Sunday, January 23, 2022


Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.


President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.


Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

Lakota Racial Justice and Religious Freedom Case Headed for Trial


Thursday, December 16, 2021   

ROSEBUD, Neb. -- A lawsuit accusing a Nebraska school district of violating a Lakota family's First Amendment rights and unlawful racial discrimination is headed to court.

The suit was filed after a school employee cut two girls' hair during school lice checks, even after the parents raised concerns.

Rose Godinez, interim legal director for the ACLU of Nebraska, the group representing the family associated with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, explained hair is considered a sacred symbol that should only be cut by specific people under certain conditions.

"The family explicitly told the school district to stop cutting the students' hair, because it violated their beliefs," Godinez explained. "And despite their pleas, the school district continued to cut the two girls' hair multiple times."

A federal judge recently rejected the Cody Kilgore Unified School District's qualified immunity defense, which shields public officials from liability, clearing the way for the case to proceed to trial.

School officials have claimed educators were simply doing their job protecting public health. The school's written head-lice policy includes no mention of cutting hair.

Godinez noted even though school employees were on clear notice their actions violated students' religious beliefs, the policy was only applied to Native American students. She added the events also brought back historic trauma for the family, when Native American children were forced to assimilate in boarding schools.

"That has been very heavy for them, but they have remained strong in seeking justice not only for their two daughters but also for all Native American students in our schools right now," Godinez stressed.

The judge dismissed a claim the students' due-process protections were violated, but wrote claims focused on free exercise of religion and racial discrimination should move forward. Godinez acknowledged she is looking forward to arguing the case in court, because she believes all students have a right to live true to their beliefs and cultures at school.

Disclosure: ACLU of Nebraska contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigrant Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jeff Flake. (Flickr)

Social Issues

A wave of new Arizona voters in the 2020 election changed the normally conservative state to one where progressive candidates and ideas have a fightin…


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to use federal funds for a project to help keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. It is proposing using …

Social Issues

Healthcare workers at an Oregon hospital have achieved what they say is a "win" after several strikes in recent months. Nearly 300 workers and …

Pennsylvania has over 300 million square feet of big-box building rooftops, which new research suggests could provide almost half the electricity that these buildings consume if they were outfitted with solar panels. (Adobe Stock)


As Pennsylvania continues to grow its solar-energy capacity, a new report found the roofs of big-box stores present a big opportunity to increase …

Social Issues

If Iowa wants to create healthier outcomes for its residents, advocates say there are steps policymakers can take right now to make it happen…

Over the course of the pandemic, North Dakota has received more than $350 million in federal aid to help struggling renters, but says it has sent back roughly 40% of that money unspent. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

North Dakota has returned a significant portion of the rental assistance provided by the federal government in the pandemic, and groups working …

Social Issues

Nearly 1,200 Hoosiers are about to have some of their student-loan debt forgiven, as part of a multistate settlement with the student-loan-servicing …

Social Issues

After a defeat on Wednesday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they'll keep trying to pass voting-rights legislation, and one Wisconsin group wants …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021