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Lakota Today, Lakota Forever

A recent Native American youth summit on the Pine Ridge Reservation took on bullying, skills development, homelessness and teen drinking, among other issues.
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Held in the beginning of August, the Lakota Today, Lakota Forever Youth Summit gave Pine Ridge Reservation youth a chance to discuss obstacles they face including high suicide rates, depression, teen drinking, homelessness and bullying.

Breakout sessions were specialized for grade groups. Fifth through 12th grades got lessons about bullying and developing life skills but the younger students, up to eighth grade had a storytelling session while the older high school students got a lesson in tipi raising. Sessions for adults included developing healthy relationships and life skills and building skills as parents.

More than 200 participants gathered in the Wounded Knee District School gym in Manderson, South Dakota for the event co-hosted by Oyate Omniciye-Oglala Lakota Plan. The group that has been holding listening and visioning sessions, like the one held on the second day of the summit, across the reservation as part of the Regional Sustainable Development Planning grant.

“The information we collect during these sessions is critical. The voice of the people is the heart of the Oglala Lakota Plan, and we believe it is these voices that will lead us to achieve the positive outcomes we desire for our children and the Oglala Lakota Nation,” Nick Tilsen, executive director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation who is administering the planning project, said in a press release.

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In 2010 Thunder Valley received a grant of $996,100 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a plan to serve as the blueprint for investment decisions to support the future of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

According to the group’s website, they are in the “discovery” phase of putting this plan in place. For more information visit