Archives for 2004

The long journey ‘home’

By PATRICIA DANNATT, North Platte Telegraph

The hood of Henry’s vehicle dipped downward into the Platte Valley as he drove south on Highway 83. When North Platte and the valley came into view, Henry felt a stirring in his chest. There was a feeling of coming home, he said, even though he had never been in North Platte. “I felt as though I had made a full circle and I was home,” said Henry John Red Cloud of Pine Ridge, S.D.

Henry was in North Platte to participate in the second annual Pow Wow the weekend of Oct. 22-24. A part of his trip was a pilgrimage to find the place where his great-great-great-great-grandfather was born, a site east of North Platte where the North and South Platte rivers converge.Chief Red Cloud was born around 1822. According to family legend, he was born in the winter camp of the Sioux at the fork of the North and South Platte rivers.

Early in the morning of Oct. 22, Henry sought his way to where the rivers meet. A heavy fog lay over the valley and Henry inched his way through the fog until he came to the fork of the rivers.He sat along the riverbank, meditating as he took in the beauty, the calmness. “The water was almost still. With the trees and vegetation, it was so soothing,” Henry said. And, as he sat there, he heard – in his head or in his heart – the cry of an infant child over the waters. “It was heart-comforting. I received guidance and healing from being there,” he said. “If I could be born all over again, I would like to be born there,” he said, in his soft voice. As he lingered in that mystical spot, watching and listening to the songs of the birds and the sounds of animals nearby, sunrays broke through the fog and Henry could see the other side of the riverbank.

“This is a very historical place in our culture, to me and to my family. Ever since the birth of Red Cloud, generations have always talked about the fork of the two rivers.” Henry was raised by his grandfather, who was Red Cloud’s grandson, and his grandmother. Their stories are not written but are passed down orally from one generation to another. “They always spoke so gentle and so warming, that you remembered what they said,” Henry said.

Henry related the history of Red Cloud traveling on the “iron horse” for five days to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Great White Grandfather (the president). Red Cloud saw the great numbers of white people – “like ants living on top of each other” – and when he returned home to his people he told them of the great numbers of white people he had seen and that the Lakota people must make peace with the white people or be annihilated. “He envisioned the Lakota as we are today, the two nations coming together and living in harmony,” Henry said, clasping his hands to make one.
Henry said he feels that Red Cloud looks upon this generation and generations to come to continue on this path of peace and living in harmony with the earth, sun, wind and water and other nations.

Most people have tunnel vision, Henry said. “We get only a birds-eye view. We need to be open and see with the mind’s eye and heart and let the healing begin.” Henry speaks of an eternal dream to go back to the old way of life, where families lived self-sufficiently from the land, with organic gardening and herds of buffalo. “The buffalo are sacred in our culture,” Henry said. He believes the buffalo kept his ancestors healthy. Red Cloud died in 1909 at the age of 89.

Henry sees the Colorado organization Village Earth as a way to bring about the dream of returning to the old way of life.The organization helps not only with restoring buffalo to the families on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but provides help with other programs promoting self-sufficiency. For more information on the project, go to and click on Pine Ridge Project.

Helping improve life for families is not a choice for Henry and his family but an inborn belief. “We are visitors. We come to this world and we must leave it better for generations to come,” Henry said. Henry’s one regret from his visit to Red Cloud’s birthplace is that there is not a marker noting the significance of the site.
A marker or monument, Henry said, would help others seek Red Cloud’s birthplace and to find the peace and healing he found.

Prototype Lakota Wind Turbine Demo’d at North Platte Pow Wow

Village Earth and Lone Buffalo demonstrate the appropriate technology wind turbine they are developing for families on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Village Earth also showed the documentary they developed “Pine Ridge Session One,” had an inormational booth, for the people who attended the Pow Wow.

Guidestone Farm Donates Milk Cow for Lone Buffalo Project

Colorado-based Guidstone CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) donated a milk cow for the Lone Buffalo Project. “Wendy” (as she has been named) will become part of a small-scale dairy program on the Red Cloud Tiyospaye’s land near Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Adopt-A-Buffalo Program Featured in the Pueblo Chieftain

Will Lakota find self-determination in a buffalo herd?

