High Plains Environmental Center

Medicine Wheel Garden

Welcome to the Medicine Wheel Garden, an ethnobotanical garden that showcases native plants utilized by Plains Indian tribes for food, medicine, and ceremony.

The first phase of the garden, a dance grounds that serves as a permanent space for the Thompson School District’s annual 3rd grade powwow & the annual Lakota Ride, was built by the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on Earth Day in 2018 & 2019, Reading Corps, and other local volunteers and groups.

Later phases of the garden feature a wide range of plants used by various Plains tribes for food, ceremony, and medicine. The plants are labeled with the common and scientific names, as well as the plant names in the Lakota language. The traditional territory of the seven western Sioux (Lakota) tribes includes North and South Dakota, as well as eastern Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. The Lakota name for the Front Range is He Ska (Hey Shka), the shining mountains.

“Native plants provide a window into a world that was inhabited for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Knowing the original names and uses of these plants helps us to understand the land as the first Americans saw it.”

Jim Tolstrup
Executive Director, High Plains Environmental Center