Iowa Teens Learn About Lakota Culture

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Teens from Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, and Calvin CRC in nearby Rock Valley didn’t travel far for their summer mission trip—less than 300 miles (480 kilometers). But culturally, it was a long way.

Paige Nibbelink and children from the Rosebud Indian Reservation
Photo by Leslie Huizenga

The teens spent a week at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. They learned about the history of the Lakota Indians, took archery lessons, and taste-tested traditional Indian Fry Bread.

During the day, they helped with a Kids’ Club. “The children loved making crafts, being read to, piggy-back rides, and playing games outside,” said Leslie Huizenga, a youth group leader at Immanuel.

In addition to helping out with Kids’ Club, the team also began building a bunkhouse for teens.

One night after working during the day, the group took a hike through the National Wildlife Refuge.

The students, who were met by overwhelming gratitude from the people on the reservation, also left the trip changed.

“They learned how so much of what we have in everyday life is taken for granted,” Huizenga said. “They saw how different their culture is from ours, and how we can learn to appreciate our families and family history.”

About the Author


Kate Padilla is a staff writer at the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa, where she is a member of Hope Church.