Native American

Black Hills State University has the largest proportion of Native American students in South Dakota's state universities.  But BHSU President, Dr. Tom Jackson, says efforts to increase the diversity of students in higher education are still needed. 

Jackson discussed the topic with SDPB's Charles Michael Ray. 

The Indian Health Service is giving nearly $1 million to prevent methamphetamine use and suicide in South Dakota. The funds are part of more than $13 million awarded nationwide.


One of South Dakota’s US Senators says he wants provisions in a new education bill that help address suicide among Native American populations. Senator John Thune says he’s introduced two amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act. 

US Senator John Thune says suicide on American Indian Reservations is an epidemic. He says the death rate for Native American youth is four times the national average. 

Victoria Wicks

The Rapid City Police Department now has a cultural advisor on staff to research issues and develop ways of addressing them. Twenty-nine-year-old Vaughn Vargas is now in the process of working with the community to identify an advisory committee to help the PD in navigating race relations.

Victoria Wicks

The American Indian population in Rapid City is about 12 percent, but Native people account for almost 60 percent of arrests. And because of societal factors such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and unemployment, Native people end up staying in jail when more fortunate people would be released. Tuesday SDPB’s Victoria Wicks sat in on a Native American Outreach meeting of officials in the process of applying for a MacArthur grant to fund solutions.

The Oglala Lakota College is receiving a grant of $25,000 from a tribe in Minnesota. The grant money will fund the Lakota immersion school for kindergarten through fifth grade students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leaders want to prevent the loss of the Lakota language.

The Shakopee Native American tribe in Minnesota is helping fund the Lakota language program. The grant will allow around 30 children to learn their native language at the childcare facility.

Dakota Midday: Tim Giago's Boarding School Memories

Apr 29, 2015
Tim Giago

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many American Indian children were sent away from their homes and families to attend government or church-operated boarding schools. Students were forced to cut their hair, give up traditional clothing and forbidden to speak their own language. The idea was to assimilate them completely into American culture. As the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Richard Henry Pratt said in 1892, “… all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."

Artist Renelle White Buffalo wants to communicate traditional symbols in a modern contemporary and abstract way. "I paint between the lines of what is expected as a Native American, in a pop-culture driven world, and abstract what I feel as a Lakota woman,” she says in her artist statement.

How can research help South Dakota’s tribal communities? That’s the question being addressed this week during a symposium in Eagle Butte. “Researching, Restoring and Rebuilding Our Oyate for a Longer Life” is the theme of the symposium. The event features presentations from researchers from Cheyenne River and beyond. It takes place on Wednesday, March 18 at Oglala Lakota College-Cheyenne River College Center.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

After more than five years as South Dakota’s United States Attorney, Brendan Johnson is stepping down. Wednesday Johnson held a news conference to announce that March 11th is his final day in the office.

Brendan Johnson says he set goals when he became South Dakota’s U-S Attorney five and a half years ago. He says he’s proud of accomplishments made under his leadership. Johnson says tribal communities are safer, violence against women and children has decreased, and South Dakotans are cracking down on sex trafficking.


25 years ago, Oglala Lakota newspaper publisher Tim Giago wrote a column challenging then-Governor George Mickelson to proclaim 1990 a Year of Reconciliation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee. That same year he wrote an editorial calling for the state to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. In an interview for Dakota Midday, Giago reflects on the last 25 years and the current state of race relations in South Dakota.

South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations

Earlier this fall, Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Steve Emery as the new secretary of Tribal Relations. He comes to the job after serving as judge for the Crow Creek, Rosebud and Yankton tribes. He’s an enrolled member of Rosebud and served in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 1993.

The coyote is a familiar mischievous trickster figure in the folklore of Native Americans, including the Lakota people. John Kauffman’s one-act play, According to Coyote, features stories in which Coyote swindles a rock over a gift, steals fire for the benefit of humanity and howls in yearning for a star in the sky.

Get Out The Native Vote Effort Continues

Oct 27, 2014

Control of the Senate could be up for grabs in this midterm election--and some believe the Native American vote could be a deciding factor.  

In South Dakota the Native vote has a history of tipping tight races toward Democrats and there is now a large get out the vote in tribal communities.   But if and how the Native vote can change this race is still in question. 

America by the Numbers

The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota is in the heart of the Bakken oil field. There are more than 1,000 wells on the reservation and the oil boom has brought jobs and affluence for many. But it's also brought increased drug trafficking, crime, traffic fatalities and a huge influx of non-Indian oil workers.


Candidates for the United States Congress met Thursday night on SDPB Television for a debate that covered more than one dozen topics. Both women are offering their perspectives on the federal government’s relationship with Native American tribes.

Democrat Corinna Robinson says members of Congress must focus on the issues people in Indian County find important. 

"They are not getting the funding they need to continue their language training, their cultural training in their institutions, their colleges, and they would certainly like some help with that," Robinson says. "They would like better health care. They have to drive a long ways sometimes to get to a nearby clinic, or, when an emergency happens, there’s not an ambulance close by.  They certainly struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. And we certainly need to do a better job at listening and visiting hearing their concerns."

Robinson is running against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Both women say federal officials need to respect tribal sovereignty. Noem says she wants to ensure Native Americans don’t fear that federal organizations can come into businesses and claim jurisdiction on reservation land.

