Episode 9 – Tribal College Movement
Tom Davis and Helen Scheirbeck talk about Gerald One Feather from the Oglala Sioux Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
“Gerald One Feather, of course, was really one of the major drivers of the foundation of Lakota College.” Tom Davis
Tom says that Gerald One Feather was an extraordinary man, the chairman of the tribe and a man of tremendous courage and strength. Pine Ridge always had some danger to it as one of the poorest places in the United States.
One Feather was shot at and survived. If you talked to him in the old days, he would say he was talking about doing a tribal college before the Navajos. Tom remembers when Helen Scheirbeck and himself visited the reservation, they were doing extraordinary work in science, technology, and math. When they got to the parking lot at Pine Ridge, Helen wanted to see Gerald instead. They found his old house eventually and got directions to his new place. Gerald and his wife graciously gave them lunch, and they had a great talk.
Helen, Tom, and Gerald talked about the history of tribal colleges and the history of American Indian country and how it has involved with the modern U.S. culture. When Tom thinks of somebody like Gerald One Feather, he remembers his courage and his ability to make things happen no matter what barrier people wanted to throw up at him. One Feather wouldn’t flinch if a crowd of people were coming at him; he didn’t care.
Gerald had an enormously important voice in the tribal college movement history. After they visited Gerald’s house, they went back to the college, and they were not expecting to participate in the graduation ceremony. Tom and Helen were pulled up on the stage with Senator Alvarez, the head of the committee that was changing the tone of American Indian policy within D.C.