A Message from the Executive Director

John Beheler

Hau, Mitakuyapi – A traditional greeting from our Dakota people here in South Dakota.  It gives me great honor to report that this semester, we were able to support 135 scholarships for students attending 25 different colleges.    

I'm also excited to share that we have established a partnership with GearUp to support the American Indian Scholars Initiative.  Each summer, GearUp provides a six-week independent academic experience for over 200 students from nine reservations. 

As you are already aware, the first year of college presents the greatest challenge for most students. Our preliminary studies show that GearUp graduates are the most likely to success in college.  These students who have invested several summers of academic studies, are truly the most prepared for the  collegiate challenges ahead of them.
 You can help us build on student success and desire to attend college.  With your help we can provide a scholarship to support our best students as they transition to college. Provide your gift today and we will forward your name to scholarship recipients. Simply click on our "Make a Donation" page and in the comment field, indicate that you want to support the American Indian Scholars Initiative! 
Please call me at 605-234-5472 if you have any questions or need additional information.   

Pilamaya (Thank you) for your continued support as we look forward to promoting academic achievement!

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About us

Dakota Indian Foundation is an independent 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. The Foundation provides funding to individuals, groups and organizations to support a wide variety of activities directly related to social enhancement and cultural preservation of Dakota people.


The foundation opened the Dakota Plains Gallery and Gift store to support Dakota and Lakota artisans throughout South Dakota. In addition to purchasing artwork, the Gallery serves as an outlet for artisans to “tell their story” through their art.


Over the past 30 years, Dakota Indian Foundation has provided more than a million dollars in academic scholarships. Students who are of Dakota, Lakota or Nakota ancestry, and in their second year of college, may apply each semester for the DIF Academic Scholarship.


Grants are provided for cultural awareness and preservation Dakota Indian Foundation supports programs that enhance cultural lifeways and promote understanding of Native American customs and ceremonies.