Ashley Pourier ’08

Ashley Pourier currently serves as Curator at The Heritage Center located on the Red Cloud Indian School campus. Ashley is an alumnus of Our Lady Lourdes K-8 School and Red Cloud High School, graduating as part of the class of 2008. She continued her education at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where she majored in Studio Arts with a focus in 3-dimenisional art, Japanese Language and Asian Studies, as well as a minor in Art History. Ashley graduated in the Spring of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After graduating Ashley returned to her alma mater and begun work as an intern at The Heritage Center in 2012. 

Q&A with Ashley:

What is your fondest memory from your time at Red Cloud Indian School?

Many of my memories of Our Lady of Lourdes and Red Cloud Indian High School involve the relationships I built with friends and faculty.  My fondest memory is hanging out with my friends in the old High School lounge, which is no longer there after the reconstruction of the High School building. Everything seemed to happen at the lounge: Before class micro-naps, eating lunch from the school store, school activities, etc. It was a place to forget about the stress of classes and GPAs, and just relax with my friends and teachers.

What makes Red Cloud Indian School special?

It’s the type of people that come together to create this entity known as Red Cloud Indian School. It’s people who are able to understand and sympathize. You’re not dealing with a regular school with regular students; these are students who grew up with a deep sense of culture and family. At Red Cloud, our background, Lakota, is incorporated into our curriculum as an effort to revive our language and culture. We host powwows, sweats, sundances, dance club and drum club. If you’re looking for a wrap around education including a cultural experience, this is where you need to be.

What made you choose Carthage College?

My senior year of high school, Clementine Bordeaux, a Red Cloud and Carthage Alumnus, spoke to the senior class about college in general and about a scholarship available to Red Cloud Indian School students that would provide a full-ride to the College. After looking up Carthage, I was impressed with the variety of courses and study, the campus and class size, and the student to facility ratio. I was very happy when I found out that I was awarded Carthage’s full-ride scholarship and was glad to attend!

What prepared you for attending College?

I, like many students from Red Cloud High School and other high schools around South Dakota participated in the Trio Upward Bound program, a federally funded educational program.  However, I also participated in another program alongside Upward Bound at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion called ‘Math and Science Initiative Program’ or MSIP. Both programs are designed to help further your education on a college or university campus. In the program they spilt everyone into “family groups” to encourage the making of new friends; you live on campus in the dorms with a roommate; and they schedule your time there around classes, meals, family time, researching, and study hall free time. I think the opportunity to ‘practice’ being in a college setting made the transition to college more comfortable.

What made you return to Red Cloud?

I wouldn’t say I returned to Red Cloud, but rather, I returned home. After four years of commuting, and breaking up the year – school for nine months then home for three months – it is nice to take a breather from temporary living and be somewhere familiar. I also wanted to stay true to my majors, and so I decided to get involved with The Heritage Center to further explore my passion for art. 

As an alumnus, I feel that many of us have to constantly defend our school based on its past as Holy Rosary Mission, a catholic boarding school. While many things have changed, I think that there has always been something good at its core. I had an experience with an elderly woman asking if we sold old yearbooks, which we do not, but we do have old yearbooks in our collections. I told her, “I can let you look at them but they are not for sale.” She understood and I watched her look through these bound catalogues reliving her youth: the brother who made fresh bread every day, the sister who wasn’t afraid to chase you with a rule. The entire time she had a grin on her face and said, “I got to admit it was a good school.” This woman reinforced my perspective and encouraged me to continue spreading the good this institution has to offer. We’re a very inviting community and more than welcome to share our culture and heritage with anyone.

What is it like to be on this ‘side of the table’ - Working at Red Cloud, instead of studying?

To work at Red Cloud is a new experience. From this perspective I have been better able to see the ‘factory wheels turning’ and see how the School actually enables such wonderful students. I feel like I’m learning something new working with The Heritage Center’s permanent collections. I started with properly packaging and shipping art, into cataloguing and shelving, rolling quilts and rugs, now I’m cleaning headdresses and anticipating the arrival of artwork for Red Cloud’s Annual Art Show. Everything I’m learning is something I would be proud to put on my resume or an application for grad school. 

Being that I work in Collections, however, I see little social interaction, which means I love lunchtime! I get to eat in the coveted faculty lunchroom with the ‘higher-ups’ – The higher-ups who are really the same people who were there when I was in high school. It’s a very relaxed setting throughout campus; everyone’s on a first name bases, we wave at each other across campus and joke with each other.

What plans do you have for your future?

Having only just returned from college, I am still figuring it all out, and it might be a little bit of everything!  I have considered teaching art classes and also considered going to graduate school. I am also thinking of ways to incorporate my artistic skills through more non-traditional occupations. I’ve through about becoming a chocolatier, or perhaps a special effects make-up artist. However, a long-term goal of mine is to own my own gallery, art café, or a lounge for students, which I think could be really well received in the area!



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