The Sisseton Wahpeton College is a part of a long history of education that has gone through many phases and changes since first contact with Europeans. Before America was a nation, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands knew and practiced applied sciences and lifelong learning. Their knowledge of the natural sciences astounded the learned Europeans who could not accept them as more than primitive savages.Construction 1977
The Sisseton and Wahpeton have survived mission schools, boarding schools, and hundreds of educational laws and policies, and even being banded from their homeland to a reservation. Here in the northeastern corner of the state of South Dakota, the remnant 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 the Sisseton Wahpeton College. SWC 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 with limited resources, SWC continued to pursue the vision. In 1983, SWC was granted educational candidacy by the North Central Association's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. SWC received initial accreditation in 1990. SWC has kept its doors open to serve anyone who desires and education. Even though the State of South Dakota does not provide any support for the non-Indian students who attend SWC, they are served along with tribal members.
SWC has made enormous strides with several divisions. Academic programs include Business, Computers, Counseling, Dakota Studies, Early Childhood Development, Hospitality and Gaming, Mass Communication, Nursing, Nutrition, and General Studies. SWC provides such support services as Adult Basic Education, GED preparation and testing, Career Counseling, Financial Aid, Library Services, Learning Lab, and Tribal Archives.
SWC had 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 in providing 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.