like this to not 'panic sell' and lock in your losses," Orestis says. He points out there are still safety nets and even financial opportunities that can help seniors. For example, the passage of the CARES Act will pump $2 trillion into the economy. Social Security income, Medicare, and Medicaid payments remain unchanged. Income from annuities remains guaranteed.

For owners of permanent life insurance policies, Orestis says, there are a couple of options to get liquidity from this asset. If the owner wants to keep the policy in force, they can take out a policy loan for upwards of 90% of the cash surrender value. If the policy owner wants to stop paying premiums, they could use a life settlement to sell the policy under tax-favorable conditions to receive a percentage of their death benefit as a lump-sum today.

Beware of scams. Seniors often are prime targets of scams, and with their heightened level of distress, could be even more susceptible than usual, Orestis says. "Be on the lookout for such things as emails from imposters of the CDC asking you to open a link or download a list telling you where positive cases are in your area," he says.

Vet your news sources. The coronavirus is getting round-the-clock news coverage. But mixed into the information coming from reliable sources is a flood of misinformation. "Fact-check information by reading statistics from the websites of reliable medical resources and verified news organizations," Orestis says. "Don't fall for conflicting statistics or attempts to minimize the severity of the outbreak by comparing it to car accidents, the flu, or other outbreaks. The danger is people can be lulled into underestimating the danger and let their guard down."

"No one is sure how long this crisis will last or what the outcome could be," Orestis says. "But the most vulnerable members of our population can protect themselves by following smart health practices, avoiding unwise financial decisions, taking advantage of financial safety-nets, and being on the lookout for scams and bad information."

About Chris Orestis:

Chris Orestis, known as the "Retirement Genius," is President of LifeCare Xchange and a nationally recognized healthcare expert and senior advocate. He has 25 years experience in the insurance and long-term care industries, and is credited with pioneering the Long-Term Care Life Settlement over a decade ago. Known as a political insider, Orestis is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who has worked in both the White House and for the Senate Majority Leader on Capitol Hill. Orestis is author of the books Help on the Way and A Survival Guide to Aging, and has been speaking for over a decade across the country about senior finance and the secrets to aging with physical and financial health. He is a frequent columnist for Broker World, ThinkAdvisor, IRIS, and NewsMax Finance, has been a featured guest on over 50 radio programs, and has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, NBC News, Fox News, USA Today, Kiplinger's, Investor's Business Daily, PBS, and numerous other media outlets.

Former tribal chair sentenced for Embezzlement scheme

Defendants prosecuted as part of the Guardians Project, a Federal law enforcement initiative to combat Corruption, Fraud, and Abuse in SD

Sioux Falls, SD – June 22, 2020 – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced today that a former Chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe was sentenced for his role in a scheme involving the embezzlement of tribal funds by former elected tribal officials. Chief U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange presided over the sentencing hearing on June 16, 2020.

Brandon Sazue, age 46, the former elected chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $17,330 in restitution and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Five other defendants were previously sentenced for their respective roles in the embezzlement scheme. Roland Robert Hawk, Sr., 51, former elected treasurer of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $325,762.50 in restitution. Francine Maria Middletent, 55, a former elected councilmember of the Tribe, was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $273,817.55 in restitution. Tina Grey Owl, age 64, a former elected councilmember of the Tribe, was sentenced to a split sentence of 10 months imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution in an approximate amount of $190,000. Roxanne Lynette Sazue, age 61, a former elected chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, was sentenced to a split sentence of 5 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $43,300 in restitution. Jacqueline Ernestine Pease, 34, was sentenced to 3 years of probation and ordered to pay $74,100 in restitution and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Pease was not an elected official, yet she worked in the Tribe's Finance Office where Hawk was the overall supervisor and where Middletent worked as Chief Financial Officer.

According to court documents, in about March 2014 through February 2019, Roland Robert Hawk, Sr., Francine Maria Middletent, Roxanne Lynette Sazue, Jacquelyn Ernestine Pease, Tina Grey Owl, and Brandon Sazue embezzled, stole, willfully misapplied, willfully permitted to misapplied, and converted to their own use approximately $1,000,000 of monies, funds, credit, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

During times relevant to each defendant's case, Brandon Sazue served as Chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Hawk served as the elected Treasurer of the tribe, Roxanne Sazue was also chair, and Middletent and Grey Owl were elected councilpersons. When not serving in their respective leadership positions, all defendants, except for Brandon Sazue, worked for Hawk in the Tribe's Finance Office. In their respective leadership roles and employment positions, the defendants had the access and opportunity to the funds that were embezzled from the tribe.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the cases.

The case was brought pursuant to the Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between participating agencies, to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota's Indian country communities. The Guardians Project is another step of federal law enforcement's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination, and positive action on behalf of tribal communities. Led by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the participating agencies include: Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; U.S. Postal Inspector Service; and U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

For additional information about the Guardians Project, please contact the U.S. Attorney's Office at (605)330-4400. To report a suspected crime, please contact law enforcement at the federal agency's locally listed telephone number.

Bill to ease Impact Aid program applications process during COVID pandemic

Washington, DC – June 24, 2020 – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today introduced the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, legislation that would allow school districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use their student headcount from the 2020-2021 school year, which have already been calculated, on their Impact Aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year. School districts will begin to complete their Impact Aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year this fall, and this bill would ensure that schools do not need to recalculate federally connected students during the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Impact Aid is a program that reimburses school districts located on federal property or for their students that live on federal land and, therefore, collect less in local property taxes to fund their schools.

"There are several school districts throughout the state of South Dakota that rely on the Impact Aid Program to help support their schools and students," said Thune. "By allowing these school districts to use prior-year student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications this fall, we can ensure that school districts across the state will have the funding they need during these uncertain times and will continue benefiting from this important program."

"As we continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic we need to make sure that schools in Minnesota have strong investments so students can keep learning," said Smith. "We have a special obligation to federally impacted schools, which are located in school districts with a significant amount of nontaxable land and because of that receive direct federal payments. I'm glad to work with Sen. Thune to help ensure that next fall's Impact Aid applications and student counts are not disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic."

"As federally impacted school districts develop our plans for the next school year, we appreciate Senators Thune and Smith for addressing our concerns about conducting accurate Impact Aid student counts," said Chad Blotsky, president of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools and Finance Director of the Todd County School District. "This legislation is a commonsense way to enable all 1200-plus federally impacted school districts – including Indian lands, military and federal property school districts – to submit timely applications while keeping our staff and communities safe. In my state of South Dakota, there are 37 Impact Aid school districts, representing all aspects of the program. The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools supports this legislation and thanks Senators Thune and Smith or their leadership."

