Cecily R. Engelhart


Cecily is a member of the Ihanktonwan Nation through her father and a descendant of the Oglala Lakota Nation through her mother.  She grew up with two outspoken Native grandmothers who inspired her to make positive change in Indian Country.   After attending a protest on her reservation in 2008, she become frustrated at the lack of media coverage concerning grassroots activism in Native communities.  This led her to get a degree in American Indian Studies from the University of South Dakota where she focused on food sovereignty and the effect of media on mainstream attitudes toward Native American communities.  Wanting to gain insight from the experiences of other indigenous communities, she then studied at the University of Auckland to get a PgD in Māori Studies as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar in 2012.  After returning to the United States she graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with an MA in Social Documentation where she created her thesis film, Siouxtable Food. For the film she interviewed several change makers in Očeti Šakowin communities, including Nick Tilsen of Thunder Valley CDC.  She was immediately interested in becoming involved in the organization's comprehensive approach to creating Lakota-rooted systemic change in Indian Country, and joined the team in the fall of 2015.  Cecily loves cooking, wild ideas and the hearty laughter she gets to share with her family, friends and coworkers.