Volunteer on the Rosebud Reservation
Be the Change. Be a Global Volunteer on the Rosebud Reservation.
Experience life in an American Indian community.
Unique and meaningful community service opportunities await you on the plains of South Dakota. Enter a world largely unknown to casual visitors, working one-on-one with the Sicangu Oyate – also known as Sicangu Rosebud Sioux people. Help with pressing social, labor and cultural projects for a week of service, learning and fun outside one of America’s most popular tourist destinations! See Covid-19 requirements.
Get Started in South Dakota.
Volunteer on the vast western plains.
Genuine development projects to help children thrive. Exceptional service-learning for families, groups and individuals.
Your help is greatly needed.
Labor assistance is our primary community service project. Todd County, comprising the Rosebud Reservation, is the second poorest county in the nation. Unemployment is over 80 percent. About 76 percent of the employed labor force on the reservation lives below the poverty level. Home repair and painting is a constant need. If you are experienced in electrical and plumbing work, you’ll employ your skills on a variety of home projects. Splitting and delivering firewood is an important project – and one that nearly all ages can work on.
No previous experience is necessary. A group of native crew leaders will work with and direct you and your teammates. All the while, you learn about and from people who strive to improve the quality of life for children and families.
In the summer months, children have few organized activities. Help plan, organize and run a week-long summer camp for elementary-aged youth. Whether you are a craft maven, athletically minded, a great storyteller or just love kids, your help is needed.
Upcoming Volunteer Dates in Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota
Rely on expert team management.
Your program team leader is a Global Volunteers staff member or alumni who has completed our comprehensive team leader training and is skilled in leading diverse groups of people. All team leaders are certified in CPR and First Aid, and have served on or led multiple service programs – some up to 50 times and more! Further, they’re evaluated by the volunteers on each service program, and must consistently achieve a high level of performance in order to continue leading Global Volunteers teams. All of our team leaders are exceptional and delightful people. You’ll receive background information on your team leader approximately four weeks before your Rosebud service program begins.
An easy flight or drive.
Global Volunteers’ service program officially begins with the Saturday evening meal and ends with breakfast on the following Saturday. Plan your flight to arrive in Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), before 3:00 PM on Saturday and departure after 12:00 Noon on the following Saturday. We will meet you and your teammates at the airport and transport you to the host community on the Rosebud Reservation, and return you to the airport at the end of the service program.
Optionally, you may also drive independently to the community either from home or the airport. Whether you are driving or flying, if you are delayed, please contact us with your updated arrival plans. Your volunteer orientation materials include directions to your team meeting place in Mission, SD.
Rest up for a full day of volunteering!
Lodging is dormitory style with two bunk beds per room and shared women’s and men’s bathrooms.
- Bunk beds in church dormitory
- Shared bathrooms with showers
- Windows in every room with fans
- On-site kitchen for meal preparation
Breakfast is self-serve at the lodging facility, with packed or provided lunch at the work sites. Evening meals are prepared by a local cook at the lodging facility. Food is typical American fare – meat, potatoes, salads and soups. Strict vegetarian and other restrictive diets may not be easily accommodated. Local water is safe; bottled water is available. WiFi is available for an additional charge.
Your safety is our top priority.
Your lodging, food and transportation are provided always with a mind to protect you while at the work site and in your hotel. Your team leader is trained in CPR and first aid. Read more about health and safety here.
Summer days on the plains of South Dakota can get hot. Sunburn and dehydration can be risks, so we urge you to pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and a water bottle. You likely will not encounter wild animals or poisonous insects or snakes at the work sites or at lodging facilities. However, stray dogs may be present. We strongly recommend you consult your own physician, public health clinic and/or travel clinic for detailed travel health information, and make sure your tetanus shots are up to date.
Accurately assess your functional mobility. Our work assignments and partner communities require varying levels of physical stamina and mobility. After you register, you will be asked about your physical capabilities relating to your mobility. Please answer the questions honestly.
Required Mobility for South Dakota: Somewhat mobile – Walk 0.5 mile, climb two flights of stairs, walk on uneven terrain, and get on and off buses and trains with assistance.
Explore the wide open spaces.
Ample time is provided after the work day to enjoy local natural and culture attractions – which include visits to Sinte Gleska University, souvenir shopping, hiking local trails, and participating in community events and celebrations. Beading and Dreamcatcher classes are available along with a buffalo ranch tour, and presentations on the sundance and Wacipi, Lakota creation and traditions. You may be interested to visit the world-renown Mount Rushmore, Black Hills and Badlands around Rapid City before or after your service program.
An outstanding family volunteer vacation.
Serving on the reservation is a most unique and fulfilling family opportunity. Children as young as 12 can fully participate in work projects, team meetings and free time. Most non-Indians in the U.S. never have the opportunity to experience “rez life” personally. As Global Volunteers, you and your children are acquainted with the cultural differences and similarities between Native Americans and Non-Indians, and gain respect for those living within the limitations of economic poverty. Stereotypes are dispelled, assumptions are challenged. You’re exposed to the Lakota language, traditions and legacy of the early American settlers in Indian territory.
Most important, you provide a needed service working alongside local people. The assignments may at once seem inconsequential, however, when you allow yourself to experience Nature’s rhythm and simplicity, you’ll gain understanding and respect for the role of service in this severely under-resourced community.
Service programs are conveniently scheduled during summer break from school. Parents and guardians are expected to supervise their child volunteers, and collaborate with our team leader and local partners to maximize the service experience for everyone. In this way, youth form a rare, personal perspective of this unique culture beyond textbook depictions and legends. What’s more, they may gain life-long friends in one of the country’s least-understood populations.
Help, hang together and have fun!
Many student and corporate groups have served on our Indian Reservation programs to learn first-hand about the host community and to strengthen their commitment to community service and teamwork. Because of our on-going relationship with the Lakota Nation, every member of your group can fully engage their unique skills and interests in meaningful service. We work with you to customize your program to learn about each other in a non-traditional way as an intact volunteer team. With advanced preparation, you can be certain that your unique contributions on genuine development projects advance the futures of those you serve.
Some student groups return year after year to our reservation programs to further understand the history, language, culture and modern life in a decidedly “non-tourist” manner.
Working with local teens, tribal leaders, elders and children, you gain a rare, “insider” perspective of daily life on the reservation. Comparing notes with your teammates at the end of the day around the campfire, you reflect on the experience of volunteering together and experiencing the Indian culture as you live it.