Five South Dakota universities ranked best colleges for indigenous students


SPEARFISH, S.D. (KELO) — Five South Dakota universities ranked in the top 200 for indigenous students in the Winds of Change magazine. Black Hills State University in Spearfish is one of them.

Cortez Standing Bear is a 4th year student at Black Hills State. She learned about the American Indian Studies Center at the beginning of her college career.

“Within five minutes of student registration they came and found me and just introduced themselves, told me about the center and made me feel welcome,” Cortez Standing Bear said.

Cortez uses the center for many different things including, renting books, free printing, a quiet place to study, and for advice.

“Being away from home is like a totally different culture and being away from family is always hard, but the center has helped me build relationships with people of my same background and share the same culture,” Standing Bear said.

About 6% of the population here at Black Hills State University is Native American. Of all the schools in South Dakota, that is the largest proportion.

“To have a place that is dedicated not only to Native students at Black Hills State University but also research and academics for Native Americans studies is especially important,” Rochelle Zens, Assistant Director for the Center for American Indian Studies, said.

Rochelle Zens is the assistant director of the American Indian Studies center. She says the goal is to make a home for the students.

“We really try to support them in any way that we can while they are here on campus so it kind of sets us a part from some of the other universities across the nation in that way,” Zens said.

And students, like Standing Bear, appreciate that extra support.

You can check out the list of top 200 colleges for indigenous students in the Winds of Change magazine here.

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