Sam Dupris, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has been named St. Joseph’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.
Sam attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1938-1941 with his four siblings. After completing high school in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Sam served in the US Army. He was wounded in the line of duty and honorably discharged. Sam was awarded the Purple Heart for his service.
Sam attended flight school in Texas and spent several years crop dusting. After perfecting his flight skills over the fields of the Mississippi Delta, Sam flew in Southeast Asia for Air America, which was secretly operated by the CIA.
Over the next 25 years of his flying career with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sam worked his way through the ranks to become a Captain and Chief Pilot. He is the first and only Native American to be employed as an FAA pilot.
Described as a pathfinder and role model for Native Americans, Sam used his role as a pilot to encourage Native American children to set their goals high. In recognition of his many accomplishments, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe proclaimed August 18 Sam Dupris Day in 2001, the same year he was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2010.
Sam and his wife currently live in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Previous award winners include: