Pine Ridge, South Dakota - Lakota Life

Indigenous students and students enrolled in First Nations Studies will be given priority for this experience. 

Through this program, you will have the opportunity to learn about Lakota life and culture, and contribute to a community-led service project. Amizade has emerging relationships with a network that engages agricultural initiatives, programming on youth and education, and cultural learning. Depending on the needs of the community at the time, your 8-day exploration of Pine Ridge may include any of these service activities. You will be working with a group of Lakota elders dedicated to ushering in a sustainable future for the health and wellbeing of the Oglala Lakota people.

Currently, they are working to establish an organic farm, as well as an education and resource center on Poor Bear family land near Allen, SD. Projects may also include serving with local community members to assist local residents with home repairs or improvements to family-land and farms. This service is regularly tied to community members who cook for visiting groups, provide demonstrations, and teach about traditional Lakota practices. These service projects not only provide much-needed assistance to community members but also act as opportunities for participants to learn about the culture and ways of life.

The Lakota often feel that volunteers who spend time learning about their life and culture and use this knowledge and their experience to educate their home communities, have served the Pine Ridge community in the greatest way.

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Community Partners


Dates of Travel

Friday May 1, 2020 – Friday May 8, 2020

Participant Numbers

  • 7 Student Participants
  • 1 Student Team Leader
  • 2 Team Leaders

*Note: this experience can accommodate up to 14 participants (including team leaders), assuming airline seats are available; however, this may mean additional participants pay an increased fee (based on new flight prices). 


  • Immerse yourself in Lakota life and culture, while learning from Lakota elders dedicated to a future of health and wellbeing for the Oglala Lakota people.
  • Learn about the systems and structures that the indigenous population within the United States borders have had to adjust and assimilate to, and how this has impacted traditions and cultures of the Oglala Lokota people.
  • Learn from local Lakota about family land use and traditional arts, and sample traditional foods.
  • Explore the natural beauty of Pine Ridge, and gain a deeper understanding of our important connection to land.
  • Have the option to take part in a traditional sweat lodge experience.
  • Visit Wounded Knee Memorial.
  • Spend a couple of nights sleeping in a teepee, and connecting with the land.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this Impact Experience you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to explore ideas, issues, and global systems from viewpoints other than your own, through reflective practice, group discussions and program activities
  • Work under conditions of ambiguity or uncertainty by engaging with community partners, community members and working as a team
  • Demonstrate an understanding of intercultural competence, sensitivity and humility by completing pre-departure workshops, activities in OWL and the ASB Reflective Practice Workbook, and engaging in the 1-2 week community-based experience
  • Cultivate intercultural skills by exploring your identities and perspectives as well as how you relate to members of different communities
  • Develop an understanding of the Pine Ridge Reservation as a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory that has its own governing structure, constitution, president and laws
  • Compare and contrast the different ways North American governments have treated indigenous populations throughout history, and today


Ideal Participant

It’s very important that you are sensitized and open to understanding that the Pine Ridge Reservation is a semi-autonomous Native American -governed territory that has its own governing structure, constitution, president, laws, and has a very different culture, history, and climate. You should be clear that this experience will examine Oglala Lakota life and its relationship to the United States through service, cultural immersion, and learning. If you are flexible, patient, open to a new culture, hard-working, and able to handle yourself professionally in delicate community situations, this will be a wonderful opportunity.


Total cost (subject to change) – $2,900 CAD

Costs include:

  • Flight
  • Registration and programs fees with Amizade
  • Contribution to the project and comprehensive on-site support
  • Insurance (health, flight cancellation, baggage)
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Transportation in South Dakota
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Administrative Fee (buff, team leader contribution, journal)

Note: Impact Experience participants will be responsible for any luggage costs assigned by individual airlines, airport tax, souvenirs, or additional food/snacks during the trip.

Preliminary Itinerary

Day 1 - You will fly from Detroit, Michigan to Rapid City, South Dakota. From here you will drive the 2 hours to Allan, South Dakota where you will check into the Lakota Prairie Ridge Hotel and have a team dinner, and introduction to the area and culture.

Day 2-4 – You will spend your mornings and afternoons working side by side Oglala Lakota people. You will break for a team lunch and finish your day with an evening reflection, traditional teachings and presentations from Lakota elders, ranging from local history and stories to the importance of the sun dance: Jim Cross.

Day 5-6 – Again, you will spend the majority of the day working side by side Oglala Lokota people supporting their community efforts. In the afternoon they will teach you how to raise a teepee where you will sleep for the next 3 evenings. You will also have an option to participate in a traditional sweat lodge ceremony.

Day 7 – You will start your day concluding any service needs of the community and, in the afternoon, you will visit Badlands National Park and Wall en route to Rapid City.

Day 8 – You will have the opportunity to visit Mt. Rushmore and Crazyhorse in the morning, before your flight departs in the afternoon.

*PLEASE NOTE: this itinerary is draft, and subject to change at any time.


Amizade coordinates appropriate accommodations that reflect the atmosphere of the region. In Allan, you will be staying at the Lakota Prairie Ridge Hotel, with 3 nights being spent in a teepee. All accommodations are vetted by Amizade and are adequately safe and hygienic. 


Most meals will be prepared by local chefs as an income generating activity. Food is typically a mixture of traditional Lakota cuisine and modern American food. Food is easily prepared for any dietary restriction.

All group meals are included during program days, and participants will be responsible for any meals during travel days and personal snacks throughout the week.


Need to Know

  • This experience is based outside Canada and involves travel in the U.S.A.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that you have the required travel documents and travel visas necessary to participate in the experience.
  • If you require disability-related accommodation, or have other special considerations, we encourage you to contact us before applying. We may require further information to determine how we can best meet your accommodation needs.