SuAnne Big Crow was a star in every way. She was an outstanding athlete, especially in basketball. Her honors include All-State for three years, honorable mention in USA Today for All -American players, several South Dakota State records including most points in a game (67!) and most points in a season. The USSR awarded her with a trophy for her stellar play as a member of a national Indian team. One of her high school goals was to lead her team to the state Class A championship, which she did, finishing her standout effort by scoring the winning basket for the championship as time ran out.
SuAnne was also a star as a person. Another of her goals was to finish first academically in her class, which she also accomplished. She was a friend to all and a greatly admired role model. She spoke across the country against drug and alcohol abuse and helped produce an anti-alcohol video tape. She confronted anti-native bigotry head-on, succeeding where adults had failed. The National Educational Association annually presents an award bearing SuAnne’s name to someone who has made a contribution towards racial reconciliation. SuAnne insisted that her young peers give their best. In her own words, “Work hard, be dedicated, develop a thick skin, learn to accept criticism, but most of all, do it yourself.”
SuAnne’s achievements during her too-brief lifetime are too numerous to list. Her honors, awards and citations fill a room: The Incentive Room at the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club.
One of SuAnne’s visions was the establishment of a facility for the youth on Pine Ridge; a safe, supportive place that was free of drugs and alcohol, jealousy and violence; a place where everybody got along and people were proud of each other. When other youth were discouraged, SuAnne told them of this vision and called the place she saw “Happytown.” After the shock of her tragic death in an automobile accident in 1992, her courageous family and the community decided to take action on SuAnne’s vision by founding the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club. and the adjacent ‘50s and ‘60s theme restaurant called "Happytown USA."
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