The Medicine Wheel Healing and Rehabilitation Community

Dear Editor,

The Lakota People are an alliance of Native American Nations who most mainstream Americans often refer to collectively as the Sioux. Beyond a vague historical knowledge of the Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Custer, and Wounded Knee through movies such as “Dances with Wolves,” “Thunderheart,” and “Skins” little is known about them by the average U.S. citizen. Even less is known about the truth of how they live today.

The racism, injustice, oppression and isolation they have suffered for decades continues today, out of sight and out of mind of the dominant culture. The Pine Ridge Reservation occupies the poorest county in the United States. With roughly 20,000 to 30,000 people, it has the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.

The infant mortality rate is the highest on the continent, 300% higher than the U.S. national average, with diabetes and tuberculosis both 800% higher. The residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation face 80% unemployment, $3,500 average annual income, and a 55-75% high-school dropout rate.

The other Lakota reservations in South and North Dakota face similar or worse conditions. 


Ultimately, the Lakota have represented the worst failure of the United States of America to live up to its treaty obligations and constitutional commitment of “...liberty and justice for all” for so long that few even look with compassion or outrage anymore.

An even greater tragedy, alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on these reservations and has devastated the Lakota spiritually, culturally, emotionally, physically and politically for over a century. Yet, there are few, if any, treatment facilities available on the reservations.

The Medicine Wheel Healing and Rehabilitation Community seeks to address this lack of resources through a unique and innovative program in a supportive environment.

Opening the summer of 2008 near Chadron, Nebraska, it will begin with a capacity of 20 to 30 clients and has plans for rapid growth. It will focus on Lakota youth destined for prison as a result of alcohol, drugs, or the family and community break down.

The program will be a year-long commitment beginning with ninety days of intensive, state of the art treatment from experienced and knowledgeable Native American counselors using the best of the practical knowledge and strategies which modern addiction psychology offers along with the ancient traditional insight, wisdom, and healing methods of the elders.

Following the ninety day intensive program, each individual will move into a work and continuing education program where they will work four hours a day, earning room and board, through building and sustaining the community.

The rest of the day will be focused on learning practical living skills, developing creative potential, continued higher education, and helping others. The client’s family will be invited in periodically to help develop functional relationship and communication skills.

Following completion of the year program, every individual will know they can return for as long as necessary to get back to sober life by working four hours a day to sustain themselves and the program.

The primary living facility is a 22' tipi that sleeps four comfortably. Shower and toilet facilities are nearby. The food at Medicine Wheel is consistently excellent: high protein, low fat, fresh fruit and vegetables, prepared in a variety of good and healthy ways.

There are also similar accommodations for 20 to 30 visitors, allies, teachers, students, researchers, and those interested in participating in the revitalization of the history, health, language, culture, ceremonies, traditions, music, art, and the Red Road of the Lakota people.

The Medicine Wheel community is being built on Common Ground. All nations and people who come with honesty and respect are welcome. Visitor accommodations are $150.00 a day all-inclusive. Teachers, artisans, and journeymen can receive compensation or credit for time spent contributing value to the program.

There is an age limit for visitors of 16 and older.

For more information contact:

Ron “Funny Look’in Indian” Holton
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