SGU Graduate Education Serving Lakota Students

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Tribal College News

Dorothy LeBeau and nine other women earned the first graduate degrees at Sinte Gleska University (SGU, Mission, SD) 17 years ago in 1989. The class included seven Sicangu Lakota women from the Rosebud Sioux reservation who, along with Dr. Archie Beauvais (Sicangu Lakota), helped design the program curricula.

Beauvais was an instructor/chair/dean of graduate and tribal studies at SGU for 20 years. SGU was the first tribal college to be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (HLC) and the first to offer a Master’s of Education degree.

Many of those same women graduates continue to teach and work in the two reservation school districts: Todd County and St. Francis Indian School. These teachers, and many others who have followed in their footsteps, help Lakota youth imagine teaching as a possible profession.

LeBeau is the school improvement coordinator/curriculum director for the Todd County School District (TCSD) where she began her career 14 years ago as the bilingual director. TCSD’s student population is comprised of a majority of Sicangu Lakota children, but the number of Lakota teachers is low.

However, LeBeau says that the district is “growing their own” by paying for teacher aides to take classes at nearby SGU. The intent is to increase Native teachers in the district.

The district’s formal documents are interwoven with recognition of its responsibility to the Lakota children’s cultural foundation. LeBeau believes that academically successful Lakota children must be thoroughly grounded in Lakota language and culture and that they must learn standard English skills.

An example of a learner outcome reads, “All students will be self-directed learners who strive for woksape (wisdom), wacantognaka (generosity), woohitika (courage), and wowacintanka (fortitude.)”

The mission statement says, “The Todd County School District is a partner with families, communities, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and other education groups. We pledge to prepare our students for success academically, socially, culturally, and spiritually in an ever-changing world.”

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