More Than That, a video made by a group of Lakota Sioux high school students, was featured on National Public Radio and praised on Ed Week and other media outlets. The seniors from Todd County High School wanted to give “a fuller, more nuanced picture of their community for the wider world,” hoping to combat the stereotypes of “extreme poverty, alcoholism, and a general sense of hopelessness,” that dominate the perception of non-native people. Student John Whirlwind Soldier directed the video, and Kim Bos, their video technology teacher, helped to produce it.
Todd County High School is located in Mission, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. The school describes itself as home to “450 talented, curious, and exhilarating students, along with over 70 caring and dedicated staff members.” Todd County is a rural school district that includes a number of small residential communities – Mission and Rosebud are the largest – with a total population of about 10,000 people. The district shares the same boundaries as the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.
Lakota Funds, a community development financial institution, has praised the youths’ effort to self-define in positive terms: “although our reservation faces some of the most severe conditions of poverty in the nation, our youth are taking control of their futures. With hope, determination, passion for Lakota traditions, and dignity, they are creating a positive environment for themselves and younger generations to thrive in.”
Sicangu Eyapaha, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s monthly, had similar words: “we applaud these youth for being circumspect and having the wisdom and self-esteem to recognize their own worth as Lakota and as human beings.”
The students went to Washington in February 2012 to lobby Congress for more funding, and for support for schools on American Indian reservations.