Archives for 2012

Support Innovative Leaders and Organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation


It’s that time of year again when your mailbox gets filled with countless appeals for help and funding. I know a great many of those appeals end up in the recycle-bin so I want to thank you for making it this far and reading ours.With so many great organizations, I know it can be difficult to decide where to direct your year-end giving.  We at Village Earth believe the most effective and efficient way to support the empowerment of marginalized peoples around the globe is to support and strengthen their own local and indigenous-run organizations. This is just as true for Native American Reservations, where local grassroot organizations often struggle to find the resources needed to design and carry-out their programs.

Village Earth partners with innovative local and grassroots organizations across the Pine Ridge Reservation, connecting them with donors and resources that enhance their programs and increase their impact.

Village Earth has been working on the Pine Ridge Reservation for over a decade supporting the work of grassroots leaders and organizations. Village Earth connects you with these grassroots projects, our Global Affiliates. You share the vision, hopes and challenges of the people and communities we work with.  Please take some time to learn about these innovative grassroots programs on Pine Ridge. We hope you will become as inspired as we are and decide to contribute to them.
Buffalo HumpEarth Tipi

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation

Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Co-op

Lakota Lands Recovery Project

Medicine Horse

Wounded Knee

Thank you!
David Bartecchi


New Course on Climate Change & Community Development


We have a problem: our planet is heating up due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This is
manifesting in different ways and all around the Earth: weather patterns are changing, desertification is
expanding, sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acid, and many species are on the brink of
extinction. The levels of human-produced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased significantly
since the offset of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. The global atmospheric concentration of
CO2 increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280ppm to 379ppm in 2005 (IPCC Fourth Assessment
Report, 2007). The average global temperature rose about 0.8 °C higher than its pre-industrial level. In an
effort to mitigate climate change, economists, governments, corporations and environmentalists have
proposed, since early 1990s, the use of ‘offsetting’ mechanisms to help polluting industries to compensate
for their CO2 emissions by either expanding or protecting forests somewhere else. The idea of offsetting
industrial carbon emissions through biological carbon sequestration and storage has been fiercely debated
since it was first proposed. Many NGOs, developing country governments, and local communities oppose
the concept for a variety of reasons. Based on this idea of carbon offsetting, REDD schemes were created.
The idea of REDD was first put on the international agenda at COP 13 in Bali (2007). Some see REDD as
one of the best mechanism to help combat climate change, whereas others remain skeptical to their
efficiency and even see them as dangerous.

This is why Village Earth has begun offering a new course Climate Change and Community Development: the Impact of Carbon Offsetting Schemes.  This course will first run January 25 – March 1, 2013 with registration ending January 20.  Click the link for more information or to register.

EYC Helps Combat and Educate on Gender Inequalities

The grassroots organization Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) is best known for its four community schools in impoverished communities in Phnom Penh, and the 500+ youth they serve with free English and computer education. While running these schools stands at the core of the organization’s services, EYC also provides high school and university scholarship assistance, job placement assistance, professional development training, health services, and community organizing activities. All services work to fulfill the NGO’s vision to see empowered youth with skills and confidence to be leaders.

To further their vision, EYC was delighted to send six of their staff and students to attend a seminar on Gender and Behavior Changes facilitated by GADC (Gender and Development Cambodia), a local NGO promoting gender equality as a “basic human right necessary for Cambodia’s social, economic, and political development”.

Following their experiences and knowledge gained, these participants did their own training for EYC students on gender issues and developed a training class that was conducted over eight sessions at one of EYC’s schools, covering topics on Sex & Gender, Gender in Cambodia, Gender-based Violence, and Protection of Women’s Rights.

In the 2010 Global Gender Assessment conducted by USAID, in which the agency measured broad inequalities between women and men (Gender Gap Score), Cambodia placed 104th of 134 countries. The Gender Empowerment Measure (representing women’s political and economic participation) of the same assessment placed Cambodia 83rd of 93 countries.

The goal of this knowledge sharing initiative was to reduce gender-based violence in their communities and to encourage girls to assume more leadership roles in their schools, in addition to helping them to be more empowered and comfortable with openly discussing gender-based stereotypes and injustices.

As a result of this training class students worked together on creating a poster delivering their personal message and position against gender inequalities. Ms. Syneoun, a former student and team leader at EYC and the course’s facilitator shared, “I was thrilled to participate in the gender training. It is important to improve youth’s concept about stopping violence based on gender and value women at the community level”.

“It is encouraging to see how our students are increasingly becoming aware of wide-spread issues affecting their country and are showing initiative by taking an active role in developing their community,” said Drew McDowell, EYC’s founder and director.

