Archives for November 2010

A message from Wakanyeja Pawicayapi Inc. – Porcupine, SD

As a supporter of grassroots organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Village Earth would like to highlight the work of Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc. based out of the village of Porcupine. Wakanyeja Means Children. Wakanyeja has much deeper meaning; “Wakan” is sacred and “yeja” is translated to mean “a gift”  Pawicayapi: to put them first. We believe that the ‘Sacred Gift’ is at the center of the sacred hoop of life, and they must be protected and nurtured. They are our future and the most fragile. Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc. (Children First) comes from the rebirth of the Lakota way of life and laws through education, healing, and collaboration. This holiday season, please consider donating directly to Wakanyeja Pawicayapi by going to their website at http://www.wakanyeja.org/
Please read the appeal below from Taoiye Wakan Win, S. Ramona White Plume, Executive Director, Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHpfPsARuA]

A message from Wakanyeja Pawicayapi Inc

As a Lakota culturally appropriate mental health resource for children/youth and families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation since 1999, we do not receive federal funds for the services we provide. These services include primarily child/youth and family healing in the areas of trauma, suicide prevention, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
We respectfully ask for your support, both financially and spiritually. Your financial support will help us to purchase wood for the purification lodge ceremonies, purchase food to serve children/youth and families after the ceremonies and pay for general operating costs.

Your spiritual support in the form of appeals to the Creator on behalf of children/youth and families who continue to suffer from intergenerational grief, loss and trauma will strengthen the work that we do and will assist in the ongoing battle for our Lakota way of life and the future of our children and grandchildren. For more information contact Taoiye Wakan Win, S. Ramona White Plume, Executive Director, Wakanyeja Pawicayapi, Inc., P.O. Box 100, Porcupine, SD 57772, [email protected], 605-455-1226. Wopila (thank you).

Village Earth Welcomes New Board Chair

On Saturday, November 13th Village Earth Board and Staff held our annual board retreat in Windsor, Colorado. During the meeting, we discussed a number of strategic directions we would like to pursue in the upcoming year. Importantly, we also elected a new chair of the board. Carl Hammerdorfer (pictured above) will replace Jerry Kennell as our board chair.
We are pleased to welcome Mr. Hammerdorfer to his new role, and given his experience in the world of development and education, we trust that he will play a key role as Village Earth embraces its next phase of growth and development. Mr. Hammerdorfer is currently the director of Colorado State University’s Bussiness School program Global Social and Sustainable Enterprises. Prior to his work at CSU, he acted as Bulgaria country director for Peace Corps and CEO of the Mainstreet Cooperative Group.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our out-going Board Chair Jerry Kennell. Mr. Kennell has used his expertise to help see Village Earth safely through our post-founder era. He has been intregal in the creation and execution of our Annual Maury Albertson Gala, honoring one of our late founders. Village Earth has greatly appreciated his work, and looks forward to Mr. Hammerdorfer’s leadership as he seeks to fill Mr. Kennell’s shoes.

Amongst the topics we discussed, we focused largely on setting the agenda for areas of improvement within Village Earth. We discussed how the environment and world systems have altered since our founding, and what we are doing and will do to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. We brainstormed at length about how we can improve our ability to support grassroots’ efforts through a variety of services.

We hope that our efforts, in conjunction with our new leadership, has laid the foundation for a productive and exciting year increasing our capacity to better serve the communities with which we are allied.

Download Village Earth’s Strategic Land Planning Map Book for the Pine Ridge Reservation

Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book

The purpose of this book is to make information about reservation lands more accessible to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and to promote greater grassroots awareness and participation in land-use planning and management of their natural resources.

Created by Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Range Units and the History of Leasing Lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Village Earth – Fort Collins, Co 

Today, nearly 60% of the Pine Ridge Reservation is being leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), often times to non-tribal members. Despite the fact that lands allotted to Lakotas have been in the federal leasing system for several generations, over 70% of families on the reservation would like to live on and utilize their allotted lands. According to 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations, the market value of agriculture commodities produced on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2007 totaled $54,541,000. Yet, less than 1/3 ($17,835,000) of that income went to Native American producers.

