SDDP Response to Racist Remarks from GOP Candidate for Governor →

SDDP Response to Racist Remarks from GOP Candidate for Governor

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Sam Parkinson in responding to GOP candidate Lora Hubbel’s racist attacks on State Sen. Troy Heinert and other Native American state legislators:
     “Sen. Heinert is a respected legislator and leader in his community and around the state. People of good faith can disagree with his actions as a legislator, or as Chair of the Tribal Relations Committee, but to attack his motives and question his heritage is racist and offensive to both tribal members and non-tribal members alike. Her fellow Republican candidates for governor should denounce these statements, as should the South Dakota Republican Party.
     “We are proud that tribal members Senator Heinert, Sen. Kevin Killer, and Rep. Shawn Bordeaux are members of the Democratic caucus, and we’re proud of the work that they do in Pierre to represent their districts – including the Reservations located in those districts – and advocate for policies that would improve the lives of all South Dakotans, both those in living in tribal communities and those who live outside those communities.”


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Press Release- SD Democrats Advocate for Medicaid Expansion Following Governor’s Budget Address


Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

South Dakota Democrat Leaders Advocate for Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota Following the Governor’s Budget Address

Pierre, SD (December 8, 2015)-

On Tuesday, Governor Dennis Daugaard corrected course and announced his support of a plan to expand Medicaid in South Dakota under the Affordable Care Act at his annual budget address.

South Dakota Democrats have been advocating for Medicaid Expansion since the option of increasing health care coverage was made available through the Affordable Care Act. South Dakota Democrat legislators have introduced legislation to expand Medicaid during each of the past three legislative sessions, all of which have been killed by the State’s Republican majority Legislature.

Executive Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, Suzanne Jones Pranger, said

“South Dakota should have expanded Medicaid sooner, as Democrats proposed, because the federal government would have paid 100% of the cost of expansion of coverage until 2016. Instead, the state gave up a chance to recoup millions in federal tax dollars while providing coverage to as many as 55,000 South Dakotans with no cost to the state. South Dakota Democrats have been determined to make Medicaid expansion happen for South Dakota families, and that fight continues.”

Democratic Party leaders in the State Legislature are hopeful that this legislative session will provide a breakthrough in the fight to expand Medicaid. Democratic Party leaders say they are committed to working with those on the other side of the aisle to expand health care coverage in South Dakota.

“Democrats have continually advocated for Medicaid expansion for over three years now because we know that Medicaid expansion is an investment. Expanding this affordable healthcare option will provide thousands of South Dakotans a better opportunity to improve their health and live happy, productive lives,” said Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton. “The best type of investment our State can make is in its own citizens, and that is exactly what Medicaid expansion will accomplish. Democrats look forward to working with the Governor, Republican members of the Legislature, Tribes, and the federal government to develop a framework that best invests in South Dakota’s economic and healthcare future.”

Medicaid expansion may also provide an opportunity to expand IHS services and heath care access to Native American South Dakotans. House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley said,

“The Affordable Care Act and Democrats’ continual efforts to come to an agreement on Medicaid Expansion have brought all the parties to the table and have given us the opportunity to help ensure that the federal government adequately provides South Dakota’s Native peoples’ their treaty right to health care. We look forward to working with our colleagues to make Medicaid expansion a reality for the people of South Dakota.”    

Over 30 states have expanded Medicaid, which includes our neighbor states of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Medicaid expansion will save lives, stimulate the economy, and increase the State’s revenues.

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Press Release: Pennington County Democrats Call for Renaming of Harney Peak

Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 23, 2015

Pennington County Democrats Call for Renaming of Harney Peak

Rapid City, SD (September 22, 2015)-

On September 22, 2015, the Pennington County Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for the renaming of Harney Peak, the highest mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The resolution, entitled “PENNINGTON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT FOR RENAMING HARNEY PEAK TO ‘BLACK ELK PEAK,’” encourages the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to approve the formal request of Lakota elder Basil Brave Heart to change the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

The resolution states that public comments received by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names included support of the name change by a descendent of General William S. Harney and a descendent of Little Thunder, a leader of a Lakota village destroyed by Harney in 1855. The resolution further states that the existing name of the peak is highly offensive to Native people.

Historian Eric Zimmer, a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa and a research fellow at the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, provides historical background regarding General Harney, after whom the peak is currently named.

Zimmer notes that Harney “likely never set foot on the mountain. Harney’s actions before and during his time in the Black Hills, moreover, were deplorable under any standard of human decency. While living in St. Louis in 1834, Harney murdered a slave child named Hannah. He was well known for his short temper, and historians have surmised that the girl’s only transgression may have been as minor as misplacing the soldier’s keys. Even in the antebellum South, the attack sparked a public outrage and Harney was indicted for murder. He was ultimately acquitted because, in the repulsive logic of their time, he was a decorated white soldier and she a forgettable slave girl.”

