PO Box 557, Black Hawk, SD 57718 (402) 867-4241

A Community-Based Model of

Indigenous Education

Legislation

Create legislation to support a community-based model of
Indigenous education.

Issues

Evidence of current data shows that our Indigenous students are far behind their non-Indigenous counterparts due to systems that are failing Indigenous youth.

Outcomes

Indigenous students in South Dakota will experience greater access to educational opportunities on the path to educational equity.

Priorities of the Coalition

The South Dakota Education Equity Coalition (SDEEC) has identified the following 5 Priority Areas of current focus. The priority areas have been identified based on community needs, member initiatives, and current projects in South Dakota. We welcome parents/guardians, educators, practitioners, advocates and community members to join us in this work.

Priority 1

Pass a school choice bill that focuses on the cultural and academic needs of Native American students in South Dakota.

Priority 2

Promote Indigenous education issues and educate policy makers, local leaders and community on those issues as they relate to education equity.

Priority 3

Statewide Title VI Indian Education Program compliance.

Priority 4

Support SD Office of Indian Education in advocating for the needs of Indigenous students as expressed by Oceti Sakowin students, families, and education practitioners.

Priority 5

Encourage, support and empower Title VI Parent Advisory Committees (PACs) and parents in their educational advocacy efforts on behalf of their children.

About the Coalition

We are a community of stakeholders who are committed to promoting diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments for future generations.

Vision Statement​

The SDEEC envisions a day when youth residing in the Indigenous territory of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota have access to innovative, equitable, and inclusive educational environments that leverage the diversity of languages and cultural identities represented.

Join the Coalition

Ready to Get Started?

    Which Priority Area Work Group would you be interested in working on? (Check all that apply)*

    How to Reach Us

    Board & Staff

    Board

    Deborah Bordeaux

    President

    Deborah Bordeaux, enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is the Director of the Commission for Oceti Sakowin Accreditation (COSA).  Deborah has worked to develop and promote Native Education to be included in the primary curriculum for Native Children.  She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Oglala Lakota College and a Master’s degree in Education Leadership from South Dakota State University/Sinte Gleska University.  Deborah also has an LPN degree from the United Tribes Educational Center.  Deborah has worked in the capacity of a teacher aide, special education teacher, and elementary principal.  Deborah has 40+ years working in and with tribally-controlled grant schools and was instrumental in the passing of federal law to establish Tribal Education Departments.  She has developed and delivered testimony in DC to congressional leaders, developed and implemented budgets, policies/procedures, relationships with schools and education, and was key in development and implementation of the Tribal Accreditation process.

    Tashina Banks-Rama

    Vice President

    Tashina is Oglala Lakota and Ojibwe of the Leech Lake Band. Tashina and her husband Matt are parents to ten beautiful children; they live on 30 acres on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Tashina holds a BBA from the University of New Mexico and an MBA from Gonzaga University. As Executive Vice President at Red Cloud Indian School, Tashina strongly advocates and promotes Lakota leadership within the organization, holds up Lakota values across the organization, and actively engages the community in ways that continue to transform our multi-faith organization. In her 12th year at Red Cloud, Tashina provides leadership and oversight of Finance, Facilities, Human Resources, Communications, Advancement and the Food Sovereignty departments. Tashina is a current board member of Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the Catholic Climate Covenant. Tashina is in her 3rd year of the Lakota Language Adult Learner program at Red Cloud.

    Dr. Sherry Johnson

    Secretary/Treasurer

    Dr. Sherry Johnson is the Tribal Education Director for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate for the past 7 years.  She is the administrator over numerous grants and programs.  She networks with the tribal and public school districts and all programs dealing with education, facilitates communication and promotes educational excellence for the members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. Her past experiences include being a Superintendent at a school district for 15 years and working as a Teacher for 10 years at a tribal school.  She earned her Doctorate from the University of South Dakota in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Educational Leadership. Others: Masters in Science Education. Bachelors in Elementary Education. School Improvement Certification from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, along with various certifications and publications.  Dr. Johnson is married to Louie and they have 8 children. They make their home in Buffalo Lake near Eden in the Northeast corner of South Dakota.

    Mary Bowman

    Mary Bowman (She/Her), NISN Fellow and Education Equity Team Member, is Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota from Rapid City, South Dakota. Mary has 15 years of experience working with Indigenous students in schools located around the Rapid City area. She believes that students deserve to see themselves in their curriculum and as a teacher has worked in classrooms helping students achieve academic success through cultural lessons in math, literacy, science, and social studies. Mary is the lead designer for the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy, an Indigenous School grounded in the language, thought and philosophy of the Oceti Sakowin set to open in Fall 2022. Mary has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Lakota Leadership at Oglala Lakota College.