By Juan Espinoza
Editor, Pueblo Chieftain
Published: Sunday October 10, 200

Finally, some good news out of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Buffalo are coming home to the Buffalo Nation.

Recently, The Pueblo Chieftain reported on the donation of a small buffalo herd from a Rye rancher to an Oglala Lakota family. The herd brings to 11 the number of Lakota families who have returned to their land to raise buffalo.

Henry Red Cloud, a fifth-generation descendant of Chief Red Cloud, the 19th-century warrior/statesman, came to Southern Colorado with a small delegation two weeks ago to accept the buffalo donated to them by Pueblo surgeon Ken Danylchuk and his wife, Kathy.

The donation had been arranged by David Bartecchi, son of Pueblo doctor Carl Bartecchi. David works for Village Earth, co-founded by Maurice Albertson, who created the model for the U.S. Peace Corps in the 1960s.

As director of the Pine Ridge Project for Village Earth, David has become a central figure in the effort to rebuild the Lakota buffalo herds. He told his dad about the campaign, his dad told the Danylchuks, and the Danylchuks agreed to contribute a few head of buffalo to the effort.

David said the effort to reintroduce buffalo to the reservation is a simple question of making the best use of the land the Lakota have. Many people own 200 or more acres of land, but live in impoverished housing clusters while their land is leased to ranchers and farmers for as little as 50 cents an acre per year.

More than a symbol, the buffalo are seen as one means of obtaining self-sufficiency for the families who choose to leave the mostly substandard housing in the villages and return to their land.

The idea has caught on to the point that the Oglala Lakota College at Pine Ridge is building an agricultural curriculum around raising buffalo and developing its own herd.

Red Cloud said the return of the sacred buffalo represents new hope for a new generation: “This is what we understand. We know the buffalo. Combined with all that we honor – sun, wind, four directions – it’s all part of the Lakota spirituality.”

Ed Iron Cloud, the recipient of the seed herd, accompanied Red Cloud to the Danylchuks’ ranch. Like Red Cloud, Iron Cloud said the Lakota have a spiritual bond with the buffalo. He was careful in selecting the buffalo he took to Pine Ridge, explaining that it was important to take a family unit so they would be accepted faster by the buffalo already there.

Iron Cloud spoke of the buffalo’s superiority over cattle. Even the shape of their hooves helps break up the hard prairie sod better than cattle, he said. Let cattle near a waterhole and they will eat the grass nearest the water down to the bare ground. Buffalo will eat the grass farther away and save the grass near the water to lie on, Iron Cloud said.

Iron Cloud told a story demonstrating the buffaloes’ legendary protectiveness for their young. In the story, a group of bulls is observed moving in a tight circle through a pack of wolves. When the circle of bulls reaches the herd, a small calf is seen emerging from its midst.

It is too soon to know if the return of the buffalo will create a new self-sufficiency for the 3,100 residents of Pine Ridge. The families who now have herds have pledged to help other families start herds. Their children can learn the necessary skills at the local college. In time, the families should be able to produce a healthy, natural source of meat.

The circle is complete. Fourteen years ago, Ken Danylchuk brought a seed herd of buffalo from South Dakota. Now, a few head of the coveted animals have returned to the people who worship them and the way of life they represent.

Perhaps the shaggy beasts can do what government welfare programs and federal subsidies have failed to do – bring peace, harmony and self-sufficiency to the Buffalo Nation.

Those of us hoping the Lakotas’ buffalo program is successful owe a debt of gratitude to the Danylchuks and Bartecchis for their roles in instilling the newfound optimism apparent among Red Cloud, Iron Cloud and others in their delegation.

Juan Espinosa, who was born when millions of buffalo-head nickels roamed the land, is a Chieftain night city editor. He can be reached at 544-3520, ext. 423, or by e-mail at [email protected] .

Rye Rancher Donates Buffalo for Pine Ridge

A home where the buffalo will roam

A grateful Lakota delegation receives the gift of a buffalo herd from a Rye rancher.

