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Lakota Historian; Donovin Sprague

Author, lecturer, historian and professor Donovin Sprague Hump (Photo Credit: Rocknrecords)

RAPID CITY – Donovin Sprague Hump is a Lakota man of many talents.

He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and was born and raised in Dupree, South Dakota. Now, at the age of 66, he has numerous books published, is the head of the Department of History at Sheridan College, and lectures around the country and in Europe.

Sprague graduated from Dupree High School, and then received a bachelor’s degree in social science and American Indian Studies from Black Hills State University. He went on to receive a master’s degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.

Sprague was the head of American Indian Education for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Now, working at Sheridan College, his classes range from Native American history and art to tribal laws and treaties. There is a great appreciation for Sprague’s classes in Sheridan and his enrollment regularly hosts community professionals like lawyers and doctors alongside traditional students. He leads students on field trips to battle grounds and cultural sites around Sheridan as often as possible.

“It’s all here,” said Sprague while reference places where battles like the Little Bighorn and the Fetterman fight took place. There are also numerous cultural sites around Sheridan including the Medicine Wheel. “There are a lot of buffalo jumps right here around Sheridan, and there is even pottery from the Missouri region that can be found in them,” he said

Sprague’s knowledge of traditional Native American historical sources makes him one of the premier experts on the topics, and he has worked with several tribes across the country including the Choctaw Nation and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma.

“I’m glad that I have a place in the academic world where I can help people understand sources like winter counts and oral stories,” he said.

But Sprague recognizes that his work does not end with strictly one discipline. “Archeological sources are good, too,” he said. “There are a lot of portions, but if you take it as a whole then you can get a really good understanding of it all.”

Sprague is currently working on a more than 600 page book that ranges from the late 17th century to the early 20th century. The book is about his direct ancestors and is titled Hump and Crazy Horse, A Lakota-Cheyenne History from a Family View. He hopes to have it published soon along with his many other books that can be found in major retailers and bookstores across the country.

Recently, Sprague has lectured in Germany at the University of Frankfurt, and the U.S. Army Base in Wiesbaden. Germany, like many other countries, has a fascination with Native American culture with fictionalized characters in media like Winnetou. The fascination results in many Native American’s dancing in regalia or providing spiritual ceremonies in Germany.

“How many Natives can go over to Germany and wear plain clothing,” he jokes. “I went and talked about what is going on and what has gone on in the world instead of wearing powwow regalia and dancing.”

Along with Germany, he has also given presentations in France, Canada and all over the United States.

Sprague’s summers have been currently taken up by working in the schools of Indiana to implement the study of tribes whose homeland was once Indiana. Most of the tribes were removed to Oklahoma. He also provides tours of Native American history throughout the U.S. during the summer.

He will be giving a presentation that is titled “American Indian History of Diseases, Medicine and Healthcare” on June 23, 2020. The presentation is sponsored by Sheridan College and will be available on Zoom.

On June 25, 2020, Sprague will be giving his annual presentation on the Battle of the Little Bighorn for the Journey Museum. This year’s presentation for the Journey will take place over Zoom as well, but it has sold out the theater space in years past.

Since he was younger, Sprague has collected vinyl records and baseball cards and played guitar. He continues those hobbies to this day and also carves award-winning flutes and bows.

“I’ve always got something going on. I never could get a job [in South Dakota], but I seem to be in demand out of state,” he said jokingly.

He is married to his high school sweet heart, and has three children, two boys and one girl, who are all successful. Two have master’s degrees and one is a professional musician who has toured with B.B. King.

(contact Travis at


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