“I am beyond excited at how this event has grown each year,” said John Little, Ph.D., director of Native recruitment and alumni engagement. “It’s an exciting day for the USD community to celebrate Native history, culture and people. It’s also amazing to bring Native alumni back to campus and celebrate their accomplishments and for prospective students to see the campus, celebrations and a basketball game.”

Scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27, the third annual Native American Heritage Day is anticipating over a hundred high schoolers and prospective students from schools across the region. The event averages over 600 ticket requests from Native alumni, prospective students and current students each year.

The morning programming will kick off with a resource fair and tour of the Native American Cultural Center. Then, students will be welcomed by Native Student Services faculty and staff and listen to a presentation from USD Admissions. Prospective students will also hear from current USD students, tour campus and have lunch.

In the afternoon, USD women’s basketball faces Kansas City for the Native American Heritage Day basketball game at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. Before the start of the game, USD's current Native student-athletes will be honored and the Lakota Flag Song will be performed. Halftime will feature a recognition of Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills and a performance by the USD Drum Group and dancers.

Mills is a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe and former Olympic track and field athlete. He won a gold medal in the 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and is the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10K event. Born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the former Olympic star earned a degree from the University of Kansas and then joined the U.S. Marines as a lieutenant. Mills is a founder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, a nonprofit that works with Native communities to raise happy, healthy Native American youth.

Following the USD and Kansas City game, Todd County High School (Rosebud Reservation) and McLaughlin High School (Standing Rock Reservation) will play a double header, featuring match ups between both the boys and girls varsity teams. 

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