Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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:
  • Camping on the ancestral land of the family-founders of Earth Tipi, an organization promoting organic/food sovereignty and sustainable housing for the Lakota people living on the reservation
  • Intimate evening meal conversations with guest elders and spiritual teachers from the tribe
  • Volunteer work on current Earth Tipi sustainability projects, and related 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) if available during the week
  • Hiking in the Lakota portion of Badlands National Park
  • Learning about the degree programs at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, SD.
  • Horseback riding 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 about Jeff's first visit to Pine Ridge on his blog in a story titled, We're All Living on a Rez.

  • Early bird fee is $695.  if received by Feb. 30th, 2018. 
  • Regular fee for the program is $745.  
  • 50% deposit of full fee is due upon acceptance into program to hold your spot. This deposit is not refundable. 
  • Fee includes: family campground registration and site fees, 3 daily meals, resident/host family tour guide, donation to our host family, and donations for each Lakota guest speaker. Fee does not include personal transportation to/from Pine Ridge or misc. personal expenses (travel info below).
  • Partial scholarships available to assist those in financial need. 
  • Deadline for all applications and fees is April 15th, 2018.

We will be camping outdoors in personal tents on our host family’s rural property near Manderson, SD.  (A full-size traditional Lakota tipi is available for 1-6 people to share, for an additional fee.)  Our host family will provide 3 daily vegetarian meals, and simple outdoor facilities for washing, solar showers, and toilets.


"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 meet-up location at the Rapid City SD airport at noon on Sunday, June 24th.  Participants all meet at the airport first, and we then caravan/carpool together to our host-family's land 1.5 hours away.  Ride sharing with other participants may be an option for you to get out to South Dakota (depending on your home location and where other participants are driving from).   


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 50% of the full program tuition to hold your spot.   The balance of your tuition is due April 15th.
  • Deadline for all registrations and fees is April 15, 2018.