Archives for April 2011

Village Earth Presenting on Fiscal Sponsorship for Indigneous Organizations at IFIP Conference

Village Earth will be presenting on Fiscal Sponsorship for Indigenous Organizations at the International Funders for indigenous People’s Conference “Indigenous Peoples and Philanthropy: Strengthening Alliances for the Next Seven Generations” May 25 – 27, 2001 at the Oneida Nation, New York.

International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP), an affinity group of the Council on Foundations, serves grantmakers committed to sharing knowledge, building coalitions, and increasing funding to Indigenous Peoples.

IFIP creates a bridge where the philanthropic and Indigenous worlds meet to understand and collaborate with each other. IFIP serves both communities by initiating meetings that otherwise would never happen.

IFIP’s Tenth Annual Conference on Haudenosaunee territory in upstate New York coincides with the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, which runs from May 16-27 in New York City.

To learn more about this year’s conference visit IFIP’s website at

Join an Eco-Tour this Summer with Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Administration

This summer, the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Administration (OSPRA) on the Pine Ridge Reservation is hosting an eco-tour. Here’s a blurb from their site. To learn more go to:

Silence from deep within the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s South Unit of the Badlands National Park and the Tribe’s buffalo pastures will be a centerpiece of new Eco-tours being offered by the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority.  Visitors who take the newly established eco-tours will have opportunity to feel majestic dominance of buffalo as they graze in the buffalo pastures.“We want visitors to understand buffalo are our relatives and not just a resource for consumption,” says Monica Terkildsen, one of the eco-tour coordinators.  “We want visitors to hear pines blowing in the wind and taste the nutty earth taste of timpsila and understand the connection of plants to our survival.”

OSPRA is targeting tourists who are looking for adventure—people who will stay for a length of time, are physically fit and want to hike into the interior of places—not just drive the edge of Oglala Lakota lands.  The Eco-tour visitor will be a person who wants to learn the cultural perspective of wild life and natural resources.

OSPRA has long had facilities for offering eco-tours that include hunting tours, cabins and a property purchased and set up in an apartment-style setting.  OSPRA offers knowledge of wildlife, natural resources and unique cultural understandings that bring all the pieces of a top flight eco-experience together in a four day outing.

Cultural interpretations will give visitors Lakota perspectives on natural resource use and Oglala Lakota philosophy and belief. Environmental integrity brought about by the Eco-tours will establish connections to wildlife and natural resources within context of a preservation plan.  “We want to develop a sustainable project that educates and shares,” says Terkildsen, “We want visitors to feel our strength and understand how we continue to survive.”

Since the 1980’s ecotourism has been on the rise and considered essential by environmentalists to survival of landscapes relatively untouched by human intrusion. OSPRA’s eco-tours came into being after Senior Biologist Dr. Trudy Ecoffey experienced an eco-tour trip to Namibia, a country in southern Africa that has the Atlantic ocean as it’s western border.  After that experience she worked with the World Wildlife Fund and other professionals to develop the idea of an eco-tour on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Help Build an Earthdome with the Tiyospaye Winyan Maka Wicosani Project


Three weeks of hands-on learning in earth-bag building techniques. This workshop covers how to test your soil, prepare, dig, and build foundations; plumbing, electrical wiring, forming window and door openings, natural plastering, and options for adapting domes to dry or wet climates. You will leave the workshop all set to apply your knowledge elsewhere and build your very own earth-bag dome. This workshop is suitable for anyone looking to expand their skills in creating safe and comfortable habitats for the next seven generations.

The cost of the workshop is $2,850.00. (price includes all workshop materials; three meals per day: rough camping on-site; and transportation.)

To secure your spot in the Wicosani Community Project earth-bag course, pay the full course fee of $2,850. We will have three build sites this summer and will limit each site to six…each workshop site. Families are welcome. Non-workshop attending guardians can come along for the cost of food and camping ($500). Please note that you are completely responsible for your childs safety while at the Wicosani Community Project sites.

For more information regarding this project, contact Christinia Eala at: Home – (970) 494-0700 Cell – (970) 232-8265 Email: [email protected]

About the Wicosani Community Project:

Our mission here is guided by three principles: (1) shelter is a basic human right, (2) every human being should be able to build a house for him or herself, and (3) the best way to provide shelter for the exponentially increasing human population is by building with earth. Its philosophy is based on the equilibrium of the natural elements of earth, water, air, fire, and their Unity at the service of the arts and humanity.

