Lakota Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability & Indigenous Rights


Study in the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. On this 2-week, 3-credit program get a feel for its past, present and future. You will learn from local natives about their day-to-day life, culture and work on community-driven service-learning projects. Projects may be related to environmental sustainability, agricultural initiatives, programming on youth and education, cultural learning and indigenous rights. Students of all majors are welcome to apply. This program is ideal for any student interested in history, politics, environmental studies and anthropology. You should be flexible, patient, hardworking, open to new cultures and professional in delicate community situations.

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • Regional expertise and awareness of diverse perspectives
  • Skills for community driven civic and global engagement
  • An understanding of Oglala Lakota Life and current issues
  • Lakota's history and relationship with the United States


You will stay on the Pine Ridge Reservation which is located in the south-western corner of South Dakota. The Reservation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory. The reservation has its own governing structure, constitution, president, laws and has a very different culture, history and climate.  You will stay in either Allen or Kyle, South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota tribe and an estimated population of close to 40,000. The land is vast and is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Although the land is vast, much of it is not suitable for agricultural uses due to challenging climate, soil and water 

Where You'll Live: 

You will stay on the Pine Ridge Reservation in south-central South Dakota during the program. You will stay in a centrally-located hotel in either Kyle or Allen, South Dakota. The convenient location puts you in close proximity to major historical sites and project sites you will work on during the program. Final hotel accommodations will be finalized later in the spring semester. You can expect the following with your accommodations:

  • Double-occupancy hotel rooms
  • En-Suite bathroom
  • Small workspace
  • Hotel reception area
  • Access to coffee/tea making area  
  • Wi-Fi

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions.


What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 3 credits on the Lakota Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability and Indigenous Rights program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same course. The course is taught by a Pitt professor. You will also learn directly from community and the course will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, tours to national monuments, cultural activities and service-learning projects. In this course you will study:

  • Indigenous peoples' history of the United States, including colonization, land rights and environmental justice
  • Water equity issues, indigenous peoples' relationships with their environment, and the ecosystems that shape their sacred worlds
  • Oglala Lakota life, from culture and family to land use, arts and food

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your adviser to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you. Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.


Lakota Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability & Indigenous Rights (XXXX)

This course will introduce you to historical and current issues that the Lakota natives have faced and continue to manage on a day-to-day basis. The focus will be on the environmental, historical, geographical, land rights, political, economic issues and indigenous rights. Students will learn through lectures, guest lectures from locals and interaction with natives.

Experiential Learning Description: 

Our partner on this program, Amizade has a emerging relationships with a network that engages in agricultural initiatives, programming on youth and education and cultural learning. Community partners include:

  • Pine Ridge Agricultural Initiative: This is a group of organizers and Lakota elders dedicated to ushering in a sustainable future for the health and wellbeing of the Oglala Lakota people. Currently, they are working to establish an organic farm, education and resource center on Poor Bear family land near Allen, SD. They are also constructing greenhouses; fencing off the gardens from grazing cattle and wild animals; drilling a well for irrigation and drinking water; cultivating the soil with organic fertilizer; sowing seed and tending crops; purchasing and feeding livestock; constructing a community building and purchasing a delivery van to bring the food to the people
  • Local Community Members and Residents: Projects may also include serving with local community members to assist local residents with home repairs or improvements to family-land and farms. This service is regularly tied to community members who cook for visiting groups, provide demonstrations, and teach about traditional Lakota practices. These service projects not only provide much needed assistance to community members but also act as opportunities for participants to learn about culture and the ways of life of the Lakota. 


The University of Pittsburgh partners with Amizade for this program. Amizade has been designing global service-learning programs in 16 communities for over 24 years. Each year they partner with over 75 universities, high schools, civic groups and government agencies all over the world to create life-changing service and learning experiences.  One of Amizade's core values is providing community-driven service, meaning that the community defines their needs and we contribute in that way. 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Tim Crawford

Hi Everyone! I’m Tim, and I am the Assistant Director for Domestic Study Away Programming. I have experience running international study abroad programs and programs here at home in the United States. I was fortunate to have many experiential learning opportunities, both international and domestic, during my college career. Being from a small town in Central Pennsylvania, my experiences opened my eyes to the rest of the world and helped open my eyes to different cultures and career opportunities I’d love to help you take advantage of the numerous experiential learning opportunities here at Pitt. Outside of the office, I’m always looking for the next adventure. I love traveling, hate sitting still and love doing anything outdoors, in all seasons. Personally, my family and I are on a quest to visit as many national parks as possible. I’d love to talk to you more about any of our study away programs, answer any of your questions and help you find the right opportunity. Please reach me via email at

Schedule an appointment

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  • Log in to Pathways or use the Navigate app.
  • Select Appointments > Schedule an Appointment
  • Select Pitt Global as the Care Unit.
  • Select Study Abroad Virtual Advising as the Location
  • Select Study Abroad Program Specific Questions as the service
  • Select my name and find a time that works for you!

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  In- State Out-of-State
Program Cost $4,500 $4,700
Program Admin Fee $300 $300
Total Estimated Cost $4,800 $5,000

Tuition scholarships available for this specific program. Please contact for more information. 

What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Double-occupancy hotels
  • Ground transportation once in South Dakota
  • Overnight stay in teepee
  • Most lunches and dinners in Allen, South Dakota
  • Cultural Activities and Excursions which may include:
  • Meeting with local community leaders
  • Listening to stories about relevant historic and cultural issues
  • Local games
  • Sweat lodge ceremony
  • Visit to Wounded Knee Memorial
  • Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Badlands National Park
  • Crazyhorse National Monument
  • Wind Cave National Park 
What Else You Need to Know: 
  • Participantes must be flexible, patient, open to new cultures, hard-working and able to handle themselves professionally in delicate community situations
  • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or visit needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance.
  • Remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on your courses away as you would on a course at Pitt. 
  • There are required excursions and activities outside of normal scheduled classes.
  • No independent travel permitted during the program dates