The experience of a lifetime – an opportunity to learn from Lakota teachers on Lakota land for a week during beautiful autumn in the Black Hills, the Badlands and the sweeping South Dakota prairie. 

You will experience:

Overnight at Bear Butte Lodge with hike*, a sweat lodge ceremony, Crazy Horse Monument, sleeping in a Lakota lodge, travel through Pine Ridge Reservation, a teen-operated bee-keeping enterprise, Wounded Knee Massacre site, day to day life on the Rosebud Reservation, The Badlands, (And yes, a visit outside Mount Rushmore)

*Hike is appropriate for experienced hikers.  Other activities for the afternoon include strolling through the scenic property, reading, meditating, helping prepare dinner.

You will learn:

Lakota terms and history, Lakota spirituality, Lakota culture and ethics, Lakota social justice issues, Lakota arts and crafts and their relevance today.

What Is Required Prior To the Journey:

We will prepare for this journey prior to our departure. You will be required to read several books, listen to music, watch videos and attend weekly teaching/discussion sessions in order to be as knowledgeable as possible about the culture we will enter and each place that we will visit.  There are many misconceptions about the Lakota nation, and before embarking on this trip we want you to be as prepared as possible about the history, culture, spirituality, art, and daily life on the reservation. Depending on where pilgrimage members live, these discussions may be held by teleconference or face-to-face beginning in early August.  The time we spend at each site and the discussions we have with teachers and elders will be much more meaningful if we understand the significance before we arrive. You will receive more details about required preparation in the coming weeks.

Anticipated Itinerary:

Saturday, Oct. 21
Meet midday at Rapid City Airport lobby.  Transport via van through the Black Hills to Bear Butte for afternoon hike, dinner, and discussion with Steve and Deb. Overnight in shared dorm lodging.  Meals and linen provided.  Those unable or who do not desire to hike may spend the afternoon strolling the lovely lodge grounds, reading or meditating.

Sunday, Oct. 22
After breakfast at Bear Butte, we travel through the Black Hills to a photo opportunity outside Mount Rushmore, then to Crazy Horse Monument, where we will have lunch at Laughing Waters Restaurant.  Then we drive through Grasslands National Park to Pine Ridge Reservation, to the Wounded Knee Massacre site, and through Rosebud Reservation to Milks Camp.  We will have dinner, settle in for the night in shared dorm lodging, and have reflection time with Steve and Deb.  Meals and linen provided.

Monday, Oct. 23 – Thursday, Oct. 26
We will experience a sweat lodge ceremony, have opportunities to learn from the Horse and Bee Nations, spend time in discussion with Lakota elders, and learn Lakota art forms and their relevance to Lakota culture and spirituality.  You’ll have an opportunity to eat traditional Lakota foods. Those desiring to do so may learn to set up a lodge and sleep in it, weather permitting!   We will spend one day in the heart of the reservation in the towns of Mission, St. Francis and Rosebud.  We will visit museums and Sundance grounds, and drive through Spring Creek, Grass Mountain, and Ghost Hawk Park, then return to Milks Camp in the evening.

Friday, Oct. 27
We will travel west and visit Badlands National Park, famous Wall Drugs, then to Rapid City, where we will visit Prairie Edge for shopping and culture.  We will have a nice dinner in Rapid City and an overnight stay at a hotel for Saturday departure.

Saturday, Oct. 28
Transport to airport and departure.

Lakota Immersion: Spirit and Culture
**Cost of only $950.00 includes:

  • Lodging one night at Bear Butte Lodge (shared dorm facility), linens provided. Dinner and breakfast provided, vegetarian options available. An afternoon hike up the Butte for those able to make the climb.  Other activities available.
  • Guided-tour bus drive through the Black Hills, with a stop outside Mount Rushmore, a morning visit to Crazy Horse Monument (lunch at Laughing Waters Restaurant), a drive through Grasslands National Park (where you will see Prairie Dogs and maybe Buffalo!), a drive through Pine Ridge Reservation with a stop at the Wounded Knee Massacre site, a drive through Rosebud Reservation, arriving at Milk Camp late afternoon.
  • Lodging five nights at Milks Camp on the Rosebud Reservation, including sleeping in Lakota lodge if desired for some of the nights, weather permitting, or in shared dorm facility, linens provided. Washer and dryer available. Three meals each day, vegetarian options available.  We will host one meal with traditional Lakota food, including fry bread and skillet bread.
  • At Milks Camp, tribal elders and teachers will lead a sweat lodge ceremony, teach workshops on Lakota spirituality, culture, history and social justice issues of today. You will have an opportunity to make traditional Lakota crafts (materials provided). You will see a working honey business operated by Lakota youth and much more!
  • We will take a day trip into the Rosebud Reservation towns of Mission, St. Francis and Rosebud, the tribal government seat.  You’ll visit Sundance Grounds, Ghost Hawk Park, Spring Creek and Grass Mountain.  You’ll visit buildings at Sinte Gleska University.
  • Bus transport back to Rapid City, with a drive through amazing Badlands National Park, a stop at famous Wall Drugs, and a visit to Prairie Edge museum and art gallery.

