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Youth Programs



We believe that Native youth need to know their culture and have access to people, places, and environments that help them to develop healthy lifestyles, without alcohol, drugs, or violence. 


Our goal is to re-establish and support a Hocoka (Sacred Circle) for the Oyate (people) to facilitate positive direction in their lives through Lakota Language, culture values and spirituality with our horse nation relatives.


Using culturally specific curriculum and strategies, we meet our goal through afterschool and summer programs, weekend youth retreats, equine life skills training, and our Lakota song, dance and youth society drumming programs. These activities offer the opportunity for: leadership development, social skills development, relationship building, healing from trauma and fear management, all leading toward increased self esteem and confidence.


We have created a conscious continuum of development for our youth. They begin building relationships and trust during afterschool sessions.


Our Wolakota camp series allows them to share cultural experiences.


They deepen their cultural involvement through youth societies and retreats.


Through social enterprises which they conceive, lead and operate with Lakota cultural values, they learn practical business and employment skills that help prepare them for financial independence as young adults.


Caring adult mentors 

With the support and guidance of the LYD leadership, Elder advisors and skilled business mentors, our youth are immersed in a safe non-judgmental nurturing environment that inspires trust, healthy relationships, and leadership development.

We are certified for Project Venture's Positive Prevention Model.  Our camps and out of school programs are offered for youth in Gregory, Todd, Mellette and Tripp Counties in South Dakota.

Equine Life Skills


Sunka Wakan Otakuye

The Horse Nation has been a part of Lakota culture for thousands of years. It seems only natural for LYD to move towards bringing back those relationships with the Horse Nation and native youth.  Equine activities are part of each camp experience.


Sunka Wakan Otakuye Curriculum is hands on learning with the horses, opening the door for Lakota youth to re-unite with the Horse Nation.


The horses interact with the youth in ways that help youth better understand their own actions and behaviors.  



the Lakota

Way of Life

The purpose of our youth gatherings is to develop and build on the necessary cultural skills of effective Lakota Youth Leadership and recovery that empower them and their peers to acquire the cultural resiliency and leadership qualities and skills needed to support re-establishment of Lakota youth societies.

The seven principals that will drive our youth experiences are embodied in the following:


  • While the hands are busy the mind is open

  • Knowing your place in the camp circle is the foundation for knowing your place in the community, tribal nation, and world

  • Personal, character and spiritual strengths once identified can be refined and developed to enhance youth life skills and personal growth.

  • Only when we know who we are and where our people have been can we go forward into the future. (i.e. personal, family, and tribal history)

  • Developments of cognitive problem solving skills are an integral part of “full circle” Lakota problem solving and decision making. (i.e. thought, emotions, physical investment, and spiritual consultation)

  • Lakota virtues and teachings must be shared and translated into today’s world experiences for youth to grasp their value

  • Adults must demonstrate commitment, respect, caring, support and protection for youth to have the needed environment for developmental and personal growth.


the Lakota
Way of life.

Capacity for each camp will be determined by the updated CDC guidelines. If we have already filled our capacity, youth can be added to wait list.

All youth 16 years and older must provide proof of full vaccination.

2023 Camp Schedule

June 12 - 15, 2023           Spring Harvest Camp


June 26 - 29, 2023            Isnati (Girls Coming of Age Ceremony) Camp

July 17 - 20, 2023             Leadership/Lakota History Camp

July 31 - Aug. 3, 2023        Bow & Arrow Camp

CANCELLED                       Theater Camp with Cornerstone Theater Company

Aug. 7 - 10, 2023              Summer Harvest/Horse Camp

Sept. 15 - 17, 2023             Hunt Safe Youth Weekend

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