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This program was produced by our national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation and was compiled to the subtleties of the radio at the University of South Dakota. This is a story of ruffled feathers. The Lakota Sioux in transition. This is the eighth in a series of programs about the Dakota or Sioux Indians in South Dakota in past programs we have dealt with the Sioux history culture religion and philosophy. The last program explained a transition that is taking place in schools across South Dakota. As government schools are closed in the schools around the reservation areas become more and more integrated. This program will be concerned with higher education among the Sioux and
1955 the University of South Dakota realize the problems of the present day and and also that our culture and history was fast disappearing. The university at that time established the Institute of Indian Studies. The objectives of the Institute including supervising research studies disseminating information and rendering service to the Indian peoples. With a conception and emboldened Haitian the Indian Community Action Program the institute has taken an ever stronger interest in solutions to the many and varied problems confronting the Indian people. It has served as a central agency for the collection of information pertaining to Indian life. Well historically and currently the institute has also compiled a library of documents volumes and relics and other materials related to Indian life. That was Dr. Edward Q. president of the University of South Dakota in his position of responsibility. He is able to understand the problems facing the Indian people of
college age and their parents. He is also acutely aware of the great increase in the number of Indian men and women who are going on to pursue higher education. In 1056 there were some 10000 Indian students between the ages of six and 18 going to school today this figure has not increased too much but the change in numbers pursuing education beyond high school has increased significantly. In 1956 there were only 97 Indian students going to college in South Dakota. Estimates for today indicate that around four hundred twenty to four hundred forty five South Dakota Indian students are receiving training or education beyond high school. Another element to get no ambition. They want to team they want dedication in New through education or owning the event down in their heart. They all want that and eventually that you take are teenagers. If they go on to college then they keep that goal. Why has there been a sudden education explosion among the Indian you reasons are many and
we'll deal with them during the course of this program. Perhaps the first reason that many college students or potential college students were kept away in the past was the complete lack of financial aid. Byrne actually now coordinator of Indian Affairs for the state of South Dakota had no problem getting through high school but the catch came on after I finished high school I applied to the federal government at that time there was no opportunities at the end and you had to have today. They had a all we had access to was a loan from the federal government. And. And I applied and my superintendent of the school was Brophy a highly recommended me and I wanted to enter Brookings U.S. made application and was turned down. So for four years thereafter I tried each year turned down each time. And so then. My dad said why don't you ups and let you keep on
and I always remember what my dad used to tell me said Well son you want to get the best education that you can because in the future you're going to do white men you know live among white men. It's going to be hard if you're not educated you know how true that was here I am and I kept on going I never expected to be here. And the things he said is true you know. But for years I tried for school alone and I didn't get it. They're a matter of record a TV series NC. And. As I say there was no opportunities for vocational training or any other training period. As Mr Ashley points out there was once a time when the financially needy student had only a government loan to fall back on. And as you heard there were often many years in coming. Once the Indian student got to college finances and other problems continued to plague him. It's been estimated that the dropout rate among Indian students is as much as 10 times greater than among the general college population at the time I started with just 58 there was only
11 of us out of a whole bunch of grads really it was only one that finished. It was myself the following year and one of the other guys graduated but dropout rate was terrific. The reasons for dropping out of college are many times the same for the Indian students for any college student but in some respects they're very different. There are certainly those people who would like to maintain that the Indian student is not intellectually capable of getting through college although many Indian students are not noted for exceptionally high grades. They're coping with problems that in some cases have little to do with academics. I think a lot of them have the ability to go out but for this social because a lack of social adjustment or whatever you want to call it that they just drop out didn't bother me because I was away it always went away to school I never want to go to school and then I get a service. I didn't have any problems at all. Matter of adjustment the adjustment to college life is difficult to make. The Indian student has two adjustments to make the adjustment academically and the adjustment socially
although there are people like Mr. Laval who made the change simply. There are far more who have a difficult time making it. As with many contemporary Indian problems the conflict arises out of the home situation and the reservation life. It's just this manner of protection around their home. Parents and them wanting to keep them around in this old school for the sole. Rather just the reservation itself was turned off by itself and the people there own overunder are subject to different rules and policies. This sort of thing than anyone else. Even if the family did not produces conflict within the student or the reservation set him aside from others it would still be a number of other problems facing the Indian youth. But some of the other problems is that it still follow the same line as if they've never had to account for their time in the study or in other social
activities. What money they have they have never had to account for money before because it's usually been taken care of and when they did having money it was spent that rapidly. But in college you can't do this. O are many sources of funds available. Once you get your hands on you better make will last all the year. I think this was another one of the problems of course there was a lot of that. Lot of discipline discouragement. Some schools don't prepare the students adequately because of what I've talked about that. They don't reach their plateau. They don't struggle hard enough. So there's almost a competition. Nobody provides any competition or burn a school room for a C student. The next thing you know that have been the financial problem has two different aspects
depending on the background of the India. The more Indian a person tends to be the more his family holds to the old culture the more the student seems to feel that he has problems in acquiring money that he does not have enough money. Once he has the money it is too apt to go too soon and it will not be enough to last the year. Instructions on the handling of money is almost imperative for the Indian college student. The parents and grandparents also play an important role in the success or failure of the student to finish the school year. The Indian children have a tremendous loyalty to their parents wishes and their grandparents wishes. Mr Ashley explains a problem that often arises when we send kids to vocational training to Oakland Los Angeles or Denver Cleveland Chicago wherever the case may be way. All the grandmothers say Lay mothers and feel and you better come home. What good could that young fellow do do they save a life another doctor or anybody a come home you know we just couldn't control this. And this I think is the. One of the bad factors.
