Margaret A. MacKichan is the director of the Art Institute at Sinte Gleska University in Mission, South Dakota. (Photo courtesy University of Wisconsin Eau Claire)

Educator Spotlight: Margaret A. MacKichan

Simon Moya-Smith
11/12/12

Artist and photographer Margaret A. MacKichan is the director of the Art Institute at Sinte Gleska University in Mission, South Dakota.

MacKichan, of West Virginia, has a BFA in sculpture, painting and photography from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and got her MA and MFA at the University of New Mexico.

Prior to joining the faculty at Sinte Gleska, MacKichan lived in Scotland where she took odd, agrarian jobs to fund her love of photography.

“That would’ve been 1987,” she said. “I was at the time living on a Scottish island photographing. I was herding sheep; I was delivering lambs; I was a shepherd. I was picking shellfish off the shore—I was doing anything I could do to stay over there and photograph.”

Later that same year MacKichan would begin what would become a 26-year career at Sinte Gleska University.

MacKichan, whose uncle designed the very first corvette, is also the author of the photography book, In the Kingdom of Grass. In 2003, she was named South Dakota Art Educator of the Year.

Currently, MacKichan teaches all of the drawing, painting and art history courses at Sinte Gleska.

“Sometimes I teach photography … and sometimes I’ve taught all the classes because we’re so tiny.”

MacKichan said budding American Indian art students should keep an “open mind.”

“I think if you’re going into the arts, no matter what part of the arts, you have to go in with passion,” she said. “You have to go in with the willingness to put everything you’ve got into it. No matter what area you’re studying, that kind of approach will put you ahead.”

MacKichan is the mother of Jemma Moccasin, 11, and the widow of Sicangu Lakota Don Moccasin who was a “cultural documentarian” in his day, said MacKichan. Don Moccasin was a Lakota language instructor.

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