We ensure that our Native American youth grow up to live healthy, successful lives, grounded in rich cultural tradition.
Dakota Wicohan (Wicohan means lifeways) is a Dakota-led, rural nonprofit organization founded by members of the Lower and Upper Sioux communities in Minnesota, Mni Sota Makoce, the homeland of the Dakota. We work to empower our community in reclaiming the Dakota language and culture, and instill it as a vital part of everyday life and values. We work hard to fortify and sustain families, providing the programs that strengthen the fabric of our community.
Our youth programming connects our young people with mentors, traditional arts, language, and activities like lacrosse and working with horses to support, prevent crisis and build leadership in at-risk Dakota youth and families.
More than twenty percent of families with children aged 18 and younger on the Lower Sioux Reservation are below the federal poverty level. The systemic oppression of American Indians over the past 150 years has led to major challenges for our youth. In Minnesota, Native youth have the highest high school drop-out rate in state; highest rates of suicide; and second highest level of youth arrests.
Anything and everything we can do to help Dakota youth be positively connected to their community and grounded in their Dakota culture will help them on a path toward becoming contributing adults and future leaders of our community. Early intervention that grounds our kids in their indigenous heritage has shown amazing results. Our mentoring model has been very successful, with 100% high school graduation rate and an 80% college graduation rate among participants.
We need your help to engage our youth, for their Wicozani (well-being), and to keep our traditions alive – to Remember, Reclaim, and Reconnect. Please Give to the Max in support of Dakota Itancanpi Kte Unkihduwiyayapi – our Dakota Youth Leadership Program.
Wopida Tanka – Thank you very much!
“The use of the horse regalia was a common practice that was utilized for a giveaway in honor or in remembrance of a relative, identification of a warrior society, or used for ceremonies such as the horse dance or simply to parade in celebration. Unfortunately, over time, this practice has become almost obsolete and unknown by most among the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), aka Great Sioux Nation.” – Master Artist James Star Comes Out