The “Wicosani Community Project” creates environmentally sustainable and accessible housing on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation; building resilience to climate change while improving the general standard of living in the community.

Village Earth Director to speak on Food Security and Sovereignty with Winona LaDuke and Rick Garcia for Earth Day

Winona LaDuke

Village Earth Director, David Bartecchi, is scheduled to speak on a panel on Food Security and Sovereignty with Winona LaDuke and Rick Garcia this Saturday, April 4th  at the Woodbine Ecology Center in Denver, Colorado. The panel is part of the Woodbine Ecology Center’s three-day conference “Honoring Mother Earth Everyday: Indigenous Models and Practices for Sustainable Communities.”

The participatory conference will focus on principles and practices, sustainable communities, food security and sovereignty, land struggles, reclaiming and regenerating our common environment, ecological health and healing, and more.

Guest Panelists include (full schedule below):

  • Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, author, founder of White Earth Land Recovery Project, and the Indigenous Women’s Network.
  • Debra Harry, Kooyooee Dukaddo (Northern Paiute) from the Pyramid Lake Reservation in Nevada, Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, and Co-Coordinator, North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
  • Louise Benally, Dine’ traditional activist from Big Mountain and health educator.
  • David Bartecchi, Executive Director of Village Earth, program director for Lakota Lands Recovery Project, trainer, organizer.
  • Rick Garcia, manager of The Urban Farm in Denver CO.
  • Mary O’ Brien, herbalist, permaculturist, and educator.
  • The Community Conversation will be co-facilitated by staff from Civic Canopy, a Denver-based inclusive network of partners working together to build stronger neighborhoods, healthier communities, and a more civil society. Furthermore, Civic Canopy will be working with WEC to hold several follow-up sessions with attendees and the general public around the greater Denver-Metro area throughout the year.

For more information and to register visit the Woodbine Ecology Center conference webpage.

Help Win an Orchard for Pine Ridge

Village Earth affiliate, Sustainable Homestead Designs, based on the Pine Ridge Reservation has entered a contest to win an orchard from Dreyer’s Fruit Bars brand and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. In order to win, they need the most votes for their project.

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You can vote once per day (please do), here’s how!

  1. Go to
  2. Find “Manderson: Sustainable Homestead Designs” by clicking on the “List by State” tab and select South Dakota.
  3. Cast your vote.

Sustainable Homestead Designs is a project whose mission is to create sustainable housing and food sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Home to the Oglala band of Lakota Sioux, Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest reservations in the poorest county in the country. Rate of diabetes are staggeringly high in part due to lack of access to healthy food. Our homestead model site is located in the middle of the reservation in the White Horse Creek community, close to the community of Manderson that includes about 1000 residents. The closest shopping is 35 miles away in the town of Pine Ridge. The local grocery store does offer a small selection of fresh produce but supply is often limited and the quality poor. Organic produce is not available anywhere on the reservation. For organic produce and greater selection residents must travel 90 miles to Rapid City, a trip that is prohibitively expensive for most families. A fruit tree orchard in this location would offer a great resource to the people of Manderson and White Horse Creek by creating access to fresh organic produce as well as educational opportunities through workshops and classes that will be hosted on site. Further, it will create a wonderful launch pad from which we can initiate more orchards throughout the community and the reservation so that an even greater population can be served.

For more information please visit:

Two Listening/Talking Meetings Scheduled for May

The Oyate Omniciye | Oglala Lakota planning team will be hosting two meetings with the same agenda at two different locations:

12:00 noon – 4:00 pm
Su Ann Big Crow Boys & Girls Club
Pine Ridge

5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Pahin Sinte Owayawa School


Please RSVP at

Child care available on site

Meal provided per accurate head count


Please direct questions to:

Nick Tilsen at 605-455-2700 ~ [email protected]

Julie Two Eagle at 605-454-0377 ~ [email protected]

or Scott Moore at 505-280-4840 ~ [email protected]

Why Your Tribe Should Challenge the Federal Census

Now that the Federal Government has published its final rule November 22, 2016 for the Indian Housing Block Grant, Tribes across the country are bracing for the impact that low figures could have on their State and Federal Funding. A short list of programs that use formulas based on the Federal Census include: The Indian Housing Block Grant, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, The Child Care and Development Fund, Social Services Block Grant, Administration on Aging, Special Programs for the Aging, Title III, Part C, Nutrition, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, Community Services Block Grant, funding for local schools, road construction and repair.