Published: Sunday September 26, 2004

RYE – Early today, a truckload of buffalo began dancing their way back home to the Buffalo nation.

The little herd was a gift from a Rye-area rancher to a Pine Ridge Lakota family who intends to grow the herd and give a similar gift herd to another resident of the South Dakota reservation.

Before the journey began, Frank Red Cloud – a fifth-generation descendant of the 19th century Lakota Chief Red Cloud – performed a simple ceremony on a ranch owned by Puebloan surgeon Ken Danylchuk and his wife, Kathy.

Ed Iron Cloud carefully picks out buffalo from the Danylchuck’s herd in Rye.

On Saturday, Red Cloud talked about what he intended to say at the ceremony and stressed the significance of the gift of self-sufficiency the livestock represents to the Lakota.

“We’ll smudge them (with sage smoke) and sing them a song – ‘Look grandfather! The sacred ones are dancing home’ ” said Red Cloud.

He sees the buffalo, often a symbol of the past, as the future for the Lakota.

“It’s the eternal dream of grandfathers and grandmothers to go back to the natural life,” Red Cloud said. “We come from the buffalo. We’re part of the Buffalo nation.”


Central to the effort to rebuild the Lakota buffalo herds is Pueblo native David Bartecchi, director of the Pine Ridge Project, which includes the Adopt-A-Buffalo campaign.

Bartecchi told his father, Dr. Carl Bartecchi, about the campaign to build the Lakota herds. In turn, Dr. Bartecchi told his friend and colleague Dr. Ken Danylchuk.

“Ken said he was interested and Dave ran with it,” Dr. Bartecchi said at the gathering on Saturday when Red Cloud and his delegation came to receive their precious cargo.

Red Cloud and the younger Bartecchi explained how the project came about.

“Our approach is land management,” Bartecchi said of his Fort Collins-based nonprofit employer, Village Earth. “A lot of people (on Pine Ridge) own 200 or more acres, but they weren’t living on it,” he said.

The land was part of a Bureau of Indian Affairs leasing system and was “automatically” being leased to private ranchers for low rents, Bartecchi said.

A survey of reservation residents showed that 77 percent of the people wanted to live on their land and 25 percent wanted to raise buffalo. According to Red Cloud, 10 families have returned to their land and have started buffalo herds.

“These people reversed (the BIA leasing) and took their land back and their using it to raise buffalo,” Red Cloud said.

“It represents new hope for a new generation,” said Red Cloud, who is one of the Lakota buffalo ranchers.

“This is what we understand. We know the buffalo. Combined with all that we honor – sun, wind, four directions – it’s all part of the Lakota spirituality.”

Ken Danylchuk said because of the recent years of drought, he already was downsizing his buffalo herd when Dr. Bartecchi told him of the Pine Ridge project.

“I told them they could have eight to 12, whatever they could get in their trailer,” Danylchuk said on Saturday. “They’re taking two 1-year-old bulls, some yearling heifers and a breeding bull.”

The donor said it was hard to say what his contribution is worth. “They were selling for $2,100 a head a couple of years ago and last year you couldn’t give them away.”

A native of Alberta, Can., Danylchuk said he moved to the Pueblo area in 1990 and bought five heifers from South Dakota to start his herd. He is intersted in raising buffalo for the meat’s nutritional characteristics.

Perhaps the happiest man at the Danylchuk ranch on Saturday was Ed Iron Cloud, the recipient of the seed herd. He is interested in seeing that the sacred buffalo be handled properly.

“We want to set a standard for raising them,” he said. “Some people are putting them in feed lots . . . that creates a lot of stress for them.

“We followed the buffalo for a 1,000 years . . . 50 million buffalo, 50 million people, down to 2 million now.”

Iron Cloud praised the intelligence of the buffalo, which he said have taught the Lakota that there is a time and place for all things.

Iron Cloud’s land borders land belonging to the Oglala Lakota College and is helping the reservation school to develop its own buffalo herd.

“We’re all learning how to take care of buffalo,” he said.

