Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Note: Our group has returned from this wonderful program offered in June, 2018.  Preparations now underway for our 2019 program.  You can find the basic details below.  Dates and fees for 2019 will vary.  Enjoy reading, and contact Jeff with any questions or interest now!

Volunteer Trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD,  June 24-29, 2018.



"I can't believe how lucky I was to find your Pine Ridge group this summer.  What an amazing experience!  I hold it in my heart forever!  I can't wait to go back!"   - Siobhan, laboratory technician (Madison WI)

"My gratitude for this time on the Pine Ridge Reservation is immeasurable.  I feel truly changed, eyes and heart opened wider by my experience there.  I was not dim to the history before I got there. But one cannot fully comprehend without having a taste of it, without setting foot on that sacred ground called the Rez.   I don’t think I’d have found a better way to be of service, volunteering on the Rez,  if not for Jeff.   'Pilamaya'."    -BJ, psychotherapist and shamanic practitioner (Boulder CO)


Enter into the soul of the Great American Plains with this week-long journey among the Oglala Lakota people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Set in the heart-opening vistas of the prairie and nearby Badlands National Park, participants will experience first-hand the people and real story of one of the largest surviving Native American tribes today: their history, culture, spirituality, modern struggles and opportunities.  No mere bus tour or "drive-by" vacation, this program involves a real immersion in the Lakota culture.  Our goal is to show how the earth-honoring spiritual ways of the Oglala people offer our dominant nonIndian society a much-needed wisdom on living in balance with nature and Spirit, through the use of both traditional teachings and modern sustainable technology.

Activities during this wide-ranging week will include:
  • Staying at the Sacred Earth Lodge on the reservation, a visionary group/conference facility sponsored by the Trees, Water, People organization on Pine Ridge.
  • Cultural presentations and intimate mealtime conversations with guest elders, and spiritual teachers from the tribe
  • Volunteer work on projects around the 'Rez'
  • Visiting the Wounded Knee massacre site and visitor center
  • Touring Lakota Solar Enterprises, and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center
  • Attending an Oglala Lakota wacipi (powwow) or participating in sacred inipi (sweat lodge) purification ceremony, if available during our program week
  • Hiking in the Lakota portion of Badlands National Park
  • Learning about the degree programs at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, SD.
  • Horseback riding, and/or handcraft workshops at Singing Horse trading post (extra fees)
  • Exploring the Red Cloud Heritage Center and Art Gallery
  • Visiting reservation radio station KILI, “Voice of the Lakota Nation”
  • Personal encounters with individual Lakota families and children as available.
  • Additional opportunities as they arise spontaneously 🙂

Jeff Nixa is a veteran spiritual guide, teacher, and outdoor enthusiast passionate about the Great Plains' history, ecosystem, and the spiritual practices of native cultures worldwide.  He first began volunteering on Pine Ridge reservation in 2013 with the Re-Member program, returned for several more years of volunteer work, and in 2016 began working with Pine Ridge residents and friends he had met to create this annual program to introduce others to the Lakota people, their story, their challenges, and their wisdom for nonIndian culture.  You can read Jeff's account of his first heart-opening visits to Pine Ridge, We're All Living on a Rez (2013), and Where The Heart Is Hidden In Plain View (2014)

Registration and Fees:
  • New, a donation-based, Pay-It-Forward fee system: You make the minimum deposit of $373. , then pay what you can toward the regular fee. Your donation beyond the minimum deposit is earmarked to help a needy student attend next year.
  • (The regular advertised fee for this program has been $745.  The minimum 50%  deposit is $373.)
  • Your 50% deposit is due upon acceptance to hold your spot. This deposit is not refundable.
  • Fee includes: lodging, meals (we all help prepare communal meals), tour guide(s), donations for each Lakota guest speaker, and ceremony/events as available.
  • Fee does not include personal transportation to/from Pine Ridge or misc. personal expenses.  (More travel info below.)

We will be staying in the Sacred Earth Lodge, an eco-friendly space designed for visiting groups and confereces in the area. The Lodge is located on Pine Ridge reservation at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center campus, just minutes away from downtown Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  Amenities include dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds, a smaller dormitory-style room  with beds, women's and men's restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a community kitchen and dining area, and simple classroom, meeting, and lounge Spaces.


"One of the first things Jeff told me for this trip was, "Put your watch away," a good metaphor for the entire trip. With this program you journey to a place where the past is real as today, where people focus more on building relationships than completing checklists, and where the love for the land, their families, and their children is as palpable and real as the clouds in the sky."  - Todd, English teacher (Bedford TX)



Participants can drive or fly to our group meet-up location at the Rapid City SD airport (RAP) at noon on Sunday, June 24th.  Participants all meet at the airport first, then we caravan/carpool together in personal vehicles to the reservation 1.5 hours away.   Rental cars are available at the airport, but may not be necessary if we have enough drivers.  We will return participants to the airport for their flights back home on June 29th.  More details in the application/ information packets you will receive.  While on the reservation, we rideshare in the vehicles of those who have driven to the program.

Ride sharing to South Dakota with another participant(s) may be an option, depending on your home location and where other participants are driving from.   For example, last year several participants from Indiana and Michigan met up and car-caravened together to the reservation, camping overnight at a beautiful family campground on the banks of the Missouri River.


Participants will get a detailed packing list, and recommended reading, film & video resources to help you prepare and learn the complex history, traditions and challenges facing the Lakota people of Pine Ridge today.

Registration Process:
  • Download the Pine Ridge Application form here and email it back to Jeff per the instructions.  (If you have trouble with the download just email Jeff for an application form at )
  • Jeff will contact you for a time to chat and share more about the program and answer any additional questions.
  • Upon acceptance, you will be invoiced for the $325. minimum deposit.   The balance of your chosen donation is due June 1st, 2018.