Rosebud Scholarship Fund

To improve the livelihood of tribal citizens by empowering Native American youth with education.

In the Rosebud Indian Reservation in central South Dakota, education is needed more than ever. Out of the approximately 3,000 counties in the United States, this reservation (which is also known as Todd County) consistently ranks in the bottom 5 poorest. Conditions are desolate, equivalent to those of a third world country, but the people are resilient and fiercely maintain their historically oppressed culture. Education is needed so that doctors can properly heal, architects can design infrastructure, lawyers can interpret the law, and economists can find a way to dig their people out of severe poverty. Education is currently an unmet need, as Native Americans have the lowest educational attainment rates of all ethnic and racial groups in the United States; only 14% have earned degrees. This percentage must increase if we are to see valuable cultures preserved and extreme poverty conditions improved. In addition, the Rosebud Indian Reservation suffers from 88% unemployment.

Only 1 in 5 Native Americans in South Dakota that begin college will actually finish with a degree, primarily due to two reasons: (1) they have trouble adjusting to predominantly white campuses and (2) they quickly find they cannot afford it. The latter reason is of particular relevance to how the grant would address this community’s unmet need of education. If we are able to grant Native students piece of mind in knowing finances are not an issue, a number of other possibilities open up for them, in addition to the fact they are more likely to finish college with a degree. Perhaps they would be more able to assert themselves among their white peers, more able to creatively find ways to improve their academics, or more able to align interest with career path. While it is true that $25,000 is relatively small compared to the cost of a college degree, this grant would fill smaller, under-appreciate needs for students such as food, textbooks, and housing.

This grant would have an indescribable lasting impact on the Rosebud Indian Reservation community. I cannot emphasize enough how much some Natives on this reservation struggle to get through the day, and it is a struggle that is not highly publicized; according to the Reclaiming Native Truth project, 40% of Americans believe that Native Americans no longer exist. This is extremely concerning and a human rights issue of unparalleled proportions. It means that nearly half of Americans believe that our 562 indigenous nations do not exist, so they suffer in silence. The United States government is unlikely to provide great assistance to Native Americans too, as they represent just 1.7% of the total voting electorate, so politicians will not cater to them. If the neither the American public nor American government will provide assistance, it will have to be private corporations. If Natives are more educated, they will become seen. People will begin to realize that Native peoples are here.