Marie Zephier

Marie Zephier

Bush Fellowship
24 months

Rapid City, SD — Marie Zephier (Oglala Lakota Nation) is passionate about helping people heal by reconnecting to Indigenous ways. She wants Native people to have access to the healing she has found through culture. As a doctoral candidate in Indigenous health, she is focused on increasing respect for the value and impact of traditional practices. She has seen, in securing and managing millions of dollars in health grants, how Westernized models are inadequate to meet the needs of Indigenous people. She believes that integrating Indigenous culture into the research and practices of western health systems can build trust, increase access to cultural healing methods, and alleviate health inequities. To lead this broad-scale change, she will complete her Ph.D., studying ways to use culturally informed data as a tool for advocacy and investment in cultural practices. She also will create intentional time to stay grounded in the Indigenous practices that have aided her addiction recovery journey.


What has informed your approach to leading change in your community? 

The driving force behind my approach to leading change in my community is the profound influence of my grandmother. Her selfless way of living and the guidance of our Creator has played a pivotal role in shaping my perspective and values. Their wisdom and love have empowered me to make a positive impact on others.


If you could have one superhuman power – the ability to do anything without limitation - what would it be?

If bestowed with one superhuman power, I would eliminate all judgment from human hearts, replacing it with boundless compassion and understanding. By fostering a world where empathy prevails over judgment, we can build a society that embraces and supports one another, irrespective of our differences.


What is your favorite quote or expression?

My favorite quote, shared by my maternal grandfather, Doug Schrader, is "Nothing good comes easy." This powerful statement reminds me of the value of hard work and perseverance. It serves as a constant reminder that the most rewarding achievements in life require dedication and effort.

South Dakota