Thune: Proud to support JUSTICE Act police reform bill

Washington, DC – June 17, 2020 – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed Sen. Tim Scott's (R-S.C.) Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act, which addresses various aspects of policing reform. The JUSTICE Act would provide funding to improve police officer training, hiring, and the use of body worn cameras. It would also discourage the use of certain techniques and practices by leveraging federal funds, call for the development of best policing practices, and require additional reporting on issues such as use of force. Thune is a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act.

Excerpt of Thune's remarks below:

"Mr. President, in the wake of the recent tragic deaths of several African-Americans at the hands of the police, our country has reached a turning point.

"Americans of every race, background, and political persuasion are calling for change.

"Too many Americans feel unsafe right now.

"Too many Americans live in fear that what happened to George Floyd could happen to their own fathers and sons and brothers.

"Too many Americans see in law enforcement officers individuals to be feared rather than trusted.

"Americans are ready for all that to end.

"They want reform and increased accountability.

"They want to make sure that we are holding our law enforcement officers to the highest standards.

"And they want their fellow Americans to feel confident that what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others will not happen to their loved ones.

"Mr. President, members of Congress have been listening.

"I have been listening.

"And today I am proud to rise in support of Senator Scott's policing reform bill, which I am co-sponsoring.

"Senator Scott's Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere Act – or JUSTICE Act – is the product of a lot of serious work – years of it, in fact.

"The JUSTICE Act is an extensive bill that addresses various aspects of policing reform.

"One important section of the bill is the George Floyd and Walter Scott Notification Act, which would correct deficiencies in law enforcement reporting of use-of-force incidents.

"Right now, the FBI National Use of Force Data Collection only receives data on about 40 percent of law enforcement officers.

"That needs to change.

"The only way we can understand the scope of the problems we're facing is to have full and accurate data.

"A complete data picture will allow us to pinpoint problems, identify troubled police departments, and develop best practices for use-of-force and de-escalation training.

"There are many, many police departments across our nation that are doing an exemplary job of policing, that have excellent relationships with the community, and that are already implementing a lot of best practices.

"But there are also more troubled police departments.

"Police departments that fail to train their officers properly or overlook officer misbehavior.

"And we need to identify those police departments and demand their reform.

"Collecting full and accurate data on use-of-force incidents will help us do that.

"Mr. President, one policing measure that has been found to reduce both officers' use of force and complaints against police officers is body cameras.

"Body-worn cameras record every officer interaction with the community, which encourages appropriate behavior and helps to create an accurate record of events.

"These cameras keep both citizens and police officers safer.

"But implementing the use of these cameras can be costly, as can storing the copious data that accumulates.

"So the JUSTICE Act will create a new grant program to help local police departments purchase body-worn cameras and associated data storage.

"Funding eligibility will be conditional on the department's implementation of best practices for these cameras, and any department that fails to properly use the cameras it has purchased using the grant program will face a reduction in federal funding.

"Another important section of the JUSTICE Act focuses on police de-escalation and duty-to-intervene training.

"Sometimes police end up using force in situations where it could have been avoided simply because they lack the necessary training to de-escalate a situation without the use of force.

"It may be understandable that well-meaning but overwhelmed police officers in dangerous circumstances have sometimes resorted to the use of force too quickly.

"But that's not a situation we can accept.

"Every police officer in this country should be given the kind of training that will ensure that use of force is restricted only to those situations where it is absolutely needed.

"Mr. President, I expect to see a lot of support for this bill from my Republican colleagues here in the Senate.

"And I wouldn't be surprised if this bill receives a lot of support from law enforcement as well.

"Because, Mr. President, most of our nation's law enforcement officers want to implement policing best practices.

"They want to develop strong relationships with the communities they protect.

"They want to avoid use-of-force incidents that place both officers and suspects in jeopardy.

"I met with local law enforcement leaders in my home state of South Dakota last Friday, and what I heard from them was a real desire to do everything they can to serve every member of their communities.

"They've already been participating in forums to listen to community concerns in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"And they're supportive of JUSTICE Act measures to help departments expand their minority hiring, to improve de-escalation training, to develop and promulgate best practices.

"So I wouldn't be surprised if they and a lot of other law enforcement agencies end up backing this bill.

"I really hope Democrats will come to the table.

"Senator Scott has produced a bill that should have the support of every member of the Senate.

"I hope that it will.

"Mr. President, we've made a lot of progress as a nation when it comes to overcoming the sins of our past.

"But it would be a mistake to think that because we've made progress our work is over.

"There is still much to be done and many wounds to heal.

"And we must make those tasks a priority.

"We must continue to work toward a more perfect union.

"Toward the full realization of our founding promise that all men are created equal.

"Toward an America where there is truly liberty and justice for all.

"Mr. President, I yield the floor."

Putting People First, and Politics Last

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

June 26, 2020

In the wake of George Floyd's death, I've spent hours listening and learning from community leaders, as well as law enforcement officials, about how we can bring about a more-just nation. These conversations have been productive and insightful as I prepared to return to Washington this week for police reform debate.

Given that, I understood the need for Congress to come together to make improvements. Unfortunately, H.R. 7120, the bill introduced by House Democrats, was drafted without any bipartisan input. As a result, it overreaches and could cause real problems for our country. For example, the combination of lowering the mens rea standard, lowering qualified immunity, and raising the use of force standards would strongly disincentivize citizens from entering the law enforcement profession. I am worried these provisions of H.R. 7120 would make it extremely difficult to recruit and retain officers, especially in rural areas.

Luckily, there is a better approach, which is why last week, I became a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, which I believe offers real solutions to increase transparency and accountability throughout our nation's law enforcement agencies. Let's take some time to walk through the specifics.

Originally introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the JUSTICE Act would require annual reporting on use of force, either by law enforcement or against law enforcement. In addition, this bill would require law enforcement agencies to maintain and share disciplinary records for officer hiring considerations. Increasing this transparency will drastically hinder the ability for bad actors to hop around to different cities and departments. It's time for us to keep bad cops off the streets.

The JUSTICE Act also helps give police departments the equipment they need – such as providing $500 million for state and local law enforcement to purchase body cameras and also store the footage obtained from these cameras.

This bill bans chokeholds except in limited circumstances, mandates "Duty to Intervene" training – which is already provided by the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy, and makes lynching a federal hate crime.

I'm confident the JUSTICE Act could be bipartisan. Are these provisions enough to bring about real change? I'm not sure – but I know they are a step in the right direction. They are provisions worth debating and our country deserves more than a stalemate. Just last week, Speaker Pelosi stated she would like the House and Senate to go to conference to negotiate the differences between the two bills – but with some in the Senate blocking debate, there's little chance of any progress and even littler chance of any reform making it to the president's desk.

The American people are asking Congress to do something – to come together during a time of great need and move this country forward. I'm ready to have the real conversations that move our country toward progress, but I'm not interested in grandstanding or trying to score political points. As I said several weeks ago, we have more to do.