EYC is currently working on replicating this training at their schools.

For more information about EYC and its services please visit their website at

WIKOSKALAKA YUWITA PI (Gathering of Young Women)

During the transition from being a girl to becoming a young woman, sometimes this can be a challenging time for young girls and their families. We would like to offer an opportunity to you to gain some Lakota traditional teachings related to becoming a young woman. We are offering a Young Women’s Gathering for up to 10 girls, ages 11-13 and their adult female guardian/parent/relative from October 19-21, 2012 in Porcupine, SD at the Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye Center.

There will be teachings, activities and healing opportunities throughout the days and will end with a ceremony called Isna Ti Awicalowan Pi (They sing for her that lives alone – a reference to the time of isolation during a girl/woman’s monthly purification time) for those girls who are going through the ceremony after having their monthly purification time (Please note: do not plan on attending if you will be on your monthly purification time during the camp as spiritual ceremonies will be taking place during the camp).

As the future women leaders of families and of our great Lakota Nation, we humbly invite you to join us. Click here to download the complete info and registration packet.

Detailed Maps of Keystone XL Pipeline

For those of us concerned about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline it can be frustrating trying to find detailed maps of the proposed routes, information critical for assessing potential impacts. Drawing on data obtained from a FOIA request, the Keystone Mapping Project has assembled an excellent mapping tool based on Google Earth’s KML format.

Map layers include:

  • Keystone XL Route
  • Milepost Markers
  • Waterbody Crossings
  • Gas Well. Within 1 mile of KXL route
  • Water Well. Within 1320 feet or 1 mile of KXL route

To view the highest resolution maps and interactive data, install the free Google Earth software and then download the Keystone Mapping Project’s KML file here.


Native Strategic Land Planning – A New Online Training Course from Village Earth

Village Earth and Colorado State University’s Online Plus is pleased to announce the launch of a new online training offering specifically developed for Native American land owners or anyone interested in learning more about Native American Land Tenure in the United States. The new course titled “Native Strategic Land Planning: Now and For Future Generations”  draws heavily from the curriculum of the same name developed by the Indian Land Working Group (ILWG). The original curriculum as well as Village Earth’s online adaptation was developed with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) based in Minnesota. Village Earth originally utilized this curriculum in 2008 during a series of Strategic Land Planning Workshops we hosted across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as part of a grant from the ILTF during which we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book. Just this year, Village Earth and ILTF launched a new, enhanced mapping resource for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS), a free web-based mapping tool that gives Oglala Lakota Tribal members access to information about their lands. The online training takes advantage of the PRLIS as well as other online mapping tools not available when the ILWG curriculum was originally developed. We also hope that this new format makes this valuable training more accessible to Native American land owners across the United States.

This online training lasts 5-Weeks. The next session of this course will take place January 18th – February 22nd, 2013. Registration Deadline is January 14th.

For more information please contact David Bartecchi [email protected]

Update from Earth Tipi

It’s been a long hot and very dry summer in South Dakota. Despite temperatures reaching over 100 degrees F and no rain, we grew some wonderful produce in our garden. Onions, parsley, collard greens and eggplants were bountiful while other choice veggies have been in sufficient supply but could have been better. Our main focus however, has been our light straw clay, home/office project. Construction began on June 15 and has been going non stop since then. A number of short visits from large groups made the project possible. While at times we have struggled just to keep things going with one to three of us, the days when we had groups of 5,10 and even up to 35 people (for 4 days) kept the pace manageable. One of the hard things about a project like this is to match up labor with critical points in construction. One phase is dependent on the next being completed. This week for example we are pressed to finish packing the walls with straw and clay so that when help arrives on Monday (Sept 17) we can start installing the roof!

We are still short funds for this project. If you would like to make a contribution please click here

Update from Living Roots

Written by McKenzie Campbell, Founder and Director of Living Roots

Living Roots, Baja California Sur, Mexico, based non-profit is working to: Help endangered cultures protect their unique cultural identity by increasing economic opportunity and kindling a generation of youth as stewards.

We are excited to announce the roof is up on a Cultural Center/Marketplace in the mountain community of San Javier, which is the oldest continuously cultivated mission orchard in the Californias, rich with grape vines, pomegranates, dates and several of the oldest olive trees in the Americas. Throughout the summer, the community has come together to build adobe walls, a thatch roof and stone floor in the traditional way. The space will be an exhibition of San Javier history and culture, a store for regionally-made artisan food and craft and a tourism hub for visitors interested in mule rides, interpretative medicinal plant walks, rock art etc.

