The weekend kicks off with the 20th annual Building Bridges Conference beginning Friday, April 7, at 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. in the Muenster University Center. This year’s event is titled “Realizing the Dream.” Tanaya Winder, an award winning poet, writer, artist and educator raised on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, Colorado, and Tall Paul, an Anishinaabe and Oneida hip-hop artist enrolled in the Leech Lake reservation in Minnesota, will be the featured speakers.

“We are really excited this year to have one of our emcees for the day be an alum of this conference,” said Jean Caraway, psychology professor and chair of this year’s conference. “Selena Olvera is a sophomore at USD who originally came to campus as an attendee two years ago.”

Olvera, who is also President of the USD Tiospaye Student Council, credited the campus visit with introducing her to the university experience. “Showing that, as a student, you can make a big difference in this world by pursuing education,” said Olvera.

Friday’s events are capped by the Native American Alumni Dinner at 6 p.m. with a meet and greet starting at 5 p.m. The keynote speaker is Nick Estes. The event is free for alumni and current students and $5 for non-alumni.

The 45th annual USD Wacipi will be hosted at the DakotaDome April 8-9. The grand entry begins Saturday at 1 p.m. The wacipi ends Sunday at 5 p.m.

“These events bridge the gap between native and non-native communities in Vermillion and on campus. Every year people go for the first time and it brings a lot of awareness to this community,” said Olvera.

The weekend event is a collaborative campus effort sponsored by the USD clinical psychology program, admissions office and Tiospaye, the student organization for Native American students. USD also offers a bachelor's degree in Native American studies and partners with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation to operate the Indian University of North America every summer in the Black Hills.

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