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of what is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history when the virtually unknown Billy Mills won the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Games. In the final lap, the 26-year-old Marine from the Pine Ridge Reservation passed 10K world record holder Ron Clarke of Australia and Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia with a sudden burst of speed as NBC analyst Dick Banks screamed "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!"

PRNewsFoto/U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Studies are underway in Rapid City looking into the interactions between the city’s police department and the Native American community. As a part of that research, the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds a public briefing on Wednesday on the administration of criminal justice in Rapid City at the United Tribes Technical College-Black Hills Learning Center. The committee will hear testimony concerning the administration of justice and its impact on Native Americans and other minorities, their families and the Rapid City community.

University of Oklahoma Press

Some of the first basketball players to gain national attention for new sport at the turn of the 20th century were young women from an isolated government American Indian boarding school in Montana. They dominated teams from around the region and went on to be declared World Champions at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. But their triumphs were forgotten until a pair of women’s history scholars found a photo of the Fort Shaw Indian School team and wanted to know more about the young women.

USD Hosts Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

Jun 17, 2014

In the 1960's, esteemed local artist Oscar Howe established a summer art institute particularly for Native American high school students to provide them with free art supplies and a chance to learn about Native culture, history and traditions. Though this only lasted a few years, the institute inspired the current form of the Oscar Howe Summer Arts Institute being hosted at the University of South Dakota from June 8-20. Keith Braveheart was a student of the OHSAI more than ten years ago, and he's now returned to the institute as an instructor.

Wicoti Tiwahe - Family Camp

May 1, 2014
image from family camp in gregory county
Brian Gevik / SDPB

A non-profit organization on the Rosebud Indian Reservation hopes that a revival of traditional Lakota life skills and values will give kids with an alternative to alcohol, drugs and gangs.

The Native American Advocacy Program offers outdoor experiences designed to help preserve Lakota culture and language. In today's Dakota Digest, SDPB's Brian Gevik reports from a Gregory County youth camp where young people learn the old ways.

State of South Dakota

The first Secretary of Tribal Relations in South Dakota is resigning this summer. JR LaPlante says all appointed leaders reach a peak in their service and now is an opportunity for someone new to facilitate the state’s relationship with tribal leaders.

Bordeaux Takes Post At Crazy Horse Memorial

Apr 1, 2014

Mary Bordeaux of Pine Ridge is taking the post of Museum Curator and Cultural Coordinator at Crazy Horse Memorial.  Bordeaux will be responsible for programs of the Native American Educational and Cultural Center and an ever growing collection at the Indian Museum of North America.  Bordeaux has an MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design as well as a BA in Museum Studies.  She leaves her position as Curator and Interim Director at the Heritage Center in Pine Ridge to work on the most extensive collection of Native American artifacts in North America.

Boarding School Lawsuit Bill Dies

Feb 27, 2014

A bill that intended to allow alleged victims of sexual and physical abuse in Indian boarding schools to continue litigation failed in the State Senate Judiciary Committee.
In 2010 the state legislature extended the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases . Alleged victims claim the measure ended up throwing out on-going cases against the church, robbing them of their day in court.
Opponents claim the bill is poorly written and will not do what is intended.

SD Office of Indian Education

The Secretary of South Dakota's Department of Education says stakeholders are working to integrate Native American language and culture into schools. It's through a project that brings the voices of elders together with learning materials to foster greater understanding. The initiative is providing curriculum on a shoestring budget. 

Fighting Diabetes in Indian Country

Nov 14, 2013

Tribal nations in South Dakota have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the United States–but new efforts are underway to change that.  Dr. Jeff Henderson is the President and CEO of the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health. 

45th Annual Red Cloud Indian Art Show

Jun 11, 2013

The Red Cloud Indian Art Show is the largest and longest running Native American art show of its kind in the country, and only a few held on an Indian reservation hundreds of miles from urban area. Since 1969, the Red Cloud Reservation Indian Art Show has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to The Heritage Center and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to view impressive works of art from seasoned Native American professionals and young Lakota artists just beginning their artistic career. The annual show runs for ten weeks over the summer.

Shouting Secrets

Mar 21, 2013

There are two opportunities to see the award winning drama, Shouting Secrets, this Sunday in Sioux Falls.  Swiss film director Korinna Sehringer will be a guest of Cinema Falls during the screenings and will participate in post-film question/answer sessions.  She talked about her film, which won Best Film, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the American Indian Film Festival, on Dakota Midday Thursday.  For more information, go to

Otis Taylor "My World Is Gone"

Mar 11, 2013

Blues and roots music visionary Otis Taylor released his 13th album last month.  "My World Is Gone" was fueled by Taylor's friend Mato Nanji, the singer/guitarist and cornerstone of the band Indigenous.  At a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert, Nanji told Taylor, "My World Is Gone," in reference to his people, the Native American Nakota Nation.  Taylor and Nanji talked about their friendship and described working together on "My World Is Gone."

Covering Wounded Knee In '73

Mar 5, 2013

Kevin McKiernan was a reporter for National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee.  He was based in Minnesota when he traveled to Wounded Knee to cover the conflict.  By the time he arrived, the government was barring journalists from entering the village of Wounded Knee.  Lakota guides lead him through the back roads and past the federal blockade.  He was the only journalist with an inside view of the standoff.  McKiernan returned to Wounded Knee last week on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the occupation.