I think that I need people who are going to realize that we've got to get educated and this is why I say any time I talk on a reservations and making reservations visits to these seven reservations I stress these points we've got to get we come to the point where we've got to lift ourselves up by the bootstraps and get up there and be in competition with any any race of people in the nation. Now you heard yesterday or a commission meeting that there was 800 some and some trays of book higher learning. Now this means of course college or vocational training will hurt regardless of what it is is if it's improving that many young Indian people I think this is a great step and. As I say in these jobs I'm still stressing that the training and in training available what it means to a man part of government or. Any bill is public line. But McGraw 9 5 9 program or going to college. Now in comparison to my youth.
I didn't have access to any of these education programs in order for the young Indian to be in competition with the other people in this society is going to have to be given more freedom to go out in the world. The family exerts a great influence to keep the child at home on the reservation and or the family. The break is hard to make. The university guidance director is very often in contact with the Indian student over the school year. Dean Robert Knapp director of the student guidance office has made observations over the years on the problems of the Indian student in college. I suspect that there are many. Two or three that come to my mind that I work for them only as I would have to say a lack of motivation or incentive sense of direction. I note that there is frequent change of location educational plans. They hate it characterises they seem to keep characterizing these people the apparent lack of motivation and frequent changes in the vocational educational plan stem from a lack of confidence and information about the Indian students future. Many Indian
students seem to be in need of a philosophy of life something that the Indian people as a whole need to have these and many other problems have been spawned by the reservation way of life. When the students go from a reservation they come from a small school maybe 150 200 300 at the most are in the school and when they go into a setting where there is something like 5 to 10000 students are lost I think through this up or down project just the idea of exposure to a college setting. Will do a lot to help them. Their loss. They're used to this protective. Feeling in this type of thing they have on the reservation. So then when they go this is one of the things that they Stener Still year in Washington Square. To summarize briefly then the nonacademic adjustments that the Indian going to college has to make are perhaps more difficult to make than the academic adjustments because they stem from the environment and way of life of the Indian people. Financial problems involve both the
acquisition of money something is becoming easier as more loans and grants both federal state and tribal are made available and through the south go to Indian scholarships and the handling of money. Because of the low income levels and sporadic burning of money by most reservation residents. Their money goes very rapidly once they do get it. This behavior is picked up by the children and creates difficulties when the Indian is away from home and has to manage his money. The social adjustment from the smaller heavily segregated reservation schools to the large predominantly non Indian colleges is difficult for the Indian student to make. In many cases those who make the transition successfully have usually spent some time away from home and have been on their own or in the service for a period of time. Adequate academic preparation is also a key problem. Deficiencies are common in such areas as math science social studies and English. Well one of the greatest problems they have has to do with the use of the English language. Many times they come with a real handicap
their vocabulary is limited. They're just as bright as any other young man or young lady coming here. However because of cultural deprivation and lack of access to books magazines TV radio that some of them have experienced say they simply haven't developed the vocabulary particularly the shortage of verbs. With this in mind many times people have suggested that perhaps a course should be established on the campuses that would teach English as a foreign language not only to young men and women coming from other lands but from any American boy or girl who. It doesn't have the vocabulary or the knowledge of the vernacular used here that they should have the adequacy of adjustment to college work. Well many times reflect poor classroom perpetration at the high school level. This is borne out by the college entrance examination scores and even students seem to score lower on standardized tests I've noticed over the years
particularly in achievement and that they do tests. I was just summarizing a little material here this morning on the 15 that are in attendance is in university now and I notice that only 3 had AKK composite Scryers above twenty two point seven which is our average here at the university. The language barrier is probably responsible for much of the conflict at the Indian student encounters. It has been shown that Indian students who are bilingual or speak both the Dakota and the English language have a more difficult time adjusting to college and a more difficult time doing well in class work as a general rule than does the Indian student who comes from a family that speaks relatively little Dakota and who does not himself speak or write the language fluently the language problem may also account to some degree for the lack of motivation and foresight by the Indian student as Mr. Lobel put it. The Indian student has just lost the culture the language the family the culture. It's just a vicious circle of overlapping conflicts that cause problems among the Indian student population.
