Red Cloud Elementary student’s poster design wins South Dakota National Guard contest

Lakota helicopter lands on school’s Pine Ridge campus to honor student Garrett Clifford

posted on April 4, 2011

Captain Michael McDaniels and representatives from the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Committee turned the grassy field outside Holy Rosary Church on Red Cloud Indian School’s Pine Ridge campus into a landing pad for a new UH-72 Lakota helicopter.

The representatives flew to the Red Cloud campus to congratulate Red Cloud Elementary School fourth grader Garrett Clifford for winning a statewide poster design contest to celebrate the new helicopter. Clifford’s poster depicts the helicopter with the Lakota phrase Atunwan na Agli, which translates as “Coming to Assist.”

“This contest was to celebrate the coming of the new UH-72 Lakota helicopter to South Dakota,” Captain McDaniels said in front of students, teachers and staff on Wednesday, April 20. “The time and detail that Garrett and other students across the state put into this contest was just amazing. His work depicts Lakota values alongside a Lakota helicopter, which is exactly what we were looking for.”

Clifford’s entry, along with entries from across the state of South Dakota, will be on display at Crazy Horse Monument in the Black Hills now through May 14, 2011.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to be in the heart of Lakota country, and to have the Lakota helicopter among the heart of the people it was named after,” said CW4 Christian Frank, instructional pilot of the helicopter. “We are very honored and thankful to be a part of this day.”

During the National Guard’s visit to Red Cloud, the aviation committee spoke to students about why the Lakota helicopter was named after them.

“The Lakota are often referred to as protectors of their land,” said Captain McDaniels. “We hope to represent that value with this helicopter. It will be used for homeland security and defense.”

For being named a winner in the poster contest, Clifford was presented with a framed photo and thank you from the aviation committee, an MP4 audio player from the National Guard recruiters and a gift card to the gift shop at Crazy Horse Monument.

“This experience was very exciting for Garrett and for all of our students here,” said Jennifer Sierra, principal at Red Cloud Elementary. “We are all very proud of Garrett. It’s really great for our students to see the outcome of projects like this.”