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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Tipi Raisers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services

Mission: Our mission is to alleviate the conditions of poverty on the pine ridge indian reservation while sharing the rich culture and traditions of the lakota people.

Target demographics: We are a community of Native Lakota and non-Natives who believe that the wisdom, culture and traditions of the Lakota People can inform and benefit the Modern World at the same time that the Modern World can assist and support the Lakota People in creating more prosperous and humane living conditions on the reservations.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Provided home construction and renovation work; Shared the Lakota culture and traditions; Endeavored to make progress reconciling our tragic and difficult shared history.

Geographic areas served: Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Programs: Through a variety of collaborative projects, we strive to build alliances and strengthen communities for people both on and off the reservation. Additionally, we seek to provide sustainable employment as well as quality and safe housing for the Lakota People.

Community Stories

59 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Manda N.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization is built by people who deeply care and center human relationships, in order to work with others to make change happen that is relevant for those most affected. There are many ways to think about "service" and "supporting other communities", which can often distract us from taking time to be in space with others, because we think "efficiency" matters most to make change. This group will show you differently.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tipi Raisers has been a force in my family's life for several years. They have provided opportunities to gain insight and perspective into the lives and struggles of the indigenous people of Pine Ridge South Dakota. They attempt to achieve their goal of reconciliation with great patience, persistence , and resolve. They improve the lives of those they touch both native and non-native.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter got interested in The Tipi Raisers almost 6 years ago while still in High School. What we didn't foresee was how it would call to our entire family.
We began with just a few local events and drives -- gathering of toys and footwear -- but it wasn't long before we felt called to visit Pine Ridge with the group and meet the people on their terms, on their ground. The experience clinched our relationship. We were moved by all of the people we met. The efforts made to connect non-Natives with Natives were sensitive and transforming. There is an intimacy to this non-profit that is hard to find anywhere else. It has a family-feel where accessibility, approachability and transparency are paramount.

On their website, they describe their reconciliation work:

This is complex work with no agreed upon definitions. It is wrought with generations of trauma from broken treaties, attempted genocide, overt racism and white guilt. We approach it with humility, curiosity and a deeply held conviction to get it right over time. Mistakes are made, misunderstandings happen. For our volunteers, where is their white privilege showing? For the Lakota, where are assumptions of prejudice or racism?

How beautiful is that?! This sort of exercise is sorely under-used and long overdue. I am grateful for this safe space to explore relationships that are difficult and complicated. Who doesn't need transformation in this way?

Joe L.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is so easy for me to push aside my awareness of my unearned privilege. And I know that human civility requires us to be aware. Four years ago my then 15 year old daughter joined the Tipi Raisers for a trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation the week before Thanksgiving. When she returned she shared her experience on the Pine Ridge Reservation while our family enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving meal. My daughter introduced us to several Lakota traditions such as smudging with sage and the spirit plate. This added authenticity to our Thanksgiving meal. I was intrigued and consequently I joined her when she returned to the Reservation on spring break. The work was honest and true and the experience was transformational. I met many Natives and forged valued relationships. I have returned to Pine Ridge nearly a dozen time since. The "Rez" is a tough and difficult place. The poverty is thick and heavy. The work is hard, honest and true. From the Lakota people I find appreciation but mostly grace. On the "Rez" I look into myself, I become aware of my history and how my cultural history of colonisation is culpable for the "present" of the indigenous people of this country. I become aware of my unearned privilege. I become aware of the consequences of history. From the Lakota people I discover the richness of their culture but mostly I experience the fullness of their Grace. The staff of the Tipi Raisers do a fantastic job facilitating a growth experience and rich relationships.

-Joe Loetscher

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Lori and Dave do a fantastic job connecting the community to the resources all around them. They go out of their way to make sure everyone coming on their adventures are well prepared, feel connected, and are able to "turn off" their daily lives to connect with other people in an intimate and real way. It is beautiful to see a nonprofit care so much about making meaningful change in the field of reconciliation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first got involved with The Tipi Raisers when I heard about their Ride Of Reconciliation this summer. Providing support to the Lakota Horseback Riders as they made the journey from the Denver Metro area to the Pine Ridge Reservation was among the most meaningful and life-changing experiences I've had. Hearing the stories of the Lakota people and joining them for meals, drum circles, dancing and other ceremonies was eye-opening and humbling. That first positive experience sparked my interest in getting more involved. I am now planning a trip to The Pine Ridge Reservation to help with The Race To Winterize and hopefully reconnect with the people I met in Colorado . I am also excited to support The Gen 7 Youth Ambassadors at their Youth Leadership Summit this fall in Colorado. The work that The Tipi Raisers are committed to spans so many aspects of life for the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I've been involved with many non-profits over the years, but none has had the impact on me that The Tipi Raisers have. I am now focused on shining a light on the amazing work of Dave, Lori and the others at The Tipi Raisers. I hope to introduce them to my friends and family so that can experience first hand what I have.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5