South Dakota Legislative Reports

Report from Dis. 1 Rep. Steven McCleerey

There have been some major bills that passed during the legislature and have now taken effect of as July 1. This is a listing of a few I thought everyone should be aware of:

SB 164 changes the state's Move Over Law. The new provisions include the minimum fine for a violation increasing from $122.50 to $270, if a driver fails to move over and causes a crash with an emergency vehicle, the offense increases to a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and traffic is now required to move over for authorized vehicles that use a blue light as well as emergency vehicles.

SB 186 adds paid family leave to state employees benefits. It will provide parents 60% of their normal salary for up to eight weeks when they welcome a new child through birth or adoption.

HB 1047 protects and helps victims of human trafficking. This legislation received unanimous support from both chambers of the legislature. This law protects South Dakotans from human trafficking by ensuring traffickers are prosecuted for their crimes by amending the criminal code to add "purchaser" and prevents a defense of "consent" or "mistake of age," by paving a path to a clean record for minor victims with convictions for crimes they were forced to commit, and by increasing access to victim resources that include reimbursement of expenses like hospital stays and mental health counseling.

Several reforms to occupational licensing have taken effect:

SB 10 revises certain provisions regarding cosmetology licenses

SB 11 revises certain provisions regarding third-party insurance plan administrators

SB 12 revises certain provisions regarding comity licensure in the technical professions

SB 13 revises certain educational requirements for the practice of barbering

SB 23 repeals the high school graduation or equivalent requirement for certain licensed professionals

SB 157 is a law that reforms the county zoning and appeals process. It creates a process for getting economic growth projects sited and permitted. The bill also defines a "person aggrieved" using established case law to ensure those with legitimate concerns have standing to appeal permitting decisions. The bill does not limit either county permitting criteria or state environmental requirements.

On Thursday, June 25 Governor Noem announced that South Dakota is utilizing Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars to replenish the South Dakota Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. The State transferred $45.6 million to the trust fund. The CARES Act allows for states to utilize CRF dollars to replenish depleted unemployment trust funds, and doing so will allow South Dakota to avoid a tax increase on South Dakota employers.

Governor Noem also signed two executive orders on Thursday, June 25 to give flexibility as South Dakota continues to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Executive Order 2020-28 suspends the implementation of SB 113, which changes statues related to minor driver's permits. This bill was set to go into effect on July 1, 2020. This suspension will help relieve the backlog on driver's license offices across the state.

Executive Order 2020-29 extends the deadline for the compilation of a report by the South Dakota Commission on Child Support to Dec. 31, 2021.

Legislative bills and executive orders can be read in their entirety on the State of South Dakota website.

As always, please reach out with any questions or comments on how this have been going. Stay safe.

Representative Steven D. McCleerey, 605-742-3112.

Editorials –

Sota editorial –

Cloud Horse statue comes to Sisseton's east roundabout

The metal statue placed at the east roundabout by the city of Sisseton is a beautiful piece of art

Photographer John Heminger caught its arrival and placement on camera last week.

And KXSW announcer Tom Wilson was there to capture the event on Facebook.

It's an attractive work of art to greet people coming into the community.

St. Paul artist Alan Milligan, originally from Ireland, is to be commended for his art, much of which is displayed across Minnesota.

What we wish had happened, however, is that the selection process had come up with art created by one of many talented artists from among our Dakota nation or others of the Oceti Sakowin.

How much more invested would our Oyate be if that had happened

– cdf

Sota guest editorial –

Tribes say they are doing what Pres. Trump has failed to do in addressing COVID-19

Cheyenne River, Oglala, and Rosebud Sioux tell administration respect sovereignty as they address pandemic

Sioux Nation, SD – July 2, 2020 – In advance of President Trump's visit to South Dakota for a July 3 fireworks event at Mount Rushmore, the Cheyenne River, Oglala, and Rosebud Sioux Tribes are telling his administration to respect tribal sovereignty. The event, which could draw large crowds, is planned just as COVID-19 cases rose to their highest levels since the outbreak began in the U.S.

The three tribal nations have taken aggressive measures to combat the spread of the virus in their communities, including shelter-in-place orders and highway checkpoints at their reservation borders to conduct health screenings and limit travel if needed. The tribal nations also have enacted measures for contact tracing and established quarantine sites.

"In a time of crisis, where more than 127,299 Americans have died, the president is putting our Tribal members at risk to stage a photo-op at one of our most sacred sites," said Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. "This is an administration that has not only mishandled the federal government's response to the virus from the start, but has attempted to trample on our rights as a sovereign nation to conduct safety checks at our boundaries. We will not allow this administration or anyone to interfere with our right to take measures to protect our people."

n June 23, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed suit against President Trump, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior, and various White House officials. The suit shows how the Trump administration has interfered with Cheyenne River's rights as a sovereign nation and taken retaliatory measures in an attempt to force the Tribe to eliminate the checkpoints, including threatening COVID-19 and police funding. The Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux have both voiced their support for Cheyenne River and the lawsuit.

"We are more than three hours from the nearest critical care facility," said Julian Bear Runner, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. "To expose our people to the virus would be devastating. And for our more vulnerable members who have underlying medical conditions, COVID-19 is far more deadly. We make no apologies for wanting to enact the most aggressive measures possible to protect our members. These are our families, our elders, our friends, our community, and they deserve protection. Since, the federal government is not doing its job—we will."

The Tribes note that they are not the first governments to take stricter measures than the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic. And at the time of the filing, Cheyenne River had only had 6 cases of COVID-19, each of which can be traced to entries through the Tribe's Health Safety Checkpoint informational system.

"You see what they're doing at the state level in places like Washington state, New York and California to be proactive in slowing the spread," said Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. "Our tribal governments also have rights, and obligations to our people to protect them. Apparently, the administration wants to punish Tribes for that. We will not stand by and let that happen."

The July 3 event with fireworks and a fighter jet flyover could draw large crowds, another reason the Tribes say that checkpoints and aggressive measures are needed.

"It's incredible that this administration is playing with our lives for a photo-op," said Frazier. "Especially after members of the president's own advance team and Secret Service tested positive following his irresponsible Tulsa rally. Now he's hosting an over-the-top fireworks display in our sacred Black Hills, while he doles out retribution against our Tribal governments. And for what? For doing what he failed to do—protecting people from a deadly virus."

Sota guest editorial –

Native American protesters block road leading to Mount Rushmore

By Ashley Collman

Business Insider – July 4, 2020 – A group of mainly Native American protesters blocked the road leading up to Mount Rushmore for three hours before President Donald Trump gave a speech at the national monument Friday night.

When they refused to disband, the protesters faced off with the South Dakota National Guard, which shot close-range shells at their feet and sprayed some protesters with pepper spray, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

By 7:00 p.m., 15 protesters who refused to leave the road had been arrested.

