BHSU students and faculty visit Red Shirt School for 14th annual Cultural Holiday Exchange

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, December 31, 2014/Categories: 2014

BHSU students and faculty deliver gifts, school supplies and toiletries to students at the Red Shirt School on the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of the 14th annual Red Shirt Cultural Holiday Exchange.  Photo Credit:  Virginia Spotswood, BHSU student.

Students at the Red Shirt School on the Pine Ridge Reservation open gifts while celebrating the holiday season with BHSU students and faculty.  This year marks the 14th consecutive year the two schools have participated in a cultural holiday exchange.  Photo Credit:  Virginia Spotswood, BHSU student.

Black Hills State University students, faculty, staff and friends brightened the holidays for more than 80 students at the Red Shirt School on the Pine Ridge Reservation earlier this month with the 14th annual Red Shirt Cultural Holiday Exchange.

Toys, school supplies, books, clothing and toiletries were collected and delivered to the Red Shirt students.  Thirteen BHSU students and faculty traveled to Red Shirt School to deliver the items and celebrate the holiday season.  

"The faces of the children were priceless," said Jace DeCory, BHSU assistant professor of history and American Indian studies.  "We want to express a big 'wopila,' thank you, for making the exchange a wonderful success due to the BHSU community's continued generosity and support."

Christmas trees with paper angels listing the children's wishes were set up on BHSU's campus in November.  BHSU community members were invited to select an angel and contribute gifts.

"All of the angels were taken from the trees, and with some monetary donations form generous faculty and staff, additional gifts were purchased to fulfill student wishes," said DeCory.

While delivering the gifts, Kole Simmons, a junior American Indian studies major from Sturgis, dressed as Santa Claus to add to the festivities.  The Red Shirt cooks prepared a community lunch and, in their off-campus debut, the BHSU "Beeline" Drumline performed an honor song for the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.

The Red Shirt Cultural Exchange began in 2000 as a two-student BHSU class project.  Fourteen years later, the Exchange is now co-sponsored by a number of BHSU campus and community entities including Lakota Omniciye (the Native American Student Organization at BHSU), the Center for American Indian Studies, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the University Multicultural Committee.  

"The Red Shirt Cultural Holiday Exchange is truly an activity of love, as organized by many folks from the BHSU community," said DeCory.  

Donations and contributions to 2014 Exchange included:

Toys and gifts--BHSU faculty, staff, students, and friends

Clothing and travel mugs--BHSU Bookstore

Wrapping gifts and organizing the angel tree donations--Lakota Omniciye, AISES, and the BHSU Bridge Program

Pizza donation during gift wrapping--Little Caesar's, Spearfish

Holiday stockings-- Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources Lab and A'viands Food Service & Management

Toiletries and school supplies--Dr. Robin Carmondy and her Early Childhood students at Bay State College, Boston

Cash donation for school supplies--Teri Bauerly's Spearfish Middle School students

Stuffed animals and books--Holly Kaddis

Gift cards and donated items--Spearfish Safeway, K-Mart, Walmart, Subway, and Belle Fourche ShopKo and Family Dollar

For more information, contact Jace DeCory at, 605-642-6295, or Rosie Sprague at, 605-642-6578.

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