VERMILLION, S.D. – Now in its 25th year, the 2017 annual Native American Essay Competition asked students to address the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Tuesday., April 25, students who wrote the three top essays received their awards and read from their works at USD’s Native American Cultural Center. The annual competition, sponsored by the Native American Studies Program and the Department of English, is made possible by an anonymous gift to the USD Foundation.
First place went to Jessilynn Bean, a social work and Native American studies major from Arrowsmith, Illinois. Mekko Bearkiller, a social work major from Bennett County, South Dakota, was awarded second place. The third place award went to Melanie Picklesimer, an elementary education major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The students received prizes awarded as scholarship funds.
The Native American studies program resides in the College of Arts & Sciences and draws from anthropology, art history, English, health sciences, history, Lakota language and psychology. The program provides an intellectual environment where teaching and research are based on the priorities and knowledge of South Dakota’s Native communities as well as the North American and global indigenous experience. Elise Boxer, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, is coordinator of the program. David Posthumus, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology, is also a faculty member in the program.