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A historic gift

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Sitting Bull College to build academic center

FORT YATES, N.D. - In the spring of 2007, the American Indian College Fund, based in Denver, announced a $17.5 million historic grant initiative from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

The program, named Woksape Oyate, Lakota for ;'Wisdom of the People,'' aims to build the intellectual capital at many of the federally recognized tribal colleges.

Richard Williams, president of the AICF, said, ''This program allows college administrators to tailor programs that will address individual needs for each of their respective institutions, while strengthening the tribal college system as a whole.''

In November 2007, Sitting Bull College was awarded $700,000 of the $17.5 million Lily Endowment and has used the initial funding to establish a 7th Generation Academic Excellence Center in hopes of enhancing the intellectual capital of its students and future leaders on the Standing Rock Reservation.

''The center will assist Sitting Bull College students to become more effective communicators both orally and in writing,'' said Koreen Ressler, vice president of academics. ''This is important to the education of our students because effective communication is one of the seven overall student outcomes used to measure student success.''

Sitting Bull College received its first installment in November 2007, with four additional payments of $140,000 each scheduled over the next four years.

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The center is focused on developing student's writing, reading and oral communication skills, and will collaborate with key community stakeholders to successfully impact the education system on and near Standing Rock.

''It's truly a win-win situation for everyone,'' said program evaluator Deborah His Horse is Thunder.

''By working closely with local schools, the 7th Generation [Academic] Excellence Center provides an excellent opportunity for college students to be effective role models to high school students and for the high school students to become familiar with Sitting Bull College much earlier by accessing the communication resources provided by this center.''

As part of the program, the center will offer a writing lab for community members, a student writing/speech club and professional development workshops for faculty and staff.

Through a multifaceted approach, Woksape Oyate and center will dramatically enhance recruitment,

retention and development of Sitting Bull College faculty, staff and students.

For more information, contact center director Crispin Maslog at (701) 854-8040 or