Trump went on to give a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore, saying the country was under siege by "far-left" fascists waging "a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children."

The Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore is located, is a sacred area for local Native Americans, and a contested space.

The Supreme Court in 1980 ruled that the United States had illegally taken the land from the Sioux tribe in a deal brokered in 1873. The Mount Rushmore carvings were completed in 1941.

Jeff Ostler, a historian at the University of Oregon, told ABC News that the federal government had offered the Sioux people a settlement of $1 billion for taking the land. The tribe has refused, saying they will only accept their land back.

Some of the protesters on Friday held signs reading "Protect SoDak's First People," "You Are On Stolen Land," and "Dismantle White Supremacy," according to the Associated Press.

Hehakaho Waste, a spiritual elder with the Oglala Sioux tribe, told the AP: "The president needs to open his eyes. We're people, too, and it was our land first."

Sota guest editorial –

Mount Rushmore fireworks and ignorant politicians

Native Sun News – July 3, 2020 – Several months ago a few students from Oglala Lakota College, Rapid City Campus, were discussing the statues of the presidents lining the streets of Rapid.

Native Sun News Today editorial suggested they form an investigative group of students, get the names of all the statues, and then do some deep research on every one of them. What was their attitude and treatment of Native Americans? African Americans? Hispanics? Etc. etc.

After you have completed your research put all of your new knowledge into an essay. We are sure that nearly every President standing on every street corner in the City has done some terrible things to Native Americans and others. Thinks of all the laws that were passed at the end of the 1800s stripping millions of acres of land from the Indigenous people, including the Black Hills.

We think this would be a worth project for any college class in America, but we believe the students at OLC are much better equipped to view it through the eyes of the oppressed. We ask the students at OLC to seriously consider this as a class project and we will gladly print the results of their study.

Fourth of July

Most Natives do not celebrate the 4th of July. It was not a day of "independence" to us, but a day when America claimed everything that was ours.

Donald Trump and his suck-up daughter Kristi Noem will use the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore to publicize their political ambitions. When it was suggested to Noem that there may be protests by Natives during Trump's visit she haughtily replied, "Not on my watch."

Keep in mind this is the same Governor who authorized a study of the hydroxychloroquine medicine by subjecting 2,000 of her constituents to testing of the drug because Daddy Trump said he was taking the drug and it works against Covid-19 virus. The Food and Drug Administration just released its own study saying not only does it NOT work, it can cause serious health problems.

What is even more startling about this blatant act of political support to Trump by Noem was the fact that a respected medical organization, Sanford Health, allowed itself to lead this farce. How much were they paid to sell their souls to the 2 devils?

But the most blatant act of ignorance occurred when Noem sought the help of Trump and this State's Republican Senators in an effort to remove checkpoints on the Indian reservations set up by tribes trying to stop and prevent the spread of a deadly pandemic. It is obvious that she and her cohorts had absolutely no knowledge of tribal history and how pandemics of TB, smallpox, and other diseases had decimated the Indian nations over the years.

And it is obvious that not one of them has ever read the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

Brief editorial comments from the editor's desk –

On and Off the Lake Traverse Reservation

Please see the notice of COVID-19 testing that is ongoing throughout July.

The Woodrow W. Keeble Memorial Health Care Center (WWKMHCC) is doing the testing for anyone who is eligible for IHS care.

The nurses will be taking samples by mouth and swab samples will be analyzed by the on-site Abbott analyzer, which means results will be available within hours, instead of days.

For more information, contact: Lori Sampson, Director of Nursing at 605-742-3686; or Tracey Cooper, Public Health Nursing Director, 605-742-3767.


Everyone is encouraged to continue wearing face masks, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distance, and follow other COVID guidelines.

For assistance, call the Tribal and IHS COVID hotlines.

SWO 24-hour COVID-19 Hotline:


IHS COVID-19 Hotline:



Check out SWO Emergency Management's updated Facebook page, KXSW Radio, and the Sota website for updates as they become available.

To keep up with current changes in the COVID-19 cases across the state/region and worldwide, check out our SWO GIS online maps:

Regional Map COVID-19:

Worldwide Map COVID-19:

Our thanks to GIS Program Manager Mike LaBatte for sharing with the Oyate.

Link to the Sota website:

Direct link to the Sota news page:


Word from the Indigenous Environment Network (IEN) late Friday, July 3rd:

Over 300 Indigenous protectors showed up today to protect unceded Oceti Sakowin land in the He Sapa, also known as the "Black Hills," from Trump's visit to the Mt. Rushmore Independence Day fireworks show.

This event was a clear sign of disrespect to the people of the Oceti Sakowin.

They have never accepted money for the He Sapa and never will.

We demand the settler state respect our treaties and remove white supremacist imagery from our sacred lands.

For over four hours land defenders held their ground, not allowing Trump supporters from entering the Mt. Rushmore park.

Land defender vans have been impounded and at least twelve protectors have been arrested. (Fifteen, according to later media reports.)


Our thanks to writer Mimi Larsen and to Joe Williams, for sharing Joe's story – how his love of art is taking him where he wants to go in life.

We can all benefit from reading, seeing how Joe's experiences in our community have propelled him to where he is now.

Joe is an excellent role model.

And his experience should help us work harder to make ours a more inclusive, supportive community.


There are new "rules of the road" in South Dakota, effective July 1st, 2020.


Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of South Dakota:

Section 1. That § 32-31-6.1 be AMENDED:

32-31-6.1. Stopped emergency vehicle--Requirements for approaching vehicles--Violation as misdemeanor--Fine.

Upon approaching from any direction any stopped authorized emergency vehicle making use of red visual signals meeting the requirements of this title, the driver of every other vehicle shall come to a complete stop before reaching the stopped emergency vehicle and may, unless otherwise directed, proceed with caution only after ascertaining that it is safe to do so, and upon approaching from any direction any stopped vehicle making use of amber, yellow, or blue warning lights, the driver of every other vehicle shall:

(1) If driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction as the vehicle, merge into the lane farthest from the vehicle at least three hundred feet before the vehicle and proceed with caution, unless otherwise directed; or

(2) If driving on a two lane highway, at least three hundred feet before the vehicle, slow to a speed that is at least twenty miles per hour less than the posted speed limit or five miles per hour when the speed limit is posted at twenty miles per hour or less and proceed with caution, unless otherwise directed.****

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor and has a minimum fine of two hundred seventy dollars.

Section 2. That a NEW SECTION be added:

32-31-6.2. Causing an accident--Stopped emergency vehicle--Violation as misdemeanor.

Any person who, while violating § 32-31-6.1, causes an accident is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the accident is with a stopped emergency vehicle making use of its red visual signals or any stopped vehicle making use of amber, yellow, or blue warning lights.

An Act to revise the penalties and provisions regarding approaching stopped vehicles.


While on the matter of public safety on our roadways, has anyone questioned the need to build roundabouts?

