Lyndon "Lynn" Hart

Lynn (Smokey) Hart was born December 11, 1960 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was abandoned three days after being born and placed in a foster home without a name. Lynn never knew either of his biological parents (African American father and Native American mother). He was raised in Chancellor, South Dakota by a single German woman and devoted Christian, Elizabeth Ulfers. Lynn was raised in the church and grew up on a corn farm in a German community until the passing of his foster mother, when he was 10. He was immediately shipped off to Landover, MD and placed in a foster home again and subsequently adopted by Jim and Lois Hart. The Harts also adopted twin girls who were also mixed (black and white). As Lynn grew up, he became subjected to the challenges of two oppressed minorities in America (African American and the Native American), even though the Hart’s loved him and his sisters dearly. Lynn became an advocate and community activist for both ethnicities of his heritage. The Harts were professors at Prince George’s College in Maryland, but Lynn desired to return to South Dakota, so as Lois still had roots in Watertown, SD, they gave up their careers in teaching and returned to South Dakota where Lynn graduated from Watertown High School.

In 1990, Lynn fought vigorously and testified before the State Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives in South Dakota. At the time, South Dakota was one of four states in the country that did not recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a National holiday. His relentless efforts and testimony were instrumental for not only getting a bill passed to recognize King’s birthday, but also a bill for “Native American Day” on the second Monday in October, replacing Columbus Day. This legislation led Governor Mickelson to support a measure that pledged 1990 as the Year of Reconciliation. This resulted in the opening of dialogue between Indians and non-Indians in South Dakota. Subsequently, Lynn was honored by state representatives for his efforts. On January 13, 1992, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, music legend Stevie Wonder and then FBI director William Sessions, honored and presented Lynn with the “National Making of King Holiday Award,” in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Committee. Lynn was a personal guest of the King family’s 50th Anniversary of the “I Have a Dream Speech and March on Washington” in 2013.

Lynn proudly served his country as a United States Marine. After being discharged, Lynn became a ranch hand at the Badlands Ranch in Reva, SD. There he learned everything a ranch had does. He often states, that if you looked up ranch hand in Webster’s Dictionary, you’d probably see his picture. A true cowboy, Lynn has also worked as a stunt man. Lynn was a rodeo bull-rider and fighter during a long-term association with the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. Lynn designed the National logo for the Native American Women Warriors. Lynn testified again and was instrumental in the passing of HB1242 Tribal ID bill in South Dakota enacted July 3, 2011 which allowed all Tribal ID’s to be accepted in South Dakota as a legal form of identification.

Currently, Lynn is a husband and father and has a strong passion to help develop and provide opportunities for future generations of African and Native American leaders. Lynn speaks and teaches on reservations about parts of history that seem to have been inadvertently omitted from school textbooks. Lynn tells others, “Being a person of strong cultures is the greatest blessing of all; my DNA makes me rise whenever I fall.”

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