The Pettigrew Gulch Group was founded in 1966 by a group of professors and graduate student from University of South Dakota-Spearfish. The original group included Rick Telfer, Professor of Theology, Maryann Klebold Professor of Anthropolgy and Archaeology as well as Samuel Ferraro, Professor of Ancient Languages and Jacquelin Allen, Professor of Native Studies and member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
The Pettigrew Gulch Group was founded on the idea that the universe is a feminine entity. The idea of energy emerging from the void of space and from that energy emerged matter and from the matter, consciouness was born. They believed that procreative capacity of the feminine sex and the origin of the universe were essentially examples of the same function. Their beliefs were informed by the beliefs of native tribes located in South-Western South Dakota.
The group actively petitioned for women’s equality in the workplace, the armed forces, education and the Olympics. They supported the first Native American State Senator of South Dakota, Eileen Sky Rice, in her bid during the 1967 State Senatorial elections. They were widely involved in social work in the nearby Pine Ridge Agency, a reservation home to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Group also were credited with a number of peaceful demonstrations on the campus of University of South Dakota-Spearfish. They were vehemently pacifistic and extremely aware of the impact of human presence on the environment. They petitioned George McGovern, then Senator for South Dakota to expand the budget of his conservation efforts and successfully lobbied for job creation withing the Native American community. They were early to support his unsuccessful 1972 presidential campaign and were an important contributor to his in-state fundraising effort.
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