A “Shout Out” to Donovan Sprague, High Buffalo Backbone
By Clara Caufield,
Donovan Sprague, High Buffalo Backbone, of Cheyenne River is doing one heck of a job as a History Instructor and Native American Student Advisor at Sheridan Community College in Wyoming.
Now in this third year at the college, after being recruited from South Dakota, Sprague was recently honored by the College Administration and fellow staff as the Student Advisor for 2021-2022 for his work as advisor to the Native American Student Organization. “We need more Native American staff here, but as the only one, I was very happy to be acknowledged by my peers,” he remarked.
Though based in the History Department, Sprague teaches an array of classes: Art, Political Science, Indian Law, and a new class he developed, devoted to Wyoming Tribal History focusing on the general Sheridan area, which was a hotbed of conflict between Tribes (Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone Arapaho, and Lakota) and the military in the 1800’s. Donovan has developed excellent presentations detailing this history and is also frequently called up to do that for organizations such as the Sheridan Land Trust and others around the country. He is a speaker with a vast store of knowledge, reflected in the ten books he has authored. After he is done speaking, a flock of extremely interested white people surrounds him with questions and he patiently deals with them, always glad to correct a mistaken assumption, gently encouraging their interest in our people, both historical and contemporary.
Though not quite of elderly status, Donovan has become a well-known spokesperson in other arenas, featured on the History Channel, the History Detectives Channel, Time Magazine, and National Geographic… No doubt he will continue to be in the spotlight and if so, we will surely keep our readers updated.
Another part of his activity at the college is key advisor to the new Multi-Cultural Center, opened with a big blowout in 2019, his first year at the college. That Center is a key focus of the college’s efforts to diversify and be more welcoming to students of all cultures and heritage. “Though COVID put a damper on those activities, we are moving ahead again,” he explained. He established Native American Heritage Month at the college, a first which is celebrated throughout November and throughout the year, Donovan organizes special events, brings in speakers, gives tours of the school to groups of tribal high school students and does field presentations.
In his student recruitment efforts, Sprague focuses on the Tribes which historically had a presence in the general Sheridan area and Big Horn mountains, traveling through Indian Country for that effort, including Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone Arapaho at Wind River, and Lakota Country. For example, he recently had a booth at LNI in Rapid City which he plans to continue. (As a regular Indian, he loves basketball too).
Donovan was born and raised on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota where he maintains close ties, visiting often. His tribal name High Buffalo Backbone is often translated to Hump, who was a famous Lakota warrior, contemporary and companion of Crazy Horse. Donovan descends from the line of Hump, honored to carry that name, wearing a beautifully beaded hatband emblazoned with the name HUMP.
After high school graduation, he obtained his bachelors and master’s degrees from the University of South Dakota and has fifteen credits toward a doctorate degree
Thus, I would like to personally commend this wonderful spokesperson and ambassador for our peoples, bringing his remarkable accomplishments to the attention of NSNT readers. He ever presents us and our history in the finest light. It has been my privilege to make his acquaintance and learn so much from visiting with him and hearing his presentations during his time here in the Sheridan area.
(Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice.com)