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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in Summit, SD.
Interests: Rural Minnesota and South Dakota politics. Sound conservation, outdoors, and environmental policy.
Recent Activity
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I 'll be taking some time off publishing Bluestem Prairie until Tuesday, May 28, to catch up with gardening and to remember my uncles who died in World War II. Star Tribune Minnesota history columnist Curt Brown told the story of one of those uncles last year in Remembering a Minnesota soldier killed in a Nazi massacre nearly 80 years ago. On Monday, please take time to remember those service members who gave all to their country. My partner--a Dakota elder--and I will be attending a flag ceremony on the Lake Traverse Reservation on Monday, as well as a traditional... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Another glimpse into the Itchy and Scratchy Show that is South Dakota politics, Republican politics in this instance. And here I thought the Republican cicada closing to the Minnesota legislative session was something special. Our state motto is "Under God, the People Rule," but I gather there are some misgivings at time about letting the people vote. Learn more about the measure and the attempt to get it pulled from the ballot in Abortion-rights measure validated for the ballot, but challenge expected at the South Dakota Searchlight. The latest on the effort from South Dakota Searchlight: Republican runs afoul of... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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An update on the ongoing story of bird flu in dairy cattle, from Iowa Capital Dispatch. CDC confirms second bird flu infection of dairy worker By Jared Strong A Michigan dairy employee is the second known person to contract bird flu while working with infected cattle in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The person had symptoms of an eye infection and has recovered. That is similar to the first infection that was identified in a Texas dairy worker in early April. The CDC said the infections might have happened when the workers’... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem last posted about the conflict between South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and South Dakota's nine tribal nations over her reckless and disrespectful assertions about cartels on the reservations and native children having no hope. My last post was last week's After Lower Brule vote, eight of South Dakota's nine tribes have endorsed Noem ban. Multiple sources are reporting that the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe now stands in solidarity with the other nations of the Oceti Sakowin. At the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Dominik Dausch reports in 'Solidarity': All 9 South Dakota Native American tribes endorse Kristi Noem's banishment: Key... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
It looks as if we're going to have a busy ballot this November here in South Dakota. From the South Dakota Searchlight staff: Open primaries measure approved for the ballot A petition that would establish open primary elections in South Dakota has enough signatures from registered voters to be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. The office made the announcement Tuesday, triggering a 30-day window for challenges to the petition’s validity. It’s the third citizen-initiated measure to be validated for the Nov. 5 election, pending potential challenges. Additionally, the Legislature has... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
Have stories like Not her first rodeo: Governor Kristi Noem in political freefall as book inaccuracies emerge following backlash against animal killings affected the opinions South Dakotans hold of the second term governor who was once thought on the national level to be a leading contender for Trump's 2024 running mate? New polling published by South Dakota News Watch is intriguing. From South Dakota News Watch Poll: Nearly half of South Dakotans have unfavorable view of Noem By Stu Whitney SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Nearly two-thirds of South Dakotans said Gov. Kristi Noem damaged her credibility in her book rollout,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Fine reporting on Positive Pants-On-Fire South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from ProPublica. Kristi Noem Said She Is Proud to “Support Babies, Moms, and Families.” Her Record Shows Otherwise, Critics Say. By Jessica Lussenhop As South Dakota governor, Noem has rejected programs and millions of dollars in federal funds that would have benefited parents and children and provided care during pregnancy. Critics say her rhetoric is “all hat and no cattle.” Last month, former President Donald Trump announced he would not pursue a federal abortion ban, as many of his supporters hoped, and he criticized states with bans that make no... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
Watching the Minnesota House floor session late Sunday night, I stepped away from the livestream into my back porch, to check on the progress of a mighty and lovely prairie thunderstorm. When I returned to my living room, the Minnesota House Infromation Services live stream camera kept steady on the podium, but the sound was a cluttered shouting. As I said, I'd stepped out on my back porch to see a thunderstorm & came back to watch this. Sounded much louder on @mnhouseinfo livestreaming. Glad to learn the impetus. #mnleg https://t.co/KIY5Cv6Chf — Sally Jo Sorensen (@sallyjos) May 20, 2024 What... