Dakota historian engages with AP classes

Ben Devore, Staff Writer

“If you know that some of the most heinous crimes in world history have been perpetrated so that you can live on this land today, if you recognize that, if you acknowledge that, it implies some kind of responsibility,” said Waziyatawin, an American Indian activist, PHD and author, to the Language and Composition classes of south high school during an assembly on November twenty first.

After reading Waziyatawin’s book, “What Does Justice Look Like?” students had a chance to see the author in person and listen to her presentation.  She spoke on the issue she has been fighting against for the last decade: oppression of American Indians.

Following her presentation students participated in a question and answer session.  This was a chance for any student to ask Waziyatawin a question they had previously thought of either while reading her book or other readings about the American Indian Movement.

Before the end one of the last students to speak was an All Nations student who said the she was related to one of the thirty-eight Dakota men who had been hung on December 26th, 1862. This was one the points Waziyatawin brought up in her book and presentation using it as an example of unfair treatment to the Dakota. The student then continued to say how thankful she was for Waziyatawin and the work she was doing.

“As a teacher Waziyatawin being there when the Dakota students spoke empowered me and again affirmed why I’m an educator,” Tanya Hodge said.   Hodge is a VOICES and AP Lang and Comp teacher who is one of the staff that helped create the unit surround Waziyatawin’s book.

After an hour of student questions that ranged from positive to critical, this final voice  of appreciation for her work showed just how meaningful people like Waziyatawin can be to Native American students and made students realize how real this topic was ending the auditorium on a favorable note.