Not included:
 –  Airfare to and from Rapid City, SD.
–  Lodging one night at a Rapid City hotel at end of experience. We will make arrangements for the group at the same hotel, however. You’ll need to let us know if you’d like a single room.
–  Food on travel days not noted above, lunch on travel day into the town of Mission, and food you choose to buy for yourself.
–  Personal items, souvenirs, gifts you may buy.

**This price is based on 10 participants.  Cost per person rises if we have fewer than 10.

Additional Travel and Cost Information

  • Registration Deadline: July 31.
  • A deposit of $500.00 is due upon registration. Final payment of total cost due in full on September 15.
  • No refunds for cancellation after September 15.
    This program is limited to 10 participants, so register early! Also note we may need to cancel the trip if the number of participants is less than 10.

Upon Registration You Will Receive:

  • A list of required preliminary educational materials – reading lists, music lists, video lists. Note: additional materials may be added.
  • Preliminary plans, dates and times for weekly preparation meetings. These meetings are required, and so important, not just because you will learn so much about the Lakota way, but you will begin to bond with your fellow travelers (and Deb and Steve!).  The meetings will be held once each week on the same evening.  Failure to attend the preparation meetings will result in you being asked to leave the trip.
  • Maps and website links to places we will visit and people you will meet.
  • A packing list (some items suggested, others required). Note: washer and dryer available at Milks Camp.
  • Liability waivers and emergency information forms
  • Please note that the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations are alcohol and recreational drug free.
  • This experience is not appropriate for those who find walking difficult and who may have other limitations. Please arrange to speak to Deb in advance of registering if you need.
  • You will receive Paypal invoices for your reservation fee and for your final payment. Reservation payment is due on July 31.  Final payment is due Sept. 15.

About the Facilitators

 Steve Tamayo is a traditional Sicangu Lakota artist whose family originates from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. After graduating from High School in 1984, Tamayo enlisted in the US Army, serving in the 101st Airborne Division. After returning to Omaha in 1987, he studied the traditional arts of the Umonhon people under Howard Wolf. As a mentor, Wolf instilled in Tamayo a deep appreciation and knowledge of Umonhon art and culture. He learned the importance of traditional materials, construction and the history surrounding native artifacts and regalia. In 2000, Tamayo moved to the Rosebud Reservation, where he augmented his understanding of Northern Plains art; he earned his BFA from Sínte Gleska University in 2011 where he developed and taught the traditional arts program.

Tamayo currently leads study groups on his Reservation and travels to schools and museums throughout the country to study and teach historic methods of artifact construction and preservation. He is a regular consultant to the curatorial and conservation staff at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; his most recent work there is the current exhibition, “As We Grow,” focused on traditional native games and toys. He has been an artist-in-residence and cultural consultant with OPS and teaches Native American Art History at Metropolitan Community College.  Tamayo’s honors include the 2014 NAC Governor’s Heritage Art Award for excellence in cultural artistic expression. In 2015, he and Paul High Horse won the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for best two-person exhibition. Tamayo has exhibited at The National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, DC, The Kaneko in Omaha, The Great Plains Museum in Lincoln, NE, and RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs, IA. His most recent work includes buffalo robes for Willie Nelson and Neil Young and a tipi offered to President Obama from Bold Nebraska.

Deb Bowen is a spiritual educator, podcast host, retreat facilitator, author, and pilgrim to sacred places.  She has led groups to learn from the Lakota people for 14 years, and has traveled alone in summer to learn from elders.  She has participated in the Sundance ceremony.  She also has led groups to Belize and sacred sites in the U.S.  She is cohost of PsychicTeachers Podcast. Details about her work can be found on her website: