Lakota Circle Village, Leonard Littlefinger










P.O. BOX 47






Prepared by

Leonard Little Finger

(Not to be reproduced or circulated,  except by expressed permission only)

 Lakota Circle Village

Lakota Circle Village, Inc.


(A) Name of Contact

Lakota Circle Village, Inc.
Leonard Little Finger
P.O. Box 47
Oglala, South Dakota 57764
(605) 867-5374 Home
(605) 455-6913 Work-Loneman School

Email Address:


Application for non-profit corporation has been filed with state of South Dakota.  Corporate papers are available upon request.  



This effort is the endeavor of the descendant’s of Chief Big Foot, and John Little Finger in honoring their ancestry and legacy of 11 generations of the Teton Lakota or Sioux Nation. In this long lineage of traditional heritage there were 5 Chiefs. They included: (1) Crippled Warbonnet; (2) Red Fish, who had his camp on Rapid Creek, which is present day Rapid City, SD.; (3) One Horn I, who greeted the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 on the Missouri River; (4) One Horn II, who was one of the signers of the Treaty of 1868 at Ft. Laramie, along with his son Big Foot, also known as Spotted Elk.  One Horn II was also one of 4 leaders chosen by other Chiefs (Leaders) to preside over the Sioux Nation Grand Council.  The last one being Chief Big Foot, who was massacred at the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre on December 29, 1890, along with his Band of 290 Mniconjou Lakota.  His grandson, John Little Finger escaped with gunshot wounds, which carried forward the lineage and heritage who firmly believed in the following: “They may have killed our relatives (people), but they can never take away our way of life”.    

Today, the children of the Lakota are the products of 150 years of attempts to exterminate and/or assimilate our people into mainstream society by taking away our language, culture, and spiritual beliefs. Today, and more crucial, is that the time is rapidly approaching when the elders are leaving for their final journey in multitudes back to the spirit world. They are the speakers and the language-speaking base needed to retain the language for the younger parents and children. Therefore, time is of essence to keep the language from disappearing. This is the basis for this plan.

The primary focus of this intent is to establish the Lakota Circle Village, a traditional knowledge/educational system, to serve as a tool to preserve, promote, and research the Lakota language, culture, history, and birthright within the sacred circle. The pursuit of understanding this Sacred Circle of Life (Cagleska Wakan) which has been integral throughout history denotes the Lakota Circle Village. 

Lakota Circle Village, a traditional knowledge institution proposes the following plans to address the needs and listed according to the priority of need:













 The Lakota Circle Village adheres to four (4) cardinal principals to guide and govern decisions and plans for the program goals and strategies: 

  • IKCE WICASA TA’ WO’YUKCANWisdom from our past creating solutions for our future.  The Ikce Wicasa Ta’ Woyukcan (The Common Man Ways )  will guide Lakota Circle Village as we seek to develop traditional-based and culturally appropriate solutions to the challenges that confront this nation.  By drawing from our heritage and cultural traditions, we create lasting solutions and stronger communities based upon the premise of “Lakota Thinking” which allows the application of traditional knowledge
  • LAND AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE ASSETSSee the resources, not just the needs. Our family already possesses many of the assets that are necessary to create a healthy and viable Lakota Circle Village project. The wisdom of our heritage, the enthusiasm of the youth, the richness of our land and culture, the centrality of our kinship, our desire the create stronger and healthier communities;          and, even large numbers of people looking for meaningful work due to unemployment, all lead to the capacity to create solutions that will be culturally based and sustainable.
  • PERSPECTIVE IS CRUCIALStrengthening the structural roots of the Lakota culture is the whole basis of this effort.  It is simply not enough to save and protect cultural activities, such as ceremonies, songs and stories. The substance of which these traditional cultural practices originated from must be researched, identified, and maintained.  Lakota Circle Village will work to redevelop the foundation of the “Ikce Wicasa Hute”, the Common Man’s roots, the origin of the identity of the nation.
  • PROMOTE AND ENCOURAGE IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: Throughout the Lakota history many cultural, social, and political changes has been accompanied by  assimilation processes that have resulted in loss or confusion of identity.  In reverse, the Lakota have long understood the relationships of being interconnected with all of creation and Creator, known as Tukasila, Grandfather.  The principal belief is based upon the Cannupa, sacred pipe brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman at the direction of Tunkasila.  The sacred pipe is integral to all Lakota rituals and ceremonies, as well as to conduct and behavior, socially, economically, and even, politically systems.  Its purpose fuses the individual with his or her fellows, the community of all people, and the larger community of all creations. Adherence to this belief allows a raising or expansion of individual consciousness naturally known to the Lakota as “Natural Law”. One who learns and understands of this ancient traditional and spiritual knowledge sheds the isolated, individual personality and is restored to conscious harmony with the universe or “Sacred Circle of Life”, “Cangleska Wakan”.   For this reason, the name of this effort is symbolized as Lakota Circle Village.



