fbpx
 

PIERRE, S.D. — Senate Bill 166 unanimously passed in the South Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning, making the bill the first time a state government in United States history has approved protections for Native American Two-Spirit individuals. 

Native News Online reported on Feb. 16, 2021 that SB 166 includes provisions of existing laws that would protect individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity with specific identification as Native American Two-Spirit. 

“Senate Bill 166, an act to revise provisions regarding hate crimes, was voted and passed unanimously today in the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Sen. Red Dawn Foster (Oglala Lakota) to Native News Online

South Dakota law does not prosecute hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Federal law has protected both categories since 2009, when the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama. Hate crimes committed on the basis of the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity can be prosecuted in federal court. 

“These additions will bring our state hate crime law up to par with federal standards,” said Foster. “Currently, our state law does not include color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, including Native American Two-Spirit. This bill adds these characteristics and makes sure that everyone in South Dakota is equally protected.” 

The bill is one of Sen. Foster’s first sponsored bills and is up for a full debate and vote in the South Dakota State Legislature next week. 

“I am looking forward to pitching this bill next on the senate floor next week,” Foster said. 

The bill, if approved, will expand the prosecution of hate crimes to include race, color, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or identification as a  Native American Two-Spirit, making it a a Class 6 felony if a person maliciously and with specific intent to intimidate or harass any other person or group of persons in whole or in part because of that person's or group of persons' actual or perceived class. 

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (September 25, 2022): D.C. Briefs
Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola Hits the Ground Running: Her First Bill Introduced Clears Committee Two Days Later
EXCLUSIVE: Deb Haaland Q&A on Road to Healing Tour Progress
September 20 is National Voter Registration Day: Native Organizations Team Up to Increase Native Youth Voter Engagement
Tribal Business News Round-Up: Sept. 19

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.