Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society
see info below

Course Details

We are currently working with our partner in Pine Ridge to create the 2020 course. 

Updated dates, costs, and course descriptions for 2020 will be posted by Dec. 1, 2019




Arrival City

Rapid City, South Dakota

SStS partners with the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society to support projects that preserve Lakota traditions and enhance spiritual and economic self-sufficiency.
The SStS Pine Ridge course occurs on a Native American reservation, which is home to 26,000 members of the Lakota Nation.

After arriving in Rapid City, South Dakota, students will be greeted by our non-profit partner, the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society. For a variety of historical, geographic, political, and economic reasons, the Pine Ridge Reservation is the second poorest county in the United States. In the midst of these challenging circumstances, the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society is working to reclaim 1800 acres of their ancestral lands in order to restore the buffalo herds that once roamed freely on the Great Plains. It is their vision that reclaiming this land and reintroducing the buffalo will better connect the Lakota people with their ancestral home for both economic and cultural reasons. In addition to this buffalo project, the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society also hosts camps, guided by tribal elders, for Lakota children that are intended to revive vibrant traditional beliefs and ways of living.

While in South Dakota, the group will work shoulder-to-shoulder with the leaders of the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society as well as a group of local Lakota youth. The primary focus of their project will be helping to support a camp in the Black Hills that is designed to allow Lakota children to begin healing from any trauma that they have experienced in their lives. In order to enhance their understanding of the history of the Lakota people, the group may also gather materials for ceremonies that will occur during the camp, work at a Lakota school for girls, or build fences for a new buffalo pasture in Pine Ridge. During part of the project phase, participants will camp in a ponderosa forest close to where the Knife Chief holds their annual Sun Dances. SStS students will also have the opportunity to participate in traditional Lakota ceremonies. During their time in Pine Ridge, they will learn about how thoughtful and committed grassroots leaders are embracing traditional Lakota beliefs as a means to address modern challenges.

Learn More

The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society works to reclaim 1800 acres of ancestral lands for restoring buffalo as well as Lakota culture and lifeways. To learn more, please visit their website.

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation

Course Elements

The course elements are based on a rating from 1 to 5, 1 being the least rigorous, 5 being the most rigorous.


The group’s primary focus will be helping the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society to facilitate a children’s healing camp. For example, students may help prepare and clean up for meals, put up tipis and gather plants necessary for traditional ceremonies. They may also help to build or repair fences for a buffalo pasture and volunteer at a school.


Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.


While on the reservation, the group may explore cultural and historical sites such as Wounded Knee on foot. They also might hike in the grasslands while collecting plants for the children’s camp or working on the buffalo pasture. Additionally, they will climb a mountain in the Black Hills that is sacred for the Lakota.

Living Conditions80%

The group will stay in cabins at Camp Bob Marshall for while working at the children’s camp. They will camp in tents while on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

On the Move60%

After arriving in Rapid City, the group will drive for a couple hours to the town of Porcupine. Then, they will drive another couple hours to the site of the children’s camp in the Black Hills. After completing their work with the healing camp, they will return to Porcupine for the last days of the course.


Although the group will stay near the children’s camp or the buffalo pastures, they do not stay in the homes of individual families.


Throughout their time on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the Black Hills, the group will be staying or camping in rural and sparsely populated areas.

Element Descriptions


Day 1

Arrival day, drive to Porcupine, introductions with the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society

Day 2

Orientation about the mission and goals of the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society, begin preparing for the children’s healing camp.

Day 3

Continue preparing for the children’s camp, drive to Camp Bob Marshall in the Black Hills, meet the children as they arrive.

Day 4

Continue with the children’s camp, cultural experience and guest speakers

Day 5

Project work, presentation about life on the reservation, visit Black Elk Peak or Bear Butte

Day 6

Continue with the children’s camp, Lakota ceremonies, final evening with the children

Day 7

Finish the children’s healing camp, farewell ceremony, drive to Porcupine

Day 8

Begin new project work at buffalo pasture or Lakota Girls’ School, visit Pine Ridge or Wounded Knee, cultural experience and begin debrief

Day 9

Finish project work and debrief, closing ceremony, return to Rapid City

Day 10

Departure day

Pine Ridge

: In Three Phases


the 5 Lenses Curriculum

Prior to departure, students are guided by their course instructors through a series of interactive, online lessons. Organized by SStS’s Five Lenses Curriculum, these activities (30 minutes per week) allow students to directly engage with other members of
the group.


partnering with ngos

The majority of the days at each site are spent engaged in meaningful service work with our NGO (non-governmental organization) partner. Days not dedicated to project work are spent immersed in intriguing cultural activities.


post travel advocacy

During the next school year, students educate others by advocating for our NGO partner through public presentations to the community at large and/or younger, school-based audiences.

Travel Journal

During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Pine Ridge program from the important viewpoint of our students.

Explore Pine Ridge

Important Details

Cost Information

Students who attend a school that is a member of SStS’s Global Schools Coalition receive a tuition discount. To see the list of schools in the coalition, click HERE.

Tuition (students from members of the Global Schools Coalition): $2165
Tuition (students not from members of the Global Schools Coalition): $2265

SStS is in search of curious, compassionate, globally-minded students. Thus, we will do all that we can financially to support students whose circumstances preclude paying the full cost. If you would like to be considered for financial assistance, please indicate so on the application. Financial assistance resources are limited. Scholarships tend to be less than 50% of tuition.

Please note, tuition does not include airfare.
Tuition costs are all inclusive with the exception of personal expenditures (e.g. souvenirs).
Talbot Travel Agency provides travel services for SStS, working personally with us to find the least expensive fares.

Travel Expectations

Please note that we expect all participants to arrive in Rapid City, South Dakota within a defined window of time to be picked up by their course instructors. Additionally, traveling as a group inevitably includes “the unexpected.” SStS will adjust the itinerary accordingly, making the best of uncontrollable situations. Due to the unknown variables in travel, participants are asked not to make travel plans or to enroll in programs that start immediately after their return. SStS is not responsible for expenses incurred due to missed flights if the group is delayed in their return.



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