Dr. Michelle Tincher, (Aaniih and Oglala) Keynote at Fall Graduation, specializes in womens health with a practice in Bismarck.


BISMARCK (UTN) – Fall graduates crossed the stage into a new chapter of their lives December 15 at United Tribes Technical College. Surrounded by 300 family members and friends, UTTC graduates were praised for pursuing an education and doing their part to earn a degree.

“No one can take that away from you,” said keynote speaker Dr. Michelle Tincher, a family medicine doctor.

Tincher is Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) and Oglala Lakota, one of the few Native American women doctors in the country. She specializes in women’s health care services and sees many tribal clients in her practice in Bismarck.

Growing up on the Fort Belknap reservation in Montana, her path to becoming a doctor was anything but certain. She began as a medical technician and entered med school at age 31. She earned a degree with honors from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She’s been in practice for more than 20 years, including service at the I-H-S facilities at Standing Rock and Fort Belknap.

Tincher said it was difficult for her to leave the reservation. But looking back, she said the reservation environment can be oppressive with poverty, dependence, unemployment, crime and drug use.

“It may be difficult for many to see beyond those borders,” she said about leaving home to follow a dream. “But you made it. I made it. And hopefully by example we can help others believe…they can become what they want to be.”

Tincher said one of her daughters followed in her footsteps and is now as a physician in Fort Yates, where two other Native American women are also physicians, and another scheduled to arrive soon.

“Think about that, four Native American female physicians in Fort Yates,” she said with smile. “I think that’s pretty cool.”

Inspiring Scene

Twenty-nine students were honored December 15 during the commencement ceremony. The mid-year grads were involved in 12 different programs of study, receiving Bachelor of Science degrees, Associate of Applied Science Degrees, Certificates of Completion, and Diplomas.

UTTC President Leander R. McDonald said these students, from 13 different tribal nations, can mark the day as a major accomplishment in their lives.

“You did this for yourselves,” said McDonald, himself a graduate of a tribal college. “You had support from your families but you’re the ones who did the work to get to this day. And that’s a tribute to you.”

UTTC pitched-in with help on the financial front. Some of the graduates took advantage of the college’s tuition waiver for Native American students. We strive to be a “student oriented college,” said McDonald. “We’re here because of these students, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

Councilman Jamie Azure of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa added congratulations from the college’s governing board, whose members are from the five tribal nations in North Dakota.

“You inspire me,” said Azure of the graduates seated front and center in the college’s gymnasium where a tipi lodge was fully erected. “You are the future. And from what I see here the future is bright for us.”

UTTC Classes to Resume

The Wise Spirit Singers provided Flag and Honor songs and the UTTC Color Guard presented and retired the Staff and Flags. An invocation and benediction were presented by Rev. John F. Floberg of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Yates, ND. Following the program, grads, family members and friends enjoyed a traditional meal hosted by the college.

Fall graduation completed the semester at United Tribes and marked the beginning of a holiday break. The spring term starts January 8 with registration and orientation for new students and the resumption of classes.

United Tribes Technical College is governed by the five tribes located in North Dakota. For more information about college offerings and enrollment, please visit the website www.uttc.edu, or contact the college’s Enrollment Services division: 701-255-3285 x 1860.


United Tribes Technical College

Fall 2017 Graduates Friday, December 15, 2017

Automotive Technology:

Sasha LaRocque (Three Affiliated) New Town, ND; Quinn LaRocque, (Three Affiliated) Bismarck; Steven Marks (Sisseton-Wahpeton) Bismarck; Jay Martin (Standing Rock) Cannonball, ND; Kenneth One Feather Jr. (Standing Rock) Bismarck; Willie Eagle Heart Sam (Shoshone/Paiute) Bismarck

Business Administration-AAS:

Shelby Greeley (Sisseton/Wahpeton) South Sioux City, NE; Kendrick Ruiz (Standing Rock) Fort Yates, ND

Business Administration-BS:

Jolene DeCoteau (Turtle Mountain) Lincoln, ND

Business Management:

Stacey Chapman (Standing Rock) Mandan, ND; Dimitri Chavez (Northern Arapaho) Bismarck

Criminal Justice-AAS:

Dione Bell Rock (Crow Agency) Crow Agency, MT; Garrett McLain (Cherokee Nation) Bismarck

Criminal Justice-BS:

Sarah Lawrence (Cheyenne River) Mobridge, SD

Elementary Education-AAS:

Brooke Kemmet, Bismarck; Brianna Provost (Standing Rock) Fargo, ND; Tonia Rides Horse (Crow Agency) New Town, ND

Elementary Education-BS:

Dakota Eagle (Three Affiliated) Cannonball, ND

Health, Physical Education & Recreation:

Ky’Lee Driftwood (Crow Agency) Bismarck

Graphic Design:

Amanda Long (Turtle Mountain) Flandreau, SD

Culinary Arts:

Walter Loves Him (Fort Peck) Poplar, MT; Peyton Papakee (Meskwaki Nation) Bismarck

Heavy Equipment:

Eloy Brady (Northern Cheyenne) Mandan, ND; Travis Fleck, Mandan, ND; Roderick Grant (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) Bismarck; Dominic Hamel, Kyle, SD; Alexander Lambert (Three Affiliated) Bismarck; Ian Moran (Three Affiliated) Eagle Butte, SD; Isaiah Yelloweyes (Northern Cheyenne) Bismarck

– Aja Baker, UTTC Assistant Registrar