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Shannon County name change proposal OK'd for vote

PINE RIDGE (AP) — Residents of Shannon County will vote later this year on whether to change the name to Oglala Lakota County.

Auditor Sue Ganje said supporters have gathered enough petition signatures and the state's attorney's office has approved the matter for the November general election ballot, KCSR radio reported.

The southwestern South Dakota county holds the majority of the land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is named after Peter Shannon, a chief justice of the Dakota Territory Supreme Court who later helped negotiate land deals with the Lakota. Shannon isn't well thought of among many American Indians.

"We live here in a county that's named after a white federal judge whose intention was to take the land away from the Native Americans," said County Commissioner Anna Takes The Shield, who helped lead the petition drive. "We believe that people living here within the borders of Shannon County should be able to identify with their background and who they are as a people."

The question on the November ballot will be: "Shall the name of this county be changed to Oglala Lakota County?" A simple majority is needed for approval.

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