 We have been working with the community of San Javier and the surrounding ranches since June 2010, when the community identified the desire to protect their unique, self-reliant culture while developing a direct connection with a market for traditionally Baja sierra-made products and rural tourism. Through helping the community incubate a regional marketing association, Raices Vivas San Javier, and facilitating the collaboration of the municipal and state governments and the foreign resident community in Loreto, Living Roots has helped turn San Javier’s vision into a reality with the creation of the Cultural Center/Marketplace. With Living Roots assistance, the Raíces Vivas Marketing Association, primarily governed by women, has set the goal of forming as a legal entity by May 2013, with the hope of fully taking over fiscal and administrative reasonability for their community driven enterprise.

 We have also been pleased with the success of their youth programing this year. As part a series of Sierra Heritage Skills workshops with the aim of inviting local master craftsmen into the school system to re-teach traditional skills, Living Roots organized a several month Leather Work course. Students learned from tanning to making small bags and wallets how the unique regional leatherwork has been made for generations.

We are excited about this opportunity, secondary school students and teachers alike were eager to explore more ways to learn from local experts. Their enthusiasm has led to the creation of a “Jóvenes Documentalists” program which will launch this fall. This year long program will begin by professional training for youth in how to use cameras and audio equipment to capture the stories and know-how of the elder generation. Teams of students will then hike and ride to remote ranches, learning how to identify useful plants and the essential skills of traveling through their arid back yard landscape, and arriving to interview and learn from these local legends. Older ranchers are thrilled with the idea of being able to tell their stories and impart their knowledge before it is too late.

For more information, to get involved or to make a donation to Living Roots, please to go our website: or follow us on facebook Living Roots/ Raíces Vivas.

Kari-Oca II, the Indigenous People’s Conference at Rio +20

Written by Luminita Cuna, director of Maloca, who participated in the Kari-Oca II conference.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly known as Rio +20, was one of the major international events of 2012. Over 100 Heads of States and Governments along with 45,000 participants attended this event which was supposed to nail an agreement on “the future we want” (the motto of the conference). The conference created big hopes and delivered very little, as opposed to Rio 92 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where important and policy-changing agreements were drafted and signed.

Civil society had a strong participation in Rio+20, and one special event part of the UNCSD was the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Territories, Rights and Sustainable Development, also known as Kari-Oca II. This conference was organized by the Inter Tribal Committee of Brazil (Comitê Intertribal de Memória e Ciência Indígena) with the help and support of other organizations and agencies. The event welcomed more than 400 Indigenous Peoples from all over the world. Its precursor was the Kari-Oca I conference, which took place in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio (UNCED).

Kari-Oca II took place June 13-22 in Rio de Janeiro. The 10 days were filled with activities from morning till night: meetings of the Indigenous Peoples where pressing issues were discussed, from the Belo Monte dam, to carbon credits and land grabs. There were daily work sessions to draft the declaration that would be the outcome of the conference, trips to the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice during Rio+20, and the “Green Games”: cultural demonstrations and sports competitions open to the general public, in an effort to familiarize as many people as possible with the richness and beauty of indigenous cultures in across the globe.

The venue of Kari-Oca II was the “Kari-Oca village”, located on the Fiorcruz campus in the north-western part of Rio, the same sit of the Kari-Oca I conference. Some of the participants were leaders and organizers of the Kari-Oca I conference, 20 years ago. About 20 members of the Kamayura people arrived from their home in Xingu 2 weeks earlier to build two traditional ocas (longhouses) next to the arena where the Green Games unfolded. An electronic longhouse (Oca Electronica) was equipped with computers and internet connection and kept all participants linked to the rest of the world. On the main front patio, a beautiful Oca da Sabeduria (Wisdom Longhouse) held daily debates on environment, rights of indigenous peoples and Mother Earth, and other ardent issues. The Kari-Oca village was visited by government officials, and other important figures, some of the most notable ones being chief Raoni, and the princess of Kuwait. Indigenous People from Brazil that attended Kari-Oca took 3 or 4-day trips by boat, by truck, by bus, to join hundreds of their brothers and sisters from abroad. The Kari-Oca Caravan brought 54 leaders from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who travelled 9 days by bus across 5 countries, to join forces with Kari-Oca II participants.

