Tom Hollow Horn- Wounded Knee Resident
TOKA HWO my people, I would like to thank the Tipi Raisers for the things they done to our community ( Wounded Knee ) especially helping my elders and making xmas happen for my community children and people, it helped me as a Lakota man to show my children the sustainability among the land such as a garden, also it gives my people the chance to help their community and be part of something special among their hearts especially their spirit with all the smiles that come to help and make their heartful efforts for my beautiful Lakota people ! The Tipi Raisers brought my elders the hope of their needs among the struggles we suffer everyday as Lakota people , the volunteers bring the spirit alive among my children with their kindness and their spirit, HOKA HEY!
Jay T. Lynch- Previous Volunteer
Where can one even begin when discussing the amazing work and outreach that this organization does and accomplishes! I had the opportunity to visit the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation on an educational and service trip through my university. The Tipi Raisers welcomed us with open arms and helped us to learn and work in the community in a manner that was positive and impactful for the people and did not dishonor their rich culture or dignity. Getting the opportunity to be humbled and to simply listen to the stories and history of the Lakota people truly put perspective into my life and was a great honor that no suburban guy like myself truly deserves but I was humbled to be apart of! The Tipi Raisers is a one of a kind nonprofit that positively impacts the lives of both Native Americans and promotes their dignity, respect, rights, and needs in a way that truly builds the community and offers real results and effective change! I am forever grateful for this organization and I will continue to support all they do!
Reuben Fast Horse- Lakota Language Teacher
Too! too! Ti Ikciya Pa Slata Pi lila wastewalaka. ( Lakhota ) / Yes!, yes! I really love the Tipi Raisers. My name is Reuben Fast Horse and I have worked with the Tipi Raisers for six years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and off Reservation. Dave , Lori Shayna, Ce Ce and Adam are a family that have devoted themselves to their Non Profit and the Lakhota Oyate, the Lakhota Nation. They Not only reach my People but to other nations of the UTE and Navajo. I spoke three times at the United Nations 2019 The Year of the Indigenous People's Languages addressing the plight of Native Americans, Native Canadians and Native Hispanic peoples. The Tipi Raisers are one if not the only Non Profits that address Indigenous people. They are first on hand to provide aide, comfort, reconciliation, support and healing by putting themselves on the front line by addressing pressing issues to all Tribal Councils. Unbeknownst to many in our American History......There are many Native Americans who Helped Non Native people through out history and there those Non Native Americans who helped Native Americans even today. Tipi Raisers is formidable and spearheads the fight against Poverty and the Forgotten people of this country....Our Country the Lakhota, the Native American Nations. It is powerful to help others across America and around the World but please don't forget what is in your back Yard, America, The NATIVE AMERICAN. TOO, TOO ( DOO, DOO ) / Yes, Yes. MITAKUYE OYASIN / WE ARE ALL RELATED.
Kat Tilton- Previous Race to Winterize Volunteer
My sister had described her experience with the Tipi Raisers as one that had deeply enriched her life, and I was able to discover that for myself in November of 2019 when I accompanied her to Pine Ridge. Everyone within the organization, whether a volunteer or member of the Lakota Tribe, welcomed me with unforgettable kindness. Simply being there, allowing the natural connection between all people (and animals!) to take place, was one that filled my heart with a new appreciation for all we share. The Tipi Raisers do work that enhances the lives of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, lifting both to a place where connection is made possible again. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so special and sacred.
Katie Buckley- Previous Volunteer
I was involved with a week long service trip to Pine Ridge with the Tipi Raisers and it was an experience I will carry with me for life. I met amazing people and was exposed to the trials they experience. It gave me the opportunity to get involved and learn how I can be a better advocate for others.
Megan Phelan- Previous Volunteer
I went to Pine Ridge with Tipi Raisers for the first time in 2019 during my spring break and returned the following year with some of the same friends in March 2020 (right before lockdowns). I can honestly say that the work that Tipi Raisers does is so important and so necessary. One of the things I love most about Tipi Raisers is that they partner with the community and incorporate community members into plans and projects. It is not outsiders coming to “fix things” it is a relationship with the community that wants to foster reparation and bridge between cultures to create an understanding of the culture, history, brokenness (created by colonizers and those lasting effects). I learned so much from hearing tribal members speak and working alongside them during my trips. I created lasting friendships and developed an appreciation for a culture I never would have known about and also built deeper friendships with the people I served alongside. If I could give this nonprofit 10 stars I would.
Alex Carlin- Previous Volunteer
I volunteered with the Tipi Raisers for a week during spring break my junior year of college. It was an incredible experience but more importantly, immensely heartwarming to see how close members of the Tipi Raisers were with the families they were assisting. The work being done by this organization is truly exceptional.
Max Pool- Previous Volunteer
This is an incredible organization. I had two opportunities to work with Tipi Raisers in 2019 and 2020, and was able to see the profound impact the organization has on its community on the pine ridge reservation. The people here are passionate about educating the public on the history of US relations with native Americans, and they also produce a lot of good via their work crews on the reservation. These are good people and I would highly recommend working with them.
