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Sacred Circle Garden

Cangleska Wakan will serve as a space in which we learn to protect, respect and understand the area’s vibrant history, environment and the connections we all share.
Image of Crow Peak with a thunderstorm looming at sunset. The words: Protect. Respect. Understand. appear at the top. A medicine wheel is watermarked on the left.

The history of the Black Hills goes back thousands of years and has significant meaning to indigenous people. In 2015, the Sanford Underground Research Facility built the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center to commemorate the city of Lead, South Dakota, and its rich mining history, while highlighting today’s scientific discoveries.

Now, the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) is taking a step to recognize the diversity of the many peoples who have and do call this place home. We are creating an ethnobotanical garden, Cangleska Wakan, to enhance understanding of the Indigenous cultures of the Black Hills, or He Sapa.

The garden will connect visitors with SURF’s underground science through the lens of Native ways of knowing science. The site’s future programming will include explorations of astrophysics, star knowledge, Earth science, ethnobotany, biodiversity and cultural and Native events for learners of all ages.

Become a partner in this mission. Donate Here.

devils tower

Honoring the Black Hills

Indigenous people have considered the Black Hills a sacred place for thousands of years.

Cangleska Wakan translates from the Lakota language into “Sacred Circle.” Cangleska Wakan reminds us that everything in the universe is connected. In many Native cultures, a Sacred Circle represents the continued process of growth and development that connects everything in the environment, including human beings.

Above all, Cangleska Wakan will serve as a space in which we learn to protect, respect and understand the area’s vibrant history, environment and the connections we all share.

student learning

Connecting to our mission

SURF’s mission is to advance world-leading science and inspire learning across generations. Our work sits at the cross-section of cultural backgrounds: we value diversity and inclusion in all we do. Cangleska Wakan will provide an outdoor space that honors the extraordinary history of the Black Hills and recognizes the potential for scientific learning above and below our feet.

“The Garden offers a space to bridge the science that's happening a mile underground at SURF with the science that Indigenous peoples of the Black Hills have known for centuries,” said Staci Miller, director of the SURF Foundation.

garden architectural design

Intentional design

Located atop a hilltop meadow at SURF, in Lead, South Dakota, Cangleska Wakan is at the heart of the He Sapa (or Paha Sapa) and will feature four significant areas: Mato Paha (Bear Butte), Mato Tipila (Bear’s Lodge/Devil’s Tower), Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk Peak) and the Mako Sica (Badlands), all sacred sites for the Lakota and other regional tribes. 

The heart of the Sacred Circle Garden will feature a Lakota medicine wheel, which represents spiritual knowledge and a connection to everything in the universe. It is a symbol of unity, good health, well-being, honor and recognition.

The medicine wheel is a circle divided into four quadrants representing the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional realms. It also highlights the four seasons, which are represented in black, red, yellow and white. In contemporary times, the colors also point to the diversity of nations. 

This 100% design drawing was created by Designworks Inc. 

echinacea

Protect. Respect. Understand.

Traditional Lakota values show respect for the land and all living creatures—never taking more than what is needed and making use of anything harvested or hunted. Cangleska Wakan will represent this connectedness of and respect for all things, while serving as an area to reflect on our shared connection to the earth.

At SURF, we work to protect our natural environment and cultural heritage. To date, SURF adheres to strict recycling procedures; ensures that rock extracted from the Black Hills remains in the Black Hills; and has one of the best wastewater treatment facilities in the region, a system that helped rejuvenate Gold Run Creek in the 1980s. Cangleska Wakan represents SURF’s next steps in protecting our environment and serves as a reminder to maintain sustainable relationships with all living things.

The Sacred Circle Garden will connect visitors with SURF’s underground science through the lens of Native ways of knowing science. The site’s future programming will include explorations of astrophysics, star knowledge, Earth science, ethnobotany, biodiversity and a range of cultural events for learners of all ages. As SURF welcomes scientific collaborators from around the world, the garden will serve as a gateway to this unique region.

badlands

How the project is funded

Donations to the SURF Foundation enhance and expand SURF's programming, including educational opportunities for K-12 students, resources and professional development for K-12 educators, research experiences for undergraduates, public outreach events and special projects like the Sacred Circle Garden which helps us respect, protect and understand this place we call home.

The Sacred Circle Garden project is wholly community-supported through corporate and individual donations. With $454,323 raised, we are more than halfway to our $800,000 financial goal.

bear butte

How you can help

Generous donors like you are helping make this project possible. Facilitated through the SURF Foundation, your charitable, tax-deductible donation will support the design, construction, planting and maintenance of the Sacred Circle Garden. We are proud to partner with individuals, companies and grant-giving organizations to achieve our vision for a welcoming, inclusive and educational outdoor space at SURF.

You can become a donor by clicking donate here or by sending your check or money order to The SURF Foundation, 630 East Summit Street, Lead, South Dakota 57754.

prints

Limited Edition Prints - Garden Fundraiser

Only 100 of these print sets will be produced to support the construction of the Sacred Circle Garden at Sanford Underground Research Facility. Each image represents one sacred site featured in the design of the garden.

Donations at the $1,500 or higher level may choose one print, or you can donate $5,000 or more to receive all four.