Margaret Rose Peggy Nagel, 1953-1994

Feb 15th, 1995 | By | Category: 6-4: New Respect for Indian History, Tribal College News
By Paul Boyer, Editor

Peggy Nagel

Life is short under the best of circumstances; life is much more difficult without those we love and life will be difficult without Peggy. —James Shanley, President, Fort Peck Community College 

Margaret “Peggy” Nagel, 42, president of Stone Child College, died December 14 in her home from accidental carbon monoxide inhalation. The event was so sudden and unexplainable that it seemed, at first, to be impossible. But as word spread, family, friends and colleagues came forward to tell stories about Peggy’s short but remarkable life.

At the winter meeting of tribal college presidents and board members in Washington, DC, a memorial service was held for Peggy. Statements from many of her colleagues were contributed for this service. We were moved by the insights they offered, and include here a few excerpts. As Margarett Campbell-Perez, president of Fort Belknap College, noted, the comments “can only begin to express appreciation for a very complex, dedicated, spiritual, humorous and talented woman who we all knew Peggy to be.”

On Peggy’s contributions as a teacher and leader: 

Peggy will be forever remembered for her strong advocacy on behalf of student needs and concerns…Peggy was dedicated to the mission of Stone Child College and to improving the lives of tribal members and tribal communities in her homeland, the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.
—Lionel Bordeaux, President Sinte Gleska University 

[As an officer in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium] she exercised great insight, concern, and consideration for each of our tribal colleges. During her work toward her doctoral degree, she also contributed to the colleges and Indian country her assessment of such issues as the Nation Indian Policy Center and the beginning concepts of four year tribally controlled programs.
—David Gipp, President, United Tribes Technical College 

The Dakota have a term that describes a respected woman, a woman who teaches and nurtures. This woman also provided guidance and toils to care for her tiospa. This term is kunsi. Stone Child College and the rest of the tribal colleges lost a strong kunsi when they lost Peggy Nagel. I personally have lost a childhood friend, a co-conspirator against classmates, and later a valued koda in the day-to-day sharing of the thrills of tribal college life.
—Given Hill, President Sisseton Wahpeton Community College 

On Peggy’s ability to inspire others: 

Peggy was a wonderful person to work with. It was a treasure to be within the radiant distance of her enthusiasm, her energy and her smile.
—Joseph McDonald, President Salish Kootenai College 

Through traditional Navajo teaching we learn that when a person’s life on earth is done, they are called by their name back to the sacred home of the Divine Spirit. Their shadow and their flesh are returned to Mother Earth to become a renewed life of beautiful plants and flowers for those who are left behind to partake of. This coming spring, you will see the beauty left behind by Peggy Nagel, you will breathe in the new freshness of the air and feel the peace and beauty of the new plants and flowers.
—Tommy H. Lewis, President Navajo Community College 

So even though Peggy’s passing is hard to accept, we should be comforted to know we have a messenger in the spirit world with a voice and actions as strong as ever looking over us and helping us. Peggy did everything she could while she was with us. It is up to us now to carry on as she did.
—David Archamhault, President Standing Rock College 

Little Big Horn College President Janine Pease-Pretty On Top classified Peggy’s contributions into four categories: She saw her as a Visionary, Architect, Engineer and Native Educator. She concluded:

You see Peggy was a mentor when she taught, designed and built. Her career exemplified true education, for her energy and dedication empowered everyone who ever came near Peggy. Education, Peggy’s chosen field, is like that, for it is not like property that can be sold, changed or taken away; education is one possession that is indelible, fully protected and wholly managed by each learner. So you see, no part of Peggy’s work was in vain…

We at the Tribal College journal share the sorrow and sense of loss and express our condolences to Stone Child College, the Rocky Boy Reservation, Peggy’s family and her many close friends.

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