As a graduate student pursuing Native Studies as part of my degree, I find it unfortunate the Native Studies program at USD gets so much bad press.
The bulk of the problem really seems to be a lack of interest, and nobody wants to come to a place they’ve only heard bad things about.
Has the program encountered significant drawbacks in recent history? Yes. Is USD “out to get” the program? Definitely not. That’s why I intend to give it as much positive press as possible.
USD has plenty to offer a potential Native Studies student with its proposed interdisciplinary approach.
USD offers a wide variety of classes in areas such as history, English, Lakota, education, psychology, social work, law and addiction studies. The professors teaching these classes are just as amazing as the subject matter.
Our campus library contains some of those most interesting material you will find in the region. Special Collections alone has the single most awesome collection of documents I have ever seen. For anyone interested in the American Indian Movement, Special Collections is your new best friend.
The Oral History Center, which is now housed in the mold-free second floor of the library, contains one of the largest collections of oral history interviews in the U.S. These materials are now getting the proper treatment they deserve. The conditions are much better now than when I interned there this time last year.
USD is also home to the Oscar Howe Gallery, which hosts the largest collection of his works in the country.
Across the street from Slagle Hall, you will find the Native American Cultural Center. The NACC serves as a lounge, study area and generally fun place to be. It also serves as the host for the meetings of the Tiospaye Student Council.
Tiospaye does a lot of great things for students and is open to anyone and everyone. Every year they host the annual USD Wacipi in the DakotaDome, which is the most fun you will ever have on a single weekend. They also hold an Indian taco sale the first Tuesday of every month.
Last but not least, this is South Dakota — one of the most important locations for Native American issues. There are plenty of job and internship opportunities available here if one only takes the time to look around.
Sure, USD is having a tough time with the program now, but I have the utmost faith everything is going to work out for the best. The program definitely recognizes its importance and has no plans to shut it down anytime soon.
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Personally, I am happy to be part of this new era, and I hope others will be too.
Read Betsey’s last column.