Preserving the Culture of South Dakota’s Tribes

Dakota Indian Foundation was founded in 1971 by the late John Frank Lindley, former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor of the State of South Dakota. He conceived the Foundation from his concern for the plight of South Dakota’s tribes. The Foundation was incorporated under the laws of South Dakota as a non-profit charity on March 16, 1971 to assist tribal nations with the preservation of their history and culture. Dakota Indian Foundation was granted tax exempt status under Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(3) on May 10, 1971.

The Foundation is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors comprised of business and education professionals. The Board is comprised of a majority of enrolled tribal members and meets on a monthly basis to review grant proposals and scholarship applications. The Board is not paid for their services but receive reimbursement of expenses when necessary.

Grants to Organizations

Through the generosity of donors, the Foundation is able to support activities directly related to the social enhancement and cultural preservation of Dakota people. Awards are based on the availability of funds which are raised through direct mail appeals, voluntary contributions, testamentary bequests, and interest on investments.


The Foundation does not fund political office campaigns, lobbying or political action campaigns or existing government programs or services. Nor will it fund religious organization general funds, fundraisers or benefits.

Academic Scholarships

At the heart of Dakota Indian Foundation is a belief that education is essential to making life better for future generations. Each semester, approximately 100 students receive a scholarship to support their collegiate studies. Students must be enrolled in a South Dakota tribe, have attended a college or university on a full-time basis, and carry a minimum grade point average.


Remembering Ella C. Deloria

Ella C. Deloria
1888 - 1971
Dakota Indian Foundation is home to the Ella C. Deloria Research Papers that were instrumental in the books she wrote. Ms. Deloria was born in 1888 to her parents Philip Deloria, a Yankton Sioux and Mary Sully/Bordeaux, of Sans Are Sioux ancestry.

Ella was educated under her auspices of the Church, but was also greatly influenced by her relatives, Native culture and language.

Ella graduated from ColumbiaUniversity in 1915 and moved to New York with her two younger siblings. She participated in many studies and served as an educator wherever she went.

In 1944, Ella wrote Speaking of Indians, a work that examined both traditional and contemporary Indian life. Ella served as the Director for St. Elizabeth’s Mission in Wakpala, South Dakota from 1955 to 1958.

In 1961, Ella was Assistant Director of the W.H. Over Museum located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. She conducted linguistic research and prepared exhaustive analytical research of Siouan Language. Her work is evident in Rigg’s Dictionary including Teton dialect forms as well as the Santee. Her work has also influenced books including Waterlilly, published in 1988, and the Dakota Way of Life, 2007.
War and Conflict 
PDF Presentation 

Projects Funded

  • Ella C. Deloria Research Project: Language, Culture and History.
  • Publication of Lakota Dictionary.
  • Summer youth cultural camps.
  • Native film documentaries.
  • Community Powwows and Native American Heritage Festivals.
  • Traditional Gardening projects.
  • Annual Mankato 38 Memorial Ride.
  • Sacred Horse Society Activities.


The Foundation’s financial records are audited annually by an Independent Certified Public Accounting Firm. Annual reports are available upon request.