Here's what SD DOT Director of Planning and Engineering Mike Behm had to say to the state Transportation Commission in 2017.

The Commission was looking at final plans to build roundabouts at Wall Lake, Watertown, and Sisseton.

"Nationally, they reduce fatalities 90 percent and reduce injuries 75 percent."

"We hope to see some good numbers on our roundabouts," he told the Commission.

Now that the roundabouts are here at Sisseton, let's hope Behm is correct!


Elder's meditation:

"That is not our way, to set yourself apart and talk about who you are and what you've done. You let your life speak for you. With the Mohawk people, wisdom is how you live and how you interpret what your mother and father, what your grandmothers and grandfathers have told you about this world – and then how you interpret that into the fact of living every day."

–Tom Porter, MOHAWK

It is said, how you live your life makes so much noise that people can't hear what you are saying anyway. It is so easy to see people who do not walk the talk.


Words to consider (or, perhaps not!):

Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke. - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841 - 1935)

Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. - Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form. -  Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)

The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory. - Paul Fix

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities. - Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), Vedanta for the Western World, 1945

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way. - Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007), "Cat's Cradle"

There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. - Alfred Korzybski (1879 - 1950)

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line. - Levant (1906 - 1972)

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)


The Sota is always looking for news of the Oyate.

If you have information and/or photos of newsworthy happenings in your family or community, please consider sharing with your Sota staff.

For submission deadlines and other information, see below:

Except for holidays copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – is to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. FAX and e-mail submissions will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Friday (with the exception of letters to the editor/open letters to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received by 10:00 a.m. Thursday).

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel and must be brief, ideally 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

Earlier receipt of copy is always appreciated. So, if you are aware of a date or message that needs to be publicized or advertised, please let us know about it in advance of the weekly deadline.

The preferred way to submit typed articles and ads, art and photos, is by e-mail.

The editor can be reached at the following e-mail address:

For more information, leave a message on the Sota production office voicemail (605) 938-4452, or send a fax to the 24-hour dedicated line (605) 938-4676.


Obituaries –

Services held for Jonah Blue

Jonah Samuel Blue, age 35, of Belcourt, North Dakota journeyed to the Spirit World on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at his residence.

He was born on September 16, 1984 in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the son of John Hopkins and Michelle Blue.

Jonah enjoyed spending time and playing with his nieces and nephews.

He liked hanging out with his friends, listening to music and talking on the phone with his sisters.

Family was very important to him!

Jonah is survived by his daughter Kaliya; mother Michelle Blue, Little; sisters Gabrielle Sanchez, Delia Garcia, Sharon Hare, and Daisy Hare; maternal grandmother Sylvia Blue; aunts Leslie Antelope and Hazel Middle Tent; girlfriend Miranda Dunham; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Preceded in death by his father John Hopkins; uncle William Blue Jr.; aunt Danielle Middle Tent; maternal grandpa William Blue Sr.

An all-night visitation was held on Friday, June 26, 2020 at the Long Hollow District Center beginning.

A funeral service for Jonah Blue was held on Saturday afternoon, June 27,2020 at the Long Hollow District Center.

Pastor Jerome Renville officiated.

Honorary casket bearers were all family and friends

Casket bearers were Delia Garcia, Dakota Blue, Daisy Hare, Bobbie Blackthunder, Gabrielle Sanchez, Tarique Owen, Sharon Hare, Rodney Derby.

Interment was held at the Eagles Wings Cemetery in Peever, South Dakota.

The Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted, Minnesota assisted the family with funeral arrangements.

On-line condolences can be directed to

Notice of passing: Audrey Adams

Audrey passed away on June 27, 2020 at the Tekakwitha Living Center, Sisseton, SD.

Audrey (Butler) Adams was born in Hayward, Wisconsin on August 21, 1942 to Anna Cloud and Frank Butler.

She liked to garden, go to the casino, and spend time with her family.

She was a very caring and generous lady and loved taking care of her kitties.

She graduated from Birchwood High School in 1961, where she was homecoming queen during her senior year.

She is survived by her husband of almost 60 years Richard Adams, a brother Frank Butler Jr., and a sister Judy Butler.

Her children are Denise Bell, Mark (Nora) Adams, Elizabeth (Stan) Borowicz, and Craig Adams.

She had 9 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. She also had a favorite nephew Terry Renville.

There will be no services due to her final wishes and COVID.

Anyone who wants to pay their respects may stop by her home in Veblen at any time.

The Cahill Funeral Chapel of Sisseton, SD was in charge of arrangements.

Notice of editorial policy

(Editor's note: The following comes from the editor's column and the Sota "deadlines and policies" statement published weekly in the Sota.)

Copy to be considered for publication – news, advertising, editorial opinion letters, etc. – are to be submitted to: Sota, P.O. Box 5, Wilmot, SD 57279 by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. FAX and e-mail submissions will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Friday (with the exception of letters to the editor/Open letter to the Oyate, or "opinion" letters, which must be received no later than 10:00 a.m. Thursday).

If you are writing an opinion letter, please note that it must be signed and the author's name will appear in print. Letters must not contain libel or offensive language and should be brief, 500 words or less. Letters may be edited for content. Omissions will be identified with periods . . . editor's explanations will be provided in [brackets]. Readers who want access to unedited versions will need to contact the authors.

Open letter to the Oyate

Public message to Chairman Donovan White:

Thank you for all your help for all us tribal members to the best of your ability.

Laura J. White.

p.s. Iris Keoke, I hope you got my envelope (addressed to Tribal headquarters).

Cloud Horse statue arrives in Sisseton

The city of Sisseton brought Cloud Horse, a stainless steel and copper statue, to the east roundabout last Thursday, July 2nd.

The statue, work of St. Paul artist Alan Milligan, now greets visitors coming to Sisseton on Highway 10 from the east.

John Heminger was present at the statue's arrival to document the event in pictures, while KXSW Announcer Tom Wilson broadcast the event live on Facebook.

Weekend of the Fourth of July for Dennis Seely

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The red 2015 Indian Scout and I took a ride out to Ellsworth AFB yesterday to pick up a sheet of stamps at the Post Office.

I sent my dear old, old, old friend Tony Cooper, who lives in Montgomery, Illionis, a box of some Vietnam DVDs.

It was a "warm ride" on the Indian in 93 degree heat.

I also took a ride on the Scout in downtown Rapid City.

I am going to Deadwood tonight to see if I can win a two-door Chevrolet Spark car!

Wish me luck!

"The Noble Red Man," Dennis Isaac Seely.

p.s. tomorrow, July 5, 2020 it will have been 1 years since 800 of us "young men and women" left Chicago on twenty railroad coaches to go and serve our county.

KXSW livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube channel

KXSW-Radio is livestreaming Tribal Council meetings to YouTube.

