Lane Spotted Elk is a humble leader with a passion for living in a way that makes the world better, for his family, Tribe, and future generations. When Lane reached out to me in April about completing his internship at AKA to fulfill his degree at Montana State University, I immediately said yes! I’ve worked with a lot of students and people in my life, no one matches Lane in spirit, kindness, intention, and purpose. There was a place for Lane on the AKA team, and we wanted to learn from him just as much as he wanted to learn from us.
Lane grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and is a first generation college graduate. I first met Lane when he was working at the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and I was the evaluator for their SAMSHA Circles of Care planning grant. Lane was a clan leader for our partner, Native PRIDE, and the Good Road of Life and Native HOPE trainings throughout the years. As time marched on, he was elected to the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council.
Jaylen Aguilar met up with Lane to learn about his journey to earn a Bachelors Degree and his plans for the future.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management with a minor in Native American Studies. Initially, I started my degree after graduating high school in 2008, but I took some time off. I started a family in the meantime. I attended Chief Dull Knife, a tribal college back home, then decided to go back this past semester to finish my degree.
The path to get my degree was challenging at times, not a straight line for sure- more of a scribble sometimes.
Several things happened along the way. I gained much needed professional skills working for Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and serving on the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council. These were very valuable experiences that have helped me develop personally and professionally.
I have some advice…
For future AIAN students in this major.
In many of my business classes, sometimes I was the only AIAN student. I would advise to students interested in business school to find what aspect of business you are passionate about and pursue it. Networking and making friendships throughout your journey will be valuable to you as a business student.
General advice for all students.
Just remember you belong in higher education; don't let feelings of not belonging hinder your success. Sometimes in college, there were times I experienced imposter syndrome; but you just have to move forward.
The hardest part…
For me the hardest part initially was being away from family and community. I did make some life-long friendships at school and became involved in various campus activities.
In five years …
I am aspiring to be an attorney. I will help advance tribal sovereignty/self-determination as well as protecting our environment.
I hope and dream that I can utilize my education in a way that is beneficial to society however that looks. I also hope to be the best husband and father to my children as possible. I encourage anyone to keep striving for their educational goals and aspirations. Even if you don't take the traditional route to finish school, it’s still possible. I remember I had a few college courses with elders who prided themselves on being life-long learners; that is very inspiring! Tribal Colleges are a great tool and resource to help.
Life is one big dream, and we are living it with Lane Spotted Elk interning at AKA this summer. Our hearts and intentions are set toward his success. We honor and celebrate him, and all graduates this year.