Lakota Youth Development is a non-profit, grassroots organization located on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation and serving tribal members living on and off the lands of the tribal nations in South Dakota. Established in 1992, the organization supports and empowers Native youth through language, cultural values and spirituality. This is accomplished through culturally specific curriculum and strategies delivered via after summer camp programs, weekend youth retreats, equine life skills training and youth apprenticeships. The organization also ensures cultural learning through the Lakota song, dance, and youth leadership societies. These programs provide a safe drug- and alcohol-free environment, with weekend retreats weaving in culturally specific Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) Prevention into hands-on activities, through the sharing of cultural perspectives and values through Lakota storytelling. All of these programs offer the opportunity for leadership development, relationship building, and the opportunity and support to heal past traumas, while aiming to increase self-esteem and confidence.
Cultural heritage tourism is a pillar supporting Lakota Youth Development’s youth programs. Travel experiences hosted by Lakota Youth Development, including Trafalgar’s Be My Guest lunch (on its ‘National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas’ trip, launching June 2022) offer guests the opportunity to learn about and experience Lakota culture including traditional art, dance, food, games, hunting, horseback riding, fishing, medicinal plant gathering, and star knowledge. These experiences also benefit youth directly through training and paid apprenticeships that offer practical experience in hospitality and tourism delivery – a sector that is not widely available to them within the confines of a rural tribal community. This contributes to future success and career opportunities, while increasing financial security for Lakota Youth Development as a non-profit.