Stepping up to a community need, Sacred Ground Haskell, an outreach of Lutheran Indian Ministries and local community center, organized a graduation celebration to recognize the accomplishments of graduates from both the 2020 and 2021 graduate classes. During the spring 2021 semester, Haskell Indian Nations University canceled graduation ceremonies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The community-led graduation event May 7 filled the traditional university role in honoring graduates from the past year.
Deon Prue, ministry leader at Sacred Ground Haskell, organized the event. The ceremony featured a graduate walk-in with an honor song, an opening prayer, student and keynote speakers, a catered dinner, all followed by an open mic and powwow. Roughly 50 graduates and their families were in attendance of the in-person event, many more watching remotely through live streams.
While HINU did not host its own graduation ceremony, The Office of the President released a congratulatory message. Additionally, HINU faculty and staff have found their own ways to support graduates. HINU Housing Staff in combination with Student Life and Activity Specialist Manny King, Dean of Students Daniel Burland, as well as other faculty and staff helped to erect tipis in honor of the graduates at the stadium. Haskell Faculty Senate also paired with The Indian Leader Association and students in Rhonda LeValdo’s Television News Production course to create a virtual graduate recognition video.
Photos by Jared Nally