The staff and volunteers at Cherokee Ranch & Castle have worked with the Tipi Raisers the past two years creating and producing a summit for teens. The purpose of the summit is to bring a wide diversity of young people together to discover how much they have in common, hone leadership skills and start looking at solutions to problems we all face in the future. Tipi Raisers is a foundational and integral part of the program. They have helped with creating the curriculum, bringing participants, providing support and facilitating the activities. Their representatives are always positive and visionary, yet they are more than willing to do the work to make things happen. Their deep commitment to the youth of today, the Lakota people and the future ahead is apparent in everything they do. They have persevered through major obstacles and gradually earned the trust and respect of the Lakota people on the reservation. This is a group that is truly changing lives!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time spent with Tipi Raisers was fantastic. The week was full of hard work, laughter, pushing boundaries, connecting with new people, and having new cultural experiences. Tipi Raisers is incredibly well organized and well run.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My fiance has joined the Tipi Raisers the past few years to serve the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota People, and this year I was fortunate enough to join her. Pine Ridge, South Dakota is a magical place, full of wonderful people, deeply though provoking stories, and poverty like I've not seen before in the United States.
Everything moves a little slower on the Pine Ridge Reservation, something that takes some getting used to, including progress on home repairs. They (Residents of the Reservation) are still repairing homes from a hail storm last August. That was essentially our role, as well as prepping for the winter.
Dave Ventimiglia, who runs The Tipi Raisers, has done something more incredible than I can put into words for this review. He has brought together locals and volunteers to work in teams at repairing windows, roofs, siding, and all other manner of home repairs. This is no easy task, as there are many intricate complications of white settlers entering the Reservation to do work (as one can image). The shear amount of work we were able to accomplish in our short stay was truly amazing, and in large part a refection on Dave's hard work and leadership.
We didn't just work, Dave provided all manner of cultural education along the way, helping us understand the Lakota people more fully and creating an all-round richer experience. Dave's passion is only surpassed by his sincere belief in the Lakota People, something I will forever remember and reflect on.

Austin K.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a part of the Tipi Raisers in November of 2018. I went on a 4 day volunteer trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The Tipi Raisers lined up transportation, lodging, food, and organized us into work crew. We had a wonderful experience working, and learning from one another. Tipi Raisers combines cultural learning, group building, and practical work.

Nancy S.11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Regional Supervisor for the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Pony Clubs I was approached to participate in the 2019 Tipi Raisers Ride of Reconciliation. The Ride departed from my neighborhood’s Cherokee Ranch and Castle in Sedalia, then traveling on the Highline Canal into Cherry Hills Village and Greenwood Village. We rode with the Lakota, shared sage ceremonies, evening camp gatherings (wicoti), and learned about this beautiful culture. It is not hyperbole to say that it was life changing. We will share stories with, join the annual Ride, and participate in the Lakota Youth Ambassador Program for years to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last summer, I joined The Tipi Raisers for what I thought would be a one-week trail ride. That week became an ongoing volunteer mission of service. Retired from a 38-year nonprofit fundraising career, I had been looking for a way to use those skills and contribute back. I have found that path with The Tipi Raisers and their mission to improve life on the Lakota Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Mackenzie T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is doing incredibly important work at Pine Ridge and is full of passionate, driven, and effective staff and volunteers. They provide excellent relief and support to residents of Pine Ridge and build healing bridges between the Lakota people and non-native individuals from across the country. Their dedication to bringing native and non-native people together is truly inspiring and is making a world of difference in the lives of those they work with.

