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GOLD: A culture and its natural language reflect and support one another. Words and grammars mirror the values and thought patterns refined over countless generations. Every culture deserves a chance to see itself through its own language, to rediscover the hidden organic connections.

To that end, we applaud the recent advance of Senate Bill 126, which would enshrine the language of the O'ceti Sakowin — the Great Sioux Nation — as the official indigenous language of South Dakota. The language of the O'ceti Sakowin comprises the dialects of Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.

Introduced by Senate Minority Leader and Rosebud Sioux tribal member Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, SB 126 received unanimous approval from the Senate State Affairs Committee Friday. It now continues on its anticipated journey before the full Senate, House and governor. Alaska and Hawaii have similar laws on the books, but South Dakota would be the first in the contiguous United States to officially recognize an indigenous language in state statute.

Tribal members who testified in favor of the bill said its recognition would help heal wounds caused by more than a century of efforts to erase American Indian heritage. Heinert told committee members that SB 126 is “a chance to right some wrongs" and honor the state's heritage. The recognition also would encourage members of the O'ceti Sakowin to discover the pride of knowing what makes their perspective unique. Official recognition has been a long time coming.

GULLY: The retail transformation spreading across our nation has added another Rapid City victim. Shopko at 1845 Haines Ave. is expected to close in early May, joining the departing or already departed ranks of Sears, Herberger’s, Toys R Us and Kmart. Shopko’s demise is the result of bankruptcy proceedings caused by rising debt and changing customer patterns. It’s already a familiar story.

These were the store names common to the lips of shoppers just one generation ago. Crowds filled their aisles beneath ceiling loudspeakers that piped traditional Christmas music. Busy clerks hurried to lend assistance and restock shelves as high schoolers worked behind busy cash registers. The stores represented a way of life as much as they did shopping choices.

Shopko was one of the newer brands that were then replacing old-style department stores like Montgomery Ward and F.W. Woolworth. Change is the unalterable constant, and capitalism offers no longevity guarantees, but previous retail transformations raise some warnings.

The changes of the 1970s and ‘80s left many downtowns ravaged. Decaying edifices stood for years with glass storefront windows papered over, driving out neighbors and injuring community morale. Town identities suffered for decades due to the loss of precious central cores.

The new retail revolution is sprinkling large empty buildings throughout neighborhoods and on core peripheries, inviting a new kind of blight. Community leaders would do well to address the challenges they present sooner rather than later, when building neglect adds to the costs and difficulties. We’ve been here before. Hopefully, coordinated recovery can begin sooner this time.

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