About PILC

     The history of Pierre Indian Learning Center is memorable and rich with anecdotes of Indian life, celebrating over a century of involvement in Indian education since 1888.

     In 1888, the South Dakota Livestock Association of Pierre, in the Dakota Territory, gave a 20-acre tract of land to the United States Government, in the form of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), for an Indian Industrial School. The school, known as the Pierre Indian School, later purchased an additional 160 acres. Original school buildings were constructed in time for the 1890-91 school year and featured separate dormitories for boys and girls with bathrooms and iron bedsteads. The initial enrollment was five students.

     In 1972, the BIE began to reexamine the objectives and operation of the Pierre Indian School. Upon consultation and input from the Indian tribes and communities serviced by the school, a decision was made to continue operating the school but to change the purpose for a more specialized area.

     After 1972, the school's new direction and goal was to design an educational program to meet the "special needs" of Indian students who could not be accommodated in their home communities. The "special needs" category encompassed a wide variety of criteria for acceptance into the Pierre Indian School. Examples included students who were homeless, identified as socially maladjusted, or academically behind with high rates of absenteeism and truancy.

     In 1974, under The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (PL 93-638), the Indian Board of Education contracted for the full administration and operation of the Pierre Indian School.  The BIA gave the board full discretion and freedom in planning "their" school. The challenge was accepted by the board and the tribes made the decision to administer the school as a center for students with behavioral problems. The name of the school was changed to the Pierre Indian Learning Center (PILC). Since 1974, an extensive planning project has been undertaken and implemented to provide an educational program to meet the needs of the children from fifteen tribes across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Today, the PILC continues to serve Indian children from fifteen tribes in the tri-state area.  It is not a psychiatric facility, nor is it a juvenile detention facility.  It is a unique alternative school for children with limited educational opportunities who, because of social or family problems, language differences, undiagnosed learning disabilities, truancy and other factors, have not been successful in schools on the reservation or in the home environment. 

The Pierre Indian Learning Center is a 100-297 grant school. It currently occupies 193 acres of land which includes the school, dormitory, gymnasium, maintenance facilities, administrative office, kitchen/dining areas, and playgrounds.