    ·        The Lakota philosophy and spiritual beliefs are disappearing as fluent speakers and wisdom keepers leave for their journey to the spirit world. Thus, the Lakota youth, and other interested people are/will be denied the opportunity to carry forward the traditional knowledge that has sustained the Lakota for thousands of years.
·        The current youth of this generation are in danger of losing their identity as Lakota through the increasing loss of language, the root of understanding traditional knowledge, coupled with a diminishing loss of their cultural and spiritual beliefs, and of the history of their Lakota ancestry.

·        Over-grazing and misuse of natural resources is resulting in continued land degradation. Continue and unchecked practices will result in irreparable damage, and possible extinction of some species in the plant, tree, and animal world’s.  

·        The high levels of unemployment continue to prevail, compounded by the federal, state, and tribal governmental issues and problems; and in their inability to support all the financial and capital needs for community and individual social, economic, and business development.

 In summation, the Lakota Nation faces limited choices for the future generations to survive.  They may chose to become absorbed by the highly competitive mainstream society where jobs are primarily located.  In doing so, their heritage will be gradually be lost.

An alternative is to revitalize, rebuild and stabilize their heritage and language, and develop an economic and social infrastructure that will allow them to strengthen their cultural, social, and economic relationships to the remaining land, now and for the future generations.  In addressing this choice, they may blend the good of both cultures, taking advantage of technology and understanding of both.



 The mission of the Lakota Circle Village is to serve as a tool towards the  preservative and promotion in the use traditional Teton Lakota language, culture, history, and by establishing a Total Lakota Language Immersion School. Research will be conducted for appropriate documentation of the language and understandings within the Sacred Circle of Life .



To gather, preserve, and promote traditional Teton Lakota culture, history, and language gathered from the resources of family, community, and nation including oral-based knowledge, written accounts, and   cultural items that reflect the heritage.  Traditional culture and language is being lost, but simultaneously, the youth are inquiring to learn more.  To promote the understanding of cultural heritage and language as used by our ancestor’s as they achieved wisdom or woksape.

 The objective is to organize, develop and operate a cultural-based system utilizing the Teton Lakota heritage as the primary cultural system that will deliver services with the objective of providing educational, cultural and social needs.  To this end the Lakota Circle Village shall develop extensive and detailed plans for implementation to:

 (1)   Develop and implement a plan for an ecosystem within the Lakota perspective of balance and harmony within a Sacred Circle of Life utilizing traditional Lakota and scientific technology and methodology. In conjunction Lakota Circle Village will participate in efforts to identify, and implement a use plan of traditional plants in combating the ever-increasing health problem of Diabetes Mellitus.  Also, preliminary discussions have taken place for the use of technology known as GPS, Geo Positioning System.

(2) Develop and implement culture, history, and language systems designed to educate

youth and other interested individuals, groups or organizations; and,

(3) To develop and implement a priority plan for a facilities complex consisting of a school, museum, culture center, archival and repository center, offices, dining, kitchen and housing. This objective(s) is to provide the facilities necessary to deliver programs and activities on-site.

(3A) The initial phase would be to develop a school building to provide an opportunity for a Lakota language immersion school. Following would be to develop and implement: and,

(3B) Museum, culture center, and dining area will  to recognize and honor those who were at the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre of 1890;  the Mniconjou Band from the People of the Seven Council Fires.

 (3C) The housing and work facilities theme will represent the re-building of life after the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre of 1890.  It will represent and recognize the Little Finger family tree that re-build their heritage through John Little Finger, survivor of the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre, The construction of the facilities will re-create the buildings that were built of log and dirt roof.  A log home built in 1902 is still occupied serving as a home for a caretaker. The original complex included a barn, poultry shed, corrals, and tool shed.

