About Us

Preserving the past, preparing for the future

Wi’wan’yake Oyakapi Ehan’na wiconi un’ hdu hapi, yuwiyeya tokatakiya un’yapi


Our Mission

Sisseton Wahpeton College provides extensive, relevant and varied educational programs and opportunities for the intellectual, cultural and personal growth of all its community.

The college values its role as an educational leader, embracing change and responding to the complex needs of those it serves.

Our History

Sisseton Wahpeton College is part of a long history of education that has gone through many phases and changes since first contact with Europeans. Before the United States of America was a nation, the Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands knew and practiced applied sciences and lifelong learning. Their knowledge of the natural sciences astounded many Europeans who could not accept them as more than primitive savages.


The Sisseton and Wahpeton have survived mission schools, boarding schools, and hundreds of educational laws and policies, and even being banned from their homeland to a reservation. Here in the northeastern corner of the state of South Dakota, the remnants of the two bands were allowed to retain a small triangular-shaped piece of land now known as the Lake Traverse Reservation. Here the elders of the tribe visualized a time when their own people would take control of the education of its youth.


On August 7, 1979, this vision became a reality with the establishment of Sisseton Wahpeton Community College (SWCC). The College received a needed financial boost in 1980 when federal funds were allocated through the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act. While these funds are about half the amount given the individual states for educational assistance, it was enough to get some basic programs established.


In spite of a lack of adequate funding and limited resources, SWCC continued to pursue the vision. In 1983, the College was granted educational candidacy by the North Central Association’s Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The College received initial accreditation in 1990. In 2002, the College’s name was changed to Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC). The College has kept its doors open to serve anyone who desires an education. Although the State of South Dakota does not provide any support for the non-Native students attending SWC, they are served alongside Native students.


The College has made enormous strides towards achieving the vision of its Founders. Academic programs include Business, Computers, Counseling, Dakota Language Teaching Certificate, Dakota Studies, Early Childhood Development, General Studies. Nursing, and Vocational Education The College provides such support services as high school equivalency testing, Career Counseling, Financial Aid, Library Services, and the Learning Lab.


The College has made its resources available to the tribe. The tribe is one of a few nationwide that has accepted the challenge to develop and administer welfare reform measures. SWC is a partner in this effort to prove basic education needs and job readiness training. As the tribe enters the new millennium, SWC will continue its mission to meet the ever changing needs of its tribal members and community.

Our Logo

The symbols on the SWC logo represent the seven political districts of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and the four core values of the traditional Dakota people at a time when we were a proud, independent people before European contact. The cultural philosophy of SWC is that the people need to embrace these values and transform them into modern concepts and principles to rebuild the ancient foundations that once made the Dakota people a strong nation. These values provided the foundation for a socio-economic system rooted in the natural elements and harmoniously immersed with the total creation.


Dakota Values




A steadfast human character. Bravery was highly valued by traditional Dakota people.




An ability to see beyond the normal range of vision and understanding. True wisdom is always
accompanied by humility.




To demonstrate  fortitude. The buffalo, which symbolizes this value, was an animal that could endure extreme physical elements and survive.



Ecakensdon- yapi

Knowing naturally. This intuitive knowledge was necessary to a people who lived in close harmony with nature.




Don’t think of yourself as better than others.




Don’t quit! No matter how hard something is, keep on going.




Treat others the best that you can; even better than yourself. Respect applies to everything such as to the Earth, animals, ideas, and life




Always act in such a way that those who know you will be proud of you.

Wowaunsida/ Wastedaka


Wowaunsida /Wastedaka

Act out of love and kindness and not coldness or hatred. Be kind to others as if it were you.




Sometimes you have to give up your own for someone else, even for the Oyate.




Always say what is true; do not lie.

Bdiheca/ Handitaka


Bdiheca/ Handitaka

Do not be lazy; think of ways to make do with what you have, and help to meet the needs of others.




Give of what you have, especially to the elders, the sick, and to those who do not have.


Board of Trustees

Long Hollow District:  Izola Flying Horse – Vice-Chair

Buffalo Lake District:  Heather Larsen – Member

Big Coulee District:  Mary Jo Keeble – Member

Enemy Swim District:  Janell Williams – Board Chair

Lake Traverse District:  Jessica Redthunder – Secretary

Old Agency District:  Joey Bird – Member

Veblen “Heipa” District:  Marie Renville – Member

Tribal Council Rep:  Curtis Bissonette – Ex-Officio