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USD student awarded top prize in Native American Essay contest

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Lindsey Montileaux, a student at the University of South Dakota, won first place in the 21st annual Native American Essay Competition sponsored by the Institute of American Indian Studies at USD. Montileaux, of Vermillion, received a $1,500 first place prize for winning the competition that was open to all USD freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

Prizes were also awarded to students finishing second and third in the contest, which was judged by USD faculty and staff for originality, style and relevance to the announced topic. Samantha Taft, of Norris, S.D., received a $1,000 prize for second place while Tyler Stolsmark of Hartford, S.D. and Tyler Jordan Smith of Sioux City, Iowa received $750 each in a tie for third place. All four winners of the competition are Native American students and they were announced at the Tiospaye Wacipi powwow at the DakotaDome recently.

Students entering the essay competition were required write at least 750 words and defend their opinion on a recent editorial in the Rapid City Journal that proclaimed South Dakota as a “state that readily advertises its Native population but regularly ignores its presence.” The contest also required students to explain how they would try to change the situation if they were in a position of authority in their community.

According to Emily Haddad, acting chair of the Native Studies Department at USD, the amount of students entering the competition exceeded last year by about five times the entries received. She added, “The essays were so good that the faculty committee reviewing submissions ended up awarding four prizes rather than the three that had been advertised.” For more information about Native Studies at USD, please visit the department’s website at or send an email to


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News