Rhyia J.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In a world influenced by surface level issues, here is a unique group of motivated "doer", if you will. The Tipi raisers have made a HUGE positive impact on the indigenous population & community. Through volunteer handy work & commitments, Tipi raisers have done the creators work to their best ability. I am humbly honored to have been able to experience the opportunities Tipi raisers have made possible for me. Thank you! Aho!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

How can I put into words an organization that has changed my life forever? My first volunteer trip to Pine Ridge in 2014 opened my world to the Lakota people, and I have made subsequent trips each year courtesy of The Tipi Raisers. Dave is an instrumental member of the organization, and what distinguishes his leadership is is dedication, humility, and love for the Lakota people. He has inspired so many people, including his beautiful family, who are all involved with Tipi Raisers. Because of Dave and the Tipi Raisers, I have had some of the most amazing experiences of my life, I have met some of the most influential people, and I have formed relationship that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The Tipi Raisers is truly inspirational and unique in its mission to serve, build relationships, and learn from the Native people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I met Dave and Lori while volunteering for a very important project called "The Native American Youth Summit", bridging Native youth with non-native youth to share and collaborate about some of the struggles kids have living on Reservations. It was an amazing and powerful experience hearing stories first hand from the people of Pine Ridge Reservation as well as others. I learned so much in a short time about the vast needs of the Lakota people of Pine Ridge and how the young and old are particularly vulnerable. The Tipi Raisers are doing great work both on and off the reservation to help many people. Whether that means hauling up firewood to distribute, winterizing homes, or helping to build homes, Dave is always trying to change lives for the better. My family and I hope to volunteer for many years to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Tipi Raisers are an incredible organization that has completely changed my life. After visiting the Pin Ridge reservation through the Tipi Raiser's volunteer program, I fell in love with the people and changed my career path so that in the future, I can dedicate myself even more. This organization means the world to me and I would encourage anyone who can to visit and volunteer at the reservation, so that we can attempt to mend the relationship between this country and our Native Peoples, as well as to make new friendships.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family found Tipi Raisers about 4 years ago when I had the opportunity to go on a trip with them up to Pine Ridge. After that, our family has only grown closer and closer to the organization and those involved. Tipi Raisers changed our lives and has led us to share that change with those around us. Tipi Raisers truly is one of the most dedicated non-profits I have ever seen and provides opportunities for learning, self-reflection, and love beyond what was thought possible. Tipi Raisers is dedicated to serving Pine Ridge physically and emotionally and despite the immense challenge of doing so preserves and creates change.

Becky R.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found out about The Tipi Raisers organization less than a year ago. Since then I have volunteered in Pine Ridge 3 times and supported their annual Lakota Ride. I have been helping to provide cut firewood for elders and have been helping to build a home. The Tipi Raisers Org has changed my life. They continue to teach me the Lakota way, they continue to help me grow personally and spiritually, and they introduced me to an amzing Lakota family. I cannot say enough great things about this organization or about the Lakota families we are helping.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A unique nonprofit that reaches out to those living in poverty (similar to 3rd world conditions) on a South Dakota Lakota reservation. A bridge between the cultures.

Erica J. R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In my almost three years working with Dave and the Tipi Raisers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I have had life-changing experiences working with and getting to know the Lakota people. They are kind, generous, funny, warm, and wise beyond a doubt. Dave and his organization has provided us with innumerable opportunities to create lasting change through the service projects as well as through thoughtful dialogue with Native youth and elders and through our cultural experiences such as inipi, dancing, singing, drumming, and horseback riding. I literally cannot imagine my life without the generosity of this organization. I will be an active ambassador through the Tipi Raisers for the Lakota for the rest of my life.

2 Larry C.1

Donor

Rating: 5

I support the TipiRaisers non profit ys they do a lot of help for the Natives of Lakota Nation always need donations or help to make homes for homeless Lakota Familys . Food .. FIrewood get to know what the Lakota Values and MOre. i go on horse ride for 23 days and i got donations and goes to a Awesome Cause to Help the poorest people in World to have what they need and need to get more donations money or donate time or labor to help build home or cut firewood and presents for xmas and for food for the neeydy Lakota to help them and get to know how great people they are and protect earth water animals and more.
The Tipi Raisers has good way to help by the rides and good way to understand what is to be Lakota and there Ways of living is awesome to and to lean from them and to help them is a good feeling and yis a super awesome way to help your Native neighbor in neeed and have good friend with them to accept them as our family we are all Related .. Thanks picture on Left is me on horse yes was a great expericance to help and i go this year too for the ride july 14 to aug 4th 2018 to lean more about our Native Friends (Relatives )

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The whole group is outstanding.I have never seen a nonprofit so fun to be around if you need them they help as much as they can. Very friendly people they don't frown upon you when you meet them.

