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Forum News Service, Published December 10 2013

School board in SD rejects Indian honor song for graduation

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. - A vote to include an American Indian honor song at Chamberlain High School’s graduation ceremony failed for the second time.

The school board voted 4-2 against the song Monday night, with one member abstaining. In May, the board voted 6-1 against including the song.

An Indian honor song is a traditional drum song sung in a native language. In this case, the request was for a Lakota honor song. It is offered to recognize the accomplishments of individuals or a group.

More than one-third of the student population in the Chamberlain district is Indian.

Marcel Felicia, the only Indian on the board, voted yes. He said he’s heard feedback in support of the song.

“It’s a no-brainer. The students, a majority of the students, would like this,” he said.

But board member Jay Blum, who voted no, said the feedback he’s heard from the community is against the honor song.

School board President Rebecca Reimer, who voted against the measure, thanked those who shared feedback and recognized the animosity that has arisen. She also tried to put an end to the controversy, which has drawn statewide media attention.

“This agenda item has been exhausted, and after tonight it’s done,” she said.