Late Saturday afternoon, a cool misty rain fell over Red Cloud’s tipi set up next to Danylchuk’s log ranchhouse. The group of about 30 people who gathered to witness the buffalo giveaway and share in a symbolic buffalo barbecue were stunned by a spectacular double rainbow that framed the tipi against a dark blue sky – it seemed that Mother Nature herself had given her approval.

Lakota Wind Turbine Project

Village Earth and Lone Buffalo, with support from Honor the Earth, are collaborating on to develop an appropriate technology wind-turbine in an attempt to lower the cost for families wanting to utilize their allotted lands by eliminating the need to extend the electrical to remote parts of the reservation . Based on concepts and plans found in Village Earth’s Appropriate Technology Library, the development of the turbine will be depend on the ingenuity, materials, and labor found on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Below are plans for a home-built wind turbine found in the Appropriate Technology Library. Even though, the Lakota Wind Turbine will utilize similiar concepts as the one below initial plans include using such materials as an automobile brake-drum for the housing.

June 2004 Buffalo Release

Buffalo Dreams
by Gary Wockner
Originally published in

News From Indian Country

Click here to view slides from the June release.

As the buffalo truck turned off Route 18 and down onto the long lane north of Pine Ridge Village, Henry Red Cloud stood arm-in-arm with his brother, Chief Alfred Red Cloud II, watching from across the field. Henry’s eyes misted over. “This is our dream,” he said. “My family’s, my people’s.”


Seconds later, the truck eased to a stop and 50 people rushed over, jumping on the fender wells and peering, wide-eyed, through the aluminum slats of the stock trailer. The crowd, family members and visitors who had came to honor and celebrate the return of the buffalo, cheered and embraced. Inside the trailer, 15 yearling buffalo peered back, their late-spring fur molting and falling, their eyes also wide.

Chief Alfred Red Cloud II stood silently, watching. Alfred is the great, great grandson of Chief Red Cloud, the last of the Lakota Chiefs to be captured in 1876 nearby at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and then “relocated” to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Henry and Alfred embraced. “This is for our children,” Albert said. “For our future.”

For the past year, the Red Cloud family has been working side-by-side with the Fort Collins, Colo. environmental organization, Village Earth (, and their extensive international membership, to return the buffalo to the family’s property on Pine Ridge. David Bartecchi, project coordinator for Village Earth, says, “This is about social justice, environmental stewardship, and creating a more sustainable world. It is our honor to assist the Red Cloud family with this project.”

The arrival of the buffalo to Henry’s property near Pine Ridge Village was the centerpiece event of the first day of a two-day celebration hosted by the Red Cloud family. Earlier in the day, a variety of activities took place including traditional Lakota story-telling, games, songs and dance.

Two well-known storytellers, Philomene Lakota and Wilmer Stampede demonstrated the skill of oral tradition by sharing stories of traditional Lakota life and spirituality.

Later, Lawrence Swalley offered a stirring, lengthy rendition of the Lakota Creation Story. After a tasty dinner of buffalo stew and fry bread, the evening was filled with hand games, and dancing and singing led by the Yellow Bear Drum Group and the Crazy Horse Singers.

The next morning, all the guests and many reservation residents followed the buffalo truck on a long caravan out to the Red Cloud family ranch near the Slim Buttes area of the reservation. The family named their property “Tatanka Isnala” (Lone Buffalo Ranch) to commemorate Henry and Albert’s nephew, Arnold Big Crow, who recently died.

The ceremony at the ranch included Oglala spiritual leader Basil Brave Heart, who performed a traditional buffalo blessing ceremony that involves the filling and sharing of the sacred pipe, smudging, and the performance of buffalo songs, dances and prayers.

Just before the buffalo were released, Chief Alfred Red Cloud II walked arm-in-arm with his grand-niece, Shekela Big Crow (Arnold’s only daughter), across the family’s property commemorating the last moment before the return of the buffalo. Shekela is the 7th generation of Red Clouds to live on Pine Ridge since Chief Red Cloud’s 1876 relocation.

