Where the Past meets the Future

Pine Ridge Girls’ School helps our students bridge the gap between who they are and what they want to be. Our approach to education is different, new and exciting! Young women who attend our school can expect to learn about:

  1. Their Past: the sacrifices that our indigenous people made.

  2. Their Present: who they are and where they stand in today’s society.

  3. Their Future: by pulling it all together and deciding how they will impact others.

Student works on assembly of solar panel.

Student works on assembly of solar panel.

Our Model

Our educational model is backed by strong social-emotional support from staff and community members grounded in Lakota culture, language, and values. It provides an academically rigorous program guided by best practices in girls’ education.

The School combines what works best for all girls, with what works best for the girls of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It provides them with a strong, supportive environment to succeed in their educational journey as they begin to hear a long-silenced voice in their classrooms, their voice, and that of their community. 

Historical Context

Historically, female members of the Lakota had notable social agency, often owning “the final say” in community decisions, even though their power was not always acknowledged publicly. During the boarding school era, young Native girls were taught (through the assimilation process) that men and women were not equal and their self-identification as leaders began to diminish. 

Pine Ridge Girls’ School provides Lakota girls with an opportunity to learn in a nurturing environment with strong female role models who focus on developing the student’s unique talents, leadership skills, and intellect. This support promotes the enhancement of matriarchal societal norms and the equalization of female roles; both which are particularly relevant to Lakota culture and tradition.

The all-female education model will serve the girls of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by combining the innovative and traditional ways of educating young women. 

Students rally at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Walk- Rapid City, SD 2017

Students rally at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Walk- Rapid City, SD 2017


All teachings are based on the most innovative research on how girls learn best. Currently we adapt and apply best practices provided by the Young Women's Leadership Network schools across the country. While our pedagogical approach is shaped by the expertise of specialists in the fields of education and health and wellness, our school curriculum is also enriched by cultural components specifically relevant to the Lakota girls of Pine Ridge. This includes Lakota life-ways, history, and practical applications in different fields of study. 

Based on core learning centers, the curriculum reflects a clear purpose and cultural context that ensures student are building interest and skills in areas most important to the tribe:

  • Indigenous Sciences – students learn about earth and life sciences; research, observe, and apply principles of biology, chemistry, and environmental sciences to deepen their understanding of the complexities and inter-dependencies that sustain or destroy the environment.

  • Mathematics- Students will learn geometry, trigonometry, algebraic expressions, arithmetic, and calculus to test and prove their assumptions, and promote native women to take a more active role in STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, art, and math).

  • Indigenous Governance, Treaty Rights, and Leadership –students learn about governance from a historical perspective (especially as it relates to their own cultural history), federal laws and tribal sovereignty law; they will research, observe, and apply principles of both federal and sovereignty law through engaging activities like debate teams; and use these tools and skills to become informed participants and leaders of their own Tribe.

  • Critical thought and writing- students will learn how to express their opinion through writing and debate with the support of native literature and indigenous philosophy. 

  • Indigenous Art, Traditional and Contemporary Music, Communications and Technology - students learn different forms of creative expression through traditional tribal art forms, beading, sewing, song and dance; and become proficient in advanced forms of technology to use video and other technologies to capture their stories and share their creations.