Here is a link to the channel:

Subscribe and watch live or watch archives later.

Fargo-based rapper found dead in Roberts County

By Mimi Larsen

The body of 37-year-old hip-hop performer Kipp G was found in southwest Roberts County Sunday morning, June 28. According to Sheriff Barry Hillestad, the death is an apparent suicide.

"I don't release much information about suicides," said Hillestad, "but that information is all over Facebook, so I'm not telling you something that isn't out there."

Kipp Gabriel was a rapper with the Me and You Crew, and was also a music promoter.

Last week several women made accusations on social media about sexual misconduct by Gabriel over the years. Although Gabriel denied all the accusations, at least one accuser, a Forum News Service contributing columnist, was very explicit about being raped in 2008.

Gabriel was in a relationship, and although the investigation is on-going, it is presumed he despaired over the effect of the accusations on his relationship. A thorough article is available at the Dickinson Press (

That article quotes Gabriel from last week, and his father below that:

"It pains me because terrible things have been said," Kipp Gabriel added. "I do respect women speaking their truth and I'm not trying to silence women, but in this situation, there's more context to it than just a string of anonymous posts."

"He was the heart of our family. His relationship with people, his push for no drugs and no drinking, he was just totally against all that. It was all about love, and bad things making his relationship break up, and it was all about that. He couldn't stand it. The texts he was getting, I think he could handle it. It was losing his girlfriend," Ken Gabriel said.

Josie Danz, the Forum News Service contributing columnist who came forth about the rape, said, "Obviously, I have a difficult past with Kipp, but I also know he was someone who brought a lot of joy and enthusiasm and talent and positivity to this community, and I think that's why it's hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around what's happened in so short of a time."

"I think a lot of people were really shocked about some of the stories that were coming from him. He was obviously a multi-dimensional person in good and bad ways," Danz added.

"My heart is really heavy because I wish he had a chance to find some redemption for himself and for his victims. Sure, what happened to me was very, very painful, but I still think he deserved the chance to have a future and do good. It's not the closure anyone wanted or deserved on any side of these experiences."

A female rapper and fellow performer said, "I think it wasn't the women sharing their stories, it was the comments. I think it was just the unchecked contempt of people sharing and being reactionary," Diane Miller said. "I think it's possible that cyberbullying went too far."

Ready Reserve Corps reestablished to help during Health Care emergencies

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Washington, DC – July 3, 2020 – As we enter into the summer and continue working to get our economy back on track, COVID-19 continues to impact our country. Addressing growing public health needs has become a priority for the federal government over the past several months. We continue to be incredibly grateful to the healthcare workers who have been on the front lines throughout this pandemic—they are doing a critically important job.

In order to make sure vital health care jobs remain staffed during times of crisis, we worked to make sure my legislation to establish a Ready Reserve Corps within the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps was included in our COVID-19 relief legislation. The Ready Reserve Corps will be able to step in to fill positions at places like the Indian Health Service (IHS), which provides care to tens of thousands of South Dakotans, when USPHS Commissioned Corps officers are deployed to assist during a national emergency.

So why is this important? Let's start by explaining the role of the USPHS. The USPHS Commissioned Corps is made up of more than 6,100 full-time officers who work in public health and disease prevention programs. Many of the officers work at federal agencies such as IHS, the Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Coast Guard. During times of crisis, Commissioned Corps officers are sent to help with public health emergencies, leaving a vacancy for the time they are relocated.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, thousands of USPHS workers have been deployed from their regular duty stations. This leaves a large percentage of vital public health roles empty across the country. Because of the bipartisan legislation I introduced with Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, which was included in the CARES Act, the Ready Reserve Corps was reestablished to help make sure any open positions are filled with temporary workers.

When we introduced our legislation last year, we didn't know the severity of the health care emergency that we'd be facing in our country with COVID-19. However, we knew that not filling vacant positions at federal health care facilities like IHS would hurt the people who rely on those facilities for their care. When the Senate passed the CARES Act this spring, we pushed to make sure our Ready Reserve Corps legislation was included in it.

Recently, the Trump administration recognized and thanked the USPHS workers for their vital role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 4,500 of the 6,100 officers have deployed since the outbreak started. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar stated, "Creating a Ready Reserve for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will improve our capability to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and future public health emergencies. One of HHS's paramount responsibilities is to protect Americans from public health threats like infectious diseases, and Congress and the Trump administration have come together to give us a new capability for accomplishing that mission with the Ready Reserve."

Until our scientists and doctors are successful in finding vaccines and therapeutic treatments to combat COVID-19, it will remain a public health crisis in our country, and USPHS Commissioned Corps officers will be deployed to help out. The Ready Reserve Corps will make our public health system stronger and more prepared to deal with emergencies like this in the future.

Prairie Doc® Perspectives –

The Heart of the Matter

By Jill Kruse, D.O.

A few years ago, I spoke at a conference for women physicians. My talk opened with a simple question. What organ does the heart supply blood to first? It was a deceptively simple question, but the room was silent as they all pondered what they thought was a trick question. Various answers came in, but they were all wrong. Everyone else tried to guess what the most important organ would be that would receive the blood first. They tried to deduce which organ was physically the closest to the heart.

The next slide in my talk was a picture of the heart from an anatomy textbook and there I showed the answer. The heart feeds itself first. The very first blood vessels that branch off the heart at the aorta are the coronary arteries. These are the blood vessels that feed the heart and are the ones that, when blocked, cause a heart attack.

This was not a talk about anatomy, and it wasn't a lesson in physiology. It was a conference on self-care. No one has ever called the heart a selfish organ. We call someone who is generous and kind as someone who has a "big heart". The heart's sole purpose is to supply oxygenated blood to the entire body, and it beats constantly from before we are born until the moment we die. The only way it can do this is by taking care of itself and making sure its needs are met first. Yet when we think of taking time for ourselves or saying "no" to someone's request because we do not have the time or energy to help, we often feel selfish.

When the heart does not have enough blood flow to an area, or there is a blockage in a vessel, it causes pain. Sometimes people ignore this pain and push through. Sometimes the pain goes away, only to come back later when the demands on the heart grow stronger. If the area of the heart is starved for blood for long enough, that part of the heart dies. If a large enough area of the heart dies, then the heart cannot effectively pump blood to the rest of the body and the person may die of a heart attack.

We need to follow this example in how we treat ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves - emotionally, physically, and spiritually - before we can take care of others. If we ignore this and take care of our needs last, our ability to care for not only ourselves, but others will suffer. Be like the heart, tirelessly giving and kind to the entire body, but most importantly ensuring that the giving and kindness applies to you first and foremost.


Jill Kruse, D.O. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, South Dakota. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc® library, visit and follow Prairie Doc® on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show streaming on Facebook and broadcast on SDPB most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.

