Sponsored by the Native & Indigenous Student Association, with support from the Amherst Association of Students, the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, the Multicultural Resource Center, the English Department, and the American Studies Department.
Whitney Rencountre II is Hunkpati Dakota from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and is the CEO of Crazy Horse Monument. He is also the co-founder and official emcee of Social Distance Powwow, with 300,000 members in over 100 countries around the world. In 2017, Whitney was named one of 605 Magazine’s South Dakota Young Leaders. He was also a 2019 Honoree of the Western South Dakota Child Protection Council. Whitney is the former Chairman of the South Dakota Humanities Council and Visit Rapid City. For 11 years, he was the Director of the Ateyapi Program, a culturally based mentoring program working with over 1,000 students each year in the Rapid City Area School District. Whitney has served as Master of Ceremonies for many major events across Indian Country.
Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre is a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She has worked as a school counselor serving hundreds of students for 15 years and now works full time as an author and presenter. She was named the Great Plains Emerging Tribal Writer’s Award winner for her 1st children’s book Pet’a Shows Misun the Light. Utilizing her teachings from her Lakota culture combined with a school counselor lens, she has published 4 children’s books, with another being released in 2023. Jessie was invited to be a guest speaker for Facebook and Instagram in the fall of 2021. Her passion is to help people remember their importance in life and to utilize their unique talents, to create better communities for future generations to come. She is also a Lakota Jingle Dress Dancer and loves to educate others about Lakota culture using storytelling combined with traditional song and dance. In 2021, Jessie was named a future legacy leader by the Spirit Aligned Leadership Program, an international organization.