SD group tries to recruit Native American referees

Wayne Carney, executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, was instrumental in starting a program to recruit and train Native American referees. (Photo: Bob Grandpre / For the Argus Leader )
Wayne Carney, executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, was instrumental in starting a program to recruit and train Native American referees.
(Photo: Bob Grandpre / For the Argus Leader )

By Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – Finding referees for middle school games in communities on Native American reservations can sometimes be impossible in South Dakota.

In some cases, it’s even led to people getting pulled from the stands to call games, the Argus Leader reported Sunday. Emergency volunteers aren’t necessarily certified, which means they are less familiar with protocols when it comes to calling a fair contest, helping players learn a sport properly and handling games.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association in 2008 partnered with the Oglala Lakota College coach and athletic director Mary Tobacco to try to solve the problem. Together, they have developed a program to recruit and train Native American referees.

The program includes middle school basketball – the most popular sport in the area – volleyball and football. It involves 13 schools in two conferences. And this fall, a milestone will be reached when an all-Native American crew of referees participates in varsity football games in the region for the first time.

“We have to educate ourselves on the rules and get physically ready for the demands of fast play,” said Nick Hernandez, lead official in the all-Native American crew. “As a crew, we want to be prepared because the game has a lot of rules. We must be able to facilitate all those rules and provide a fair game.”

Activities Association executive director Wayne Carney said the lack of certified officials on reservations was especially problematic during the state tournament. He said foul numbers were lopsided because what was being called during regular season wasn’t consistent with the rules enforced during the state tourney.

Hernandez, a former high school player at Red Cloud, became certified about six years ago. He has been the coordinator of football officials in subvarsity games for the past three years, making game assignments.

Hernandez also is responsible for recruiting potential referees, and his efforts appear to be paying off: Twenty active men and women are on the basketball officiating list, up from less than five before the program kicked off.


Information from: Argus Leader,

Sioux Students Kindle Solar Knowledge

It started with a spark — an interest in green energy. This glimmer of curiosity led Lyle Wilson, an instructor at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota and U.S. Army veteran, to start researching renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal. Now sparked by Lyle’s interest, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation are finding new possibilities in their clean energy capabilities.

Students and instructors at Oglala Lakota College designed, connected and built a mobile solar energy system over the course of two days. | Photo courtesy of Oglala Lakota College.<br /><br />
July 24, 2013
Minh Le
Program Manager, Solar Program

As part of his work at Oglala Lakota College, Lyle works with students in the applied sciences department to construct houses for members of the tribe. He envisioned taking the work a step further by integrating solar panels into new homes to help reduce power bills. To make it happen, Lyle reached out to Solar Energy International (SEI), which helps coordinate solar training courses for the Energy Department’s Solar Instructor Training Network.

From there, a group of students and instructors at the college signed on for SEI’s Photovoltaic (PV) 101: Solar Design and Installation course, in which they set up their first grid-tied photovoltaic system. This introduction served as fuel for their solar fire. Next, about 20 people took part in SEI’s PV 203: Solar Electric Design (Battery-Based) class. This course allowed them to install two 250-watt solar panels on their construction trailer.

“Most kids don’t want to sit in class — they want to get out and do things,” said Lyle. “We did a short one-day lesson in the classroom then went down to the yard and designed, connected, and built the system over two days. Our students were actually sort of stunned to learn how easy it is to do something like this once they understand the fundamental concepts.”

The mobile solar energy system built through the PV 203 course now provides enough power to run electric tools at construction sites, supports community service projects and serves as an educational resource for school-aged children.

Lyle sees these accomplishments as just the start. With more knowledge, more possibilities come into focus. Up next, the students hope to take another SITN course on setting up their own power grid. This would offer potential savings for the tribe, provide a degree of energy independence and empower students by bringing new job skills into the community.

“We could install 40 panels as a test to see how much money we could save by getting power from the sun,” said Lyle. “Then we could pass that information on to the tribe.”