top of page


“Character is often determined not by when we do what we must, but by when we do what is voluntary.”


Looking for an opportunity to practice hands-on ethnographic methods and gain applied experience and skills?


Sweet Grass Consulting LLC is a team of researchers and community development advocates who provide professional, evaluative and research services that promote and support asset-based development initiatives in economically burdened communities. Sweet Grass Consulting has experience in areas related to strategic action planning and assessment, effective data collection and database development, feasibility and market analyses, impact measurement programs and comprehensive reporting in a variety of mediums. Similarly, SGC implements participatory methods with a focus in Community Development processes and utilizes these methods to achieve community defined goals.


Pyatt Studio is a mission driven firm with a core purpose of improving the quality of peoples lives through design. Pyatt Studio understands that a building is an opportunity to inspire change and enhance the human condition. Their work seeks to leverage these opportunities for the greater public good by looking for ways to promote social, economic and environmental sustainability in their projects. Values such as: a focus on people and place, social impact, participation of all stakeholders, and a willingness to question the status quo inform their approach to each project. The Building Cooperative is a non profit organization established by Pyatt Studio to expand on the firms educational and affordable housing programs.


The collaboration between Sweet Grass Consulting and Pyatt Studio was developed through shared values and understanding of the role ethnography plays in design and community development. Much of Sweet Grass’ community development work has been related to affordable housing initiatives and needs assessments. Additionally, Pyatt Studio believes it is imperative to incorporate cultural traditions and community engagement into architecture and design. Integrating the strengths of anthropological field methods and design, this field school aims to provide a multidisciplinary approach to community development and sustainable affordable housing. This field school will provide housing for the underserved Native American community while providing on-site learning collaborations. By using education and hands-on experiences as a catalyst for change, Sweet Grass and Pyatt Studio seek to empower a new generation of community designers, anthropologists, builders and thinkers for the future.


The field school will take place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for 4-5 weeks over the course of this summer. The 4-5 weeks on-site may not be consecutive. If you have scheduling concerns or other concerns, please contact us, we can work out an individual plan to meet your needs. Interns will be responsible for 40-60 hours of work a week. You will experience a mix of structured learning experiences, skill-building shadowing, community engagement, and adventures! The cost of the field school is $3,000. Applying for the field school automatically applies you for one of two $500 scholarships. One $500 scholarship will go to an emerging anthropologist and one will go to an emerging designer.


You will not regret the experiences and growth you will encounter while visiting the rich environment and working with vibrant people throughout the area!


  1. Assisting with various projects including conducting interviews, distributing surveys, data cleaning and analysis, and report writing

  2. Participating in ethnographic training and experiences

  3. Engagement and participation with individuals, families, and organizations

  4.  Optimal unpreparedness – we do have a plan, but part of that plan is to GO WITH THE FLOW! 

  5.  Being open to unfamiliar/new cultural norms, behaviors, and environments 

  6.  Work ethic: Interns will put in long hours doing work that is sometimes monotonous or difficult. This work benefits the community and interns will be expected to do their best to serve these communities 

  7. As much of Sweet Grass’ work is electronic, it is vital that interns have a working laptop with up to date software and internet capabilities. While tablets and other devices can be brought, most assignments and projects will require a full laptop. Interns using alternative software (numbers, pages, etc.) must purchase or rent a copy of Microsoft Office.  

  8. Developing a portfolio of ethnographic tools (including interview and survey protocols, analysis databases, literature review databases, impact evaluation tools, contract proposals, etc.). You will collaborate and role-play with the ethnographic tools you develop so that you can experience applied methodology in a useful, accurate way. 

In addition to research and analysis, interns will have the opportunity to live and work with Lakota community members, as well as attend powwows and other cultural events. This not only gives interns the opportunity to interact and learn from Lakota community members but also allows interns to give back by participating in helpful activities and services. Past field school activities have included: 

  • Cutting wood for sweats and other ceremonies;

  • Cultivating gardens, ethnobotany experiences, and food sovereignty initiatives;

  • Youth leadership development projects;

  • Sustainable construction projects including buffalo fencing and regenerative development;

  • Workforce and economic development; and

  • Painting, staining, door and window replacement, electrical repair, and roof repair of local homes.


Additional fees may apply.  


Interns have the opportunity to develop independent projects with the initiatives mentioned above. There is also an opportunity to present and publish a report of your experience through the academic journal – High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology (HPSfAA). Please let us know your level of interest in the mentioned items so that we can work with connecting you with useful partners!

If you are interested or have questions, please contact

or contact our Director of Impact Measurement and Creative Analysis, Alyssa Camp, at or 303-214-8954.


I hope that you and all at SGC are aware of how unbelievably gracious I am for the opportunity that you provided me with. I wish you and all at SGC the greatest success and I hope that many more students are able to share life lessons as well as touch the lives of others through the opportunity that SGC grants for internships. Those experiences are priceless.  

-Jennifer Simpson, former intern and 2018 field school participant


TVCDC HOME Market Study Report

bottom of page