Citation for the Honorary Degree
Doctor of Public Service
Also known by her Lakota name as Wignuke Waste’ Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman), Marcella LeBeau’s accomplishments as a leader and as a registered nurse have spanned eight decades and have contributed to the health and well-being of diverse populations of people, including World War II soldiers and the Lakota people of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
LeBeau completed a diploma in nursing at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre in 1942. Her career as a registered nurse began in a Michigan hospital but that quickly changed when she willingly served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II. Her fortitude and courage was recognized with the awarding of six highly distinguished medals, including the French Legion Medal of Honor, awarded in France in 2004 at the 60th Anniversary of D-Day.
While being married and raising eight children, she served our country and her people for 31 years through the Indian Health Service. LeBeau provided high-quality health care and became the Eagle Butte IHS Hospital’s director of nursing. She inspired many to pursue a career in nursing and follow in her footsteps.
She was elected to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council and served from 1991 to 1995. She is highly regarded for her health policy leadership, leading to the passage of a smoke-free policy in the tribal chambers. Her advocacy for wellness and health promotion inspired many subsequent leaders, and in 2015, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe became the first in the state of South Dakota to pass a smoke-free air act.
LeBeau was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame and received the Women in History Award in 2016 from the Spirit of the Prairie Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.