Medicine Wheel Living Park
The Medicine Wheel Living Park is a 65-acre park located on the South Dakota side of Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in the Bear Soldier community aka McLaughlin. The park was founded by Robert & Beth White Mountain in 2009 and is a grass roots, volunteer-run community organization focusing on Earth sustainability practices, food sovereignty and reconnection to Lakota culture and our Mother Earth.
Our goal is to offer ways of understanding how we can attain an eco-friendly, socially just and harmonious co-existence with each other and our sacred Grandmother Earth, and also to bring hope to the children and people of the 3rd poorest county in the nation.
We began our journey by planting 350 trees – apples, plums, apricots, cherries, pears – in the shape of a giant Medicine Wheel. We lined the borders of the park by planting a 5-row shelterbelt filled with native berries – choke cherries, wild plums, currents, gooseberries, juniper- totaling 5,000 shrubs and trees. In the following year we added a fenced in community garden with water system, and a swing set for the kids. We talk to the youth about the importance of healthy foods and sustainability practices to ensure their future.
Throughout the years, we have continued to gather community members to help prune and care for the trees and grow veggies in the summer. The peaceful setting of the Park is good for the soul and a healthy, peaceful place to walk. In the Summer of 2018, we hosted our first large community gathering called ‘The Summer Solstice Celebration of Life’ and had elders speak, music, workshops and built a small cob playhouse for the kids.The poor living conditions in North central South Dakota are filled with helplessness and hopelessness and have extremely high rates of alcoholism, violence, teen pregnancy, abuse and suicide. These ways of life have led to the loss of our culture, language and connection to the Earth. It is our vision to revive Lakota cultural ways. One of these ways is by creating a shaded gazebo in the center of the Medicine Wheel orchard where our elders can teach on a regular basis. We have started a building fund to make this happen for the park.