More work needs to be done. With this student as a class before they come to university I think we need to do something that with a family unit and I know this is a big big assignment and it entails a lot of work with a lot of different agencies of sound. We could find we can help parents do a better job guiding them and teaching them that in them the things in the home that will help them do better in college. They should be able to pay STI then we need to do a better job in school with them. We need to train equip them with skills knowledge is incentives that will make them want to to work positively and constructively in a society. Supposing no that some work could be done with the family unit and that the student would be better prepared academically to undertake college level work. Would this help the situation. How about living conditions. The guy there is a vendor in his parents to have an education so he goes away and shirts are better and so he shoots and begins to think well what have I got to go
back to because this is essentially I mean essentially their home but after they see where all the other places are there there is or are there other people get on there but. I think what have I got to go back to. Research is key for this case has nothing to do with the family's attitude. It is just another of many social problems facing the Indian student. But I truly didn't experience what happened. My sophomore year. No I didn't. Boy it came as a freshman from by Ruggieri at Christmas time and I said it's wonderful Christmas and my folks and I was wearing it one day and that this when I saw a ton of who wrote the film and I wish my folks cared enough to get something right to see what was of that. Can you inbreed love into a family that has none. Perhaps they wanted to send their boy a sweater for Christmas but had no money with which to buy one. Almost every phase of Indian life breeds
societal problems that are harmful to Indian youth and Indian adults alike. We've talked quite a bit about the myriad of problems facing the Indian student. But let's hope that you're not getting the picture of an acutely depressed nervous breakdown walking around campus. The Indian student isn't in that bad of shape although there are many who can't take the strain as evidence of the high dropout rate avoidance of the source of the conflict. Those who do not leave school do not always totally commit themselves to it either. I would say that the typical Indian student is probably too weak to retire and for his own good. They do not communicate enough. They seem to hold things on the inside and I would say that they probably do not participate enough to neck tities they do not interact enough in normal school activities however I have to say this that in the 20 years I've been stationed I've seen several of them selected for membership and paternalism druggies and I'm sure that in general they're accepted very well. Indian college students are on the average a little older than the average college student. They
start later for a variety of reasons and the ones who are just best are often married. I got my college degrees through the G.I. Bill. And that was pretty slim too you know and wasn't for my wife working. I really give a lot of credit to my wife because she worked and had the sheave size maintain the family she would question every make sure that she really helped me out and. Oh sometimes I feel like quitting now. That she and courage me on side stage and I think that. That was one of the best steps I've ever taken is to go back to college. OK usually the question of discrimination comes up is the Indian student discriminated against in college. Many Indian students feel that they are discriminated against and that it is a handicap in college to be an Indian. The less predominant the Indian features the less the student feels that he is or will be discriminated against. Obviously I was never discriminated against because nobody ever associated with Indian
people but. My Indian friends have said that they were discriminated against. So I thought I don't believe this is true at all. With all college campuses I think Black Hills So more the reservation Indian That's a hard core reservation Indian IT blank kills as opposed to more northern we have most forms that were had gone to public schools after the student graduates from college. There is an intense desire among most of them to return to the reservation and to work to better the lot of the Indian people there. One of the things too that always comes up when you meet with a bunch of students that are going to college is there some other agenda ask. Well the government is paying for my education as a result of me being an Indian. Course you are one of the few people that have this privilege as to where complete education can be paid or will be paid by the federal government but there's a feeling that there's a moral obligation
to return to the reservation to work. But when I think about it really many of the tribes don't have the funds to pay for someone to come back for pay for services. Consequently depending on the degree of feeling or obligation that they have to go to the reservation I think as I know one guy got a bachelor's degree done well for a pope. Because you couldn't get a job at the church. So there is a sense of feeling strong obligation to return and work for the church depending on the degree determines what triggered the fight against returning to the home life and the reservation does not end after the first year or two of college. There is an intense desire to return and work on the reservation and unfortunately as Mr. Lobel pointed out often times there is no work to be done or the tribe has no money to hire the graduate so he does nothing seems tragic but is not really just a slice of life. Look around
your neighborhood. It's an unusual neighborhood indeed if you cannot find just one youngster who set off for college only to return home to work as a delivery boy a cab driver or a stock clerk. We can't condemn the Indian young man or woman who returned to the reservation. A lot of people on the outside who can't understand why an Indian has to go back to the reservation. But I think they look at themselves. I think they would want to go home too and this is home regardless of what it's like. This is still home and education can be of tremendous help to the Indian people to the entire structure of the reservation is undergoing changes that it has never experienced before. The Office of Economic Opportunity is providing opportunities for work education and training for the Indian people that will change the face of the reservation. The Tribal Councils are making decisions about problems that need careful examination and analysis. What we need in the tribal councils we need educated me and I. Have had experience and world can come back in a time trial come from because
I can talk this way but they know in the modern world they know how to get the things for the people. You know right where where a lot of us an inexperienced untrained we don't really understand you know which point which may be taught in school and train and I think take up political and business management and so forth. They had to have a good conference. There was a time when the educated Indian had little choice of where to go either to a metropolitan area or back to the reservation. There was a time in South Dakota when an educated Indian a college graduate could not secure certain jobs depending on the community. South Dakota's artist laureate Oscar Howe taught for some years in the peer public school system. But there were other cities and towns in the state that would not hire an Indian teacher. This situation has changed considerably in the past decade though and now the Indian who graduates from college has every choice in the world. And I've known two or three that I know personally that graduated. They're teaching in various places.