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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As I watch the waning hours of the Minnesota legislative session, here's an update on the use of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings in South Dakota schools. I'd last posted about the issue in 2023. From South Dakota Searchlight. Survey says nearly two-thirds of SD educators use Indigenous standards By Makenzie Huber Survey results indicate nearly two-thirds of South Dakota public school educators are teaching the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings, but the number of respondents is lower than the last survey. The essential understandings are a set of standards approved in 2018 for teaching students about Native American culture and... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier Friday, Bluestem had posted House, Senate strike bargain on environment, natural resources supplemental spending bill. This evening, the House repassed the bill: #mnhouse repasses HF3911, as amended in conference committee, by a 70-56 vote. The environment and natural resources supplemental budget bill now goes to the Senate. #mnleg pic.twitter.com/AbktycSsMi — MNHouseInfo (@MNHouseInfo) May 18, 2024 just as I finished drafting this post, the Minnesota Senate repassed the bill on a 37-30 vote. WIth a 37-30 bipartisan final vote, the Minnesota Senate has passed HF 3911, the supplemental environmental budget and it will now go to @GovTimWalz for his signature.... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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I'm catching up on posting this Session Daily article, after watching the conference committee on HF3911 . the environment and natura; resources supplemental budget bill. From Session Daily. House, Senate strike bargain on environment, natural resources supplemental spending bill By Margaret Stevens New ways for dealing with waste ­— packaging, boat wrap, outdated electronics, sewer sludge and heat — are included in a conference committee agreement on the environment and natural resources supplemental budget bill. Following Thursday’s conference committee approval, the report on HF3911 next goes to the House and Senate. Included in the agreement is a new extended producer... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
A glitch in YouTube livestreaming prevented me from watching the Minnesota House in an epic debate over a refresh of the 2023 law creating 20 weeks per year of paid time off to deal with family or medical issues. I was able to semi-follow the debate on the X platform, where I read of the closing minutes of the bill on the floor. In the early morning, KARE 11 political reporter John Croman posted video of the finish on the X platform: Clip 2 of 2 pic.twitter.com/TL9LO50bsj — John Croman (@JohnCroman) May 16, 2024 At Minnesota Public Radio, Dana Ferguson... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
Yet another development in the solidarity of the Oceti Sakowin in reaction to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's accusations of tribal involvement with drug cartels--and perhaps even more offensive--criticism that "Native American children have no hope, and that their parents are not there for them." From the South Dakota Searchlight: After Lower Brule vote, eight of nine tribes have endorsed Noem ban By John Hult Eight of nine tribal governments in the state of South Dakota have endorsed the banishment of Gov. Kristi Noem from their lands. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe unanimously approved a resolution to bar Noem on... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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As the photo at the top of this post illustrates, Governor Kristi Noem held a press event at a South Dakota grocery store during her 2022 gubernatorial campaign to express her support for elimination of the sales tax on groceries. She later reneged on this campaign promise. But there's a new, hopeful development in the effort to end sales taxes on groceries in South Dakota. If we South Dakotans want to get it done, we're going to have to do it ourselves at the ballot box. From the South Dakota Searchlight: Grocery tax repeal validated for the ballot By South... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Perhaps the presence of a ""forever chemical" in drinking water at Mount Rushmore is what prompted outgoing one-term South Dakota District 1 state representative and New Apostolic Reformation Movement Apostle Joe Donnell's 2023 vision of the place as demonic portal for communism. Don't drink the water. Perhaps cleaning up the water and giving it back to its original owners might be the way to go. From South Dakota Searchlight: Initial test finds ‘forever chemical’ in Mount Rushmore drinking water at level exceeding new limit By Makenzie Huber A sample of Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s drinking water had levels of a... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
It's Dan Feidt's birthday, and Bluestem is pleased to see a lovely gift bestowed on Unicorn Riot, the fearless independent news collective of which Dan is a founding member, by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. I've known Feidt for years, and this is very good news for freedom of the press. As he notes at the end of his post, which is republished with permission, Consider lending your monetary support to help this small media org recoup some of the $50,000 Unicorn Riot spent on this court battle for press freedoms. From Unicorn Riot: Unicorn Riot Nets Resounding Win for... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem's been following the conflict South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem started when, in a late January speech to the state legislature. she claimed drug cartels were operating out of reservations in the state. Most recently, I posted Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate bans Governor Kristi Noem from Lake Traverse Reservation. The SWO and four other tribes were joined today by the Ihaƞktoƞwaƞ Dakota Oyate, the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, in Charles Mix County. At the South Dakota Searchlight, John Hult reports in Sixth tribal nation bans Noem for comments on cartels, Native children: Six of the nine Native American tribes... