May 8, 2008

Do indian reservations need summer volunteers?


Do indian reservations need summer volunteers? I am a 17 year old junior in high school and would like to do some volunteer work this summer with another culture.

 ~Submitted by Cindy T.


Hi Cindy,

Yes, there are many opportunities to volunteer on indian reservations. These volunteer programs usually charge a nominal fee to cover your food and housing during your stay, and you have to pay your own transportation, which is usually tax deductible as a charitable donation. You will be expected to work a set number of hours each week you are there, but will also have the opportunity to interact with the community and learn something about their culture.

Here is a partial list:

Global Volunteers work with the Blackfeet Tribe in Browning, Montana. The Blackfeet people need volunteers to help with construction, maintenance, landscaping, and repairs such as painting and roofing on the reservation in Browning, Montana (near Glacier National Park.) They are a very welcoming group of people who truly appreciate the efforts of Global Volunteers and enjoy teaching volunteers all about their culture.

International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership participants live on an American Indian reservation in a homestay with an Indian family during a period of service performing various tasks. An integral part of the program, the homestay offers you the opportunity to make life-long friends and experience the culture from “the inside.”

A few examples of service opportunities on a Lakota or Dakota Reservation are:

    • being a teacher’s aide at an Indian school or Reservation Head Start program


    • working as an advocate at a domestic abuse shelter


    • providing programming at an after-school club for at-risk teens


    • assisting with community and economic development


    • working at a tribal radio station


  • aiding in tribal historic preservation.

Your volunteer service immerses you in the culture and deepens your understanding of the society in a way that goes beyond that experienced in classroom study of American Indian culture. seeks volunteers to help tribal members of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona build straw bale homes. Fees are $250 per person for one week (minimum), $50 for each additional week, plus a one-time $25 Red Feather membership fee. This covers food, lodging, and sanitation services. Volunteers are required to bring a short list of basic construction tools (tool belt, tape measure, etc.) Costs and expenses such as transportation to the reservation are tax-deductible.

World Volunteer Web is a christian ministry that takes church youth groups to work with youth on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.

Amizade works with the Navajo Nation, which needs educators. Volunteers play an important role in tutoring and mentoring elementary school children at the Tuba City Boarding School.

Heart Butte UM Church serving Blackfeet reservation – Heart Butte, MT sponsors leaders for VBS, sports camp, general repairs for elders’ homes, and electrical & plumbing repairs. You stay overnight in the church and prepare your own meals. May – Sept. Nearest airport – Great Falls, MT. Families, adults, senior & junior high groups & individuals, RV hookups nearby. For more information, contact Jody & Suellyn Campbell, P O BOX 87, Heart Butte, MT 59448, Ph.406-338-3900, 

Williamson River Indian Mission UM Church – Chiloquin, OR needs volunteers for
general building maintanence, plumbing, painting. May – Sept. annually. Adults & senior highs. RV hookup nearby. For more information, contact Rachel Chavez, 32231 Modac Pont Rd. Chiloquin, OR 97624, Ph.541-783-3586.

Birchwood Camp, Alaska. Working with Chugiak, doing general camp maintenance; various positions for 5-week summer camp session. Room and board provided, one day off each week. Email:

Sierra Service Project Works in the community of Rock Point, Arizona, on the northeast portion of the Navajo Nation. Rock Point is located 200 miles from Flagstaff. You would stay at the Rock Point Community School, which has a spacious gymnasium, showers and indoor bathrooms. There should be lots of wonderful interaction with the local community.

The Sierra Service Project will also be working with the Walker River Paiute Tribes community this summer. The reservation is centered around the tiny town of Schurz, Nevada, located 100 miles from Reno, 240 miles from Sacramento and 420 miles from Los Angeles. Housing will be provided in the local elementary school or in the tribal gym.

Another Sierra Service Project is on the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation located a few miles south of the small town of McDermitt, Nevada. McDermitt is located on the Nevada-Oregon border 75 miles north of Winnemucca. Housing will be provided at the McDermitt Combined School which has a spacious gym, a kitchen, and locker rooms for showering.

You could also write or call any indian reservation tribal office and ask if they need volunteers.

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