U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) has introduced the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act, which seeks to repeal 12 outdated statutes that are still part of current law related to Native American education, forcible relocation of Native American children to boarding schools, war-time status between Native Americans and the federal government, and the withholding of rations or money owed to Native Americans.

“Native Americans are currently still legally subject to a number of historically wrong laws,” said Rounds. “These statutes are a sad reminder of the hostile aggression and overt racism displayed by the early federal government toward Native Americans as the government attempted to ‘assimilate’ them into what was considered ‘modern society.’ There is no place in our legal code for such laws.

In South Dakota, which is home to nine tribes and roughly 75,000 enrolled members, we strive to work together, to constantly improve relationships and to mend our history through reconciliation and mutual respect. It is long past time to repeal these antiquated, racist statutes.”

According to Senator Rounds’ website, examples of the laws that the RESPECT Act would repeal include provisions that allow for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools. If their parents refused, they would be denied rations. Additionally, Native Americans can still be subject to forced labor on their reservations, as a condition of their receipt of “supplies.”