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The project at the heart of this 66-acre site in Rapid City, South Dakota is the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy.  The development of this new K-12 school will create systematic change for future generations of Indigenous children in Rapid City by introducing a model of education that is fundamentally anchored in the culture and values of the Indigenous community through a land-based learning approach.  The school will provide a safe, inclusive environment that encourages self-determination and resilience through a return to traditional lifeways.


The school program includes classrooms, art and music spaces, a shared cafeteria, physical education, and performance spaces.  Exterior spaces include classrooms, gardens, wetland and prairie restoration, a network of cross country and walking trails, and contemplative spaces.  The site welcomes community participation through powwow grounds and recreation trails.  Community members, students, and staff will engage in a long-term adaptive management program that regenerates and sustains the land, its ecosystem, and its people.


Mixed-use and residential land uses will surround the school with a thoughtful and intentional integration.  This development supports the school by both providing space for expanded community amenities and fully utilizing the school as a community resource. Establishing a neighborhood around the school will encourage the growth of a place-based community.  Residents will have access to opportunities to live, work, grow, learn, and play surrounded by relatives within the neighborhood.


Together, the different components of this project center the values of Indigenous community members and create a space for the whole community to thrive. With the school at the heart of the project site, future generations of Indigenous students will grow up in a supportive environment focused on their history, culture, identity, and values.



Rapid City, South Dakota


Plan Completed May 2022


NDN Collective


Hoxie Collective (Co-Lead)

Substance Architecture (Co-Lead)

McLennan Design

SWT Design



KLJ Engineering

Document Links

Related Projects


2024 Merit Award: Central States Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

2022 Awards of Excellence for planning and analysis: Prairie Gateway Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Chokan Diagrams

The Chokan, or “center” spaces in each wing of the school serve as a physical and spiritual center of the school day.  Students will begin and end each day together in these spaces, expressing gratitude, prayer, reinforcing Indigenous lifeways. Because of its significance, the Chokan will be physically central to each wing of the school. The diagrams to the right show studies exploring various arrangements of this central meeting space, main building entry, classrooms, and school administrative offices. The building layout will continued to be explored through future design phases, recognizing the significance of this gathering space.

chokan diagrams_Substance Architecture.jpg
chokan diagrams_Substance Architecture.jpg

Outdoor Classroom



Site Plan

Site Plan.jpg
Site Plan.jpg

Development Program

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