Testimonials from Prior Years
Pansy Weasel Bear – Tribal Government Employee, Mother of 6 daughters and grandmother of five.
I support the Tipi Raisers because of their love, hope, honesty, friendship and are hard-working people!! Thank you all...staff and supporters! I appreciate and am grateful to all the volunteers who go above and beyond to help our people in great need!!
Karen Churnside- Volunteer from Boulder shares reflections on the 2019 Race to Winterize:
I was drawn to this as there is some history of my family coming out as settlers to the far-west and some interaction there that I took for normal growing up - not really realizing the history. As I’ve learned more about that it’s led me to feel that I have a debt here. So, I poked around trying to find appropriate opportunities because I have a sensitivity of groups that go into communities to impose what they think is best for them. Tipi Raisers sounded to me like it was making efforts to be grounded in cooperative decision making with those who live here on Pine Ridge and has a track record of having been here for quite some time.
The highlight of the weekend for me was having Mary Weasel Bear join us as we delivered donations across the reservation. Mary provided an informative tour and was able to convey how to honor the space. She shared her family history and expressed her hurt - the personal and historical hurt. But she also expressed hope in the sentiment that “We’re here, yes this all happened but we’re here in modern times and we’re here to stay!” Mary stressed how important it is that people are properly educated on both the past and the current realities on the reservation. It was tearful moment for me, hearing Mary speak at Wounded Knee, both heart-breaking and heart-opening.
Jo’ella Red Willow- Previous Youth Ambassador from Wambli, SD:
The Tipi Raisers have taught me to be more kind to others that are non-native. This non-profit organization is changing lives and has changed mine in multiple ways. Glad to be a part of it when I can.
Tom Hollow Horn- Wounded Knee resident
On behalf of our Wounded Knee community, we commend & thank the awesome crew of " tipi raisers " you made good memories with our children!! Atah, library coming soon !! Wopila !! Lila Pila Unyapi! We are going to start a Lakota language class on a community level, get the sacred tongue from their elders, here!!
Maria Wischmeyer- Material Acquisitions Coordinator:
There is a lot of competition for both our time and money. Non-profits abound. But few actually challenge your understanding of the situation. Tipi Raisers encourages more than the monetary donation; their intention is to foster relationships and breed possibility. There is not only a tragic need in Pine Ridge, but there is an enormous responsibility to those of us who have been the beneficiaries of the Native American oppression. It is a privilege to be a part of their efforts.
Skyla Gabriel – Gen7'er from Colorado Springs:
The first time I came to Pine Ridge with the Tipi Raisers, I had no idea how drastically it would change my life. Every single experience I've had in the now 6 times that I've come up to the rez have changed me for the better. The elders, like Pansy Weasel Bear, have shared their wisdom and culture, given me new eyes, and filled me with appreciation, gratitude, and humility. Dave and Lori Ventimiglia, who run this organization, are the most incredible, down-to-earth, generous, kind, and loving people with a passion for the work that they do. I am so proud to be associated with this group and I'm so thankful for the path it's led me on, and I hope to be working with them for life.
More Testimonials from Various Volunteers:
I am so grateful to the Tipi Raisers for providing me the opportunity to connect, serve and donate to the people of the Pine Ridge reservation. As an American I have always longed to connect with our Native people and the Tipi Raisers are an incredible and trustworthy non profit that have been serving this community for over 20 years. Thank you Tipi Raisers for giving me a way to support positive work in this community. Forever Grateful! Keep up the good work!
We've had the opportunity to participate in two trips with Tipi raisers. Both were absolutely transformational for our family! I was grateful we were able to get to know some of the community members while working on our projects and also to be able to participate in local ceremonies. I appreciated how intentional Dave was to create the space for our group to process the experience and for his compassion and kindness.
Over the last three years I’ve had several opportunities to volunteer with The Tipi Raisers. The trips to Pine Ridge Reservation allowed me to actively help people with needed projects around food and housing, honor Indigenous wisdom, and work toward reconciliation around our shared native/non-native history. I’ve experienced person growth and seen the value of the continued, collaborative work being done, including the Gen7 group that is providing lots of opportunity for all our youth. Thank you to all who make this happen.
I left yearning to understand more about the Lakota, their culture, their needs, their thoughts about the solutions and the future ahead. One brief visit is not enough.
This was a powerful experience to share with my family. I left the weekend feeling compelled to learn more about Pine Ridge and challenged to consider how I can incorporate the Native American experience (past and present) into the classroom where I teach.
The trip has been one of the coolest things I have experienced in my entire life. Stepping into Lakota culture and trying to understand what they have to deal with as well as trying to embrace their culture into your own was so fun and an amazing experience. I truly loved every part of the trip and the people were amazing.
Additional testimonials from volunteers and the community we serve can be found here at Great Nonprofits which has listed Tipi Raisers as a Top-Rated nonprofit for five years running.
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