SDSU’s Wokini Initiative supports Native students and communities

South Dakota State University

Sponsored - As a land-grant university, South Dakota State University’s mission is to serve the state of South Dakota by providing access to the benefits of higher education for all people, including the state’s American Indian population.

While 9% of South Dakota’s population is identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native, less than 1% of the state’s largest university student body represents this demographic. Recognizing this disparity as an obstacle for South Dakota tribes and the state as a whole, SDSU established the Wokini Initiative.

South Dakota State University

Supporting Native success

The Wokini Initiative is the university’s collaborative and holistic framework to support American Indian student success and Indigenous Nation-building. The focus of the initiative is to increase the number of American Indian students enrolled at SDSU, provide support toward academic and personal needs and boost American Indian graduation rates.

In Lakota, the word “wokini” translates to “new life” or “a new beginning,” and the Wokini Initiative is a new beginning for SDSU. The Wokini Initiative will align opportunities for students to pursue degrees that will impact the students, their communities and their tribes while recognizing the importance of family and culture.

A group effort

It’s powered by ongoing collaboration between key campus and tribal stakeholders, building upon SDSU’s current tribal partnerships and American Indian Student Center services to support key goals:

  • Enhance cultural programming and support for American Indian students.
  • Offer Wokini scholarships for students who are tribally enrolled or have descendancy through a federally recognized tribe in the United States including Alaska Natives.
  • Enhance research and outreach partnerships with tribes, tribal colleges and other tribal organizations.

The Wokini Initiative’s vision statement reads: “SDSU is a place where American Indian students achieve their dreams and aspirations, and as an institution, SDSU promotes healthy, synergistic, sustained relationships with the tribal communities of South Dakota.”

Learn more about how SDSU is helping build something greater for tribal communities and the world at large at

South Dakota State University