July 14-19 2019

Registration is full and so is the waiting list. If more room becomes available it will be announced here.

This 6-day expanded program is part of a four-year program in which we explore the sites sacred to our Native American elders, especially around the Black Hills. This year we will focus on the northern side of the Black Hills and will include a few days of direct action benefitting the community of our hosts in Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.

Our biggest connection to this land comes through our hosts and elders. Wherever we stop they talk about the history of the Lakota in the place and their own personal connections to it. We do ceremony, listen to teachings, and share stories, connecting with the wisdom and spiritual energy of each place.

The schedule and itinerary are always in flux. The energy of this retreat is relaxed and open to change, with an emphasis on listening and fostering deep connection.

2019 Itinerary:

We begin the retreat at Inyan Kara Mountain (Stone Gatherer Mountain), on the far side of the Black Hills of Wyoming, with an opening ceremony and listening to elders speak about its significance for the Lakota. We will then proceed to a sun dance circle near Sundance.
We will spend the day at Spearfish Canyon. The Canyon is a gorgeous natural attraction with its tall limestone cliffs and plunging gorges, and its waterfalls were sacred to the Lakota people. We will walk in this canyon throughout the day and gather in circle by the waterfalls.
Pe’ Sla is an unusual expanse of open prairie situated almost at the geographic center of the Black Hills, a large plain consisting of pristine, open space. It is an extraordinary geographical landmark in the heart-shaped, heavily forested Black Hills and for that reason is sometimes referred to as “bald.” Its unique nature made it a place of ceremony and prayer for thousands of years.
We will also continue to see the Wonderland Caves in Nemo.
We will spend the day at Bear Butte near Sturgis, a sacred site for both Lakota and Cheyenne for many years, a place of pilgrimage and prayer. We will explore Bear Butte in the morning and prepare prayer ties and other offerings.
The trip will end at Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation for direct action day.

Attendance to this retreat is limited to 25 individuals. We encourage all to register soon.

“I would like to share that my family (tiwahe) has been positively impacted by our experiences with the Zen Peacemakers. The bearing witness experience of being actively listened to by people of peacemaking has impacted my family and myself.  In the environment of our present world filled with so much division, violence and indifference, our contact with the ZP have given us brief reprieves from it.  It has benefitted my husband, my children, my granddaughter and myself by giving us hope in knowing and being reassured that there are such beautiful people coming together, endeavoring, bearing witness, living as one consciousness and doing service for others. We look forward to further and future coming together with the Zen Peacemakers in hopes of positively impacting our relatives in our communities, as well as our nation and world relatives. Peace and blessings to all. Staying in prayer for our nation and world.”

–Renee Fast Horse Iron Hawk, Maspegnaka Thiospaye


Originally conceived by Zen Peacemakers and rooted in the Three Tenets, Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Programs bear witness to specific and collective expressions of human suffering in various places around the world.  Sensitive to nuances of culture and geographic location in which they take place, Bearing Witness Programs, through meditation, interfaith services, council and listening practices, reveal the universality of human experience — our interconnection.


Since 2015, Zen Peacemakers has conducted annual programs in collaboration with the Lakota community in South Dakota. These programs evolve every year according to the needs of our hosts and our participants, from periods of hands-on service, impromptu plunges, and a large-scale bearing witness retreat. They are co-developed and co-hosted by Native American leaders.


Manny Claude Iron Hawk is an Ikce Wicasa or a common man of the Oglala and Howozu within the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires of the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota nation. His Great-Great-Great-Grandfather “Chetan Maza”, Iron Hawk, fought for the Lakota way of life at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876. His immediate family members include “Hasani” (meaning partner), Renee Fasthorse-Iron Hawk, and his eight children. He has a Master’s Degree from Sinte Gleska University, graduating in August of 2013. Presently, Manny is a Science teacher for the Junior High School at Takini School. He serves on the Missouri Breaks Community Advisory Group, Circle of Hope Curriculum Board, All Nation Healing Center Board and serves as a Frazier Memorial Church member. His inspirations include being an Ikce Wicasa by following his Lakota values, Natural laws, Custom laws, and Spiritual laws. Read Manny’s complete bio.

Violet Catches describes herself in this way: “I was nurtured by my maternal grandmother who was a great teacher of the Lakota way of life.  She left us when I was ten. Then I lived with my mother, an aunt, other people including relatives. I was lucky to have been around speakers of our language and culture. I attended many schools including missionary school, boarding schools, and public schools. I managed to get a GED in 1970, then experienced life’s ways. I became homeless and a drunk. My father sent for me to come live with him in Chicago. There my life changed as my very traditional non-drinking mother was killed by a drunk driver. That sobered me up. I got my undergrad degree in 1986 and a master’s in 1996. I wrote a book which is pretty dormant. That’s all I want to share for now.”

