Local RCAS educator named 2019 Bush Fellow, aims to further Native American education

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A local woman who champions for Native American education is being recognized by the Bush Foundation for her work in continuing Native American Culture.

Sarah Pierce, from Black Hawk, is one of 24 leaders chosen as a Bush Fellow out of nearly 700 applicants across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Bush Foundation invests in leaders looking to tackle complex issues within their communities. Fellows are awarded up to $100,000 over one to two years to help further their leadership skills and goals.

Pierce manages Indian education in the Rapid City Area Schools and aims to expand her area of expertise, not just locally or regionally, but nationally, using her fellowship opportunity to amplify her voice in the community.

“I think the burden of furthering Indian education should be collective, not just given to the Native American community, so making Indian ed for all,” said Pierce.

Pierce grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with her parents and four siblings and had originally pursued a career in dental hygiene, but picked up a passion for education along the way.

Through the funding provided by the Bush Foundation, Pierce plans to draw from the challenges faced by the Polynesian culture in Hawaii and study how they’ve continued the culture in modern times.

“I am planning on spending some time within the Hawaiian public school system, learning about how they integrate the Polynesian language, culture, and history into their curriculum,” said Pierce. “Not just within the confines of school but within the community.”

In a city that’s home to over 3,000 Native American students who represent over 65 tribal nations across the country, Pierce wants to look at how cultural identity is reinforced within schools and society.

“Being able to be a voice and an advocate for the community that has been traditionally silenced is really important to me,” said Pierce.

Another area she hopes to study is how to be self-sustaining in advocating for Native American culture since it’s an area that sees a lot of burnout.

“A lot of people who champion for this work, especially in our community, there’s a high level of burnout so to find out how to sustain my personal self, to grow in congruence with my personal self is really important,” said Pierce.

For more information on the Bush Fellowship and the Bush Foundation, visit here.


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News