BHSU Center for American Indian Studies Awarded $660,000 Grant from Mellon Foundation

The Black Hills State University Center for American Indian Studies (CAIS) has been awarded a 3-year, $660,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to be used for the expansion of the American Indian Studies program to support a multi-institutional collaboration that would make more American Indian Studies and Lakota language courses available across the state of South Dakota. The grant was announced publicly during an event to celebrate the occasion on the BHSU campus Monday, Oct. 2. This is the first grant BHSU has received from the Mellon Foundation. 
“The funding from the prestigious Mellon Foundation is a transformative moment for Black Hills State University,” said Dr. Urla Marcus, director of CAIS and project director of the grant. “This was a great team effort that was supported by administration, faculty, and staff to imagine truly innovative programming that will enhance our American Indian Studies curriculum and enrich our academic programs. We are excited to begin this new chapter in the expansion of curricular offerings for our students.” 
The grant will be used to address two initiatives. First, to enhance and expand the major and minor in American Indian Studies, including developing new, and revisiting existing, in-person courses, and developing a new certificate program to improve cultural competence among employees in the region who primarily serve people from Native nations. And second, to coordinate with other South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) universities to offer shared American Indian Studies and Lakota Language courses to undergraduate students across the state and beyond.  
To accomplish these goals, the grant funds will be used to establish two new full-time positions, an assistant director of the Center for American Indian Studies and a full-time tenure track faculty member in the American Indian Studies program. This grant will also fund the hiring of a new visiting faculty member to expand BHSU’s Lakota Language and Traditional Lakota Arts course offerings. Grant dollars will also be used as stipends for project partners from other SDBOR institutions and for visiting speakers from Native nations. 
For more information about the Center for American Indian Studies at BHSU, visit For more information about the Mellon Foundation, visit