Why the Humanities: It Would Be a 'Disaster' to End Humanities Programs

Why the Humanities?

By Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

Editor's Note: "Why the Humanities" is an SDHC blog series explaining the importance of the humanities to our state and nation. The series features guest posts from experts in the humanities disciplines and those who have been touched by humanities programming. The opinions expressed in this series do not represent official views of the South Dakota Humanities Council and are the sole property of the author.

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve has written more than 20 books with the intention of dispelling stereotypes and evoking the richness of tribal culture and heritage. A National Humanities Medalist, she is a frequent participant in the South Dakota Festival of Books and other SDHC programs. Sneve's many books include "The Trickster and the Troll," "Completing the Circle and Standing Bear of the Ponca," and she has also published numerous shorter pieces. Her most recent book is "Sioux Women: Traditional and Today."

Inspiring Native American Writers

I am a Lakota woman. I was born and raised in South Dakota; I have lived and worked as an author and educator in South Dakota; I am also a part of the humanities in South Dakota. The South Dakota Humanities Council has encouraged and promoted my work and allowed me to develop as an author.

In 2000, I received a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. The award brought me recognition as an author and educator not only in South Dakota, but also nationally, as I was the first Native American to receive the award. It was an honor to receive the award, and it was gratifying to get many letters, emails, and phone calls of congratulations.

Many noted that I was an inspiration to aspiring Native American writers in South Dakota and across the nation.

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve has appeared as an author at the South Dakota Festival of Books.

The humanities enhanced my knowledge of the history, culture and values of my people. This has helped me in my writing to dispel stereotypes and contributed to communication between the Natives and all citizens of South Dakota.

Venues such as the South Dakota Festival of Books have brought noted scholars and authors to inspire us all, and the Young Readers program has encouraged Native children to read and write.

Using Their Voices

They now understand that they can use their voices to write and speak of their own lives, which have as much value as anyone else's.

It would be a disaster to end the humanities programs that have been such a vital part of enriching our lives.

Read More 'Why the Humanities' Posts

Enjoy this post? Click the link below to subscribe to our blog.

Why the Humanities is a new blog series from the South Dakota Humanities Council.