James LaPointe ’03

Current Location

Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico


A proud 2003 graduate of Red Cloud High Schools, James went on to earn an associate degree in television production from Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota (just up the road from Red Cloud). With degree in hand, he worked as an illustrator for the Black Hill Peoples News and in the Media Department at Oglala Lakota College.

A film director, his digital video work has been recognized across the country, and in 2008 he was awarded a scholarship to attend the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts, where he currently majors in New Media Arts. During the summer, James returns to his alma mater to give tours to groups from across the country that come to visit Red Cloud.

Asked and Answered

You seem to have a passion for television production. What drew you to this artistic endeavor?

Actually, it was the media classes offered at Red Cloud that inspired me to pursue a career in television. Those classes allowed me to see the real side of television production. Also, seeing the way Native Americans are depicted on TV and in film has motivated me to work toward a more true, relevant storyline of the Native experience.

Why did you decide to attend a local college right out of high school, rather than go directly to the Institute of American Indian Arts?

For me, it was the only choice I had at the time. I had lost an important family member in my life, and was unable to even think about paying for a four-year degree or leave home. A college education was important to me, but sometimes life throws you certain obstacles that you must accept and overcome. I stayed home and went to OLC, completing classes at a pace that was feasible for me given my situation.

What is life like not that you are at college in New Mexico, away from home? And why did you decide to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts?

It’s great. Really great. I love meeting new people, and learning about new places and new cultures. The best part is being able to attend the college of my choice and immerse myself into the fascinating technology and art of new media. I always wanted to go here. I knew about the institute in high school, and while OLC decided to pursue scholarship opportunities. I knew that if I could earn a scholarship, I would get the degree I always wanted. And it’s happening!

And what happens after college graduation?

You’ll find me a proud college graduate, producing my own videos. I do believe, though, that you’ll also find my continuing to learn—uncovering new things about myself, my culture and the ever-changing world of television and film production.

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