Profiles from Lakota Country: Native Americans in Education
Saturday, October 11 2014
Written by Lynette White Hat,
Average user rating    (0 vote)
Share this!
profiles from lakota country- native americans in education.jpgWhen the topic of Education and Native Americans is brought up the view of a unsettling and disturbing history plays with a sequence of historical trauma. This isn’t a collaboration that was arranged with open arms and satisfying results.

This approach began with Carlisle Indian School, which was established by Gen. Richard Henry Pratt in 1879. Specifically built for Native American children, the approach to this was to assist the Natives in becoming “civilized” and functional in mainstream western society. However, teaching arithmetic, writing and reading came with horrendous atrocities, abuse and discipline within the Native boarding school systems that would shape and change the classroom and generations forever.

To enhance any teachings the official government policy was to, “Kill the Indian and save the man.” With this motto came severe forms of discipline which included beating, torture, sexual abuse and even death. Though Native people wanted their children to be able to survive in the inevitable change coming, they were not prepared to take on what the boarding school system would bring. This created generational poverty among those who endured, survived and would speak about it.

Since that dark period in tribal history, Native people have a come a long way in developing and tailoring education that meets the needs of their children. Students have become educated, speaking fluent English and are encouraged to learn their tribal history. Those who pursue a career in education are are protected by policies, procedures and laws developed to enshrine education that was once banned in boarding schools.

One such educator is Sage Fast Dog, Sr., an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He has taught in the Todd County School District, a non-Native public school with a majority of Native students who attend, for nine years.


He graduated from St. Francis Indian School – another school on the Rosebud reservation that caters specifically to enrolled students – went onto college at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. He finished his education at Sinte Gleska University, the tribe's own institution of higher learning established in 1970, with a bachelor's degree in Social Studies and Lakota Studies. After being certified in Secondary Education, he began teaching Lakota Studies at Todd County.

Fast Dog lives a drug- and alcohol-free life with his wife Krista White, two sons, Sage, Jr., Waciyapi and newborn daughter Wacekiya. In a place where drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace, it can be a challenge. But the father and educator draws strength from his traditional values and practices, singing with his family drum group, Soldier Creek. He is also a traditional dancer in the powwow circuit and participates in traditional Lakota ceremonies.

In addition to living the principles of Wolakota, Fast Dog is the Sicangu Club advisor and helps coach the hand game team at the high school and advises the drum group at Todd County Middle School.

With the many hats Fast Dog wears, he talks to his students about what it’s like to teach history and culture in what he calls “the iGeneration” where knowing what happened a thousand years ago can be seen at the touch of a button.

To be a educator in todays society is an exciting task. Educators have access to technology and research enhancement like never before. As Native students enter the classroom to learn about their history, culture and language they are reminded of how far they’ve come, as a people who endured broken treaties and surfing into a millennium on iPads.

PHOTO: Sage Fast Dog, Sr., uses the architecture of St. Francis Indian School to explain to a group of students the basic principles of Wolakota. (Photo by Lynette White Hat)

Users' Comments (0)

No comment posted

Add your comment

Fatal error: Call to undefined function _getNoticeCopyright() in /home/content/70/12981770/html/mambots/content/maxcommentbot.php(418) : eval()'d code on line 14