ACLU sues South Dakota school district on behalf of Native Americans

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The American Civil Liberties Union has just filed a class action suit against South Dakota’s Winner School District. The suit charges that the district maintains an environment hostile to Native Americans by giving Native American students harsher discipline and by forcing them to sign confessions for minor rule-breaking.

According to the ACLU, Native American students in the Winner District are given very different treatment from white students. They are three times as likely to be suspended from school, and ten times more likely to be referred to law enforcement. In the Winner district, Native American students are coerced into signing confessions, which are then used to get convictions in juvenile court.

The Attorney General of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe noted that the school district is the second largest employer in the county, yet only two employees out of more than 100 are Native American.

“Native American students are accused of gang-related activities for walking in groups of three or more or wearing bandanas, while their white counterparts are encouraged to wear bandanas at sporting events. And Native Americans are actively discouraged from participating in sports activities.”

The ACLU, in challenging the “school to prison pipeline” which is becoming more prevalent in American communities, has identified several policies and practices which exist: zero tolerance policies which criminalize minor school infractions, the bypassing of due process for children, and policy initiatives emphasizing testing and statistics, which lead to pushing out low-performing students.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate