Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Thayer Learning Center

Natives take over former TLC

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The campus has been sold

Look at Sacred Path Program

The new name is White Buffalo Academy.

Also thanks to ISAC I found this article.

Another step on Sacred Path, St. Joseph News-Press, October 5, 2009

Pic from the White Buffalo Academy Program page:

Well, it certainly looks like the former Thayer.

Lakota John said it, and he sure as hell wasn't thinking of Pine-Sol®:

"This whole building here needs a lot of TLC... There's a cleaning that's got to take place here."[/list]

^It would take a lot of burning sage to try and smoke the bad out of that place.

Another step on Sacred Path
Cheyenne leader plans to renovate former Thayer Learning Center
by Ray Scherer
Monday, October 5, 2009

KIDDER, Mo. — A Cheyenne American Indian plans to transform the former Thayer Learning Center into an intertribal school.

"We're starting clean slate here," said owner-operator Lakota John. "This is going to be a spiritual academy."

Lakota told the News-Press he purchased the academy's property from its owners several weeks ago, after learning of its availability on the market. John and Willa Bundy, of St. George, Utah, opened Thayer in the fall of 2002 as a private boarding school for teenagers suffering from behavior-related problems.

Kidder Mayor Melissa Gough confirmed Thayer's closing over the summer and the subsequent property sale.

Lakota said he will open the White Buffalo Academy on the 20-acre site — featuring a main building that began service as an educational institute in the late 19th century — within a month. The first of several teepees have already been placed on the former center's lawn, with other indigenous-style housing units planned. About 10 people are at work in remodeling projects on the property.

"This whole building here needs a lot of TLC," he said. "There's a cleaning that's got to take place here."

The school will aim to provide rehabilitation for American Indian youths struggling with issues such as drug and alcohol addictions. Youths of other cultures will be invited, as well.

The school will not be themed on the boot-camp motif that marked Thayer's seven-year existence. The academy's time in Missouri was marked by a series of court cases involving allegations of abuse of enrollees by staff members.

Most prominent was the 2004 death of a California teen who most likely died as the result of a spider bite, amid claims from his parents that the center failed to provide proper medical care. The Bundys settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the boy's parents in 2006 for $1 million.

"We're going to put in a tribal academy," Lakota said. "We're going to be teaching dance, music, trades, basket weaving."

The school will become part of the Utah-based Sacred Path Spiritual Recovery Program, with plans to open in all 50 states and Canada. The organization is composed of various tribes. An informational brochure said Sacred Path is "designed to help people identify, process and release the issues that deny them the right to live happy, productive lives."

Traditional American Indian methods will be utilized.

"It's for all kids that want to achieve a higher level of learning," added Lakota, whose ancestors hailed from the North American plains.

The academy also will feature American Indian powwows, drumming, sculpting, equestrian arts, an amphitheater with surround sound for various performances, and other activities. Vietnam War veterans will be brought in as speakers.

Another emphasis will be placed on growing quality food, proper eating and overall wellness.

"We're going to start an agricultural program," he said. A slow-drying process for food will be created to benefit overseas humanitarian projects, and negotiations are under way with major companies for their assistance. Herbs will be grown on a farm and livestock will be raised. Outdoor skills will be taught.

"Our soils are going to be phenomenal," he said.

Plans also call for extending invitations to the region's scout programs and schools. The academy will serve perhaps 100 students.

"My thing is making sure we do things in moderation," Lakota said. "We want to build a community of solid individuals ... I want to do this very low-key. We want to do this with love."

The academy will offer preparatory education for students who wish to enroll at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., and other institutions. A grand opening date for the White Buffalo Academy will be announced later.

"I'm pleased something is going to be done with the building, rather than let it sit," Ms. Gough said.

Although Kidder residents now realize that Thayer has left the community, she said most don't know that a new use is planned for the site.

"We were never invited as a community," Ms. Gough said of Kidder's experience with Thayer.

The Sacred Path Web site is The Web site has already been updated to begin reflecting the property transfer and plans.

A News-Press phone call to Kansas City attorney Brian Christensen, who is representing Thayer in a court case, was not returned.

Ray Scherer can be reached at [email protected].

© 2009, NPG Newspapers Inc, St. Joseph News-Press


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