MHA Education Department

➤ location

MHA Complex
1 Minnetohe Drive
New Town, ND 58763

mailing address

404 Frontage Road
New Town, ND 58763

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 4:30PM

☎ contact

Phone: (701) 627-4113
Fax: (701) 627-4935


Our priority is to see that our youth and communities receive a quality education that encompasses and nurtures their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. Through programming, community and school partnership we can help impact and reach our full potential as individuals and healthy Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara community members.  


The strength and survival of our tribal nation depends on the nurturing of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara history, language, culture, social and spiritual knowledge, while encouraging and maintaining the highest education standards.  


It is the educational mission of the MHA Education Department to promote and foster lifelong learning for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people, and to protect the cultural integrity and sovereignty of the Three Affiliated Tribes.  


Ruth Swaney, PhD
Education Director

Benita Spotted Elk
Executive Secretary

Sara Young Bird, BS
Research & Database Associate

student success coordinators

Barbara Smith-DeSautel, AA
New Town Elementary School

Deborah Hosie, BS, BA
Parshall School

Kateri Hale
New Town Middle & High School

Shannon Uses the Knife
White Shield School

Donovan Abbey
Mandaree School

Alyssa Starr
Twin Buttes School


Culture and Language Division

Royce Freeman, MA, Archive Specialist

Annie Antonio, Program Assistant

Junior Plenty Chief, Sahnish Apprentice

Judith Danks, Sahnish Apprentice

Margaret Landin, AAS Education, Sahnish Culture and Language Coordinator

Dora Gwin, M.Ed., Hidatsa Mentor

Sally White, Hidatsa Mentor

Jayli Fimbres, BA, Hidatsa Apprentice

Mary Price Baker, BA, Hidatsa Apprentice

Clinton Wolf, Hidatsa Culture and Language Coordinator

Devon Starr, Nueta Apprentice

Shaundeen Smith, BA, Curriculum Specialist

Tony Lone Fight, BFA, Multimedia Specialist

Culture and Language Division Photos

Josie Felix, Shannon Uses The Knife, Margaret Landin and Sophie Landin at a Ribbon Skirt workshop in White Shield. This was a collaborative project between the Arikara Community Action group and the Culture & Language Division to provide summer activities for youth in the White Shield community.


Culture and Language Division news


Culture is Cool engages students with Native culture
Tony Lone Fight

Students from around the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation got a different brand of education at this year’s Culture is Cool event. In its second year, about 400 students attended this year’s event held Wednesday, November 7, 2018. The gathering took advantage of the new White Shield School, which at the time, hadn’t even held regular classes. The spacious gym and modern classrooms were well-suited to the event.

Culture is Cool is organized by Tribal Education Department and its aim was to bring the students together with speakers and activities that are based in Native American culture.

“Our culture and languages are transformative. They affect and empower us. With this event, I hope to start cultural ‘fires’ in students, igniting their desire to learn, grow and excel,” said Tribal Education Director Dr. Ruth Swaney.

Dancing Eagle Perkins opened the event with a prayer and song and Chairman Mark Fox welcomed the students to the day-long event.

“It was great that Chairman Fox made time in his schedule for our event. It was the day after he was elected and he was already back to work,” Dr. Swaney said. Councilman Fred Fox of White Shield’s district also welcomed the students to the new school and to the community at-large.

“I’m glad both these leaders made time for our children and showed their commitment to education,” Dr. Swaney said.

The event also highlighted the accomplishments of tribal member Helen Gough. She generously started the Helen Gough Scholarship for higher education and also helped established the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum. Gough’s native name was Young Otter Woman and she was born in 1904 in Nishu.

There were many other speakers and topics: Dora Gwin, Marty Young Bear and Dr. Brad Kroupa represented Hidatsa, Nueta (Mandan) and Sahnish (Arikara); Justin Deegan talked about Native media; Mary Baker covered traditional gardening, Cheyenne Brady, Shoni Schimmel, Nikki Pitre provided motivational speeches and information on staying drug and alcohol free.

Keynote speaker was Matika Wilbur and she spoke to the students about how powerful a student movement is and how important it is for the students to know their culture. (For those who didn’t see her speak, Wilbur has a TedTALK on YouTube.)

MHA Nation’s Tribal Business Council donated generously for door prizes and the students also shared a turkey and ham lunch.

“Yesterday was probably one of the best days I’ve had -- to be surrounded by youth and indigenous influencers and leaders was powerful. It was the first time ever talking to a big crowd,” said Mandaree School student Terran Poitra on Facebook. She spoke to the whole assembly. The experience was emotional for Poitra but community members said that getting emotional is not a bad thing: “I was told yesterday when I speak it is powerful, when I cried, the ancestors walked into the room.”  

Upcoming Events


Sunday Academy STEM Program

The Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College is accepting applications for their Sunday Academy High School STEM Program. The purpose of the Sunday Academy is to generate an interest in math, science, engineering and technology among high school students through involvement in constructivist and hands-on/minds-on activities. The students will be given an opportunity to meet together in an informal friendly atmosphere at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College and be presented with day-to-day problems involving standards-based math, physics, chemistry, engineering and technology. Each tribally enrolled student who attends and participates in these sessions will be eligible to receive a $25.00 stipend.  Lunch will be included for all. 

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to participate in the academy.  No specific criterion for selection is necessary.  Priority will be given to juniors and seniors and the students who participated in the Sunday Academy program and/or the Summer Camp. A total of 30 students will be selected evenly from each of the four area high schools.  To ensure a spot in the program, it is highly recommended to return your application before the first Sunday Academy. 

Expected Outcomes:  Attracting more high school students into math, science, engineering and technology careers. Improving problem solving skills of students entering tribal college math, science, engineering and technology programs. Improving the understanding of the importance of math, basic science, engineering and technology principles.

When: There will be seven academies meeting once a month at NHSC from 10:30AM to approximately 3:00PM. September 16, October 21, November 18, December 9, January 20, February 17, and March 10, 2019. 

Contact at NHSC: Dr. Kerry Hartman: 627-8053