By: Teddie Rae Herman-Rogers
MISSION - Sinte Gleska University held its 42nd Annual Wounspe Wowapi Yusutapi and its 31st Annual GED Wounspe Wowapi Yusutapi on Friday, August 22nd, 2014, at the Wakinyan Wanbli Multipurpose Building.
Lakol Woicicunze: Sicangu Oyate nahan Sinte Gleska Owayawa Wakatuya
Wakicunza ki Ta Woihanble ki “Ho Wana! Woicicunze Unkicicage pi kte”
The theme of the Commencement exercises was: “Sharing the Sicangu Oyate and Sinte Gleska University Founders’ Vision and ‘Now We Make the Promise to Fulfill the Vision’.”
Before the actual handing out of the diplomas to the grads, the morning of Graduation is a special one with a flurry of activities. Beginning at 8 am, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Sr., Lakota Instructors, Duane Hollow Horn Bear and Francis Cutt, and SGU President, Lionel Bordeaux conducted the Anpe Wi Hoyekiyapi (Calling on the sun to bring good energy and health to all creation) ceremony. All of SGU’s faculty, instructors, administration, students, and the public were invited to attend the ceremony.
Once the day was blessed for the graduates, the multipurpose building was also blessed with the Ti azilkiyapi (purification) ceremony. These ceremonies represent the uniqueness of our students, and also shows appreciation for them and ensures that their “special” day that they’ve worked so hard for will be just that: very special.
A Wiping of the Tears ceremony was held for those who have lost a loved one this past year. Marty Makes Room for Them drummed and sang the Lakota Memorial Song in memory of: Leland Bordeaux, Norman Keeler, William “Bill” Akard, Donna Larvie, Rosalie Little Thunder, Ernestine Eagle Elk, Alfreda Jumping Elk, Stanley Whipple, Marie War Bonnett/Good Shield, Matilda “Tillie” Black Bear, Calvin Kills In Water, Jr., David Moran, Linda Lambert, Ben Clifford, Feather Rae Colombe, Franklin Spotted Tail, and Cheryl Spotted Tail.
As has been the tradition in years past, the E’yapaha (Master of Ceremonies) was Dr. Everette “Butch” Felix, Sr., who is well known throughout Indian Country for his unique style of entertainment.
As the graduates started showing up around noon and were getting lined up for the graduation’s grand entry, you could feel the excitement. There were 7 receiving their Masters of Education degree, 2 receiving their Master of Arts/Human Services degrees, 10 receiving their Bachelor of Arts, 18 receiving their Bachelor of Science, 21 receiving the Associate of Arts degree, 14 receiving their Associate of Applied Science degrees, and 30 receiving their GEDs.
Cecelis Johnson, Bobbie Leneaugh, Angelina Tronvold, Deanna Houseman, and Rachel Williams are all LPNs of SGU’s Nursing Department who were among the 14 receiving their Associate of Applied Science degrees.
SGU~Allied Health and the SGU Nursing Department, both Institute of Technology programs, are proud of these ladies, their families, and the Instructors, for the completion of their AAS degrees and wish these new LPNs the best in their future endeavors.
Instructors for the Nursing Dept. are Rita Schneider, Melody Otte, Briana Broschat, and Director, Virginia Cozad. Director of the Institute of Technology is Jim Poignee.
After the graduates receive their diplomas, a special ceremony takes place called the Wiyaka un Wicayounihan (Blessing & Tying of Feathers) wherein a feather is tied into the graduates’ hair by a ‘sponsor’ – a person chosen by the grad to tie the feather into their hair. This ritual shows respect for the sponsor, who is chosen because they have special meaning to the grad, and it is an honor to be chosen as a ‘sponsor’. Also, the sponsor, while tying the feather into the grad’s hair is praying at the same time as he/she is tying it in for good health, wicozani, a good life, for all good things to come to the person who is the receiver of the feather. Red Leaf drum group sang the honor song for the graduates.
The tradition of the tying of the feathers takes place because a Native, when recognized for an outstanding achievement, is given an eagle feather for the deed, whether it’s going into the military, going to war, graduating from school, helping and showing compassion to the people, etc. It’s a tradition that goes back for as long as our Tribe can remember.
Four people were honored during the graduation ceremonies for their outstanding contributions to Sinte Gleska University and the Tribe: Mary Jane Spotted Tail, Michael Benge, Matilda “Tillie” Black Bear, and Leland Bordeaux.
Congratulatory speeches addressed to the grads were given by a foray of individuals with positive and distinctive qualities and the highest education you can achieve, such as Dr. David Chicoine, President of South Dakota State University, Dr. David Gipp, Chancellor of United Tribes Technical College, Dr. Don Yu of the Bureau of Indian Education (B.I.E.) & US Department of Education, Dr. Phil Baird, President of United Tribes Technical College, Dr. Lowell Amiotte, Director of South Dakota State Indian Education, and Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, President & CEO of the American Indian College Fund. With such supporters as these speakers, it would be hard not to get motivated to continue one’s education, especially when many of them are not only Native American, but are members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe!
Marty Makes Room for Them sang Sinte Gleska Ta Olowan (Spotted Tail Song) before the conclusion of the graduation ceremonies. A prayer and a meal followed.