It is widely understood that there is a selection bias in the Federal Census that tends to under-count minorities and over-count the wealthy. According to a 2010 Report from Government Accountability Office (GAO):

Minorities, renters, and children, for example, are more likely to be undercounted by the census while more affluent groups, such as people with vacation homes, are more likely to be enumerated more than once. As census data are used to apportion seats in Congress, redraw congressional districts, and allocate billions of dollars in federal assistance to states and local governments, improving coverage and reducing the differential undercount are critical.

This is especially true for hard to count populations like Native Americans who often live in areas that can lack basic infrastructure such as marked roads, street names and addresses, or even telephones.

This dilemma is illustrated by two successful Census challenges Village Earth participated in on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota. In the case of Pine Ridge, the 2000 Federal Census calculated the American Indian Alaskan Native (AIAN) population to be 15,861. Tribal official knew this figure could not be accurate. Using survey data from Dr. Kathleen Pickering at Colorado State University and GIS mapping support from Village Earth, we calculated the population to be 28,787 and used our data to challenge the data HUD used in the formula for the Indian Housing Block Grant for Pine Ridge. Our challenge was accepted by HUD and resulted in the following.

  • 81% increase in the HUD recognized population (from 15,861 to 28,787)‏
  • 31% increase in the number of AIAN households with less than 30% median family income.
  • 62% increase in the number of AIAN households between 30% and 50% median family income.
  • 137% increase with more than 1 person per room or without kitchen or plumbing.
  • $1, 292,000 increase in Pine Ridge’s IHBG Allocation starting in 2006

Unfortunately HUD had been using the 2000 numbers of almost 5 years before we provided them with the more accurate data. That translates to nearly $6,460,000 in funding that should have gone to Pine Ridge to address the longstanding shortage of quality-affordable housing, not to mention all the other programs that were shorted by being undercounted.

A year later, based on our success at Pine Ridge, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe asked for assistance. While the outcomes were not as dramatic as for Pine Ridge, it was still significant. Our data, which again was accepted by HUD, meant the following for Rosebud.

  • 230% increase in the number of AIAN households with household expenses greater than 50% of income.
  • 42% increase in the number of AIAN households with less than 30% median family income.
  • 34% increase in the number of AIAN households with less than 80% of median family income.
  • $713,150 increase in IHBG Allocation in 2007

For the Rosebud Reservation, this means the Tribe was shorted over $4,000,000 for housing alone during the 6 years that HUD was using the low 2000 Federal Census numbers.

Village Earth has supported Census Challenges on the following Reservations

  • Red Lake, MN
  • Fort Berthold, ND
  • Turtle Mountain, ND
  • Cheyenne River, SD
  • Pine Ridge, SD
  • Lower Brule, SD

For more information about challenging the Federal Census, contact David Bartecchi at Village Earth by email at [email protected].

Workshop On Youth Self-Injury Prevention

One of the 7 Lakota values is to “Ihakta” one another, to look out for each other or not to leave one another behind. Many of our children and youth are being “left behind” and are cutting themselves and using self-injury as a way to cope. what is “self-injury’, what does it look like, how do we as helpers, family and community respond to this?


Richard Two Dogs (Lakota Traditional Healer), Richard Laughter (MD, Psychiatrist), Joseph Stone (Psychologist), Stanley R. Holder Sr. (Psychologist)


Tribal Leadership, Parents, Youth Counselors, Social Workers, Youth Workers, Advocates, Juvenile Judges, Clergy, Teachers, Educators, and Community Members.


Wakanyeja Pawicayapi (The Children First), Knife Chief Buffalo Nation, Village Earth


Click here to download PDF Flyer





LINDA TWO BULLS at [email protected]

The Trap (and Paradox) of Large Development Funding

Official development assistance in 2005 (Source: Wikipedia)

By George Stetson, Ph.D.

During the last decade many of the major development players (the World Bank, USAID, the Swedish International Development Corporation) have embraced participatory development as a critical part of any successful development endeavor. One might even say that “participation” is now an essential part of the mainstream development discourse. In many respects, this is a good thing and, undoubtedly, the result of the tireless work of grassroots advocates, local NGOs, and the many peoples throughout the world that have struggled against the exclusionary and unjust practices of dominant society (governments, cultures, corporations, etc.).