Youth, school activities highlights –

Education watch on the Lake Traverse Reservation

End of the Year Newsletter

By Jane Ryan

I worked with my students on their reading and math skills that were in their IEP's.

I felt that we were making progress before the Coronavirus pandemic shut down our school.

After the closure of school, I have continued to reach out to my parents and students through phone calls, putting assignments on Class Dojo and having weekly zoom meetings with my students.

This has allowed them opportunities to review standards taught before remote learning took place.

This type of learning has been challenging, but I had successes too.

Sisseton School Board election held

Here are unofficial results from the Tuesday, June 16, 2020 Sisseton School Board election, with 581 voters.

Board vacancies included three positions for three-year terms and one position for a two-year term.

The odd two-year term was due to a member leaving the board before their term was complete.

Board members with expired terms were Cory Deutsch, Sara Johnson, and Lenny Wegener (three-year term) and the vacant two-year term.

The election for the two-year term was decided in a run-off between Patrick Deutsch Jr. and Samantha Stickland. Stickland won.

Cory Deutsch and Lenny Wegener were the only two qualifying candidates for the three-year terms.

Sara Johnson has chosen not to run for another term and so her position will be filled through a Board appointment.

Deutsch, Wegener and Stickland will be sworn in at the July 13th School Board meeting.

(Information from the Sisseton Courier.)

Report: SD has 18th highest proportion of students without adequate IT support to learn from home

32% of South Dakota's K-12 students lack adequate connection and 23% lack adequate devices at home; 12% of teachers also lack adequate connectivity at home

South Dakota, Monday, June 29, 2020 – With the prospect of another distance learning school year on the horizon due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis released today finds that South Dakota ranks 18th amongst all states with the highest proportion of students lacking adequate internet connection and devices to do schoolwork at home. Not only does South Dakota rank 18th highest for lack of adequate internet access and devices for students, but ranks 15th nationally for teachers as well. In South Dakota, 44,300 students lack adequate high-speed connection (32%) and 31,563 lack devices (23%); and 12% (1,190) of k-12 teachers in South Dakota lack high-speed internet connection while 4% (375) lack devices. These estimates are higher than previously reported.

The report from Common Sense and Boston Consulting Group, Closing the K-12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning, fixes a one-year price tag of at least $6 billion and as much as $11 billion to connect all kids at home nationwide, and an additional $1 billion to close the divide for teachers throughout the country, and the report urges Congress to close this gap as part of its next emergency stimulus bill in response to the pandemic.

"The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the digital divide for what it is: a nationwide crisis that leaves millions of children and hundreds of thousands of teachers without proper connectivity and tools to conduct distance learning at a time when school increasingly has come to depend on it," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "States like South Dakota and others are working hard to address this problem, but our new data and analysis -- which reveals a distance learning digital divide that is even worse in South Dakota then was previously reported -- further highlights the urgency for policymakers, educators, and private companies to do more to address this basic educational equity issue that affects kids, not just in this state, but in every state."

The new report contains detailed state-by-state data and finds that the states with the largest K-12 digital divide are largely in the south, with Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama showing the largest deficit by proportion, and Texas, California, and Florida the largest gaps by population. But, the report also notes, every state has a problem: "Even among states with the smallest divides, approximately from one in four to one in five students do not have an adequate internet connection."

Lack of access to the internet and a distance learning device during the COVID-19 pandemic school closures puts these students at risk of significant learning loss. The report therefore outlines the baseline technical requirements for distance learning (reliable high-speed internet, sufficient data plans, and a computer, laptop, or tablet device), and concludes the cost of closing the digital divide for students to be between $6 billion and $11 billion in the first 12 months, plus an additional $1 billion to close the divide for teachers. The report also highlights that digital literacy training for families unfamiliar with digital technology is another key requirement for successful distance learning.

Summary of the Key Findings:

Approximately 15-16 million K-12 public school students, or 30% of all public K-12 students, live in households either without an internet connection or device adequate for distance learning at home, a higher number than previously recorded; and of these students, approximately 9 million live in households with neither an adequate connection nor an adequate device for distance learning.

The homework gap isn't just about homework anymore; lack of access to the internet and a distance learning device during the COVID-19 pandemic school closures puts these students at risk of significant learning loss.

This analysis identifies students lacking baseline technology requirements for distance learning, including reliable high-speed internet, sufficient data plans, and a computer, laptop or tablet device.

This digital divide is a major problem for students in all 50 states and all types of communities but is most pronounced in rural communities and households with Black, Latinx, and Native American students.

300,000 to 400,000 K-12 teachers live in households without adequate internet connectivity, roughly 10 percent of all public school teachers, and 100,000 teachers lack adequate home computing devices.

The cost of closing the digital divide for students is at least $6 billion and as much as $11 billion in the first 12 months, and it would cost an additional $1 billion to close the divide for teachers.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the nature of the Homework Gap, exacerbated existing inequities in education, and heightened the urgent need for Congress and the states to provide emergency funding to ensure all students have equal access to distance learning.

The private sector, districts, and education support organizations also have important roles to play in this challenge to identify the right technology that meets the unique needs of their students and teachers today while fitting their long-term digital aspirations, and that are delivered systematically and equitably to districts across the U.S.


The digitally divided analysis combines the nationally representative 2018 1-year survey data and micro-data from the American Community Survey with 2018-2019 school year data from the National Center for Education Statistics to identify the number of K-12 students and teachers in households that lack adequate internet (e.g., high-speed) and/or a distance learning device (e.g., laptop, tablet). Based on data collected from desk research and stakeholder interviews, this report estimates a cost range to provide adequate distance learning technology for all students and teachers that are considered digitally divided, ranging from meeting minimum versus more robust distance learning technology needs, and based on a range of technology combinations.

About Common Sense and the Digital Divide:

Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Common Sense research gives parents, educators, health organizations, and policymakers reliable, independent data on children's use of media technology and technology needs.

Common Sense has supported digital equity for years and is actively advocating for robust funding to close the k-12 digital divide in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Learn more at Closing the K-12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning was funded in part by a generous grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

(Editor's note: The SWO Tribal Education Department has announced there is federal COVID funding available to help provide Oyate students with IT solutions. Please see the notice elsewhere in this Sota.)


Note –

There are no legal notices published in this week's Sota.

Trading Post ads

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate is seeking to fill the following position(s):

Teacher Aide (3 positions), Head Start

Teacher, Head Start

Bus Driver/Custodian, Head Start

Special Needs & Mental Health Manager, Head Start

Teacher Aide/Bus Monitor, Head Start

Teacher Aide, Early Head Start

Parole Officer, Department of Parole

In-House Attorney, Tribal Executive Committee

Positions Open Until Filled

Application can be emailed to ArnoldW@SWO-NSN.GOV or DeniseH@SWO-NSN.GOV. Contact can also be at Arnold Williams 698-8238 or Denise Hill 698-8251 with questions.