“Harney,” Zimmer continues, then “resumed his military career. Over the years, Harney fought against American Indians in Florida and Illinois, and later against Mexican forces during the US–Mexico War. But it was his exploits at Ash Hollow along Nebraska’s Blue Water Creek that earned Harney the nicknames ‘Mad Bear’ and ‘Woman Killer’ by regional Lakotas.

Following the 1854 Grattan incident, the Army sent Harney to arrest the Lakotas. On the morning of September 2, 1855, Harney’s forces found the Natives camped along Blue Water Creek. Tribal leaders again attempted peace, but Harney ordered an attack that killed eighty-six Lakotas, more than forty of whom were women and children. Aided by two Howitzer machine guns, the soldiers launched their assault then pursued on horseback.”

Changing the name of Harney Peak would follow the historic renaming of North America’s highest mountain, “Mt. McKinley,” to its indigenous name, Denali. President Obama announced that change last month.

The Pennington County Democrats will transmit their Resolution to Mr. Lou Yost, Executive Secretary of the US Board on Geographic Names, Domestic Names Committee by the September 30, 2015 public comment deadline. The public can submit comment, as well, to

Mr. Lou Yost, Executive Secretary

US Board on Geographic Names/Domestic Names Committee

523 National Center

Reston, VA  20192-0523

by September 30, 2015 or via email at


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Tribal leaders endorse Rick Weiland’s Senate bid →

Chairman’s Note: Congratulations to Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland for securing the endorsement of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association. South Dakota’s Democratic Senators have done a great job serving Indian Country, and we know Rick Weiland is going to do the same.

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Out of Touch Trio

South Dakota Democrats have always aspired to expand opportunity and extend equality to all South Dakotans, whether we’re fighting to make college more affordable for young people, demanding equal pay for women, securing the agricultural safety net for family farmers, or protecting the right to vote in Indian country. These policies stem from our South Dakota values. We reward work, respect women, and invest in all South Dakotans.

That’s why the 2014 Republican ticket looks so out of touch today. Former Governor Mike Rounds, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, and Governor Dennis Daugaard. With respect to all South Dakota’s values, these three fall woefully short. Let us count just some of the ways:

Governor Mike Rounds: Candidate for US Senate

–Rounds displayed very little vision and indeed took dramatic steps backward for the state.  In education alone, the best ticket to a brighter future for our children, funding under Rounds was cut from 39 to 31 percent a drop of almost 25 percent in just eight short years which helped sink South Dakota to last in the nation in teacher pay and last in the nation in per pupil funding.

–A higher percentage of South Dakota college students carry massive debt coming out of college than students do anywhere else in the nation.  This is in no small part because on Rounds’ watch, college tuition rose over 50 percent in just eight years. That’s probably why South Dakota freshman and sophomore college students began dropping out of college faster than freshman and sophomore students anywhere in America during Rounds’ administration.

–Rounds strongly opposed birth to three and pre-Kindergarten programs even though South Dakota children are some of the most threatened in the nation and study after study indicates that these two programs have been wildly successful wherever and whenever they have been implemented in other states. As a result, South Dakota regularly ranked at the bottom of states in its commitment to our youngest and most vulnerable children during the Rounds’ Administration.

–On Rounds’ watch, South Dakota fell to the bottom and ranked last in wages of all states in America, and South Dakota rose to the top of states whose people must hold two or more jobs just to make ends meet.

–Poverty rose over 20 percent in the state with South Dakota’s children and seniors being hit the hardest during Rounds’ administration.  The consequences of Rounds’ cuts to Medicaid were that on his watch, poverty rates in South Dakota exploded as did food insecurity among the people of South Dakota with over 20 percent of our kids now going to bed hungry. Now, shamefully seven of the poorest counties in America now are South Dakota counties.

–Rounds enacted the most restrictive reproductive choice laws our country had ever seen only to watch the voters of South Dakota rebuff him twice.

–Always a fan of oil companies but much less so a fan of ethanol, Rounds attempted to raise taxes on ethanol during his tenure which, had he been able to do, would have severely undermined this vital and burgeoning South Dakota industry.  Meanwhile, Rounds pushed through over $30 million in taxpayer giveaways to the foreign oil company TransCanada to build a controversial and dangerous tar sands oil pipeline in eastern South Dakota that they were going to build anyway.  In states like Nebraska where the pipeline was built as well, the state did not give TransCanada a dime.

–On Rounds’ watch, the state seemed to stockpile state owned and operated airplanes for Rounds’ and his elite government cronies to use.  Rounds, who personally loves to fly, and did so frequently on questionable and personal business, had no problem with the state owning multiple airplanes when surrounding states were selling theirs’ off – including Nebraska (and even states like California).

Governor Dennis Daugaard: Candidate for Governor

–Daugaard enacted $127 million in savage budget cuts to education, healthcare, and essential government services after denying the state had a budget crisis during his campaign. As a result, property taxes increased, class sizes mushroomed, and schools closed across South Dakota.

