Archives for July 2008

Pepper Creek Gardening Project


(Above: Pete rakes cut grass on his land for feed for goats and other animals he’s raising)

In the heart of Pine Ridge’s Wounded Knee District, a few miles up a dirt road west of Manderson lies Pepper Creek and the location of Pete Stand’s growing farm project. According to Pete, he’s just trying to make a better life for his kids and provide fresh vegetables to the local community. With a tractor recently purchased with a small grant from Village Earth, Pete is reclaiming old 1800’s farm implements used by his grandfather during a time before the relocation programs of the post WWII era and the HUD cluster housing projects of the 60’s and 70’s when families across the reservation lived on their allotted lands and grew much of their own food. Along with working seasonally for area ranchers, Pete is carving out his own niche by growing vegetables, raising goats, horses, and chickens and with the help of area extension agent Sean Burke, Pete plans to expand into raising pigs and ducks.


(Above: Pete adjusting the 1800’s era rake his grandfather used to use)

Pete is part of a growing movement of people on the Pine Ridge Reservation tired of living in the deteriorating housing projects with few options for work. A situation is compounded by the growing epidemic of diabetes on the reservation caused, in part, by the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a terrible irony that the poorest communities in America often pay the most for food and that highly processed foods tend to be the cheapest source of raw calories. This certainly holds true for the Pine Ridge Reservation but people like Pete Stands and others across the reservation are working to create a more equitable and localized food-web.

Village Earth first learned about Pete’s project from Calvin White Butterfly who is working to mobilize Tiyospayes (traditional sub-communities comprised of extended families) within the Wounded Knee District to utlize their lands to develop projects that enhance local self-reliance and cultural self-determination. We would like to thank Honor the Earth and the support of our donors for making these projects possible.

For more information contact: [email protected]

Proposed Findings of Fact for 43 Billion Dollar Suit Against Government

On July 11th, 2008 the Cobell plaintiff’s posted on their website a proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” (download complete document here) from their landmark 43 billion dollar class action lawsuit against the Department of Interior for mismanagement and theft of lease revenue from the lands of over 500,000 Native Americans.

According to the document:

“These findings and conclusions are the result of a nine-day bench trial in June 2008.1 Plaintiffs seek the equitable remedy of restitution and specific relief for Individual Indian Money (IIM) that was collected by the government as trustee and which the defendants are unable to establish was properly disbursed to a beneficiary, in addition to an amount representing the benefit to the government from retention of these funds. This trial was set for the purpose of determining the dollar amount of that remedy.

Earlier this year, in findings issued January 30, 2008, this Court noted that one of the questions which was addressed in the bench trial held in the October 2007 trial was the dollar amount of the IIM trust “throughput,” i.e., the funds that have flowed into and out of the IIM trust. Cobell v. Kempthorne (“Cobell XX”), 532 F. Supp. 2d 37, 82 (D.D.C. 2008). However, the parties’ efforts to determine throughput in the October 2007 trial were found to be lacking and based on “sparse and largely unsupported evidence.” Cobell XX, 532 F. Supp. 2d at 82. Accordingly, the Pretrial Order for the present trial provided that while the January 30 findings would serve as a starting point, the parties were expected to adduce further evidence on this core issue. See Pretrial Order at 1.

The findings and conclusions set forth herein, derived from this trial and the extensive record developed in this litigation, support and explain this Court’s decision that plaintiffs are entitled to restitution of $46,851,210,000.00, which represents the accumulated benefit conferred on defendants, net of amounts currently recorded on behalf of Individual Indian Trust beneficiaries. Jun. 2008 PX-189. Alternatively, plaintiffs are entitled to the funds withheld and interest pursuant to the government’s statutory duty to pay such interest (i.e., specific relief) in the amount of $62,018,970,000.00, which is net of amounts currently recorded on behalf of Individual Indian Trust beneficiaries. Jun. 2008 PX-192. These amounts should be ordered to be paid forthwith into the Registry of the Court.”

For more information visit: www.indiantrust.com

New Book About America’s Underground Food Movement Features VE’s Projects on Pine Ridge

Author Sandor Ellix Katz profiles “the cutting edge of food activism” in the United States in his latest book “The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved.” From seed saving, land and labor struggles, and cultural survival to slow and raw food Katz highlights some of the grassroots efforts that are working to transform the current corporate driven, fossil fuel dependent, and inequitable food paradigm. One of the efforts described in his book is Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project on the Pine Ridge Reservation which is working with Lakota families to combine the restoration of grassfed bison herds with the recovery of Reservation lands to the control of individual indian allottees and their families. Alongside these efforts is the development a program to link sustainably/respectfully raised bison to the local and regional food web.

We appreciate the recognition and recommend that anyone who is interested in learning more about the problems with America’s food system, but more importantly, what’s being done to change it, should purchase Katz’s book.