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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, 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, as a way to better understand the Indigenous cultures of the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa.

Cangleska Wakan

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.

Honoring the Black Hills

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. This project will unite the past, present and future, and celebrate our natural world and all of its beings.

Sacred Circle Garden 100% Design

Our design plan is complete! We now have a 100% design for the Sacred Circle Garden and we are raising funds to meet our $800,000 financial goal. Once the project is complete, we plan to host a dedication ceremony to introduce the Garden.

We are over halfway there. We have reached $448,772.00 of $800,000.00.

You can scroll down to learn more about our Limited Edition Prints fundraiser, or you can make a direct donation online.

Donate Here.

Soapweed Yucca


At SURF, we work to protect our environment, our regional history and the values that connect us.

Located in Lead, South Dakota, near the Yates Complex on site at SURF, Cangleska Wakan is at the heart of the 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. Set on top of a ridge, the site of the future Garden offers views of the surrounding area in all directions.

Cangleska Wakan represents SURF’s next steps in protecting our environment. 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, which helped rejuvenate Gold Run Creek. Cangleska Wakan will serve as a living reminder that native plants in the region deserve our protection and admiration.

Cangleska Wakan will also enhance and protect the diversity represented at SURF by providing a welcoming area and inviting conversation about the people and places that make up the cultural heritage of yesterday, today and tomorrow, here in the Black Hills. And, as SURF sees more international collaboration and scientific exploration, the garden will provide a gateway into what makes our area unique, fascinating and wonderful.

Pasque Flower


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.

The design of Cangleska Wakan points to four significant landmarks of Paha Sapa or He Sapa: Bear Butte, Bear Lodge, Black Elk Peak and the Badlands—all considered sacred to indigenous peoples of the region.

The heart of the Sacred Circle Garden will feature a medicine wheel, a symbol used by the Lakota to represent 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. 

Bear Berry


It is important to understand how we are all connected through our shared histories and the natural world.

Cangleska Wakan will be a space to learn about this connection—through  scientific study and holistic, relational approaches common in Native Ways of Knowing. The garden will present ample opportunities for inspiration and learning. It will also be a place to hold special events, share knowledge about science, education and culture.

Above all, this is a place for everyone. Cangleska Wakan will serve as a space to understand our environment in order to protect and respect our living landscape.

Echinacea angustifolia
Echinacea angustifolia. Photo courtesy of Dr. Lora Perkins, SDSU Native Plant Initiative.

SURF found an ideal location onsite to build the ethnobotanical garden. The garden will be used to help us tell indigenous stories and learn about native plant species. Above all, it 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.

How you can help.

Generous donors like you are helping make this project possible. Facilitated through the SURF Foundation, your charitable 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.

Four metal prints used in a fundraiser

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 mirrors one sacred site featured in the design of the garden.
All donations at the $1,500 or higher level may choose one print, or you can donate $5,000 or more to receive all four.