Gerald One Feather honored

Jul 12th, 2013 | By | Category: 25-2: Tribal and Behavioral Health, Tribal College News
By Sandra One Feather

ONE FEATHER. The University of Colorado honored AIHEC’s first president, Gerald One Feather, with an honorary doctorate degree. Photo by Sean Cridland

The University of Colorado at Boulder (UC-Boulder) awarded Gerald One Feather (Oglala Lakota) an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree during its spring commencement ceremony. One Feather was presented with a traditional doctoral hood and diploma by university president Bruce Benson and chancellor Philip P. DiStefano for his lifetime of public service to his Oglala Lakota Tribe. One Feather, a former graduate student in the Department of Sociology at UC-Boulder, received a standing ovation from the nearly 40,000 people in attendance.

Over his long and storied career, One Feather earned a reputation as a staunch advocate and practitioner of tribal sovereignty and self-determination. He embraced these concepts throughout his career in education, tribal government, law enforcement, and in advocating for indigenous rights. In 1970, at the age of 31, he was elected Oglala Lakota Tribal President, making him the youngest president in the tribe’s history. He has also served on the tribe’s executive committee and was a founder of Oglala Lakota College (OLC, Kyle, SD) where he also taught Lakota language, history, and leadership and cultural education. He served as the first chairman of OLC’s Board of Trustees and continued as a member of the board for over 30 years. Due to his leadership and experience, One Feather was named the first president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in 1972.

One Feather also helped create the Oglala tribe’s Branch of Law Enforcement and was named as its executive director. He helped found the Oglala Lakota Tribal Police Academy at OLC to train tribal police officers. He led efforts for local control of reservation schools and served as chairman of the Loneman school board in Oglala. He has provided integral support to the University of Colorado’s continued research on critical health needs on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Internationally, One Feather has worked with the United Nations on Indigenous peoples’ rights and was a leader in the UN’s International Treaty Council. For his years of service, One Feather has received numerous accolades, including an award for Outstanding Service to the Oglala Lakota Oyate (1986), the Petra Foundation Fellowship (1995), and the Washington Times Foundation Award (2000).

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