Lakota Studies

Lakota Studies is a critical part of Red Cloud’s mission to help students recognize their own potential. This all-inclusive education will allow them to not only rise above the poverty around them, but challenge themselves to change the circumstances that foster it.

The basics

Red Cloud Indian School strives to develop the Lakota leaders of tomorrow—women and men who are grounded in their vibrant heritage and who have the competence, confidence and commitment to succeed. Each year, the Lakota Studies program strives to help the 600 students develop a healthier sense of identity, rooted in the values of respect, service and generosity that are the trademarks of their traditions, through practices such as speaking the Lakota language, drumming, dancing, singing, praying and playing in traditional Lakota ways.

  • All teachers at Red Cloud integrate elements of the Lakota culture in their day-to-day classroom activities that are appropriate for the grade-level of their students, including language, dancing, hand games, symbolism, traditions, handicrafts and food. 
  • A number of specific courses are dedicated to more intensive study: Comparative Native Religions, Lakota Rites, Lakota Studies, Lakota Language, Lakota Singing and Indian Wars. 
  • Students are invited in engage in after school activities and clubs centered on powwows, hand games and singing and drumming. 

The Lakota Language Program is an integral component of the multi-faceted educational approach of the Lakota Studies Program at Red Cloud. The program strives to counteract alarming Lakota language loss trends by providing kindergarten through 12th grade language instruction. As research shows, students who learn their Native (or sometimes called “heritage”) languages do better academically in all subjects as a result of learning and using their own language.

Red Cloud is committed to revitalizing the language amongst the Lakota children as the primary key to curbing alarming language loss trends, since languages are dying with the elders who remain.

A unique position

Lakota Studies is an integral component of the successes the students have achieved in recent years, going beyond a basic educational curriculum to ensure the education of both the minds and the hearts of Lakota children. By developing more positive self-images, the students are provided the confidence they need to dream bigger dreams and pursue futures filled with hope and change for their people.

Red Cloud has also recently decided to build on the Lakota Language Program and has developed a five-year strategic plan to enhance the program’s effectiveness for developing fluent speakers. The primary strategy is to develop a comprehensive K-12 Lakota language curriculum that is custom-made for the students and families of Red Cloud, but also easily transformed and shared with a much broader audience—ultimately, the world.

Red Cloud is partnering with the American Indian Studies Research Institute at Indiana University to develop a comprehensive K-12 Lakota language curriculum over the next five years. This will be the one of the only comprehensive, standardized, K-12, professionally-developed Lakota language curricula in existence. It is the hope that other Indigenous languages can use the model established by this partnership to protect and restore their Native tongue.


The dignity of each student is individually realized through the education of their minds and hearts, both in and out of the classroom. Red Cloud goes above and beyond the basic curriculum to meet the complex needs of the students.

  • In Lakota Studies classes, the students are involved in their rich cultural heritage, overcoming negative stereotypes and developing a strong and ethical identity rooted in their traditions that will help them become the Lakota leaders of tomorrow. 
  • The program fits with the entirety of the Red Cloud program to provide an array of activities to meet the students where they are and ensure that they acquire the skills necessary to dream bigger dreams and then go after them recognizing their rights and responsibilities to one another, their families, and the larger society.

Major expenses include staff and materials to support classroom and after school clubs and activities. Staff include a number of local Lakota community members who are fluent in the Lakota language, culture, history and traditions.

Help champion this initiative

Contribute to the success of this initiative by making a gift online or calling our Advancement Office at 605/867-1105 ext. 300 to learn more about how your family or foundation can partner with us.