Wellness Center


Oceti Wakan has been working with children and youth groups for many years towards the goal of lifting them out of the cycle of alcohol, drug abuse and suicide. Living in homes that more than likely include alcoholism and drug abuse, unemployment, extreme poverty, depression and hopelessness, we strive to provide culturally-based educational and enrichment activities to prevent these conditions in their futures. 

 We do this by giving them tools to not only cope with these difficulties, but more importantly to choose other options for themselves. Their Lakota ancestors have always been known for the virtues of generosity, courage, fortitude and fidelity, respect, truthfulness, hope and to strive towards wisdom and nobility. So, we focus on identifying and developing virtues like these, making healthy choices and being of service to others.

But finding a community building to have these meetings in has been such a challenge that we had to stop almost all of them until we used the money in our building fund to build the first room. Our dream is to create an Oceti Wakan Wellness Center for children and youth here on Pine Ridge. The Center, if fully staffed, would include culturally-sensitive counselors who can guide the youth through such difficulties that led 22 of them, ages 12-17, to choose suicide in 2015 alone. Another 500 attempted it but thankfully lived, and even more were talked out of it. This center can be not only a safe place to work through troubled lives, but also one where they can be equipped with tools to deal with their lives and a place to learn about their culture and Lakota ceremonies. The complete and sustainable long-range vision would probably require a $2,000,000 investment. Our children’s needs are so great, we feel we have to act now.

Phase 1. In 2016, we completed an initial start to our Wellness Center, a 16x20 foot room. It was designed so that additional permanent rooms could be added on as funding becomes available. With so many at-risk children and youth, we felt the need to create an immediate gathering space. Since it opened, we have held many classes: cultural classes like quilting and sewing, parenting classes, virtues classes for children, learning the language of virtues for parents and teachers, tapping for trauma, service empowerment classes for junior youth, children’s classes, a place to support some of the Big Foot Riders, and other cultural events.

Phase 2. Expansion of the Wellness Center of a hallway area which includes a bathroom and coat closet and a much larger room to have simultaneous classes at a time, like having our children separate from our junior youth in different classrooms, or have parenting classes in one area and so on. We do the youth and children an injustice when we have them all together and our topics of discussion have to be geared for younger ears. We also built this year a permanent shade area with picnic tables to create an additional gathering place but in some of our severe weather, this is unusable.

Phase 2

 Some examples of activities that could take place in an expanded area:

• We have Elder women who want to use a quilting circle to mentor young Lakota girls. We are starting this September 2018!

We would have a place for more sewing machines, drums, food and clothing for those in need, computers, and more.

• We have a program that we can set up right away called telehealth/telepsychiatry services if we had a place for counseling our young people and adults.

• We want to have ongoing parenting classes.

• In September 2018, we are expanding our prevention classes for youth and children, under the Anpetu Luta Otipi (substance abuse/prevention) that is supported by our tribe. We will have two prevention groups three times a week this coming year. We are very excited about this!

• We have a need for a place for support groups for grieving, alcoholism, addiction, and co-dependency (that large room addition to the Wellness Center) would make this possible.

• We will be setting up some of our ‘Lakota Language Learning Stations’ for those who want to work to learn the Lakota language.

• We will have a home for a lending library of books that we have been collecting for the young people to learn about themselves and the wisdom of the ages. (There is no public library in Pine Ridge.)

And so much more...

Phase 3. Our next phase will be a Sacred Child Center. This will be a place at its own location down the road for children who are in need of safe housing and care. Many of these would be children who were taken away from parents who put them in danger or abused them that our police get almost daily. It will also give an invitation to parents who know they will be partying, to give their children to us during this time. We will get them to school, give them prevention, virtues and cultural studies, perhaps have horses for them to take care of, and provide an environment for them in the country that will feed their soul. When the parents are sober, they can come back for their children.

Phase 4. The last phase is the Ceremonial Educational/Cultural Center, which was the ultimate dream of the founders of Oceti Wakan. This will be a healing center where large cultural and traditional events will take place. Eventually the Ceremonial Center will have small cabins across from the area of the Sacred Child Center. Each would be a place of peace to heal.

Any contributions to this project would be actually making a difference in the world and could mean a turning point for many young Lakota.

Please help us make this place of healing a reality for our children here! With your help we can do it! Wopila!!   Donate 



Total amount that donors donated to our campaign "Wellness / Cultural Education Center":  $21,456

# Country Contribution Number of donations Lowest Average Highest Total
1 Austria Austria 43% 14 $180 $655 $2,400 $9,170
2 United States United States 29% 50 $5 $125 $1,000 $6,244
3 United Kingdom United Kingdom 11% 5 $20 $484 $1,300 $2,420
4 Germany Germany 8% 16 $10 $107 $550 $1,718
5 France France 5% 3 $130 $323 $640 $970




ABOUT Oceti Wakan

Oceti Wakan is a non profit organization on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.


Oceti Wakan, P O Box 1958  
Pine Ridge, SD 57770
Tel: (605) 867-6045 / (605) 454-1489 cell




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