Sinte Gleska president opens lecture series

Shayla Waugh

Shayla Waugh

Lionel Bordeaux, president of Sinte Gleska University, spoke on the formation of Tribal Colleges during a presentation at the South Dakota Art Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Bordeaux’s lecture marked the inaugural address of the Presidential Lecture Series which has been initiated for the Presidents of Land Grant Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Bordeaux has been the president of Sinte Gleska University, which is located on the Rosebud Reservation, for 32 years. He has seen the creation of 35 tribal colleges with more than 35,000 students.

He first became involved with the tribal college movement after 10 years of working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said that he was selected for the presidential position on the basis of his college education and his ability to speak Lakota.

Bordeaux said it was difficult to join together the Indian nations in order to form a tribal college. He said it is important that the educational setting be rich in Lakota culture so students can remain close to their families.

“We have a long way to go in our goal, but looking back we have already come so far,” said Bordeaux.

It took six years for Sinte Gleska to receive accreditation. The university also received legislative support in 1978 from former President Jimmy Carter through the Tribal Assistance Act. The act provided only minimal funding for the institution, but it was a start, said Bordeaux.

Looking ahead, the university is planning forums, economic development and increased educational opportunities for the younger generations, he said.

“We need to start pushing partnerships and collaborations and start working together to create blueprints for the future. We need to look at what we can do in redefining and restructuring education,” Bordeaux said.