Sinte Gleska University
101 Antelope Lake Circle
P.O. Box 105
Mission, SD 57555
Mission, Vision, Educational Philosophy
Sinte Gleska University (SGU) provides a model for Indian-controlled education. The mission of Sinte Gleska University is to plan, design, implement and assess post-secondary programs and other educational resources uniquely appropriate to the Lakota people in order to facilitate individual development and tribal autonomy.
SGU endeavors to provide each Lakota person the opportunity to pursue an education in a way that is relevant to career and personal needs. As part of its vision, Sinte Gleska University graduates will help determine the future development and direction of the tribe and its institutions.
Like many tribal colleges, the seeds for a tribal college on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation were sewn out of frustration with a mainstream university system that seemed ill-suited to educate tribal members and prepare them for re-entry into their home community. After community members spearheaded a tribal council resolution in support of a study to assess the need for a tribal college, the tribe founded SGU in1971, naming it after the Brulé Chief Sinte Gleska or Spotted Tail.
The university was the first tribal college accredited at both the two-year and four-year levels, receiving four-year accreditation in 1983. In 1989, the university established a master’s degree program. SGU received Land Grant status in 1994 and had its accreditation most recently renewed in 2009.
Geographic Features and Challenges
Sinte Gleska University is located on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in south central South Dakota. It is the home of the Sicangu Lakota, also known as the Upper Brulé Sioux Nation or Rosebud Sioux Tribe, a branch of the Lakota people.
SGU serves over 21,000 enrolled tribal members living on the reservation, which covers nearly 2,000 square miles. The small town of Mission, where SGU is located, has a total population of approximately 1,100 residents. Therefore, a significant portion of SGU students must commute from across the reservation. Given the relatively poor socio-economic status of reservation residents and the harsh climates that persist during long winters, such a commute can pose as a significant barrier to educational attainment.
Academics and Students
As one of the nation’s largest tribal colleges SGU employs 46 full-time faculty members and 14 part-time faculty members to teach an expansive array of degree programs. Sinte Gleska University offers 21 bachelors’ degrees, more than 24 associates’ degrees, two masters’ degrees, and several certificate programs. Each of SGU’s two master’s degree programs offers several different tracks from which students may choose. In 2011, SGU awarded 47 associate’s degrees, 25 bachelor’s degrees, and 11 master’s degrees.
In fall 2011, over 2,500 students enrolled at SGU including more than 130 graduate students and several dozen dually enrolled high school students. Sixty-eight percent of students enroll full-time, and just over two-thirds of SGU students are female. The fact that nearly one in four students at SGU is not American Indian serves as testament to the university’s growing appeal to diverse students in the region.
Other Outstanding Accomplishments
A recent partnership between SGU and Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) allows students to pursue a one-year diploma program in wind turbine technology. Upon completion of the program, students qualify for well-paying entry-level technician positions. Classes use a combination of distance learning, two-way video classes, and face-to-face instruction by visiting MTI faculty. SGU aims to keep technician jobs on the reservation that currently remain outsourced. With additional turbines planned for the area, the program will create job opportunities for increasing numbers of SGU graduates.