The reason so few Lakota’s are utilizing Reservation lands today can be traced back to a history of discriminatory policies enacted by Congress just a few years after the signing of the General Allotment Act that opened up Reservation lands to non-Native producers. These policies affected Native Americans nationwide. According to Village Earth’s study of the USDA data, in total numbers, Native Americans represent only 1.6% of the farmers and ranchers operating on Reservation lands. Today, for most Native American Reservations in the United States, more than two-thirds of the farms and ranches are controlled by non-natives. As might be expected, this disparity in land use has had a dramatic impact on the ability of Native Americans to fully benefit from their natural resources. Statistics on income reveal that the total value of agricultural commodities produced on Native American Reservations in 2007 totaled over $2.1 Billion dollars, yet, only 16% of that income went to Native American farmers and ranchers.

The unequal land-use patterns seen on reservations today is a direct outcome of discriminatory lending practices, land fractionation and specifically, Federal policies over the last century that have excluded native land owners from the ability to utilize their lands while at the same time opening it up to non-native farmers and ranchers. Discriminatory lending practices, as argued in court cases such as the pending Keepseagle vs. Vilsack, claim that Native Americans have been denied roughly 3 billion in credit.  Another significant obstacle is the high degree of fractionation of Reservation lands caused by the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887. Over a century of unplanned inheritance under the GAA has created a situation where reservation lands have become severely fractionated. Today, for a Native land owner to consolidate and utilize his or her allotted lands they may have to get the signed approval of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of separate land owners. As a result, most Indian land owners have few options besides leasing their lands out as part of the Federal Government’s leasing program. Additionally, historical and racially-based policies by the Federal government have been designed to exclude Native American farmers and ranchers from utilizing their own lands, opening them up to non-natives for a fraction of their far market value.

The leasing of Indian Lands by the Federal Government dates back the the the Act of February 28, 1891 which amended the General Allotment Act to give the Secretary of the Interior the power to determine whether an Indian allottee had the “mental or physically qualifications” to enable him to cultivate his allotment. In such cases, the Superintendent was authorized to lease Indian lands to non-tribal members. In 1894, the annual Indian Appropriation Act increased the agricultural lease term to 5 years, 10 years for business and mining leases, and permitted forced leases for allottees who “suffered” from “inability to work their land.” Clearly designed to alienate lands from Native Americans, this act dramatically increased the number of leases issued across the country. For the Pine Ridge Reservation the practice was so widespread, that in a 1915 Government report, it was noted that over 56% of the adult males on the reservation were considered incapable of managing their lands and thus they were forcefully leased out. In 1920 the Government Superintendent for Pine Ridge wrote, “It has been my policy to insist upon the utilization of all these lands and the grass growing upon it and this has restricted members of the tribe owning stock to their own allotments, and such land adjoining that they have leased.” Not only were a great number of Native Americans denied the ability to utilize their allotted lands, many did not even receive the lease income collected by the Federal Government. Today, it is estimated that Native Americans are owed upwards of 47 billion dollars by the Federal Government for 120 years of oil, timber, agriculture, grazing and mining leases (See Cobell vs. Salazar).

According to Village Earth, the disparity in land use on Native American Reservations will only worsen with each new generation until Native Americans are given a fair chance at accessing the credit and other forms assistance available to non-natives. Additionally, the Government should honor its obligation as trustee and pay the over 47 billion dollars in revenue it has received for the leasing of Native American lands over the last 120 years. Lastly, the Department of Interior should place special emphasis on repairing the fractionation problem created by the General Allotment Act by providing information and support to individual allottees to consolidate and utilize their lands. In particular, speeding up the appraisal and survey process for which they are responsible.