Ateyapi Programs

Tokata Eyucgan Po

Thinking About the Future

This is a new pregnancy prevention program, with a focus on abstinence, given to students in grade 9-12, in all three of Rapid City’s high schools. The program is funded for three years, and will reach 270 students per year.

Proposed services include Sex Risk Avoidance Education and Youth Development utilizing HealthSmart for High School: Abstinence, Personal & Sexual Health, and Lakota Cultural education and activities.Thirty-two formal educational sessions will focus on Sex Risk Avoidance and teaching the benefits associated with self-regulation, success sequencing for poverty prevention, healthy relationships, goal setting, resisting sexual coercion, dating violence, and other youth risk behaviors, such as underage drinking or illicit drug use, without normalizing teen sexual activity. Lakota mentors will serve as cultural role models to help youth live the Lakota values, ancient wisdom, that will help voluntarily refrain from non-marital sexual activity, avoid related risky behaviors, and maximize their potential. Youth will also be referred to appropriate community resources. Parent education will be provided to help youth guardians support their children in positive behavior.

American Indian youth grades 9-12 in three high schools in Rapid City, South Dakota are the target population. Two hundred seventy youth per year will participate in thirty-two formal education sessions. Three hundred youth will receive help from community resources through appropriate referrals.

August 5, 2021 -Today is our final day with our students for the Ateyapi Wicozani* summer program (*program preceeding Tokata Eyucgan Po). We had a great time teaching the Lakota Circles of Hope curriculum. We will miss the youth and we’re very thankful to be apart of their lives, good luck this year in school!

Middle School Ateyapi: YES

YES, (Youth Engagement in Sports), a health improvement program. Basic assumptions applied to mentor coaches in the Middle School Ateyapi YES program are: 1. Coaches need to help learners believe in their personal abilities in order to learn and develop a new behavior. 2. They can reinforce learning by a positive response to a youth’s performing a behavior and can provide environmental conditions conducive for improved self-efficacy by providing appropriate support and materials.

Ateyapi YES coaches serve as positive role models, not only to demonstrate consistent sports skills and good nutritional practices, but to apply Lakota cultural values in daily life. Each coach is stationed in one of the RCAS’s Middle schools (East, North and West), facilitating after-school activities four nights per school week. These sessions include a healthy snack, transportation- if needed- to sport or exercise at Rapid Skills Sports Complex where students get sixty minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise or thirty minutes in nutrition education including talking circles, and transportation home.

Fridays, school holidays and summer sessions are opportunities for special events, for example, hiking at one of the Sacred Lakota Sites. Youth self-log their physical and nutritional activities on weekends and report to their coach.

Ateyapi Intercross Program, the version of lacrosse to be played by Ateyapi YES participants, is a mixed-gender non-contact sport that uses an all-plastic stick and a softer ball. This allows the sport to be played indoors as well as outdoors and requires no protective gear. Intercross is an excellent way to introduce youth to lacrosse.

Ateyapi running club focuses on preparatory activities (group games and exercises to build runner’s skills, strength, balance and agility), and group runs. Youth log their miles (each participant received an activity tracker.) The Ateyapi YES Hiking Club offers healthy outdoor exercise and promote appreciation for Lakota culture at the same time. Youth participate in strength, balance, and cardiovascular exercise routines (offered indoors and outdoors) to prepare youth for outdoor experiences.

Indian dancing: Dances have always been significant in the lives of American Indians. Today Indian dancing is considered a sport when it involves competitions at powwows around the nation. Most common kinds of Lakota dances include men’s traditional, fancy, and grass dancing. Women’s dances are called traditional, shawl and jingle dress.

Cross training in general athletic skills: The term cross training refers to a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. Specialized training to prepare youth for intramural sports were offered for football, cross country track, soccer, basketball, volleyball. Coaching staff provided a list of free YouTube exercise routines, (screened for appropriateness) for youth with computers at home to use, particularly during Covid.

Nutrition Education: Staff served healthy vegetables and fruit snacks at each after-school session, role modeling how many different ways healthy food can be used. The nutrition curriculum is taught by our partner South Dakota State University nutritionist assistant.

August 5, 2021 -Today is our final day with our students for the Ateyapi Wicozani* summer program (*program preceeding Tokata Eyucgan Po). We had a great time teaching the Lakota Circles of Hope curriculum. We will miss the youth and we’re very thankful to be apart of their lives, good luck this year in school!

Ateyapi Lakota Language

Lakota Adolescents Keeping Our Traditions Alive

The Lakota language is in danger of disappearing. Only 7% of contemporary Lakota people are native speakers, and each year an average of 1.3% of those speakers leave us. Believing that the loss of Lakota language and culture impacts levels of self-esteem, identity and therefore achievement for low-income American Indian children and their families, RAI offered a three-year Lakota language program.

​Lakota language classes were offered to the community every Monday and Wednesday, 4:30-6:00 pm at the Crazy Horse location. A meal and all class materials were provided. In addition, presenters were brought in to demonstrate and teach traditional skills such as beading, moccasin making, and sewing ribbon skirts.

​A Lakota immersion class was held at the Crazy Horse location. Students from ages 5 to 80 met daily from 8 am—2 pm.

Lakota Language Ateyapi Elementary:


  • Knollwood
  • General Beadle
  • Horace Man
  • Robbinsdale
  • South Park Elementary Schools in Rapid City

The Ateyapi Elementary Lakota Language Program was funded by two sources: ANA (Administration for Native Americans) and a grant from the NOVO Foundation. Both grants started on July 1, 2018, ANA funding ended on June 30, 2021. NOVO funding runs through September 2021. The ANA grant allowed for three Lakota tutors stationed at General Beadle, Robbinsdale Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary School. The NOVO grant provided two more tutors for Knollwood Elementary and South Park Elementary.

Each tutor was required to recruit 14 students and place remaining applicants on a waiting list. Tutors stayed in the schools from 10:00 AM until the end of the school day at 2:50 PM. The tutors used classrooms in the schools from 3:00-4:00 to teach Lakota Language. From 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM the tutors helped students with any homework they may need help with, go to a park to play, take them on a hike, or learn cultural activities such as beading, drumming, singing, hand games.

Every Wednesday they visited of the 7 sacred sited in the Black Hills. Once a week the students get to go on an incentive trip to eat at a restaurant, see a movie or visit an attraction such as Flags N wheels.

The tutors kept track of attendance and grades for each student. If they missed assignments or missed school the tutors contacted parents to see if there was anything the tutors could do the help their child either with tutoring or a ride to school.

Master Speake Rhonda Yankton trains RAI staff, parents and community members

Ateyapi Coordinators

Ateyapi Coordinators pictured below are, left to right, Rhonda Yankton– Coordinator of the elementary program, Project Lakota, Robert Yellowhawk– Coordinator of the recently ended Middle School Ateyapi Wicozani Program and now RAI’s Assistant Comptroller, and Stephanie Savoy who is the Coordinator for the middle school program, Ateyapi Youth Engagement In Sports (YES) as well as the new Ateyapi program, Tokata Eyucgan Po (Thinking About the Future).