South Dakota

Native American Life in South Dakota: Past, Present and Future

Interact directly with the Lakota people – a Sioux tribe that includes Red Cloud and Crazy Horse – to learn about their proud culture through exciting performances and museum visits.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22433RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Travel to the spectacular badlands of South Dakota to learn directly from the Lakota people about their proud history that includes the venerable Red Cloud and Crazy Horse. From the Battle of the Little Bighorn to Wounded Knee, the Lakota have carved their place in American history. This resilient Sioux tribe has retained many of their ancient and hallowed traditions, but has also adapted to modern times. Experience an authentic pow-wow, several Native American dances and life on a reservation as you learn directly from local Native Americans about how they’re preserving and building on their rich cultural history.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to 30 minutes on varied terrain. Standing up to 30 minutes; some stairs. Elevations up to 6,000.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • At the Black Hills Pow-wow, learn directly from the Lakota people and enjoy authentic dancing and drumming.
  • Venture to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Museum to celebrate Native American Day and interact with Native American artists.
  • Go behind the scenes at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to learn from knowledgeable and engaging Native American speakers about current conditions on the reservation and their hopes for the future.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown
A history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee describes the people's displacement through forced relocations and years of warfare waged by the United States federal government. The book expresses a Native American perspective of the injustices and betrayals of the US government.
Lost Bird of Wounded Knee
by Renee Sansom Flood
On a Friday afternoon, Renee Sansom Flood, while sitting at her desk, was handed a photograph. It was a picture of a general in full dress uniform holding an Indian baby. On the back of the photo was written, "Zintkala Nuni, Lost Bird found on field of Wounded Knee." The next day, Renee began her investigation. What she discovered became this book, Lost Bird of Wounded Knee.
Black Elk Speaks
by John G. Neihardt
A classic, powerful story about a great Lakota leader, Black Elk. This is a legendary 'Book of Visions' of an Indian for whom the Black Hills were a sacred place. It was based on conversations by Black Elk with the author and translated from Lakota into English by Black Elk's son, Ben Black Elk, who was present during the talks.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog
by Kent Nerburn
A story that gives great insight into Lakota culture and takes readers to the heart of the Native American experience. Threading through the book is the story of two men trying to find a common voice, and the challenge it can be for an Anglo person to try and understand Lakota culture. This book will be more meaningful for you after the program than before.

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