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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 29, 2002 - Issue 64


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Oglala Lakota College to Graduate Largest Class Ever

KYLE — Oglala Lakota College will graduate 148 students on Sunday, June 23, the largest graduating class in the school's history.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, a longtime activist, entertainer and founder of the Cradleboard Teaching Project, will give the keynote speech at Sunday's graduation.

And on Saturday, OLC will honor about 400 Oglala Lakota veterans of the Korean War, presenting each with an honorary degree in Lakota Leadership.

The theme of this year's graduation is "Wolakolkiciyapi," or "Learning Lakota Ways of Life in Community."

Graduation weekend begins with a baccalaureate dinner at 5 p.m. today at Piya Wiconi in Kyle. Annual GED graduation ceremonies will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, June 21, and Korean War veterans will be honored at 10 a.m. Saturday. OLC graduation starts at 10 a.m. Sunday. A graduation powwow will be held daily, June 21-24.

Buffy Sainte-Marie of Piapot (Cree) Reserve in Saskatchewan founded the Nihewan Foundation for American Indian Education in 1968.

The foundation's Cradleboard Teaching Project creates communication and relationships between American Indian and mainstream children in Canada and the U.S. through computer technology and a progressive native-studies curriculum.

Sainte-Marie spent five years in the 1970s as a regular cast member on "Sesame Street" and won an Academy Award in 1981 for writing the song "Up Where We Belong" from the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman." She recently was inducted as an officer in the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor the country can bestow.

On Saturday, Oglala Lakota veterans of the Korean War will receive honorary degrees and eagle feathers. Each American Legion Post commander on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation will also receive one diploma in tribute to all deceased Korean War veterans from their reservation districts.

"The Korean War has been referred to as the ‘forgotten war,' but our college will not forget the sacrifices of our Lakota veterans who sacrificed so much for our country," OLC President Thomas Shortbull said in a news release from the college.

Col. James M. Kowalski, 28th Bomb Wing Commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base, will assist with diploma presentation. Also, OLC will display photographs of Oglala Lakota Korean War veterans in the Piya Wiconi conference room June 20-23.

One of the first tribally controlled colleges in the United States, Oglala Lakota College was first accredited by North Central Association in 1983. It provides education to more than 1,200 students each semester in nine campus centers on the reservation and one in Rapid City.

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