“I feel so honored to be a small part of this,” says Marilyn Pourier, the Institutional Development Director for Oglala Lakota College. Based in Kyle, South Dakota, the college currently has around 1400 students and is one of only a few dozen tribally run colleges in the United States. Pourier’s passion about the college shows as she explains that the school is about 97% tribal members and their average student is a mother in her early twenties. Oglala Lakota College has nine centers around the Pine Ridge reservation as well as an extension in Rapid City. This decentralized arrangement helps connect the college to communities and encourages the teachers and administrators at each center to really know their students. The college also runs a K-6 Lakota language immersion school and head start programs for early childhood education.
Pourier was born and raised on the reservation with seven other siblings. She attributes her dedication to education to her mother, one of the only Lakota schoolteachers at the time. Pourier previously worked in Colorado bringing school boards under tribal control but was drawn back to Kyle because, in her words, “this is my home.” When discussing the history of the oppression and mistreatment of Native Americans, Pourier proudly states, “You can do what you want to me, I am still a wild Lakota woman.”
By: Willa Johnson