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem's been following the saga of Minnesota's cannabis political parties in posts like MN Grassroots Legalize Cannabis party chair & central committee "repudiate" Aug. 9 primary hijacker and DFL campaigns blunted by marijuana candidates, burning chance of legalization, the latter republished from the Minnesota Reformer. On Friday, The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the Legal Marijuana Now Party failed to meet major party status. From the Minnesota Reformer: Minnesota Supreme Court rules marijuana party failed to meet state’s major party requirements By Michelle Griffith The Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Legal Marijuana Now Party has failed to meet... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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From Session Daily: Biggest budget item passes House, creating a tax forfeiture settlement account By Ron Hubbard “The Tyler Settlement.” That’s what it says in the supplemental budget target agreement reached between Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders in March, next to a dollar amount of $109 million. It’s the largest item on the page, amounting to about 23% of the state’s $477.5 million proposed supplemental budget for the next fiscal year. What is “the Tyler Settlement”? In brief, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Hennepin County in a case, Tyler v. Hennepin County, saying that the county couldn’t keep... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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The latest update on Governor Kristi Noem's crash. Bluestem had posted on Tuesday evening Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate bans Governor Kristi Noem from Lake Traverse Reservation. Her banishment was prompted by tribal citizens' anger at her continued accusations about cartel activity on South Dakota Reservations. As far as the Cricket murder tale goes, I'd never heard about it until the Guardian reported about the story in the then-forthcoming book. From South Dakota Searchlight: Noem's former opponents reject her claim that dog-killing story was widely known and used By Joshua Haiar As book fallout continues, Democrats call for governor’s spokesman to resign... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Update May 10: Keloland's coverage via YouTube: End update Update May 8: On Tuesday, Steve Jurrens reported for KXLG in Watertown, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Restricts Governor Kristi Noem’s Access. The article includes the full text of the resolution and a Facebook video of the SWO tribal council's vote. Jurrens reports: . . . The resolution cites Governor Noem's statements and actions, which have been injurious towards the parents of tribal children, thus detracting from the value of their education. It also states that Governor Noem's words and actions have undermined the authority and efforts of the Tribal Council of the Sisseton-Wahpeton... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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In earlier posts, Bluestem had posted about calls for greater funding for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in A tale of two headlines: $120 million one-time EMS funding bill introduced in MN legislature. A different sort of EMS bill was passed by the Minnesota House today. From Session Daily: House OKs legislation creating statewide emergency medical services office By Miranda Bryant Is it prudent to create a new government body to oversee emergency medical services in Minnesota without sufficient funding for ambulance services throughout the state? The answer depends on who is answering. The House passed HF4738, as amended, Tuesday by... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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Like wage theft, involuntary servitude is wrong. It ought not be as difficult to fight as it is. From South Dakota News Watch. Immigration hurdles harm labor trafficking crackdown: 'We've only scratched the surface' By Stu Whitney South Dakota's agricultural, construction and tourism industries draw people and companies seeking profit through the involuntary servitude of others. SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The first time Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum saw evidence of labor trafficking, he didn’t recognize it. As a young patrol officer nearly 20 years ago, Thum entered a house that had no real bedrooms, just a bunch of... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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My late mother's home county--Watonwan County--shows up in the story below and on irs map. The demographics of the area have changed since her childhood in Madelia. I'm also reminded of an event I attended in Willmar a couple of Saturdays ago in Willmar, in which members of rural communities, including Latino and Somali people, gathered to learn about becoming "meatpreneurs" to learn about meat processing in small town butcher shops and meat lockers with the goal of starting their own shops or taking on an existing shop when the owner retires. Minnesota Farmers Union Bottleneck Project manager Paul Sobocinski... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie
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I've been seeing a lot of pheasants in the ditches here in Northeast South Dakota, after our mild relatively snow free winter. While bird watching today near Enemy Swim, the fields were lively with roosters' cackles. But count the pheasants? Apparently not. Minnesota has kept its August Roadside Survey. From South Dakota Searchlight: Commission dismisses calls to reinstate annual pheasant count By Joshua Haiar State ended prior method over concern that poor numbers would deter out-of-state hunters State wildlife officials are not bringing back a popular method of estimating South Dakota’s pheasant population, despite requests from the public to do... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2024 at Bluestem Prairie