  (4) To develop and implement an archival and repository system and center for the collection of cultural items, history, and language materials belonging to families who have no current access to store irreplaceable family cultural items;

 (4A) To develop and implement business and marketing systems designed to acquire the necessary funding for development and implementation of this project:

 (4B) To develop and implement a financial, business operations, and marketing system to ensure the perpetuation of this company. Include for consideration is to maximize the use of the facility.



 To develop, build, and implement within the Sacred Circle of Life.

 The Circle denotes the philosophical and sacred view of the Teton Lakota people.  Known is the Lakota language as “Cangleska” is defined by Black Elk is the following statement: “ Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more that I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.  And I saw that it was sacred. But anywhere is the center of the world.”

 John Little Finger, grandson of Chief Big Foot (Sitanka), and survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, at the age of 15, selected this site and obtained land under the Dawes Allotment Act to establish his family’s home-site now in its 11th generation of family that has been traced back to the 16th century. The family descendant’s continues to exist despite the early attempts to annihilate by extermination and assimilation.  

Kingsley Bray, Author, Manchester, England has stated to Leonard Little Finger; “ I certainly got a better grasp of the genealogy of Big Foot, and an appreciation of your grandfather, John Little Finger, as he worked to

give his family and tiospaye [Band] life and strength in those difficult years. It is a tale that matches the heroism of Lakota warriors of an earlier generation”

John Little Finger, gave a challenge to his grandson, Leonard Little Finger, by telling him at age 12, “In order to know who you are, you must find out where you came from, and what you are for when you find out, you will know where you are; spiritually, mentally, and physically”.  As Leonard proceeded through his life, he came to understand this identity, within the philosophical and spiritual understandings of his ancestors that have guided the Teton Lakota for countless generations. It is this historical philosophical and spiritual understanding from an unbroken line of Teton Lakota that is the premise for the development of this proposal.



The proposed site of Lakota Circle Village is where the hair lock taken off of Chief Big Foot at the massacre was repatriated to and returned Grandmother Earth in a sacred ceremony in July, 26, 2000. A documented journey to Barre, MA, to obtain the hair lock was filmed, photographed and tape recorded. The tape was developed by Western Folklore, and was aired in 450 National Public Radio stations throughout.  The photographs have been developed into a slide show presentation by several German photo-journalists, and a first viewing entitled “The Last Chief” has been shown in Germany in November, 2003, at 5 locations. The presentation received a national award for outstanding slide show production in Frankfort, Germany.  The documentary will be available for viewing in many languages including German and English when the museum and culture center is completed.

 Butte Cache is adjacent to Lakota Circle Village.  This is a significant and historic landmark which was the location for several historic events during the last 150 years.  In 1838, this became the site of a outpost established by the American Fur Trade Company for the purpose of selling and trading of furs for goods including guns, gunpowder, cooking utensils, and trade cloth.  In 1888, the Teton Lakota were brought to the site after gathering them from the Red Cloud Agency which was located near Fort Robinson, and the Spotted Tail Agency located 40 miles east of Red Cloud Agency.  Approximately 7,000 men, women, and children set the camps up while waiting for beef rations to come.  John Little Finger was one of the northern bands to arrive there. Most of them fled back towards northern parts.  The others settled on the creeks that flowed into the White River.  It is for that reason; John Little Finger sought refuge in the canyons after escaping the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre, two years later. It is in view from the Lakota Circle Village

 Lakota Circle Village will offer these perspectives as the root or foundation for the programs and activities that have enabled the survivor’s to sustain their heritage. 


Listed below and through the following pages are the proposed activities that will comprise the total endeavors.



 In 1882, Chief Big Foot traveled to Washington, DC. To meet with the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, for the purpose of requesting a school be built to educate the children.  After approving his request, the proposal was never acted upon.  It is the basis of this

proposed project that fulfills his wisdom of the educational needs for the youth and interested people of today, and the future. As the people have traveled on an intergenerational road, our Lakota knowledge, wisdom, and traditional views of our relationship within the sacred circle of the Creator-Created is in danger of becoming forgotten and lost.

 The primary focus is to target the Lakota youth between age levels of Kindergarten and Grade 5, ages 5 through 10, with plans to increase the maximum age to a goal of eventually operating a program for grades K through 8.