But is it enough for the grassroots to “participate” in the development process? Leaving aside the profound ethnocentric (and Eurocentric) connotations of the entire conceptualization of modern “development,” even in the best case scenarios I would argue that the way that large development is currently structured makes it incapable of delivering development from the bottom up; it is inherently a top down game where big development dictates, controls and decides the content of development. Why? One of the reasons (and there are many) is related to what I would describe as the “trap of large development funding.”

Most philanthropic development (this excludes military aid) is funded and delivered through large development agencies and NGOs that work as subcontractors for these same agencies. In general, these development agencies, in spite of their rhetoric about “participatory development,” are structured around a preconceived development agenda. Take the case of Latin America. According to a recent study on the “Main Philanthropy Trends in Latin America,” more than 45% of funding to the region came from large development agencies, followed by NGOs (30%), foundations (15%), and private companies (9%). USAID was the largest contributor in 2008 to Latin America and gave approximately $1.5 Billion in philanthropy to the region. On the USAID website they explicitly state that most of their funding is reserved for development priorities already established.”1 USAID makes it painstakingly clear that they will only accept applicants (or NGO partners) that “are focused on projects with clear objectives that fit within program priorities.” In other words, if NGOs want to obtain USAID funding, they must adhere to USAID’s development agenda, which as we know is based on the strategic interest of the US. Currently there are some 592 NGOs that are registered with USAID.

Moreover, most NGOs and PVOs are focused on single sector issues (environment, health, education, poverty, etc,) which, in a sense, structure development around the specific issues and concerns that these organizations have decided to embrace. Therefore, if grassroots practitioners coming from the “developing” world want any sort of financial assistance, they must somehow try to fit within the project scope of these NGOs.2 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for instance, focuses on improving health, reducing extreme poverty in the development world and improving high school education in the United States. These are all worthy goals. However, think briefly about how this model is funded. A financially solvent foundation establishes what they consider to be the most pressing, urgent problems in the world, they market the foundation, and are even able to attract individuals to donate to what are no doubt worthy causes. If local people from the developing world want to be beneficiaries, they must become part of this model. First, they are forced to conceive of their project from the perspective of the foundation (or NGO, or development agency) and, second, they either must develop quite sophisticated grant-writing skills, be lucky enough to be chosen by project administrators or have excellent contacts with the foundation. In short, not only is it exceedingly difficult to get funding if you are a grassroots organization, but if you are lucky enough to get funding, you must adhere to the “program” or development agenda of the foundation, development agency or organization.

It is important to repeat that many NGOs (including NGOs that work through USAID and other development agencies) embrace participatory, bottom-up development approaches and conduct important work in the field of development. Moreover, NGOs, like Village Earth, clearly need funding to carry out their work. The trap, as we at VE see it, is that funding model is structurally conditioned so that development, even in the best cases, is conceived, organized and implemented from the top. That is, the structures that are currently in place produce a model in which the grassroots must somehow fit into the development scheme of large development agencies or NGOs that are subcontractors or NGOs that work on single sector issues.

The paradox is that the overwhelming majority of giving comes from individuals. According to Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy, in 2009, of the $304 billion in charitable giving in the US, 75% ($227 billion) came from individuals, followed by foundations (13%), bequests (8%), and corporations (4%).3 In other words, even though individuals are by far the largest contributors (at least in terms of philanthropy) to development, most development work is funneled through large development organizations. Again, this means that NGOs, foundations and development agencies, most based in the US, are the main orchestrators of philanthropic resources. This does not mean that all single sector development work is negative, nor should it imply that individuals should refrain from giving to philanthropic organizations located in the US. However, given the structural constraints of this funding model, we argue that it is important to re-think the issue of funding for development.

At Village Earth we are engaged in the creation of an alternative funding model that is designed to crack (and eventually break through) these existing barriers and structures. The overall objective is to create a model in which people from the grassroots are able to access funding in the US (or anywhere else), without having to depend on large donors, development agencies or somebody else’s development agenda. There are two fundamental aspects to our approach:

1) While we will always continue to support grassroots actors, we are actively developing relationships with what are often called “intermediary organizations.” These are organizations, usually located in the developing world (or Global South), that work directly with grassroots actors, have years of experience, and a wealth of knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, are fully immersed in the local context. Rather than “parachuting” NGOs into a foreign country, with plenty of funding (sometimes too much) but without a deep understanding of the local context, we would rather partner with intermediary organizations that often have everything but the resources to carry out their work.