    Sage Fast Dog

    Sage D. Fast Dog Sr. is Sicangu (Burnt Thigh) under the Titunwan Oyate (Prairie Dwellers People) of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires). He was raised on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, home of the Burnt Thigh people, also where he attended elementary school, secondary school, and graduate school. He is a graduate of St. Francis Indian School and completed undergraduate and graduate school at Sinte Gleska University, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and Lakota Studies, alongside a master’s degree in Education. He taught Lakota Studies at Todd County Middle School for 11 years, prior to applying for a fellowship with NISN in 2016. He successfully completed 13 years as an educator for Todd County School District and left the district in 2019 to become the first ever Director and Head of School for the Wakanyeja Ki Tokeyaci Lakota Immersion Elementary School Program, located on the Rosebud Reservation, and opening its doors in Fall of 2020. This school has always been a dream of his– to be able to share the richness of the Lakota language, history and culture today with you; he is beyond excited! He is very active in the community and has most recently been elected by the people into a leadership role on the TCSD school board. Sage is a traditional dancer on the powwow trail and takes part in Lakota spiritual way of life along with his 4 children. He proudly shares his home with his wife in Mission, S.D.

    Allied Advisory Board Members

    Nora Flood

    Nora’s official title is Education Rabble Rouser for the Wend Collective, a social impact fund that supports learner-centered, student fit experiences for all youth.  Nora joined Wend after serving for nine years at the Colorado League of Charter Schools, first as the Vice President of School Services and then as President.  Nora has over thirty years of experience in education as a teacher and principal in international, traditional public, charter public, and private schools.  She was the co-founder of The Classical Academy in Minneapolis, served as Head of School of Madison Country Day School and as Director of Sonoma Charter School.  Nora’s passion is ensuring equity, access, and opportunity for all families to meet their priorities and their children’s needs.  Her work supports innovative school and program designs, collaborating with local, state, national and international pedagogues and practitioners, and exploring partnerships with like-minded organizations to create systems change from the bottom up.

    Matt Kull

    Matt Kull has spent the last decade-plus working in Indigenous education, with a focus on the homelands of Sicangu and Oglala Lakota. Matt’s educational background is in community development and working to build power through organized people. When not working, Matt enjoys reading, spending time on the water, and watching his dogs chase birds. Matt is proud to be a member of the South Dakota Education Equity Association, and looks forward to the continued fight for equitable education in the region.

    Abby Menter

    Abby Menter is a Public Policy Fellow with the Education Equity Team at NDN Collective, an Adjunct Faculty member at Sinte Gleska University, and co-chair of the community organizing coalition 4Rosebud. As an auntie, sister, daughter, granddaughter, teacher, student, and friend, Abby is committed to relational practices that deepen our collective ability to co-create a world where all creation is honored. She believes that the work of educational equity requires the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous peoples as well as the reclamation of our dignity, creativity, and spirituality from the many manifestations of white supremacy. Abby is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She studies Self-Determination policy enactments including how policies are resisted, negotiated, and implemented across time, positionality, and place.

    Staff

    Sarah White

    Executive Director

    Sarah White (she/her), Oglala Lakota, is the Founder & Executive Director of the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition (SDEEC). Sarah transitions into this role as a direct result of her work in serving as the facilitator for SDEEC during the first 2 years of its informal stages of development. She has 8 years of experience working and advocating for Title VI Indian Education Programs, working at Rapid City Area Schools in South Dakota and at Omaha Public Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Master’s of Education degree from Creighton University, and a PK-12 Administrator endorsement from the University of South Dakota. Sarah is a passionate advocate of Indigenous education whose work seeks to elevate the urgent narrative of Indigenous education through the lens of community. Her desire in this role is to create a cohesive and collaborative effort to identify and implement solutions that address our shared concerns regarding Indigenous education. Sarah is a mother to 4 sons.

    Cante Heart

    Director of Community Engagement

    Cante is a Sicangu Lakota, Ihanktowan Dakota and Winnebago Hochunk. She is the daughter of CaroleAnne Heart and Travis Harden. Cante spent the majority of her life in North and South Dakota, and considers the Sacred Black Hills her home. She graduated from Rapid City Central High School and has a degree in Business Administration from Oglala Lakota College.

    Cante has pursued many avenues of community organizing and strategic planning for both businesses and nonprofits. Over the years, she has served her local community and demonstrated a track record of consistent and reliable leadership. Cante believes that it is important to uplift Indigenous voices in all capacities. She also believes that it is up to us to create new relationships and bridge the gap to strengthen current relations. Cante looks forward to bringing a Lakota perspective to the coalition by building relationships through shared values with a collaborative approach.

    Cante serves on the Board of Directors for HeSapa Otipi, Abbott House, and the “Dignity” Initiative. As one of the models for the Dignity Statue in Chamberlain, SD, the process empowered Cante to truly reflect on what dignity means for all of us in South Dakota.

    In her free time, Cante enjoys playing basketball, softball, golf, and spending time with her daughters. She loves practicing and teaching Lakota ways and language. In fact, you have just learned a Lakota word. “Cante” means “heart” in Lakota.

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