BHSU Center for American Indian Studies to be named in honor of Jace DeCory, professor emeritus

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, October 11, 2017/Categories: 2017

Black Hills State University will dedicate the Center for American Indian Studies in honor of Jace DeCory, professor emeritus at BHSU. The dedication will take place Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 101. The event is open to the public. DeCory retired in May after teaching at BHSU for 33 years.

Black Hills State University will dedicate the Center for American Indian Studies on campus in honor of Jace DeCory, associate professor emeritus who retired from a 33-year teaching career in May.

The Jace DeCory Center for American Indian Studies Dedication will be Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 101 on the BHSU campus in Spearfish. The event is open to the public. Visit www.BHSU.edu/map for directions.

"Jace has been the soul of the American Indian Studies Program at BHSU and an amazing influence on many, many students throughout the last several decades at this University. Her role as a leader in the Native community is strong and will certainly continue," BHSU President Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., said.

Jace DeCory, Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, taught history and American Indian art at BHSU. She received a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of North Dakota where she helped to start the American Indian Studies major. She also taught and helped develop curriculum at Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota and worked with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. DeCory received her master's in education from South Dakota State University and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Washington.  

Decory is known for her lifelong connection to American Indian elders whose teachings she has shared with students at BHSU. During her last semester of teaching at BHSU, DeCory was invited to speak at Harvard University to give a historical perspective on the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was also instrumental in organizing a 16-year-long holiday cultural exchange between BHSU and Red Shirt School, located south of Hermosa. Last month DeCory was honored by the South Dakota Humanities Council with a 2017 Distinguished Achievement in Humanities Award.

The Center for American Indian Studies at BHSU was established at BHSU by an act of the South Dakota Legislature in 1974. The purpose of the Center is to provide educational opportunities for Native American students and to provide the opportunity to study the history, culture, and language of the native people of North America and South Dakota.

DeCory calls the Center a "home away from home" for students.

"The Center is a place where people can feel comfortable to talk about culture. It gives our Native students a connection to role models and mentors in fellow students and staff. Students can come here, sit on the couches, use the computers, and study here. Anything we offer in the Center is open to all," said DeCory.

The Center currently administers four academic programs:
  • major in American Indian Studies
  • general minor in American Indian Studies
  • minor in American Indian Studies-Teaching
  • minor in American Indian Studies Minor-Communications

The Center also actively supports two student organizations: Lakota Omniciye ("a gathering, assembly") which is the largest student organization on campus in terms of budget, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). Lakota Omniciye promotes fellowship among Indian and non-Indian students, and organizes the annual Cultural Awareness Week and Wacipi (Pow-Wow) that is now in its 35th year.
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