Bev Warne of Rapid City is credited with transforming health care throughout her 50-plus years of service, providing a voice for diversity and support to American Indian nursing students across the globe. Those accomplishments allowed her to win the Spirit of Dakota’s 32nd Anniversary Award, presented Oct. 6 at the Huron Event Center.
Warne, the nurse mentor and coordinator at South Dakota State University’s Native American Nursing Education Center in Rapid City, was one of eight finalists. They were: Harriet Swedlund, SDState’s assistant professor emerita of apparel merchandising and director of international programs emerita; Kay Ainslie, Philip; Marlys David, Parker; Bonnie Fuller, Lead; Dr. Patti Giebink, Sioux Falls; Maxine Johnson, Vermillion; and Barbara Rilling, Onida.
The award is given to a woman who has demonstrated vision, courage and strength of character in the development of her family, community and/or state.
Warne was nominated for the 2018 award by classmates from St. John’s McNamara School of Nursing, Class of 1962.
Her nomination letter read in part, “As Lakota people, Bev and her sons thrived and provided service and meaning amid cultural barriers. Bev always strove to help all the Lakota people by education, encouragement, example and a vision for the future. She worked to help all students reach their potential. She has remained a close, steadfast friend of all of us since our 1962 graduation.”
Warne was honored that her classmates put for the effort to nominate her.
“I didn’t prepare a talk for the event because I didn’t expect to win,” Warne said. “That allowed me to speak from the heart of what the award meant at this time in my life and thank my classmates who nominated me and the group who evaluated the nominees. I’m happy they recognized Native Americans and what we’re doing for Native students and future generations—that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Roberta Olson, interim dean of SDState’s College of Nursing, was at the ceremony and appreciates the work Warne has done with the college as an ambassador for all Native American students interested in nursing and the college’s initiative to build the Native American nursing workforce.
“Throughout her career, Bev has been a leader in nursing and all Native Americans,” said Roberta Olson, interim dean of SDState’s College of Nursing. “She has made an immediate impact on our students and helped three students, Amber Brown, Kimimila Cutschall and Heather Giago, present at the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2017.
“Bev said she was a like a proud parent at that conference,” Olson continued. “She empowers our students and is well-deserving of this award and any others she has received.”
Warne has been at the forefront of support for Native American nursing students at SDState. She previously coordinated Arizona State University’s American Indian Students United for Nursing Project and helped establish a Native American Nurses Association.
Warne receives an individually created framed bronze oval with the pioneer woman sculpted by South Dakota Artist Laureate Dale Lamphere and modeled after his 9-foot sculpture that stands outside the Crossroads Hotel.
Warne was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Lakota is her first language. After high school, she attended and graduated from St. John’s McNamara School of Nursing in Rapid City. She began her nursing career and continued her postgraduate work at Arizona State University where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Along with serving in hospitals and clinics, she served on the faculty at Mesa Community College for 17 years, teaching nursing courses and American Indian culture courses. She served as director of American Indian Students United for Nursing Program at Arizona State University. Her personal history helped her students better understand the challenges as well as courage and spirit needed to succeed in her chosen profession.
Her sons both work at universities. Jim Warne Jr., is the community engagement director at the University of South Dakota’s Center for Disabilities while Donald Warne is a professor and associate dean at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.