 This school will founded as a community-based program, the first of its kind on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

 The objectives are to develop a fluency of the Lakota language through the process of Total Lakota Language Immersion, for the purpose of developing future leadership of our people through their language and perspectives, and also, to develop the leadership to preserve our language. Lakota Circle Village mission is to use the Lakota language as the tool (not object) of instruction within a local context to produce fluent speakers of the Lakota language.  Our objective is to develop highly skilled learners who will become knowledgeable and both the Lakota language and world academia. In contrast, no school on the Pine Ridge Reservation or any of the other 6 Reservations schools have produced a fluent speaker, to date, despite receiving millions of dollars from federal funding.



Lakota Circle Village has taken up the difficult and urgent work of Lakota language preservation with devotion and commitment for the following and compelling reasons:

·        We recognize the serious rate of language loss, and have made the tribal youth and children, and their future.

·        Lakota children and youth have exhibited stagnant educational achievements (among the poorest achievement of all American ethnic groups).  Native language immersion has demonstrated remarkable promise in participant’s achievement.

·        A motivation to Native language immersion is the greater cultural and language preservation or revitalization effort that strengthens and rebuilds the Native community.

·        Culture and language teaching and participation positively correlate with Native student retention rates.

·        Lakota Circle Village foresees a world in urgent need of Native perspectives or world view in areas of child-rearing, natural resource management and family and community development.

·        Within the acquisition of language knowledge and understanding lies the political potential to allay the centuries old history of injury and subjugation of all Native people, including the Teton Lakota.



·        Severe losses in language fluency:  155 of the indigenous languages are still being spoken in the United States, in North America, and 135 of these are spoken only by elders; many of the 20 remaining, while still viable, will soon be fighting for survival.  This includes the Lakota language.

·        Language immersion positively impacts educational achievement.  Nationally, students who took foreign languages (FOR FOUR YEARS) scored statistically higher on standardized tests including the SAT.

·        The greater preservation and revitalization of culture and language is connected to the greater Native community; language loss happens to the dispossessed and disempowered, people who most need their cultural resources to literally survive.

·        Native culture and language teaching and learning positively affects tribal college student retention: 5 tribal colleges studied student retention rates with various factors measured for retention impact, and culture and language teaching and experiences positively correlate with student retention toward graduation.

·        Native leaders identify language immersion as a strategic counter to the devastating effects of American colonization of Native people:

·        learning the language is a part of the “tough struggle to maintain the integrity of our way of life.”



 The school developed and established will operate utilizing the cultural and spiritual heritage, language in an immersion setting to produce the generation who will educated in a  “Whole Child Concept”, meaning that the body, mind, and spirit will receive total education by the use of interactive, experiential, and thematic educational processes.  The school will be the only school in existence utilizing the modern technology to learn the traditional ways.  It can serve as a model school in other communities to follow.

 Secondly, this project targets a world-wide population consisting of youth and adults who are interested in learning the traditional knowledge emanating from this historic Band of people; and of their culture, history, and language. We propose to develop a program that will provide similar services to other groups of people who would be interested in the experience of coming to our community and Indian Reservation to learn first-hand from our staff.

 In future plans, there will be housing facilities developed and built that can be used for the culture, language, and history workshops.  It will provide housing for those who wish to spend a few days within the program activities.  The housing facilities would enable people from around the United States and world to come to our institution and Indian Reservation.

Lakota Circle Village Immersion School views the methodology of language immersion as a practice or methodology of language learning that concentrates on communication, exclusively speaking in the Lakota language.  Total Physical Response, TPR, will be the primary methodology for the language immersion classroom, outdoor classes, and cultural projects.  Virtually all of the Lakota language immersion activities will be carried out in the context of the Lakota culture and spiritual beliefs.  The school will be built and furnished after traditional “grandma’s home”, and pattern the teaching methods from Lakota grandparent’s ways of knowing and learning.  The teachers will have diverse backgrounds by profession/vocation with certification to teach the Lakota language or by “known expertise”.  What the entire staff will have in common is a driving and compelling commitment to Lakota language learning and a well-spring of enthusiasm for their students and participants potential for speaking the Lakota language.



The school will have to develop a full curriculum which will be submitted to the state of South Dakota Office of Education for certification as a “home school” endeavor.

 The Lakota language immersion activities have to become a significant part of the student’s family life.  The curriculum will integrate the parent’s role into the students learning.  It will become a registration requirement for those who make a commitment for there will be an unprecedented positive impact for each individual and family strengthening offered by this school.

 Since the school will be the first on the Pine Ridge Reservation, it will be new with growing pains.  Custom designed strategies to deliver Lakota language immersion will be implemented. It will also serve as a model for other communities to follow.