2) We are developing a comprehensive support network designed to help grassroots and intermediary organizations access the critical resources needed to carry out their mission and vision. First, we are working to help these organizations build their own individual donor base, which offers more flexibility in terms of any sort of preconceived development agenda. At Village Earth, our work on Pine Ridge and in Peru has been successful precisely because of the individual donor bases that we have been able to create to support these projects. Second, we are helping these organizations establish the fiscal and legal status to obtain funds directly from philanthropic organizations and development NGOs. This includes establishing a “fiscal sponsorship” to provide the 501(c)(3) status to utilize funds from a grant or to provide a tax-free exemption for interested individual sponsors. Third, to promote their projects and ideas and enhance their image, we are providing these organizations with training on new social media and web-based technologies. Forth, we are assisting these organizations to locate key strategic allies in the US and abroad. This includes locating social and political advocates that support their cause and legal and political experts that provide critical information on relevant issues. It also includes connecting these organizations with organizations in the US that have similar experiences or compatible interests. For example, Latin American indigenous organization might develop alliances with Native American organizations in the US that have shared experiences of colonization and marginalization.

The overarching goal is to create a network of support such that grassroots and intermediate organizations are able to effectively pursue their own development agenda and to take the leading role in their own development process. The trap of large development funding is, in reality, the lack of mechanisms in place that allow intermediate organizations to access the vast amount of resources (both financial and non-financial) that exist in the US. In fact, by not directly supporting these organizations, we are wasting some of the most precious resources that already exist in the Global South. Paradoxically, the current model also prevents individual donors from having the freedom to choose from a vast array of capable organizations with a wealth of knowledge and experience in grassroots development.

1 “Guide to USAID’s Assistance Application Process and to Submitting Unsolicited Assistance Applications.” Go to

2 Indigenous peoples, for example, have had serious conflicts with environmental organizations when indigenous and conservation interests collide. See Mac Chapin, “A Challenge to Conservationists,” World Watch, November/December 2004.

3 “Giving USA 2010: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2009, Executive Summary,” Giving USA Foundation, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Go to

Topics discussed in this post are also discussed in the following Village Earth online courses: Approaches to Community Development, & Development and the Politics of Empowerment

Help Build a Pallet House on Pine Ridge

Cob/Strawbale house built by Sustainable Homestead Designs in 2010 workshop. Click here to see more photos at SHD's website.

Village Earth’s newest grassroots affiliate on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Sustainable Homestead Designs, in collaboration with New Jura Natural Building is hosting a Pallet House Building Workshop on the Pine Ridge Reservation July 23, 2011 – August 31, 2011.

Pallet homes are inexpensive, relatively simple to build and are highly energy-efficient. Learn the specifics and intricacies of building a house start to finish using pallets! Foundation preparation/building, laying electrical, plumbing , installing windows as well as building custom doors and cabinetry will all be covered.

Walter  Yellow Hair and his wife having been living in a camping trailer on their land for the past 2 years (incl through where temps drop as far as -50). With few resources and no help, Walter has been attempting to build his own home. However, during the harsh winter his efforts were blown over by strong winds. We are excited to be building this house for such a motivated and deserving family!

The cost of the workshop is $1500.00 (includes: food, camping and instruction)

For more information about participating in or supporting this project please contact Shannon Freed at:

Home – 605-867-2259
Cell – 605-454-0315
Email: [email protected]

Click Here to support this project with a financial contribution.

About Sustainable Homestead Designs:

Sustainable Homestead Designs is to create sustainable and accessible housing and food sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in an effort to build resilience to climate change as well as improve the general standard of living in the community. Our first goal is to complete a sustainable homestead as a working model. This will serve as an example for the community in regards to what is possible. Phase two began this March and will focus on food production as well as construction of a house made from pallets.

About New Jura Natural Building:

David Reed has been a conventional building contractor for 24 years. He has spent the last six years focusing on natural building techniques and creating an intentional community in Texas. The philosophy at New Jura is simple, “Let go of all the things in life that bust your wallet!”. Everyone wants a spot where they can feel more relaxed and free and that’s what we have. Reduce, the new stuff you buy. Reuse, the stuff you already have. Recycle, the stuff that’s left.