(Tribal preference will apply).


Sisseton Wahpeton College

Has the following job openings:

Dean of Academics

Sisseton Wahpeton College has an opening for a full-time Dean of Academics. This position is responsible for: the academic curriculum, assessment and evaluation of the curriculum; for providing leadership to the faculty and managing the processes through which teaching is conducted and administered; and for overseeing the development and implementation of the instructional programs of SWC while maintaining a collegial environment. Candidate must be able to develop and evaluate comprehensive plans to satisfy present and future college and community needs; and communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Visit our website for a complete job description and application or contact the HR office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position open until Friday, July 10, 2020.

Culinary Arts Instructor

There is an opening for a full-time Culinary Art Instructor at SWC. Requirements are: Bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Food Service Management, or related field. Two-years full-time, or equivalent part-time, teaching or training experience in Culinary Arts. Significant professional experience in food service operations, including substantial responsibilities in purchasing and inventory management. Able to instruct all levels of baking or cooking, sanitation and management in a lab or lecture setting. Instruct courses specifically in baking, pastry, culinary arts, restaurant management lab classes and lecture classes. Visit our website for a complete job description and application or contact the HR office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position open until Friday, July 10, 2020.


Sisseton Wahpeton College has two (2) openings for a part-time position for a Security/Custodian in our Facilities Department. This position provides security duties which include performing patrols of the college campus to monitor behavior, securing buildings and property, watching for and reporting irregularities, and performing other miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned. This position will also assist with janitorial and/or maintenance duties to ensure a safe, clean, comfortable, and secure environment. Requirements are: A High School Diploma or GED. Previous security experience preferred. Previous janitorial and/or maintenance experience is preferred. Visit our website for a complete job description and application, or contact the HR Office at 605-698-3966, ext. 1118. Position closes on Friday, July 10, 2020.


Tiospa Zina Tribal School

Job Openings

Special Education: Two Special Education teachers (Elementary & Secondary) - $3,000 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Elementary School: Three Classroom teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Middle School: Math/Science teacher - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

High School: Math and Social Studies teachers - $1,500 signing bonus. (Open until filled.)

Two General Education Paraprofessionals

School Counselor Position

Facilities: Bus Driver


Head Cross Country

Football Cheer

Head Girls Basketball

Basketball Cheer

Head Volleyball

Assistant Girls Basketball

Assistant Track

Assistant Volleyball

Jr. High/Assistant Wrestling

Please contact Jennifer Williams, Human Resources Director by email at for more information.

Tiospa Zina Tribal School

PO Box 719

#2 Tiospa Zina Dr.

Agency Village, SD 57262

Phone: (605) 698-3953 Ext. 208

Fax: (605) 698-7686


Enemy Swim Day School

Job Openings


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a bus driver for the 2020-2021 school year. This is a 6 hour per day position. Applicant must have a valid CDL driver's license with passenger endorsement. ESDS will assist driver in obtaining a CDL if needed. Must be able to pass a background check. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. Health and vision insurance is included as well as retirement benefits and paid leave. Wage is dependent upon experience. If interested please pick up an application from the business office or visit our website: Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Ed Johnson for details. Indian preference policies apply. Open until filled.


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a Para Educator for the 2020-2021 school year. This position will assist with elementary Dakota Language Immersion in the classroom. Dakotah Language competency is required. Must have post-secondary education, an AA degree or equivalent or successfully passing the ParaPro Assessment. ESDS can assist with ParaPro Assessment preparation, if needed. Must be able to pass a background check. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. Wage is dependent upon experience. This position includes benefits. Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Dr. Eastman to inquire about the position or email If interested please pick up an application from the business office or visit our website: Indian Preference policies apply. Position is open until filled.


Enemy Swim Day School has an opening for a Behavior Technician for the 2020-2021 school year. Must have post-secondary education, an AA degree or equivalent. Willing to train. Wage is dependent upon experience. Must have basic computer skills. Must be able to lift 40lbs. This position includes benefits. Call (605) 947-4605 or (888) 825-7738 and ask for Dr. Eastman to inquire about the position or email Applications may also be picked up in the administration office or online at Indian Preference policies apply. Open until filled.



Browns Valley School

Job Openings

Dakota Language/Culture Teacher, Home School Liaison (1.0 FTE)

Browns Valley School is seeing a full-time Dakota Language/Culture Teacher and Home School Liaison. Applicants must have or be eligible for MN teaching license in K-8 Dakota Language and/or Native American Studies or be enrolled in a program that will result in a valid Minnesota Teaching License.

Application Process: Application forms may be requested from the district office, 320-695-2103 or downloaded from

Send cover letter, three letters of recommendation, resume, copy of transcripts and current Minnesota teaching license to:

Denise Pikarksi

Browns Valley School

Box N 118 Church Street

Browns Valley, MN 56219

Open until filled.



Dakota Magic Casino

Job Openings

C-Store Department:

Clerk (Full-Time) where needed

Golf Course Department:

Bartender (2 Full-Time Seasonal) where needed

Cook II (2 Full-Time Seasonal) where needed

Groundskeeper (3 Full-Time Seasonal) where needed

Security Department:

Sergeant/Supervisor (Full-Time) Rotating

Uniforms Department:

Attendant (Full-Time) where needed

Seamstress (Full-Time) Day

Closing Date: July 10, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Starting Wage: D.O.E.

High School Diploma or GED required for most positions. Two identifications documents required upon hire.

If interested please submit application to Human Resources Department, 16849 102nd Street SE Hankinson ND 58041.

For complete Job Description contact James Neconish 701-634-3000 ext. 2582

Indian Preference will apply / EEO (Please Provide Tribal Enrollment).

Must be licensable by the SWO Gaming Commission.


Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel

Job Openings

Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel is seeking to fill the following position(s):


*MANAGER (1 Full-Time)

GENERAL FUNCTION: Coordinates Human Resources policies and programs with an emphasis On the benefits and payroll areas ensuring that all personnel activities and related functions are in compliance DNGE and Dakota Sioux Casino Policies and Procedures.

REQUIREMENTS: High school diploma or G.E.D. equivalent. Bachelor's degree, preferred, in business administration; four to six years related experience; or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Must be familiar with federal, state and tribal agencies that deal with employment. Good working knowledge of legal documents. Must Maintain Confidentiality. Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. Computer experience is required. Supervisory experience and/or training. Must obtain Key Gaming License upon hire. Minimal bending and lifting. Repetitious computer work.

This position will close on July 13, 2020 at 4pm.

Indian Preference will apply / EEO

Contact the Human Resources Department for complete job descriptions at 1-800-658-4717 Ex. 1652.

Two forms of ID are REQUIRED upon hire.

If interested please fill out an application and submit to: Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel, Human Resources Department, 16415 Sioux Conifer Road, Watertown, SD 57201.



Return to Sota Home Page