In 2009, the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA), created the Cultural Advisory Committee. The committee focuses on ways the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) can responds to issues that affect diverse cultures represented in the city of Lead, the surrounding region and the state of South Dakota.
The mission of the SDSTA and Sanford Lab is, “To advance compelling underground, multidisciplinary research in a safe work environment and to inspire and educate through science, technology, and engineering.” As part of that mission, Sanford Lab provides research and educational opportunities to American Indian and other underrepresented students and groups.
The Cultural Advisory Committee advises key stakeholders, including the SDSTA Board of Directors, Sanford Lab Staff, members of the scientific collaborations, and the US Department of Energy on the importance of science education and policies and initiatives that support the Laboratory's commitment to integrate South Dakota's diverse culture into its operation. Comprised of educators, community members and state government representatives, the committee represents American Indian and local interests, including the educational and economic impact Sanford Lab’s activities have on Tribes within the region.
The roles and responsibilities of the Cultural Advisory Committee are to:
- Formulate and submit for consideration cultural management strategies and recommend objectives for recruitment and retention of American Indians and members of other underrepresented groups.
- Recommend and implement initiatives that support Sanford Lab’s commitment to promoting science education to South Dakota Tribal students and teachers.
- Promote and encourage SDSTA and Sanford Lab management to actively integrate regional cultures into their designs, procedures and operations.
- Review the program planning for SDSTA and Sanford Lab and advise on its effectiveness and prioritization of the Lab's cultural policies and initiatives.
- Annually review the Sanford Lab Cultural Program. This review is conducted by committee members and selected external cultural experts as deemed necessary.