Red Cloud Announces Partnership with South Dakota State University

posted on February 28, 2013 

Red Cloud Indian School is joining forces with South Dakota State University (SDSU) to establish a university mentoring program for Lakota juniors and seniors attending Red Cloud High School.  A delegation from SDSU—including President David Chicoine and Provost Laurie Nichols—visited Red Cloud’s campus on Thursday, February 28 to celebrate the collaboration.

“As the state’s largest university, SDSU offers our students a tremendous range of opportunities to continue their academic studies and explore new possibilities,” said Red Cloud’s Superintendent Ted Hamilton.  “We are thrilled to be strengthening our relationship with SDSU—and confident this partnership will provide Red Cloud students with the resources and support that will allow them to succeed.”

Hamilton says the new partnership will not only increase the number of Red Cloud students who choose to enroll at SDSU, but will also create a strong network of advocates away from the reservation who can support Red Cloud graduates throughout their college career.  That support, explains Hamilton, will also work to increase graduation rates among Red Cloud students who attend SDSU.

“For many of our students, having a strong community of support on their college campus is the key to long-term success,” says Nakina Mills, the director of student advancement and alumni support at Red Cloud, who has worked closely with Hamilton on the mentoring program.  “Building relationships with mentors on SDSU’s campus—whether with faculty, students or even fellow Red Cloud graduates—will make all the difference in their experience.”  

The university mentor program is modeled on Red Cloud’s successful partnership with Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, which pairs Red Cloud juniors with Creighton faculty mentors.  Like the Creighton model, Red Cloud students will travel to SDSU to learn about its campus, academic programming and the university experience.  SDSU faculty will travel to Red Cloud to learn more about creating successful transitions from high school to college.  The program will also create a strong working relationship between SDSU and Red Cloud faculty. 

SDSU President Chicoine and Red Cloud Superintendent Hamilton signed a formal agreement establishing the new partnership on February 28 on Red Cloud’s Pine Ridge campus.  The SDSU delegation also included Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Nichols, Director of Tribal Outreach Richard Meyers, and Native American Student Advisor April Eastman, as well as SDSU Extension Office Staff Keith Ferguson and Donnette Bowman. 


“It’s very important to build strong relationships,” says SDSU President Chicoine. Partnering with Red Cloud, for President Chicoine, allows the university to work toward fulfilling its mission to support the future leaders of South Dakota.

“It’s very exciting to see these two schools coming together,” says Ernest Weston, a current SDSU political science student and Red Cloud alumnus who also attended the signing. Weston believes that this new partnership will have a profound effect in enabling Red Cloud students to better prepare themselves for the transition to college.

Red Cloud President Fr. George Winzenburg was also in attendence, along with Red Cloud students and staff.  The day began with a tour of Red Cloud’s campus followed by the signing at 11:30 AM.