NDN Collective to Open Indigenous-Led, Culture-Based School in Rapid City

April 7, 2021

NDN Collective to Open Indigenous-Led, Culture-Based School in Rapid City

The school is expected to open in Fall 2022, serve 40 students in the first year, and will be the first Indigenous-led school designed specifically for students in the Rapid City community.

This week, NDN Collective announced plans to open and fund an Indigenous-led community based school in Rapid City. The school is expected to open in Fall 2022, serve 40 students in the first year, and will be the first Indigenous-led school designed specifically for students in the Rapid City community.  

NDN Collective, in collaboration with NISN, the NACA Inspired Schools Network, brought an NISN fellow to Rapid City to lead the school design process. NISN supports leaders in Indigenous communities to develop community based schools that provide rigorous academic curriculum while also promoting Indigenous culture, identity, and community investment.

The NDN Collective Headquarters in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo Courtesy of Indigene Studios.

The school opening comes largely in response to the long standing opportunity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students that has gone unrecognized and unaddressed for decades, with no sustainable solutions at the local, state, or federal level. Indigenous students in South Dakota are among the lowest in terms of graduation, achievement, and mobility rates, and are disproportionately and more harshly disciplined in schools than their non-Indigenous peers across the country. 

The school will function as a way to begin building true equity for Indigenous students in the educational system, and its curriculum will connect Indigenous youth to Indigenous culture, languages, ancestral knowledge, history, and traditional ways of life.

“Our school will allow Indigenous youth to be unapologetically themselves, which is critical during years when we are figuring out who we are and where we fit into the world,” said Sarah Pierce, Director of Education Equity at NDN Collective. “Education is a way to begin to undo the systems of oppression and white supremacy that Indigenous people have been subjected to for generations. It’s a way for Indigenous people to reclaim our power.”

Native youth. Photo Courtesy Sarah Manning.

”Indigenous students have been oppressed in our education system since the 1800s, when they were forcibly taken from their parents and put into boarding schools to erase their cultural ties,” said Amy Sazue, Education Equity Organizer at NDN Collective.  “Today’s education system still echoes that forced attempt to assimilate Indigenous people into a white man’s world, and continuously shuts Indigenous students out of pathways to success. When students can access culturally relevant education, they become strong leaders, develop a solid sense of self, and feel connected to the world around them.”

“With a school designed with their needs and identities front and center, Indigenous youth will be able to heal from generations of trauma and truly thrive in a community that celebrates their past, present, and future,” said Mary Bowman, NISN Fellow. “Our curriculum will implement systems that actually work for the students we serve, providing them with education designed specifically for them that puts them on a real pathway to success, and fostering a culturally rich environment for learning, discovering, healing, and prospering.”

###



NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

January 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Doubling Down for LANDBACK: Q & A with Nick Tilsen After 2.5 Year Legal Battle Comes to an End Posted 1 month ago
In this Q & A interview, Nick shares some of his reflections and big picture takeaways from the past two and a half years. Nick faced up to 17 years behind bars after a #LANDBACK protest in the Black Hills on July 3, 2020.
NDN Collective Announces Community Action Fund Grant Partners Posted 1 month ago
“NDN Collective is honored to invest in the self-determination and leadership of these organizations, collectives, organizers, and cultural practitioners. They are on the frontlines defending our communities from resource extraction, combating the polluters fueling climate change, and standing up for the human rights of Indigenous peoples."
NDN Collective Shares Program Intention of Collective Abundance Fund Ahead of Official Launch Posted 1 month ago
“While this financial commitment is unprecedented and significant, funding alone won’t solve the racial equity gap. Movement building must continue. Policy and advocacy work must continue to disrupt, dismantle, and shift the economic systems that don’t work for us. We can all play a part in that.”
All Charges Dismissed Against Nick Tilsen in 2.5 Year Long Case Posted 2 months ago
“My case held a mirror up to the so-called legal system, where prosecutors – fueled by white fragility and fear of Indigenous power – wasted years of state resources to intimidate, criminalize, and violate me. The fact that I’ve gone from facing 17 years in prison to all charges dismissed is not a coincidence or an act of justice – it’s evidence that the charges were bogus from the start."
NDN Collective Announces 2022 Community Self-Determination Grantee Partners Posted 2 months ago
“This cohort of grantee partners represents some of the most impactful work happening across Turtle Island—defending the air, land and water; developing Indigenous economies based on regenerative principles; and revitalizing our languages, cultures and ceremonies in ways that illuminate the path for the next generations.”
NDN Collective & Rewiring America Release IRA Memo for Tribes & Indigenous Communities Posted 2 months ago
Households could save $140,000 on energy bills over 25 years with efficient energy infrastructure – which would both help build Indigenous wealth, and help families divest from the volatile oil and gas markets. 
NDN Collective Statement on COP27 Negotiation Outcomes Posted 2 months ago
"We call on nation states to sever their relationships to the fossil fuels industry, fully commit to phasing out of fossil fuels, and utilize the core tenets of a Just Transition. Anything less is a failure to all of humanity.”
NDN Collective Responds to Mass Shooting of 2SLGBTQIA+ Relatives in Colorado Springs Posted 2 months ago
"As 2 spirit and queer individuals we long for spaces that are safe. We long for spaces that we can show up in and be our unapologetic queer selves without the fear of persecution. What happened to our relatives in Colorado is a violation of that sacred space and only triggers a more profound hyper vigilance of our spaces, our communities and of ourselves."
COP27: NDN Collective's Recap of Week One at the United Nations 27th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt Posted 2 months ago
"Our delegation has been participating in the Indigenous Peoples Caucus and the Local Communities Indigenous Peoples Platform, as well as tracking negotiations, meeting with government officials, and more."
COP27: NDN Collective Meets with White House Climate Advisor Posted 3 months ago
In their discussion with White House Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, NDN Collective, alongside frontline Indigenous and Black organizers touched on issue areas including IRA, mining, oil and gas leases.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.