As a land-grant university, South Dakota State University's mission is to serve the state of South Dakota by providing access to the benefits of higher education for all people. SDSU strives to better serve South Dakota's American Indian population. In order to achieve this goal, SDSU established the Wokini Initiative. In Lakota, the word "wokini" translates to "new life" or "a new beginning" and the Wokini Initiative is a new beginning for SDSU. The focus of the Initiative is to increase the number of American Indian students, provide support towards academic and personal needs and boost American Indian graduation rates.
SDSU is a place where American Indian students achieve their dreams and aspirations, and as an institution, SDSU promotes healthy, synergistic, sustained relationships with the tribal communities of South Dakota.
The Wokini Initiative will align opportunities for students to pursue degrees that will impact the students, their communities and their tribes while recognizing the importance of family and culture. SDSU offers more than 180 majors, minors and specializations—providing endless possibilities to create knowledge, unique partnerships with tribal colleges and a collaborative environment that will benefit everyone and establish priorities between tribal communities, the tribal members and the rest of the state.
Funding for the Wokini Initiative will be through private donations to the SDSU Foundation and revenue generated by land as part of the South Dakota Permanent Trust Fund. Much of that land exists in the western part of the state and was claimed in 1887 by the federal government as part of the Dawes Act, assigning 160,000 acres to the state of South Dakota to support its new land-grant college and agricultural experiment station.
The trust was established at statehood with the intent of providing a continuous source of revenue for public schools, universities and endowed institutions. The revenue comes from interest generated in the fund on land that was either sold or is being leased and is used for base funding purposes. The fund’s principal can be increased, but never diminished.
SDSU staff and faculty will collaborate and consult Dakota and Lakota members of tribal communities, tribal leaders and the four tribal colleges in South Dakota to support educational opportunities and growth to make the Wokini Initiative a success.