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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Tipi Raisers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services

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: Shared the Lakota culture through traditional drum and dance groups. We also temporarily employed over 15 Lakota People.

Geographic areas served: Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations

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

37 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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 ) !!

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).

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.

3

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

1

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.

1

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.

2

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!

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.

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The trip with the Tipi Raiser was truly an amazing experience and one that I will hold dear for a long time to come. I went on the trip with the intent to provide service to an under-served community but left having gained so much more from spending time with the people, learning about their culture and soaking up the incredible landscape. I got to say it's hard to beat a horse back ride on the open terrain overlooking the reservation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tipi Raisers has created a volunteer experience that enables participants to work with their minds and hands to experience a deep cultural exchange with the Lakota Native Americans. Tipi Raisers was very flexible and accommodating in working with our volunteer group to maximize our experience. We met a handful of community leaders both young and old, built a few significantly impactful things for a family, had some traditional Native food, and experienced several unique cultural experiences. When you leave this volunteer experience, you'll have built stronger relationships and created a lifetime memory.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There are few times in life when a single place or group of people will positively change who you are in the short course of a week. Pine Ridge changed my perspective on the world, and Tipi Raisers provided the means to spend time at Pine Ridge, the space for meaningful reflection, and the opportunity for action.
Society has a tendency to filter history into its most digestible and anecdotal form. Even within the progressive curriculum of my high school, my experience of American history was grossly dominated by the eurocentric white man’s perspective. Huge historical events were often summarized into less shocking forms that made them seem like fairy tales, with each obstacle or tragedy portrayed as a hump in the road on the way to more power. Although I will never fully understand what the Lakota people have been through, and continue to go through, nor the strength it takes to overcome the adversity they face, I left Pine Ridge knowing that American history is not a determined narrative made to fit in the thousand pages of a text book. Our history is a web of stories and tragedies that come together to create the human experience, the Native American experience, the American experience. There is no one history.
After hearing stories of the Lakota people first hand, it was easy to resort to an instinctual feeling of guilt for what the American government has done, and continues to do to Native American people. But as I continued to build relationships, listen to the elders, and hear stories from the Lakota youth, it became apparent that Lakotas are not sharing their history for the purposes of making white Americans feel ashamed. Lakota stories need to be told because they hold the inherent truth that all humans are related, and in that realization is the intangible power to create a humane world of compassion. From Inipi on the first night, to listening to Basil Braveheart speak, to shouting into the badlands desert, the amount of compassion and love on Pine Ridge and from the people there is incredible, and I think (at least in part) it rubbed off on me. Even now that I have left Pine Ridge, what I learned there and the idea that all humans are related, is constantly on my mind. Going on a trip to Pine Ridge should be a mandatory fee of being an American citizen. It fundamentally changed how I look at the world, how I look at other people, and how I handle the responsibility of being an American. Tipi Raisers gave great context to the power of our experiences, and I would not have had the takeaways I did without the support of Dave and the organization. I plan on returning to Pine Ridge many times in the future.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Going on the trip with Tipi rasiers was one of the most helpful and educational experiences of my life. I met amazing people and had experiences that will change my life forever. I leared more about myself society and the Pine Ridge reservation then I could have ever dreamed. I also very much enjoyed the importance of my presence in Pine Ridge. Overall the best experience of my life and it was all thanks to Tipi Raisers.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The leader of Tipi Raisers, is such a kind and thoughtful person. He puts so much into the non-profit. The leader has the audacity to knock on strangers' doors and ask if they need help. These are the kinds of things that are indicative of the kind of person the leader is. In addition, Tipi Raisers really showed our group such a diverse portrait of Pine Ridge. In terms of volunteer projects, I felt like I was really helping contributing particularly when our group painted a resident's walls which were extremely filthy. By far one of the greatest week's of my life!

Tipi Raisers fell short of providing our group with a full and complete picture of the reservation becasue, for example, we did not see where the president of the reservation lives or see the casinos.

Menachem P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the most profound experience in South Dakota on a trip that was organized through the Tipi Raisers. Through their efforts we were able to meet with locals throughout the Pine Ridge Reservation to learn of the Lakota's history, culture, and present conditions. It would not have been possible if the Tipi Raisers (Dave!) were not there to help us in accessing the community. Thank you for an unforgettable experience!

-Menachem

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible learning experience. I can honestly say that I have grown immensely because of Tipi Raisers and the program they ran. They were also incredibly flexible with our religious observances such as kosher, shabbat, etc.