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Hired on the spot
Job Waiting After Graduation
29 April 2011

BISMARCK (UTN) - Salli Little Dog-McCarty is motivated. She describes herself as someone who doesn't like to sit back and let things come to her.

      That's one of the reasons she has a job waiting for her when she graduates from the United Tribes Criminal Justice program in May.

Salli LittleDog-McCarty with Sgt. Patrick Hudson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol during a UTTC Criminal Justice class about collision investigations. United Tribes News photos Dennis J. Neumann

      Soon she will be headed to Standing Rock, where she's an enrolled member, to begin work as a corrections officer for the tribe in Fort Yates, ND.

      Finding work before finishing school is somewhat unusual, but not unheard of, and certainly a testament to preparation and determination.

      As her dad told her: "If you want something, you have to go out and get it."

Trained People Required

      The circumstances that favored Salli's preparedness culminated on February 16 at a jobs fair at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates. To her surprise, at the fair were BIA officials from headquarters in Washington, the divisional office in Albuquerque, and the bureau's training facility at Artesia, NM, along with local tribal law enforcement officials.

      "It seemed like the whole BIA system was there from all around the country," she said.

      The bureau's full court press came from its emphasis on improving law enforcement throughout Indian Country. That, of course, requires trained people. Having trained at United Tribes, Salli fit the bill.

      Everything about it was expedited and most of it done electronically, she said. It included the application, a background check, a questionnaire that took her almost three hours to fill out, and face-to-face interviews, including one with the head of the bureau's corrections division from Albuquerque. It took six hours and she was hired on the spot.

      "I was so taken," she said. "I had no idea I'd get a job. I thought I'd go there and meet a few people, make some contacts and leave. It amounted to accomplishing an eight-month process in one day."

Criminal Justice Career Path

      Salli's training for criminal justice work began in 2008 when she encountered a second opportunity to train for a career at United Tribes. When her husband, Thomas McCarty, was UTTC's Automotive Technology instructor, she crossed paths in the college's Skill Center with Criminal Justice instructor Ray Dingeman. It wasn't long before he recruited her into the program.

      "After I got to know Ray, I figured I'd try it out," she said.

      But going into criminal justice didn't pop in out of the blue. She admits she is following in the footsteps of her father, Gary Little Dog, who was a weapons instructor and former BIA Standing Rock Police Officer.

      Salli's choice is not surprising, since the path that children take in life often follows the familiar. In addition to parental influence, she comes from a family with a matriarch who is an outstanding role model for education. Her grandmother, Adele Little Dog, is a long-serving and well respected Standing Rock educator and school principal.

A Life Skill at Work

      Another life skill that served Salli well is to test out something and see how it goes before jumping in full force. She originally came to United Tribes in 2003 to train as a nurse, the job of her mother, Sandra Talks, Eagle Butte, SD. She said she wanted to experience nursing from the perspective of the entry level position Certified Nurse Assistant. In doing so, she found out relatively quickly that nursing wasn't the career for her. But the method proved useful.

      She's taking the same approach now. Going into corrections is her way of finding out soon if she has what it takes, and the stomach, for law enforcement work.

      "I've really liked the criminal justice training," she said. "I had four applications out in the Bismarck area for corrections jobs."

      For Salli, corrections is an entry point into the profession. She's also looking at the training to become a law enforcement officer, but it takes longer and is more involved. And it would mean leaving her husband and two children for a time and going to New Mexico for training. That may not always be the case, as United Tribes is in the process of developing a satellite Indian police training facility on its campus in Bismarck.

      In the meantime, Salli will be in the college's 2011 Commencement Ceremony on May 6. She is scheduled for several weeks of additional training on campus and come July she will be at work in Fort Yates.

      "I'm very happy I found a job before graduating and I can't wait to start," she said. "I feel confident. I'll do my best to make my family proud. After all, I have some big shoes to fill, so I'm starting small."


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