U.S. States Attorneys visit Red Cloud Indian School

Red Cloud High School alumni visit with Attorney General

posted on July 29, 2011

On Thursday, July 28, 2011, four recent graduates of Red Cloud High School had the opportunity to sit down with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and thirty-two States Attorneys as part of a discussion between members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the U.S. Department of Justice to improve upon and in support of the Tribal Law and Order Act that was passed in July of 2010.

After hearing from speakers from across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at the SuAnne Big Crow Center in Pine Ridge, Red Cloud alumni DeAndra McLaughlin, Alex Merdanian, Kiley Weston and Tristen Long wowed the Attorney General and the States Attorneys with their opinions on tribal and federal government. The young Red Cloud alumni, who all have plans to attend college this fall, shared their stories of growing up on the reservation and how they overcame some of the obstacles that Lakota youth face today.

“We are the seventh generation and it is up to us to serve as role models and to be those positive role models for the next generation,” said Alex Merdanian '11, who will attend Creighton University this fall.

The graduates shared their views on the importance of education.

“If we want to make this reservation better, we have to go out see the world and return with our education to be able to make those changes,” says Tristen Long '11 who will attend Dickinson State University this fall. “We can’t always depend on other people. We have to do it for ourselves and our people.”

“It was great that we had this opportunity to talk to the U.S. Attorneys about our home because aside from all the negative things, we had some positive stories to share,” says DeAndra McLaughlin '11, one of Red Cloud High School’s nine recent Gates Millennium Scholars who is heading to Stanford University this fall. “I believe that if these people, the attorneys, hear that there are actual kids here that are overcoming the obstacles and have dreams, then that may want them to help for the future of others as well.”

After congratulating the student panelists on their accomplishments, Attorney General Eric Holder and the States Attorneys applauded the students with a standing ovation.

“Red Cloud should definitely be proud of themselves,” says Judy Beeman, Attorney General Advisory Committee Liaison with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Following the community session at the boys and girls club and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Wounded Knee Massacre site, the thirty-two States Attorneys paid a visit to Red Cloud Indian School to learn more about the achievements and growth of the organization. Led by a diverse Red Cloud staff, the States Attorneys toured the high school’s new $2.5 million Lakota Studies and science wing, and took in The Heritage Center’s 44th annual art show. During their campus visit, Red Cloud Indian School honored South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson with a Lakota starquilt.

“I am truly amazed by everything at Red Cloud Indian School. The people are wonderful, the facilities are beautiful and everything they do here is truly amazing,” says Brendan Johnson. “I am so proud of everyone associated with Red Cloud Indian School and I look forward to another visit in the near future.”