2017-03-16 / Front Page

SD Tribal Colleges Hosting AIHEC Conference


Tom Shortbull, President of Oglala Lakota College, has announced that South Dakota’s tribal colleges are ready to host this year’s AIHEC Spring conference. Tom Shortbull, President of Oglala Lakota College, has announced that South Dakota’s tribal colleges are ready to host this year’s AIHEC Spring conference. RAPID CITY – Over the course of the next week, hundreds of tribal college students from across the country will arrive in Rapid City for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC) Spring conference.

In a release, Oglala Lakota College President Tom Shortbull announced that South Dakota’s Tribal Colleges will play host to the 36th annual event that will take place from March 18-21, 2017 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel.

Started in 1973, AIHEC, Today, is made up of 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the United States. Each of each of which were created and chartered by its own tribal government or the federal government for a specific purpose: to provide higher education opportunities to American Indians through programs that are locally and culturally based, holistic, and supportive. According to its website, “AIHEC provides leadership and influences public policy on American Indian higher education issues through advocacy, research, and program initiatives; promotes and strengthens Indigenous languages, cultures, communities, and tribal nations; and through its unique position, serves member institutions and emerging TCUs.”

The theme of the Spring conference is “Revitalizing Native Spirituality Among Tribal Colleges.” OLC is the host sponsoring college with the help of the three South Dakota tribal colleges -- Sitting Bull College, Sinte Gleska University and Sisseton Wahpeton Community College. Over 1200 participants are expected to take part in this four-day event.

The release also stated,” The conference is principally an event for tribal college students with numerous student related activities. The activities include academic competitions, and other student events, election of Mr. & Ms. AIHEC and the AIHEC Student Congress. The academic competitions include the Knowledge Bowl, Science Bowl, STEM Poster Presentations, Filmmaking, Business Bowl, Speech, One Act Play, Traditional Plants, STEM Oral Presentation, Critical Inquiry, Art, Chess and Web Page. The student competitions will take place at the Ramkota Hotel and the HeSapa College Center.”

One event that is expected to draw interest from the public is the AIHEC National Basketball Championships that will take place from March 15-19, 2017 at SDSM&T and Douglas High School in Rapid City with the championship awards on Sunday, March 19 at 6:30pm at the Ramkota Hotel. The tournament features some of the top basketball players in all of Indian Country. Oglala Lakota College is expected to have a strong showing at the tourney. Other competitions include Archery (Central States Fairgrounds), Volleyball (Mother Butler Gym), and Traditional Handgames. A total of 31 workshops will be held throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday.

A highlight of the conference is the Monday morning start of the General Session with the Parade of Flags and procession of students and staff from each of the 37 participating tribal colleges beginning at 8:00am. A spiritual ceremony will follow performed by Richard Moves Camp, Lakota spiritual leader. A special recognition of Newton Cummings and Wilmer Mesteth will take place following the ceremony. Monday activities include an evening Powwow at the Ramkota Hotel open to the public.

The student awards banquet will close out of the 36th Annual Conference on Tuesday evening, March 21st at 6:00pm when winners of the student competitions will be announced at a banquet at which time they will receive their awards.

For more information on the conference competitions, workshops and events contact Jonnie Clifford, AIHEC Coordinator, at 605- 455-6047 or

Oglala Lakota College (OLC) is a four-year tribal college with nine college centers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one on the Cheyenne River Reservation, and an extension center in Rapid City in the Black Hills, serving 1400-1800 students a semester. OLC is chartered by the authority of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. 605- 455-6000 phone, 605-455- 2787.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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