Renee L. Fasthorse-Iron Hawk (Tokahe Hi Hunni Win, Arrives First Woman). An enrolled member of the Wakpa Waste (Good River) Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe, Renee has worked in different capacities in behavioral health, conducting research and active in disease prevention and finishing her graduate work in Lakota Management and Leadership. She serves on the boards of Lakhota Advocates Okolakichiye (Society), Three Rivers Mental Health Board, Lakhota Circles of Hope, Heartbeat at Wounded Knee Survivor Descendants Okolakichiye (Society), and the Lakhota Languages Teachers Okolakichiye (Society). She lives with her mihingna (spouse) Manny Iron Horse, Oglala, and 6 adult children. Read Renee’s complete bio.

Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt has lived and worked for long periods at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for close to 20 years. Head Teacher of the Hudson River Zen Center, he has also led street retreats in various countries all over the world. He has served as Spiritholder in bearing witness retreats for many years, including at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the large 2015 Retreat in the Black Hills.


Roshi Eve Myonen Marko is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts, and a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.  She has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East alongside her late husband, Bernie Glassman, and guided retreats at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and Bosnia.

Roshi Michel Engu Dobbs is a Zen priest and Dharma heir of Peter Muryo Matthiessen-roshi and a co-teacher at Ocean Zendo in Bridgehampton New York, an affiliate of Zen Peacemakers International.  Engu has been a bakery manager for over twenty years and is a husband and father of three.


Rami Efal is the Executive Director of Zen Peacemakers International. Born in Israel and living in the US since 2002, Rami has studied Zen Buddhism at Zen Mountain Monastery since 2005. He studied inter-cultural and conflict transformation at the School of International Training in Vermont and New York Center of Nonviolent Communication. He has led hunger, art, hospice and Palestinian/Israeli peace projects, and presented on NPR, at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC, and at Insight Meditation Society in Barre MA. Between 2013 and 2018 he was student and attendant of Roshi Bernie Glassman and since 2015 he has managed and co-lead all Zen Peacemakers International bearing witness programs and offerings.

REGISTRATION IS FULL. Click here to email our staff to be added to the waiting list.


Each participant is responsible to their arrival in SD. Closest airport is Rapid City South Dakota (DP.) More information about the itinerary and meeting and departure points will be made to those who register. Participants either have their own vehicle or find a car-share with other participants. Arrangement can be made on first day of program at the gathering point, or beforehand. A group chat app on mobile phone will be used to coordinate the cars and participants while on the road.


Tenting is recommended to all. Camping ground fees included in program fee and reservations will be made by ZPI staff. Participants are responsible for camping equipment.

We will always camp close to a hotel option. You may choose to stay at a hotel, but you will need to make your own reservations. Hotel costs are not included in program fee. Suggested hotel options will be made shared with those who register.

Cancelation Policy

If the retreat is canceled by Zen Peacemakers, inc., registrants will receive full refunds of the paid registration fees.

If a registration is canceled by the participant a month before the retreat begins (June 13 2019), ZP will refund all but $100 of the paid fees – a cancelation fee to help cover administration expenses.

If a registration is canceled by the participant by June 30 2019) 15 days before the start date of the retreat, ZP will refund all but $300 of the paid fees – a cancelation fee to help cover administration expenses.

Fees are non refundable if a registration is cancelled by the participant after June 30 2019.

All refunds will be processed within 60 days of notification of cancellation.

Important Note
The nature of the program is flexible and at times may be, or seem, unpredictable. Please come with openness to last-minute changes in itinerary and other parts of the program.


American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890, by Jerome A. Greene

All the Real Indians Died Off, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Black Elk Speaks, By John Gneisenau Neihardt

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, By Dee Brown

God’s Red Son, by Louis Warren

Good Friday on the Rez, by David Hugh Bunnell

“I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice, by Joe Starita

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen

Lakota Star Knowledge, by Ronald Goodman

Native American Postcolonial Psychology, by Eduardo Duran and Bonnie Duran

Neither Wolf Nor Dog, by Kent Nerbern (Also a Movie Recently Released)

Oceti Wakan: Sacred Fireplace, by Pete Catches Sr

Prison Writings, by Leonard Peltier

Quiet Until the Thaw, by Alexandra Fuller

Standing in the Light, by Severt Young Bear

The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History, by Joseph Marshall III

The Killing of Crazy Horse, by Thomas Power

The Land Along The River: The Ongoing Saga of the Sioux Nation Land Claim, 1851-2012, by Peter Capossela

The Ghost Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, by James Mooney