NDSU nursing students participate in Treaty Day celebration

March 29, 2017 – Fargo, North Dakota – NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani recognized a group of nursing students on March 29 for their community outreach activities. More than 20 nursing students, along with Whitney Fear, R.N., and public health clinical instructor, attended the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe’s Treaty Day celebration on February 23.

“We’re a big part of the solution for public health issues in the state,” said President Bresciani, who noted the growth of NDSU health professions programs to educate future nurses, pharmacists, allied sciences and public health professionals.

Tribal Chairman Dave Flute expressed his thanks to the students in a letter to President Bresciani.

“The nursing students brought fruit and offered services such as taking blood pressure and blood sugar testing,” said Flute, an NDSU alumnus. “It was humbling to see the NDSU nursing students take part in our social dancing, visiting and bringing coffee to our elders and displayed excellent character by their participation and contributions.”

Flute received positive comments about the NDSU nursing students.

“On behalf of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, I want to commend the North Dakota State University Nursing program for their participation and contributions during honoring of the 1867 Treaty between the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and the United States Government,” said Flute in his letter.

Evan Wyum, senior nursing student from Forman, North Dakota, said the event provided a unique opportunity.

Having never been to a celebration of this sort, I was able to gain insight into the traditions of these tribes, as well to have the chance to appreciate the importance of these celebrations in recognizing the historical events surrounding the treaty,” said Wyum.

“Especially for nurses, this type of experience is important because it is beneficial to become more competent in a variety of cultural backgrounds to better serve our patients,” said Wyum, who has already secured a position at Essentia Health in Fargo when he graduates.

Clinical instructor Whitney Fear, who also serves as case manager and community outreach nurse for homeless health services, said the event helped students to recognize and reflect on the importance of the nurse-patient relationship. 

“As a registered nurse and a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I see from both perspectives how often this is lacking between Native American peoples and their potential health care providers,” said Fear. “My people live an existence which is difficult to explain, but can offer much wisdom to those who can learn from it.”

By attending the celebration, Fear said she hopes students learned about a resilient people that honor their ancestors, elders, children and women through rich and beautiful traditions.

Senior nursing student Brooke Feltman found the experience invaluable.

“As future nurses, I believe it is important for us to learn as much about different cultures as possible,” said Feltman. “We will be caring for people from every walk of life and it is necessary for a nurse to understand culture-specific concepts in order to provide the most effective and empathetic care possible.”

Feltman, from Grafton, North Dakota, will be working on an organ transplant unit at Mayo Clinic when she graduates.

Molly Secor-Turner, NDSU associate professor of nursing, teaches the public health nursing course. “When students participate in outreach activities, it further enhances what they learn in the classroom and in clinical settings,” said Secor-Turner. “Sometimes little things make a big impact and I hope we will do more of this,” said President Bresciani about the nursing students’ community health outreach efforts.

The three-day event hosted by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe marked the 150th anniversary of the 1867 treaty between the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and the United States Government. Visitors from the region and Canada participated in the historic event.

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