Oglala Lakota College is a four-year, co-ed institution that found its beginnings in 1971. One of the premier tribal colleges in the United States, Oglala Lakota offers both graduate and undergraduate programs. Its undergraduate population of about 1500 students is composed of 69% female students and 31% male with about equal proportions of full-time and part-time undergraduates. The student population is diverse in terms of age, background and race. A large number of programs of study are offered, with most students concentrating in liberal arts, construction trades, education, conservation and administration.
Governed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and located on the tribe’s reservation, one of the goals of Oglala Lakota College is to train tribe members for employment on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Though it is quite a young institution, it is growing. The fall semester of 2009 the institution marked its highest enrollment to date.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to nine of Oglala Lakota College’s 11 campuses, is historically important as the site of the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, in which hundreds of innocent Native Americans were killed en route to a Sioux reservation. The reservation was also the site of a 1973 conflict between the FBI and members of the American Indian Movement.
Oglala Lakota College is an educational institution dedicated to the education and training of the Oglala Sioux Tribe located in Kyle, South Dakota. A public liberal arts college, Oglala Lakota College is a founding member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and one of the first tribally-controlled colleges in the United States. The college is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Oglala Lakota College offers both in-person and distance learning programs through 13 academic departments. Graduate, undergraduate and associate degrees are available in various areas of study. The five most popular fields of study at Oglala Lakota College are Social Sciences, American Indian/Native American Studies, Elementary Education and Teaching, Business/Office Automation/Technology, and Early Childhood Education and Teaching.
Most of the degree programs offered by Oglala Lakota are similar to those that would be found at non-tribal colleges and universities. Students may receive a Bachelor of Arts in History or a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, for example. Associate’s degrees in the arts and applied sciences are also available to students looking to study for a shorter period of time. As of late, graduate studies have been included in the Oglala Lakota curriculum, allowing excellent students to continue with their studies and go on to receive a Master of Arts if desired.
The academic program of Oglala Lakota College possesses two unique aspects that set it apart from other schools.
First are the “General Area” or “CORE” courses. These are specific general education classes required of all students prior to graduation. While the list of required courses may appear a bit longer than that provided by other colleges and universities, it is a vital part of the liberal arts education Oglala Lakota College seeks to provide. The CORE requirements vary depending upon the degree being sought, but they generally consist of courses regarding literature, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, English and communications. Students are able to fulfill their requirements by electing courses from sub-lists depending on what it is that interests them most. What these CORE courses do is establish a base education for all Oglala Lakota College students. As the institution itself is quite spread out, this serves as a way to keep students in intellectual contact.
The second distinctive aspect of Oglala Lakota College Academics is that of the cultural emphasis of its academic program. Because Oglala Lakota is a tribally-chartered college, students are required to take Lakota studies courses as well. Courses such as Lakota Language, Lakota Culture and Indian Studies are meant to propagate the history and culture of the Lakota Tribe and American Indians in general. Oglala Lakota College even offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Lakota Studies. Students graduate from Oglala Lakota with a strong base of both academic and cultural knowledge, rendering them interesting and unique individuals.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Oglala Lakota College professes to an open door admissions policy, clarifying that all qualified students will be accepted. Most of the application process at Oglala Lakota is comparable to that of other colleges and universities, requiring the completion of an admission application and the submission of transcripts and previous degrees. Note, however, that no ACT or SAT scores are required.
Where Oglala Lakota College differs in its admissions process is in the aspects regarding tribal membership. Students who are members of a federally-recognized tribe are asked to submit a certificate verifying tribal enrollment. Such students are also asked to furnish proof of tribal lineage by way of a lineage form and birth certificate.
Oglala Lakota College is quite affordable. That said, financial aid is available for those who need assistance with tuition and other education expenses. Financial aid at Oglala Lakota College is primarily need-based, meaning that full-time students with the most difficulties in paying for college will be prioritized whenever possible.
Grants, work-study employment and scholarships are the most common forms of financial aid at Oglala Lakota.
The institution itself sponsors many scholarships. Decisions are based upon need, merit and other unique qualities depending upon the providing entity. Oglala Lakota accepts funds from outside scholarships as well.
Higher Education Grant Programs have also been put into place at Oglala Lakota, and all students are encouraged to complete an application at their respective tribal office. Of course, it is important to keep deadlines in mind. They generally fall around April 15th for the fall semester, June 15th for the spring and December 15th for the fall.
Students are also encouraged to apply for federal financial aid such as Pell Grants, keeping in mind its April 20th deadline at all times.
Though the campus of Oglala Lakota College is somewhat decentralized, its tribal ties render its community rather tight-knit. The institution has a total of 11 college centers, including one in each of the nine districts of the Pine Ridge Reservation as well as in Rapid City and Eagle Butte, South Dakota.
Community members and students alike may gather to support one of the school’s many varsity athletic teams, cheering on the Oglala Lakota College Brave Hearts in basketball, cross country, volleyball and golf.
Students are also encouraged to participate in a variety of campus-wide activities in order to come together and get to know each other. Such activities are often both educational and cultural, including organizational building or traditional music.
The Wikah´pi Cikala Weekly Bulletin keeps students, faculty and administration up-to-speed regarding what’s going on at the institution. Communicating to continue tradition and benefit the community plays a large role in the Oglala Lakota College education.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The following sports can be found here:
Men’s Intercollegiate and Women’s Intercollegiate Basketball
Men’s Intercollegiate and Women’s Intercollegiate Cross_country
Men’s Intercollegiate and Women’s Intercollegiate Volleyball
Oglala Lakota College is located in a very unique setting – that of an Indian Reservation. This factor ties it to its local community in a unique and distinctive way, for the college is intimately tied with the community it is meant to benefit.
The ultimate goal of Oglala Lakota College is to train Oglala Lakota tribe members for positions within the tribe and on the reservation itself. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the second-largest reservation in the United States, meaning that it is a full-functioning community that requires professionals. Oglala Lakota College provides those professionals and attempts to increase the self-sufficiency of the Oglala Lakota tribe.