The Sioux YMCA is a very small organization with many responsibilities and programs throughout the communities on and near the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. By working with community members, rather than for them, we establish sustainable programs and change. We empower. Focusing on engaging academic, athletic, and artistic programming, the Sioux Y serves the youth of the reservation on site, in the Tribal schools, in the communities, and through YMCA Camp Marrowbone. 


In 1862 the Dakota People, tired of semi-starvation and poverty, took part in a war meant to push white settlers out of their lands in Minnesota. At the end of the brief, ill-fated war, 160 Dakota warriors were captured and sentenced to hang.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln commuted the sentence of 120 of the younger men. However, 38 there warriors were hung from a single scaffold in Mankato, Minnesota, making it the largest mass execution in US history. These remaining Native men whose sentences had been commuted, languished in a military prison. Volunteers from the Young Men's Christian Association visited them, bring clothing, bedding, English language lessons, and Christianity. The Dakota men were so impressed with the compassion of these YMCA volunteers, that upon their release in 1879, some of them, including Chief Little Crow's son, Thomas Wakeman, started the Koskada Okadiciye, a Young Man's Association. 

In 1885, the association was recognized by the national YMCA movement and changed their name to Sioux Young Men's Christian Association. Their goal then, as it still is today, was to teach and encourage the Lakota values of Wawokiye, Woksape, Ohitika, and Wa o'hola (Generosity, Wisdom, Bravery, and Respect) as well as the Y values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility.

Change and growth have continued throughout the years. In 1970, the Sioux YMCAs voted to become a family association and in 1971 a summer residential camp, YMCA Camp Marrowbone was started. 


Today, the General Convention of Sioux YMCAs, with a Lakota Board of Directors and supported by a dedicated Board of Trustees, operates youth, recreational and camping programs that serve tough and families spread out among the isolated communities of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, which is over 5,000 square miles. 

Our mission is 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.


Organized the first Sioux Indian YMCA in 1879.


First Executive Director of the Sioux YMCA, 1894.

I am very passionate about the Sioux Y and what this organization does for the youth on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.  Over the years, this organization has been graced with some mighty fine staff from around the country and their dedication and commitment goes beyond measure! The Sioux Y has a tremendous momentum going and we hope that this organization continues to grow.  We are very thankful and grateful to all the other Ys that believe in the Sioux Y and the many organizations and individuals that contribute to the success of this fantastic organization!


~Mona Thompson, Board of Directors


Contact our Development Officer: Dan Fraser

Email: danfrasure@siouxymca.org

Y Phone: 605.365.5232

Mailing Address:

PO BOX 218

Dupree, SD 57623

CARING                                            HONESTY                                            RESPECT                                            RESPONSIBILITY