I mean it's you know a lot of them they're going to California but they're teaching out there. A study has shown that the Indian student before he comes to college has not been given adequate information about the school and has not had sufficient contact with school officials prior to registration. A lack of guidance counselors in many of the reservation school systems also hinders the student when he's beginning to think about college. I asked Dean Ben Johnson dean of student affairs at the University when he generally would have his first contact with an Indian student primarily when they come to the university seeking a place where they think they can obtain the kind of education they want. Sometimes they come to visit us simply discussed a kind of a program we have here to university sometimes they find that this isn't what I want to do all that. Perhaps there's a vocational course that I want or perhaps certain I will culture of course that I want but when they come to visit us a very commonly asked about the quality student we have what kind of help we have for them. And that's in the form of financial aid and what kind of offerings we have that might fit their background.
I also asked Dean Johnson about the lack of information that the Indian student has about college. And if the university had any indication that this student was not well informed about the university they would be the first people to tell us that the communication between the university and their own groups and been very poor. And with this thought in mind we're asking that our admissions people not meet the Indian on our own campus but that they go to the rose bud and Pine Ridge and to visit was a young man young lady who was interested in going on to school right in his own environment and giving them an opportunity to ask the questions and to counsel him pertaining to all aspects of not only university education but education that might be obtained in other schools. The University of South Dakota is making a more concerted effort to provide the Indian student who is interested in college with valid and meaningful information about college and to counsel him about his vocational educational goals. University of South Dakota has not had the high Indian student enrollment that some of the other state schools have had.
We have too many in students here at university and the number probably varies from 15 to 20. Here I suspect that there are no better friend of the academic standards in my be up against when you're considering a school. However of the students that are at the university some have outstanding grades and as Dean Knapp mentioned earlier many of made the successful social adjustment. Although the university loses just as great a percentage of Indian students as do the other institutions those that remain here do quite well for themselves in comparison to the non Indian student. The Indian student is more poorly prepared academically socially and financially as well as psychologically. His problems rooted in the reservation system his family and his culture. The University of South Dakota as a state university has a commitment to all the people in the state and the region an important segment. The population of the state is the Indians. The university has a continuing
dedication to the problem of assisting the unions both in their social logical development as well as in providing the higher educational opportunities for the Indian people. I would like to thank Dr Edward Pugh Moulton president of the University Dean Van Johnson and Dean Robert Knapp of the university John Wade of the South Dakota Department of Public Instruction John artichoke for his study the Indian in college do a little rosebud South Dakota. Jake Herman of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation nationally coordinator of Indian Affairs for the state of South Dakota for information used on this program. This is Arlin dialling speaking. Ruffled feathers at the Dakota zoo in transition was produced through the facilities of care us the radio at the University of South Dakota. A grant from the National Home Library Foundation has made possible the production of this program for national educational radio. This is the national educational
Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux
The Indian in college
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University of South Dakota
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Social adaptability, financial problems, and background are just a few of the factors which determine the success or failure of the Native American in college.
A documentary series about the history, culture and contemporary problems of the Sioux, a Native American tribe.
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Producing Organization: University of South Dakota
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Chicago: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; The Indian in college,” 1967-03-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 4, 2021,
MLA: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; The Indian in college.” 1967-03-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 4, 2021. <>.
APA: Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; The Indian in college. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from