–Speaking of schools, Daugaard’s administration passed legislation to impose one-size-fits-all school mandates, increase student testing, and remove teacher tenure without any proof that such efforts improve student outcomes. What happened to that legislation? Voters put it on the ballot and rejected it in 2012.

–Voters rejected another part of Daugaard’s agenda too. At the same time Daugaard said we had no money for students or seniors, he crafted a $20 million a year giveaway to big business at the expense of schools and nursing homes. Democrats said enough is enough and put his economic development plan on the ballot, which voters rejected handily.

–Daugaard opposes a Medicaid expansion which would bring over $300 million a year into South Dakota, expand access to healthcare especially in rural areas and Indian country, and generate hundreds of new jobs at little to no cost to the state.

–Daugaard’s administration failed to file charges against long term insurance companies they knew were bilking seniors across South Dakota.

–Daugaard has been mired in an unresolved controversy about the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota after the organization he led while Lt. Governor profited from the high placement rate of Native Americans into white foster families.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem: Candidate for US House

–Noem missed 16 of 20 agriculture committee meetings at the same time the House was considering a new farm bill, the most important piece of legislation for South Dakota’s dominant agriculture industry. (Speaking of a farm bill, where is the House on that anyway?)

–Noem wants to end Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and affordable medical coverage for over 600,000 South Dakotans age 54 and younger & deny preventative care benefits for 133,000 current Medicare beneficiaries.

–Even though women still earn only 80 cents for every dollar men earn, Noem voted against consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure erasing that disparity by closing loopholes and imposing effective, strict penalties on employers who discriminate based on gender.

–Noem’s budget agenda also means fewer kids in education programs like Head Start, fewer teachers  for our students at a time state support for education is plummeting, and fewer investments in public safety and crime prevention across SOuth Dakota.

–Noem’s budget agenda also affects our national defense budget in South Dakota: 410 Army employees, 812 Air Force employees, 3 Navy employees, and 55 Defense Civilian employees will lose a combined salary of $4,281,000 as a result of sequestration.

South Dakota deserves elected officials who stand up for South Dakota values. Do you want to send this out of touch trio home in 2014? Help us expand our growing troop of grassroots volunteers. Pledge your support today!

I want to be a volunteer!

The South Dakota Democratic Party is volunteer driven organization. Our volunteers spread our message, determine our goals, and help elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Be a South Dakota Democratic Party volunteer today!

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Indian Country Reacts to Johnson’s Retirement →

Chairman’s Note: American Indians had a huge ally in Senator Tim Johnson. He streamlined and strengthened affordable housing programs on the reservations and always listened to the concerns of our state’s first people. Rosebud Sioux tribal member Ralph Eagleman says it best: “I always voted for him every time. He is like a member of the family, like a tiospaye.  He is a big brother to us.”

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Obama applauds South Dakota man, nonprofit during speech →

Chairman’s Note: For every person in Washington obstructing progress in our tribes, there are many more back home who are finding solutions for Indian County. President Barack Obama recognized one leader from South Dakota for exactly that. Nick Tilsen of the Thunder Valley community development corporation is making investments on the Pine Ridge Reservation that are creating opportunities that can last. We extend our applause, and hope you will too. You can learn more about Nick and Thunder Valley here.

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Violence Against Women Act: Eric Cantor, Joe Biden In Talks Amid Stalled Tribal Provision →

Chairman’s Note: Usually authorized with large bipartisan majorities, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has lapsed for the first time this year due to Republican obstruction in the House. Now with the year coming to a close, we know what’s holding up the bill: Republicans want to get rid of protections for Native American women women who are victims of domestic violence. It’s a disgusting, indefensible defiance that Congresswoman Noem has perpetuated, and we can’t allow it. No one, no matter where, deserves to be victimized by domestic violence, and there’s no excuse in the world that’s good enough to leave perpetrators of domestic violence off the hook. Please copy the link to this article, and post it on Congresswoman Noem’s Facebook wall. Tell her to ask her Republican leaders to drop the opposition to the Violence Against Women Act today!

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Kristi, text us. We need to talk. →

Chairman’s Note: The Pierre Capitol Journal has a few questions for Congresswoman Noem. We do too. Repeatedly skipping work – and doing nothing when you show up – without a justifiable is cause for dismissal. So far, Noem’s excuses have been nonexistent or debunked.

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Varilek attacks Noem’s attendance →

Chairman’s Note: Several months ago, we broke news that Congresswoman Noem had missed 16 of 20 agriculture committee meetings while Congress was crafting the farm bill. After a week without comment, Noem claimed she had scheduling conflicts. Well folks, now it looks like Noem has missed 17 of 22 Indian Affairs committee meetings and worse, most had absolutely no conflicts with other meetings in her schedule! Folks, this isn’t that hard. You show up for your job or you get fired. Forward this to a friend so we can get rid of ‘No Show Noem’.


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