Serving the people of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Lakota Nation) in South Dakota for nearly a century and a half.
The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires
The mission of the YMCA of the Seven Council Fires (formerly known as the Sioux YMCA) is "to develop and strengthen the children and families in our Reservation communities so they can fullfill their greatest individual and collective potential, spiritually, mentally, and physically."
The YMCA teaches and encourages the values of wawokiye (generosity), woksape (wisdom), ohitika (bravery) and w a o’hola (respect).
Unique in the world
The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires has a Lakota Board of Directors and is supported by a dedicated Board of Trustees. The Y is headquartered in Dupree, South Dakota. It operates youth, recreational and camping programs that serve families spread out among the isolated tribal communities of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. The service area extends just under 5,000 square miles (about the size of the State of Connecticut). The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires is a member of YMCA of the USA.
The Sioux YMCA is now The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires
'A long time coming'
The Sioux YMCA has changed its name to the "YMCA of the Oceti Šakowin" or "The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires."
“The decision was a long time coming as the name Sioux did serve its purpose looking back at the history of our people and ancestors. When the Sioux YMCA was first created, at that time, it had a deep purpose. At this time when we are being very accurate with our history and our culture, it’s only right that we are recognized as the YMCA of the Seven Council Fires," said Board Chairwoman Alli Moran.
"We are here to nurture and grow all members of the great Sioux Nation. This is a cultural way to honor the original vision and to our future generations," she said in announcing the change.
"The proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux is Očeti Šakówiŋ, (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win) meaning Seven Council Fires. The original Sioux tribe was made up of Seven Council Fires. Each of these Council Fires was comprised of individual bands, based on kinship, dialect, and geographic proximity."
YMCA Leadership Team
Andrew Corley (left) is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the YMCA of the Seven Council Fires. He began his YMCA career at Camp Burgess on Cape Cod and has more than a decade of YMCA service. He enjoys running, hiking, biking and walking his dogs, Mello and Murphy.
Alli Moran (right) from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Lakota) is chairwoman of the YMCA Board of Directors. She is the Project Director and Policy Analyst of her company Tribal Science International, LLC. and the founder of Wakpá Wašté Scholars Alliance. Alli graduated from the Institute of Indian Arts with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Indigenous Liberal Studies.
Who will live in the tiny homes
and what about the 'twigs?'
The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires has an operational plan on managing both the Tiny Home Village and the twigs once they are completed. Who will live in the homes? What programs will be offered in the twigs? Click on the button below to read the answers to those questions and more.
Y programs make a difference
The Y's after school program combines study with play, providing homework assistance as well as enrichment projects throughout the school year.
The best way to learn about cultures, history, and places, is to go and see them. The Y provides members with those opportunities through field trips.
Day camp programs in numerous communities throughout the widespread reaches of the Reservation are offered during the summer months.
The Sioux YMCA works with teenagers to ensure they are engaged, inspired, and encouraged. A summer program is designed to grow leadership skills.
The Y served more than 18,000 nutritious meals to children and families on the Reservation this past summer. The Y partners with Meals on Wheels to provide meals to elders in Dupree and other communities.
Global Indiginous Youth Conference
The Global Indigenous Youth Summit (GIYS) is a conference designed to create a safe environment for indigenous and under-represented youth.
YMCA Camp Marrowbone
YMCA Camp Marrowbone, now in its 51st year, provides a safe and supportive environment for kids to learn, explore and grow. The focus is on meeting each camper where they are and working with them to realize their greatest individual and collective potential. The goal is to teach life skills through the character traits of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility and traditional Lakota values. Each week-long camp experience results in new friendships, the opportunity to try a wide variety of activities, and a place to call home.
Frequently Asked Questions:
YMCA of the Seven Council Fires
What is the YMCA mission?
“To develop and strengthen the children and families in our Reservation communities so they can fulfill their greatest individual and collective potential, spiritually, mentally and physically”
A YMCA overview
The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires is a member of the YMCA of the USA, has a diverse Board of Directors and is supported by a dedicated Board of Trustees. The Y operates youth, recreational and camping programs serving families spread out just under 5,000 square miles among the isolated communities of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota. There are currently 8,600 residents on the reservation, 80 percent of whom are Native American.
Where are the Y's facilities?
The YMCA’s main building and volunteer housing center is located in Dupree on the west side of the Reservation. YMCA Camp Marrowbone is located next to Lake Oahe.
What social issues are faced?
Isolation and remoteness as 35 percent of the population lives in poverty, including 71 percent of children. Many youths don’t know where they will sleep or where their next meal is coming from. Unemployment is high as is substance abuse, food insecurity, alcoholism and suicide.
What is housing like?
Housing is insufficient and of poor quality. Living conditions are crowded. Three generations living together is not unusual.
Y Staff and board?
The YMCA is governed by a local Board of Directors consisting mostly of tribal members. The Y is additionally supported by a Board of Trustees, an advisory group consisting of active and retired YMCA professionals and volunteers. Andrew Corley has been CEO and Executive Diretor for more than 7 years. His team includes a Senior Youth Development Director and resident and family camp directors.
What is the annual budget?
The Y's annual budget is currently $1.3 million.Trustees raised $300,000 in the 2022 annual campaign.
What are the Y's programs?
After school, teen programs, day camp, resident camp, sports, field trips, scholarships, holiday events, Global Indigenous Youth Conference and a learning garden. More than 18,000 youth meals are served by the Y during the summer .
What's the need for tiny homes?
The Tiny Homes (approximately 485 square feet) will provide a sustainable living option for local community members, staff, and volunteers.
Access to these homes will be managed through an equitable application process ensuring a mutually beneficial and impactful housing experience.
What are 'Twigs?'
The YMCA can’t support the construction and operation of traditional YMCA branches, but they are well equipped to manage and support scaled-down versions: called "twigs." These units will provide needed programs and services to remote communities on the reservation.
Are there misconceptions?
Yes. There are no casinos on this reservation. The Y does not charge membership fees. Funding primarily depends on donations and grants. The YMCA does not receive an allocation from YMCA World Service, only donor-designated gifts.
The YMCA and transitional housing.
The Y is a member of the Y-USA Housing Network thus benefiting from the best practices and experience of other YMCAs involved in housing. However, the Reservation community is vastly different from every other Y programs so the housing program is fluid and more responsive to the immediate needs.
The housing program
The Y currently has a pilot housing program operating out of the staff apartments with two residents. The Tiny Homes will allow the YMCA to serve more residents with housing needs. The program will target individuals, ages 11-26, and will focus on providing a safe place for individuals to rest and recoup prior to their participation in job training and other support services.
Additional housing programs
Our project is one step in improving housing accessibility on the Reservation. The completion of the Tiny Homes Village will provide a foundation for the tribal community to invest in other housing opportunities. Existing and future partnerships with other organizations will provide the needed support services.