Minutes later, 15 yearling buffalo were released. The crowd, now 200-strong and including three busloads of Pine Ridge school children, cheered and embraced as the yearling buffalo rumbled out of the livestock trailer and across the open prairie. After more than 125 years, the Red Cloud family ranch, once part of the buffalo’s traditional migration routes across the Great Plains, again felt the thunder of buffalo hooves.

The buffalo release represents one part of Village Earth’s larger initiative to help Lakota families utilize their own land for income-generating activities to support a more self-sufficient lifestyle. The buffalo were purchased through Village Earth’s “Adopt-a-Buffalo” program.

These 15 yearlings will be the “seed herd” from which more herds will come for Lakota families interested in buffalo ranching. The herd will be raised in a traditional manner using organic methods. After three years, this initial herd will have bred enough calves for a second group of yearlings to be “gifted” to another family to start their own herd. The animals will be used for food, clothing, education and ceremonial purposes.

“The plan is to get this herd started, and then make a gift of yearlings to another family to get their herd started, and so on,” said Henry Red Cloud. “It’s part of the healing for the Lakota family, a return to “tradition,” by which our elders meant “self-sufficiency.”

Henry Red Cloud is launching this initial herd, and several other projects, on land owned by his extended family. All 94 members of the Red Cloud extended family have combined their landholdings at the ranch and are actively involved in making it a successful, income-generating, self-supportive prospect.

In addition to buffalo ranching, the Red Clouds are growing herbs and vegetables for family consumption as well as moneymaking crops, a model of enterprise that Henry says other reservation families are considering.

Throughout the celebration at Henry’s property and at the family ranch near Slim Buttes, Henry, Alfred and all of the speakers emphasized the importance of the event for Lakota children.

“I want all of the children to watch and listen,” Henry said as he spoke to the crowd during the buffalo release. “They need to know that we have suffered greatly but that we are strong and resilient. This ceremony and these buffalo will teach our children that we are returning to health and vitality.”

“Buffalo can heal us. We can heal each other. At the dawn of the 21st Century, we stand here, seven generations since Chief Red Cloud’s capture, to make a powerful statement: We are strong. The Lakota people, families and individuals have a strong future together.”


FMI: Henry Red Cloud: 605.867.1544, [email protected]

David Bartecchi: 970.218.5157, [email protected]

Gary Wockner: 970.407.1163, [email protected]

VE Supports Organic Gardening Projects on Pine Ridge

Village Earth, as part of it’s larger initative to support Lakota Tiyospayes in their efforts to recover, restore, protect, and utilize their remaing land-base has help connect three tiyospayes to resources needed for their sustainable gardening projects. Below is a picture of the Red Cloud’s garden in the community of Payabya.

Fort Collins based celebrity John (The Worm Man) Anderson helped families install worm bins to both consume organic waste and create nutrient rich compost for their gardens. Below Sam Long Blackcat and John put the lid (a recycled hot-tup cover) on a staw-bale worm bin that John designed.

Below: Henry Red Cloud inspects a worm bin installed near the village of Red Shirt.

With the help of Village Earth and Lauretta Sandoval (A CSU Food and Nutrition Graduate Student) the Shockey Two-Bull garden expanded nearly 400% in one year.

VE Premieres “Pine Ridge: Session One”

Village Earth premiered its documentary on life and grassroots community development on the Pine Ridge Reservation, titled “Pine Ridge: Session One,” last night to a packed audience at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. Filmed and Directed by Ralf-Kracke Berndorff of Reflexive Films the documentary explores life and community-based development in one of the poorest counties in the United States. Through grassroots community action, traditional families called “tiyospayes” are pursuing their vision to reclaim, restore, and utilize their remaining land-base.

To order a copy send a $25 contribution to Village Earth. (Be sure to indicate that you would like a copy of the video).

Alternative Spring Break

Village Earth and Colorado State University’s office for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement organize an “Alternative Spring Break” program on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Through this newly created program 10 CSU students spent their week long spring break helping families across the reservation on various projects including getting bikes donated for youth, delivering firewood, installing fencing, and delivering food and other needed items to elders.