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Honorary degree is a surprise
1 October 2013

MISSION, SD - Sinte Gleska University (SGU) has honored a United Tribes Technical College employee for his dedication and persistence in establishing and developing UTTC's art gallery and art collection.

      Jesse M. Clairmont stood on a stage August 23 during SGU's graduation and tearfully accepted an Honorary Doctorate Degree for his years of service at a sister Tribal College.

Jesse Clairmont, center, received an Honorary Doctorate from Sinte Gleska University.
David M. Gipp photo

      SGU President Dr. Lionel Bordeaux presented the award and emcee Butch Felix read a biography, listing Clairmont's accomplishments.

      The surprise presentation rendered him speechless. He thought he was there to talk to students and graduates about the gallery and art. Overcome with emotion, all he could utter was a heart-felt "thank you."

      Clairmont has been with United Tribes since 1977 and continues to curate the gallery on the college's campus in Bismarck that features the work of Northern Plains artists. He helped develop the college's long-range arts plan, which envisioned the art training and instruction now part of the curriculum.

      He coordinated the United Tribes International Powwow in the 1970s and 80s and founded the Miss Indian Nations Leadership Program and Pageant. He attended the University of Colorado and Bismarck State College. His art specialty is in the creation of beaded art works.

      Clairmont is a member of the Ashke' family, Rosebud's largest extended family of Sicangu Lakota, and is descended from Chief Iron Shell. His Lakota name, ZinKala Ohitika (Brave Bird), is the name of his maternal great grandfather, a brother to Iron Shell. He is the son of the late Viola Iron Shell Clairmont Neault and the late Jesse M. Clairmont, Sr.

      Accompanying him at the ceremony were his sisters Sharon and Carmen. His other siblings are sisters Phyllis, Camille and Tresa, his brother Chuck, and a deceased sister Donna.

      Clairmont was presented a diploma written in Lakota, along with a star quilt, sage and an eagle feather. The graduation ceremony included an honor song for him and two other recipients of SGU Honorary Doctorates, along with 140 SGU graduates who earned certificates, two-year and four-year degrees, and Masters Degrees.


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