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Updates Coming Soon to our Veterans Programming

Winners, Past and Present

The South Dakota Humanities Council has awarded first place in the 2023 Veterans Story Contest to U.S. Air Force veteran Iva Gwendolyn Good Voice Flute of Pine Ridge for her piece, “Over There and Back,” which describes her military experiences as a Lakota woman in the military. 

In her story, Iva highlights challenges she faced, including the time she received a question from a commanding officer as to why her name was “so long.”  She also recounts the joy she felt upon learning of her assignment that would send her back home to Ellsworth AFB, where she ultimately met other indigenous servicemen and women, including one of her best friends, who is an enrolled member of the Crow Nation in Montana.

Iva also discusses the transition from her military service and honorable discharge to life as a civilian and the changes she observed in her character because of her experience, including a greater sense of independence, resilience, and assertiveness.  She credits her experience as the foundation for a vision that she shared with other women to “help make women more visible” with their military experience, ultimately resulting in the formation of an American Legion Post whose full membership consisted of Lakota Women Veterans.

Finally, Iva reflects on her gratitude that the experience provided her to educate non-indigenous people about indigenous people and culture.  She dedicates her story in loving memory of her mother, Lillian Grace Tobacco.  Other award winners of the 2023 Veterans Story Contest include Bill Ellingson with his story “A Poignant Reminder of a Forgotten War,” and James Anderson for his story “Grandma’s Letter:  A Mother’s Expression of Grief and Faith.”

The 2022 Veterans Story Contest winner was U.S. Army veteran Jeff West of Brookings for his piece, “The Long Road Home.”  In his story, Jeff describes his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from a one-year combat tour in Vietnam.  Gary Grittner of Fort Pierre received second place for his story “Another Kind of Veteran,” while Stephen Randall of Sioux Falls received third place with “Two Paintings.”