1 Jason L.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I feel truly blessed and fortunate to have been involved with the 2017 Lakota Ride ! From the first days getting to know Dave Ventimiglia and some of the Sunka Wakan ( Sacred Horses ) to driving up to Pine Ridge to bring down Elders , Singers , Riders and more horses I knew this experience was going to be " Way Cool " !
I had no idea how Epic of a Journey it would be ... Words escape me . There was a sense of community and integrity that is hard to come by in this day and age . A sense of Pride and Confidence coupled with Sadness and remorse follow the Lakota People that We as riders got to experience first hand ! There was joy and happiness and a feeling of Family that was infectious and impossible to deny . Of coming together for a purpose greater than ourselves ! The Songs and Oral Traditions , the laughter and comradery , becoming more in tune with your surroundings , the People and Animals around you and the very Nature of the World We live in ! I have made Friends for Life and Long for the Next time I get to see and spend time with them !! Beginning and ending each day in prayer and thankfulness , relying on and helping each other through this journey has made me a different and better person ! This is the example I wish to exemplify , the Spirit ( Nagi ) or path I want to walk . There is Great Need for the Lakota and Indigenous people everywhere . The Tipi Raisers are continually Helping everywhere they can but it takes a Community ( Oyanke ) to help . Remember , We Are All Related ( Mitakuye Oasin ) !!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A huge thanks to Dave V. and the Tipi Raisers crew who completed this 400 mile journey to Pine Ridge together. This journey was about so much more than riding a horse (although riding was an indelible experience and this fundraiser would have been completely different without the horses). I learned about love, family, courage, generosity, and many precious lessons from people on the ride and those we met along the way, as well as the horses who carried us. Each day was a big adventure full of mystery in the best way (mostly pleasant surprises) and I would not have been anywhere else in the world or done the ride differently. Next year, I know things will continue to grow and improve and we will take what we learned and build on it.

The Lakota Ride is so powerful because it is supported by the prayers, hospitality, and donations of so many people. This year, we were beyond blessed to ride alongside many Lakota people from the Pine Ridge Reservation. Waylon Belt and his family ( wife Priscilla and kids Waylon Jr., Thomas, and Autumn) were the heart of this ride because we were raising funds that would go toward building them a home as well as others who live on Pine Ridge. Just being with them everyday was a gift and thinking about the impact of this ride on their family brought me to tears of joy and gratitude. Not only was this journey helping them raise money for their home, but we were riding home with them and growing together as a family (tiospaye) and having a heck of a lot of fun- from riding horse and playing frisbee to cooking and strumming on the ukulele- memories I will cherish and more importantly, relationships that will remain on my heart. I am unspeakably grateful for every person who was involved with the ride in big and small ways. For the opportunity to spend three weeks in rich community, prayer, and beauty, I give thanks to the Creator God. Wopila tanka (many thanks).

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an amazing time. I started the frist few days, with my New family. Lakota Riders. I was fortunate enough, to ride again a few days later. I was proud to have been able to have rode 3 out of 4 states with them. Looking forward to next years ride. And I didn't fall off. Almost. That was fun.
This was a spiritual journey for me.
Love them so much. Want to do more.
P. S. Excited about helping with the build, of the house. Hopefully it will be soon.
Much love to Dave and his children.
And all the Tipi Raisers. Thank you to all the horses.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

THIS was a great way to know the Lakota People and Have community with all involved. was specticale at first aoubt this non profit but is legit and great people in company and love riding horses was a 22 day horse ride we each got subscriers to donate $ for cause and is a good cause helping the Needy Lakota Natives in Pine Ridge Reservation. build homes , homes help them with food and wood for winter is one of the best ways to get to know the Lakota Natives .was a family of Lakota from 4 up kids were so nice and also was a spirit guide on the journey Terry was great singer /drummer/and help to show ways of the Lakota Natives. I enjoy each day of circle up twice a day for to tell what going on each day in each othe lives and spirt prayer each circle Love the Community we all had the 22 days together was so great . and all got along and each person did the part of getting things done .. love all who attended and will do this again is a learning way to know who your helping and why .
I was honored to b e on this Lakota Horse ride I was the Elder here and had a wonderful experience of family community and togetherness and safety more than ever. . Honored to ride and help out is great way to have a non profit that you learn about who your helping and why.. I had wonderful time with all ages who was in the Ride and support was Great. Wish the world would be this way maybe we can keep on telling our story and help the world be a better Place.. Thanks . Will miss all and Will do this next year to . rider and helper Larry Crabbe

