Local USD student leads change in courtroom
It may seem a simple and relatively insignificant event to some.
Marilyn Allen, a law school student at the University of South Dakota, believes however that the installation of South Dakota’s nine Tribal flags in the student courtroom at USD could change lives.
Allen, of Flandreau, was among the speakers this past week at a ceremony to honor the long-overdue addition of the flags. Allen is currently the President of the Native American Law Student Association and Secretary for Women in Law, among other roles. She is also an enrolled member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and has maternal lineage to the Cheyenne River Sioux and Rosebud Sioux Tribes.
“Through the media we often see interviews, posts, videos, etc. of indigenous people wanting the world to know ‘we’re still here,’ but it is much more than just being here. The implementation of our SD tribal flags in the courtroom is a perfect representation that indigenous people are not only still here, but we are here, and we are thriving. We are lawyers. We are doctors. We are scholars. We are still here, and we are continuing to thrive in an environment that was intended to not only halt us, but to eradicate our state of being,” said Allen.
Representatives from the Flandreau Santee Tribe along with the state’s eight other Tribal Nations were present this past week when the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law held the flag dedication ceremony.
Law School Dean Neil Fulton said the flags will help to demonstrate USD’s “commitment to and celebration of our Native American students, as well as the legal communities we serve.”
Allen added that her cousin, Dustin Beaulieu, Culture and Dakota Language Educator for FSST, has told her, “When we see the American flag, we pledge allegiance to it and this nation. Our tribal flag is a reminder to us, that we also pledge allegiance to our nation, we pledge allegiance to the Wakpa Ipaksan (Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe). We are a nation within a nation. Our tribal flag is a representation of our sovereignty.’”
Event speakers included Allen along with USD President Sheila K. Gestring; Knudson School of Law Dean Neil Fulton; Herman; Seth Pearman ’12, J.D.; USD Native American Law Student Association President Marilyn Allen; and Judge Andrew Robertson ’12, J.D.