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DSU Native American Student Association creates scholarship

July 15, 2020

A new scholarship will be awarded to one Native American student at Dakota State for the 2020-21 school year.

The Native American Student Association (NASA) at Dakota State began working on creating a scholarship for native students in the fall of 2019. The group started by reaching out to Jill Ruhd, development officer with Institutional Advancement, who helped them set up a scholarship fund.

“We started doing weekly fry bread fundraisers in January and February, right up until school went online in March,” said Carl Petersen, May 2020 graduate and former NASA president.

With the inability to fundraise, the group reached out to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association which brings 16 great plains tribes together, to ask if any tribes were willing to donate. The Rosebud Tribe in South Dakota made a donation enabling the group to offer the $500 scholarship to a Native student this upcoming school year.

The scholarship is one way the student group is working to create a sense of belonging on campus for Native American students.

The NASA club was started in the fall of 2017 after Petersen experienced a culture shock coming to DSU and felt exotic as a native student. The idea was to create a space where Native students could talk, decompress, and bond over coming from the same environment, Petersen explained.

In addition to bringing native students at DSU together, the group of about 15 students also began helping with events like Dakota 38+2 memorial ride. The group brought in members of the Sioux Chef, a team led by Sean Sherman who are committed to revitalizing Native American Cuisine.

Throughout the next couple of years, the group continued to have meetings to bring Native American students together to talk.

During the 2019-20 school year the club worked with James Jacobsen, vice president for Student Affairs, to develop a smudging policy for DSU. Smudging is burning of sacred herbs as a cultural practice by Indigenous people. This policy helps protect different cultural practices, like the smudging of a dorm room.

They also worked on the school’s land acknowledgement that President José-Marie Griffiths read at the Dakota 38+2 dinner, according to Petersen. A land acknowledgement is an Indigenous protocol that expresses gratitude and appreciation to the Indigenous people who lived and worked on the land prior to European settlement.

For those interested in donating to the scholarship fund, visit the NASA Facebook page for a link.

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