 Strong advocacy under the Native American Language Act must be implemented to seek equality of future funding.

 The work of language immersion is demanding and long term.  It has failed in attempts because the schools have found it “to hard to do” or have gone into other initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind Act, which is to elevate the English Profiency  Score under

this mandate.  Lakota Circle Village relies upon spiritual assistance in the implementation to develop creativity, expertise, courage and fortitude.  This work requires knowing the Lakota language and perseverance beyond all measure to make it a success.


The following programs will be initiated subject to plan development and fundingThey include:

 LAKOTA CIRCLE VILLAGE: CAMPS AND TOURS-(Currently in construction)



This is integral to the education of the students.  The land and all inhabitant’s live in a balance and in harmony with one another.  The nations of creation including the plant nation, the nation of the two and four-legged, the nation of trees, the nation of the winged will be given honor to exist within this refuge.  Our Creator, Tunkasila [Grandfather], Wakan Tanka [Sacred Enormity] intended the Lakota to understand this in the Sacred Circle of Life, and has been part of the traditional knowledge.  This plan is to integrate the use of science and technology to re-create this presence, and to utilize it as a thematic and experiential activity.


The heritage of the Mniconjou, known as “Planter’s Near the Water”, practiced agriculture.  Lakota Circle Village plans to establish a garden dedicating the effort to the heritage, and the garden would be utilizing the techniques of organic gardening with drip-line irrigation.  Plants would be of heirloom origin, and also, native plants used for eating and medicinal.  A greenhouse would serve as a source for developing seedlings, and also, as an experiential educational resource to be used by the students. 


This plan acknowledges the need for a visual center to focus upon the heritage and leadership that has sustained the family and Tiospaye of many generations.  Cripple Warbonnet, who represents the 1st generation that the family has traced back to.  Research will be required as very little is known about him.  The second generation family member is Red Fish.  He was the chief of the Flying River Band of  Mniconjou.  The name is derived from the Rapid Creek, located on the present day site of Rapid City, SD., which is a fast-flowing stream that seems as like “flying water”.  The 3rd generation is One Horn or Lone Horn I.  It was he who met the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 on the Missouri River.  The 4th generation was One Horn or Lone Horn II who signed the Treaty of 1868.  He was chosen by the other Teton Lakota Chiefs to be delegated the role of “Wicasa Yatapika”, a role of leader amongst leaders when they entire nation gathered for Grand Council.  The 5th generation is Big Foot, who also signed the Treaty of 1868, under his other name of Spotted Elk.  He was the leader of the Mniconjou Band of Teton Lakota massacred at the Wounded Knee Creek Massacre of 1868.  The 6th generation was Yellow Horse, son of Big Foot.  He was given this name in honor of his palomino horse adept at running down buffalo.  He died when his son was 10 years old.  This person was John Little Finger, the 7th generation.  He was known in the Lakota language as “Saste” which means Little Finger.  He survived the massacre to continue this lineage.  The 8th generation was Wallace Little Finger, also given the Lakota name of Yellow Horse, his grandfather’s name.  He gained recognition as an athlete, a runner.  He broke the world record for the 1/2 mile while running for the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas.  But, he was disqualified by track officials under the determination that there was a strong wind at his back, contributing the faster time.  In 1972, he was inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.  On October 22, 2005, he will be inducted into the Haskell Indian Nations University Athletic Hall of Fame as one of its outstanding athletes to have attended the school which was established in 1988.  The 9th generation is Leonard Little Finger, the organizer of Lakota Circle Village.  The 10th generation include John Little Finger, Tyler Little Finger, Leigh Jessica Little Finger, Tobie Anne Little Finger, and Lana Little Finger.  The 11th generation includes Leeland Ten Fingers and Jay-za Little Finger.


This generational record parallels a major part of the history of the Lakota.  A unique venue will be developed depicting this families involvement, and to assist in the recognition of student’s own heritage.





There a many facets yet to document: financial plans, curriculum plans, and construction.

There is no single entity that can accomplish these tasks, and net-working amongst organizations and people must take place.  Initial funding must be developed to construct the buildings necessary, and for funding consultant services, with an alternative of volunteer assistance.  Expertise will be welcomed for all walks of life for the technical and organizational work.


This endeavor is considered as a “Lakota People’s Initiative” that will rely on the millennia-old and tested Lakota ways of knowing and learning among the generations, and will utilize the Lakota knowledge of philosophy and spiritual beliefs for content and context.