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tipi Raisers gave me the opportunity to learn about the rich Lakota culture as well as make a difference in the community. I learned so much about myself and created amazing relationships through my two service trips up there. I'm so thankful for this organization and I can't wait to keep returning.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just returned from my 3rd volunteer trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation with the Tipi Raisers and for the 3rd time in a row, it was a carreer-changing, unforgettable, informative, well-organized, powerful, and beautiful trip. We always had something to do whether it was learning about the Wounded Knee Massacre from elders, participating in an inipi ceremony, dancing to Lakota drums and singing, and helping the people that have been oppressed by the US for centuries. These trips have revived in me a profound compassion for others that I had while growing up in developing countries but started to fade after moving back to the western culture of the US. If it were not for Pine Ridge Reservation, the Lakota, and the Tipi Raisers, I would not be the person I am today.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I think living on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a week was honestly one of the greatest experiences I've had and I would even say it was a life changing experience. During that week, I meet some of the most humble, compassionate, hopeful and resilient people I've ever meet. I was able to meet people like Waylon and his family, Thurman, Virgil, Romana, and many others and learn about their lives and what it meant to be a Lakota man or woman. And not only was I able to listen to their stories but to a certain extent I was able to live it. By participating in hand games, drum circles, horse back riding, and inipi, I was able to live like a Lakota and by doing so I was able to fully appreciate their culture. At first I felt guilty because as an American, I understand and further learned of the economic, social, physical, and psychological damage that we have inflicted upon Native Americans. But I greatly appreciate the members of the Lakota culture living on the Pine Ridge reservation for willingly opening their home, land, and more importantly, their heart to us. I know that the physical work that my group and I did over the week was very little. But I know the emotional work that we did such as listening to these individuals and their stories is a step in the right direction in terms of bridging the differences between Americans and Native Americans. And I just want to thank Dave along with Tipi Raisers for granting us this very special opportunity- its something that I will hold near and dear to me!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an amazing experience with the tipi raisers! I learned more in this one week of volunteering than I have on any other trip. I learned about myself and the Lakota people. Working on Virgil's garden was inspiring and I hope to go back to do more! We also enjoyed some sight seeing, horseback riding, raising a tipi and hearing from guest speakers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tipi Raisers gave me the most important week of my life when I volunteered with them from March 4-11, 2017. Each day was carefully planned by the executive director and involved 3 days of 6-hour shifts working on the demolition of an abandoned retreat center in order to salvage lumber to build a home for a local family and working on the construction of a community garden. We also retrieved and delivered firewood and food to a family in need. We personally met with and worked alongside all of the individuals we were serving and were able to get a real sense of how they struggled on a day to day basis. Additionally, we had daily activities and outings that taught us so much about the Lakota culture, history, and way of life. We visited schools, churches, national parks, powwows, and learned from many leaders and elders from the Reservation. By the end of the trip, I felt so moved and inspired by the people that Tipi Raisers had brought in to talk to us and so motivated by the work the organization helped us get done that I plan on coming back to Pine Ridge many more times in the future. Tipi Raisers was extremely thoughtful in its planning of our itinerary, professional in the execution of our work projects, effective in making a direct impact on Pine Ridge families, and personal in its investment in bettering relations between natives and non-natives. I cannot stress how effective and inspiring this organization is, and the fact that the executive director, Dave, and his family and board members are so well-loved and known on the Reservation is proof of the enormous impact of Tipi Raisers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Experiencing the Lakota Tribe with Tipi Raisers was a remarkable experience. Exceptional planning and execution, meaningful education, and personal interaction with tribe members made for an unforgettable and life-changing experience. This was a unique blend of humanitarian service with first-hand cultural exposure. Thank you to Tipi Raisers for an incredible week!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During my 10+ years working in international development, I have evaluated hundreds of development organizations regarding their financial and social impact and suitability for additional funding. I was thoroughly impressed with how Dave and his team approached working with the local Pine Ridge Lakota population. I felt a genuine desire from Tipi Raisers to help our group gain an appreciation for the challenging historical, cultural, economic, spiritual context the Lakota people are living in. I left the project with a strong desire to get to know the Lakota culture and traditions better and find ways to establish meaningful connections with them. Thanks Tipi Raisers for an amazing experience and I hope to join you again in the near future on other worthwhile projects.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had a tremendously memorable and impactful week with Tipi Raisers -- and I am confident that the positive impacts accrued more to us than the people we came to help. Our activities spanned working closely with a specific family to address their acute needs, attending multiple cultural activities that exposed us and endeared us to the Lakota people and culture, as well as a lot of fun.

I had the opportunity to bring my oldest son with me on the trip and he definitely feels that it is one of the more meaningful experiences he has had in his life. He wants to go back and as my children become old enough to meaningfully assist in the work that needs to be done, I would like to involve my entire family in repeated projects with Tipi Raisers.