Thin Elk spent over three decades at the university in a variety of roles such as a volunteer sweat lodge provider, adjunct professor and Native cultural advisor for students, faculty and staff. He served as NSS director – his final position at USD – for 15 years.

“As I turn around and look back from the higher hill, I see the tremendous amount of progress that has been made here at the university, all the way from race relations to opportunities to resources. I think equity is coming into balance, and recognition of our uniqueness without compromise has come to the university, so I think these things are very vital,” said Thin Elk.

An advocate for not only Native American students, but all of the university’s community, Thin Elk will be missed by many, said Michael Ewald, host of Credit Hour.

“For over 35 years, Gene Thin Elk advocated for Native American students at USD, creating a second home through the Native American Cultural Center,” Ewald said. “Gene speaks to us about what made his time at USD so special and meaningful."

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