Oglala Lakota pushing to rename Shannon County
RAPID CITY (AP) — A group of Oglala Lakota tribal members say they’re close to putting a measure on the November ballot that would ask local voters whether they should rename Shannon County to something that better reflects its residents.
Shannon County makes up the majority of the land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where tribal members have been gathering signatures this summer in an effort to rename the county as Oglala Lakota County, according to the Rapid City Journal.
“We believe as a people, we should have a name that refl ects who we are, our strong background and where we come from,” said Anna Takes the Shield, a Shannon County commissioner who helped lead the effort.
Organizers said Thursday they’ve collected the necessary 1,167 valid signatures to place the referendum on the general election ballot in Shannon County. They turned in more than 1,800, although only 1,193 of them were ruled valid.
Shannon County was founded in 1875 and named after Peter Shannon, a chief justice of the Dakota Territory Supreme Court who later helped negotiate land deals with the Lakota.
Jesse Short Bull said that for Oglala Lakota tribal members like himself, Peter Shannon embodied the changes forced upon his people, from governance changes to the introduction of private property ownership.
“He was part of that spear that brought all of that upon us,” Short Bull said.
Short Bull said the county’s name was chosen without input from the tribe and said the Lakota people would have rejected the idea if given the chance.
Sue Ganje, the auditor of Fall River and Shannon counties, said that the referendum still needed to gain approval from the Fall River County State’s Attorney’s office for it to be placed on the ballot, but said the step was largely a formality and was likely to be approved.