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What is Wokini Initiative

The Wokini Initiative is SDSU’s collaborative and holistic framework to support American Indian student success and Indigenous Nation-building. Ongoing collaboration between key campus and tribal stakeholders is central to the Wokini framework.

The Initiative builds upon SDSU’s current tribal partnerships and American Indian Student Center services to enhance cultural programming and support for American Indian students; offer Wokini scholarships for students who are tribally enrolled or have descendancy through a federally recognized tribe in the United States including Alaskan Natives, and enhance research and outreach partnerships with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations. 

Founding commitments of the Wokini Initiative include:

  • History of land acknowledgment in South Dakota.
  • Revenue from land granted to South Dakota State University through the 1862 Morrill Act to benefit the heirs from whom the land was taken.
  • Building and improving relations with all tribes, tribal colleges and universities.
  • Increasing American Indian population on campus to mirror the percentage of American Indians in our state.
  • Improving academic success of American Indian students to mirror the overall student body at SDSU.
  • Building an American Indian Student Center in the heart of campus.
  • Improving American Indian studies with faculty to enhance culture, history and language.
  • Providing annual renewable scholarships.
  • Improving the American Indian student experience through enhancements in advising, counseling, on-campus housing, and cultural programming.
  • Leveraging land-grant revenue with gifts and grants from multiple national governing organizations, philanthropy, the New Beginnings for Tribal Students grant, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and the Bush Foundation grant.

Collaboration is central to the Wokini framework:

  • American Indian students, families and elders
  • American Indian Student Center
  • American Indian and indigenous studies
  • Academic affairs
  • Fundraising and student scholarships
  • Research and scholarship
  • Student affairs
  • Tribal colleges and universities
  • Tribal outreach and partnership

On-campus programs:

  • Support programs and expanded network structured to prepare, attract, enroll, retain and graduate enrolled tribal members at SDSU.
  • Scholarships for American Indian students.
  • American Indian Student Center.
  • Preservation of language and art, two critically important aspects of the Lakota and Dakota cultures.

Off-campus Wokini programming:

  • Collaborative research projects focused on needs of native communities.
  • Adult leadership development programs designed around the structure and function of tribal governments to improve economic development within tribal communities.