The event was opened by a spiritual ceremony and the lighting up of the sacred fire, and it culminated with the signing of Kari-Oca II Declaration (read it here), followed by an impressive march of more than 400 indigenous people to Rio+20 site. Marcos Terena, one of the organizers and a prominent indigenous leader, walked into the Rio+20 conference and delivered the declaration to the UN Director for Sustainable Development Nikhil Seth, and Gilberto Carvalho, the Chief Minister to the Presidency of Brazil. The Declaration contains the Indigenous Peoples demands and recommendations for sustainable development and protection of the environment. It criticizes the “green economy” promoted strongly at Rio+20, stating that Indigenous Peoples are against the commodifying of nature, calling it the “capitalism of nature”. It decries the violation of the Indigenous Peoples rights to self determination, land, territories, resources, and to self-determined development. It criticizes unsustainable agricultural projects (chemically treated soya plantations), big infrastructure projects (hydroelectric dams), extractive industries , all which are a threat to the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples by poisoning and destroying their lands, besides contributing to climate change. The declaration demands respect for and protection of Mother Earth, lamenting the “continued economic colonization and degradation of Mother Earth and all life upon her”. It asks the UN and governments to stop looking for false solutions which will only further destroy Mother Earth, and demands the participation of Indigenous Peoples in decision making processes and the respect of their right to free prior and informed consent.

The event showed the important role that Indigenous People play in the big picture of sustainable development, demonstrated their capabilities of organizing themselves and delivering solutions to acute environmental, social and economic problems the world is facing right now.

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Globally, tourism initiatives receive considerable public funding and private investment as a means of economically developing low-income communities. NGOs are taking on a growing role in local tourism initiatives, as well as voluntourism, in hopes of injecting capital into the communities where they work. Amongst proponents, tourism is seen as a mechanism for local communities to capitalize on assets such as the natural environment and cultural heritage. Yet critiques often note that tourism can be destructive, elite and at times oppressive. In light of this critical lens, this course will explore both successful and problematic tourism initiatives. The course will critically examine the nature of tourism, its impacts on communities and considerations that must be taken into account in order for a tourism project to have the desired impact of development without destroying.  The course is now registering through October 14.  Click the link for more information or to register:

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Hosts Children’s Camps on Pine Ridge

The most natural place for a young Lakota boy to be – on the back of the Sunka Wakan (horse)!

By Ethleen Iron Cloud

The summer has been extremely busy with two cultural spiritual camps that were held in June and July and a children’s cultural camp that was held in July also. Two young men went through the Wicasa Ihuni (Becoming a Man) ceremony at the first part of June. The purpose of the ceremony is for the young men to receive traditional teachings on becoming a man and more specifically, becoming a Lakota man. The young men go through four consecutive nights of Inipi (purification lodge ceremony) with other men who provide teachings, guidance and assist with the preparation for the buffalo hunt they do on the fifth day. During the preparation period, they are asked to make relatives with the spirit of the buffalo they are going to kill so that there will be a spiritual bond between them. The buffalo provides nourishment; sustenance and spiritual teachings for the young man to emulate and these teachings are intended to provide a path for the young man. For example, the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation0 protect their young by placing them in the middle of the herd when danger is imminent. Likewise, the young man is taught that when he has children, he must protect them at all costs. This is a very important teaching given contemporary times and situations where the father is absent is too common.

Covering the Arbor with pine boughs, a neighbor donated the pine boughs from his arbor, so we didn’t have to cut or kill any more trees! The arbor is where some activities took place and where the naming ceremony for the children took place.

The children’s camp was a great success! There were 22 children and their parent/guardians for a total of 45 people participating in the camp on July 17-20, 2012. The children’s camp focused on the ages of 7-10 and those who experienced grief, trauma and major loss. 19 of the children experienced the “wopakinte” (spiritual purification) by Elders, the intent of the ceremony is to provide an opportunity for the children‘s spirit to be wiped with sage which represents medicine for the spiritual wound they carry from the trauma, grief and loss they experienced. The Lakota belief is that only sage and eagle feathers can wipe away the spiritual residue left from the trauma; in this case sage was used. 9 children received a Lakota spirit name which is an important milestone in their lives as the Lakota people believe that the Lakota spiritual name anchors one more solidly to the earth and strengthens the cultural and personal identity. Another healing activity for them was the horseback riding provided by Bamm Brewer who did an excellent presentation and was very patient and kind while teaching the children who did not know how to ride. It was extremely hot during the camp, the temperature exceeded 100 degrees every day. Thankfully, there was a swimming pool for the children and one day Dr. Mark Butterbrodt treated them to the water slides in Rapid City. This camp would not have been possible without the prayers and hard work by all the volunteers as well as the people who donated to this camp. Lila Wopila Tanka (thank you very much)!! The children and their parent/guardian wrote such beautiful words about the camp and that they hope there will be another; one little girl said she had prayed for a camp where “ we sleep in tipis, where everyone loved each other, where we had good food , ride horses and where we went swimming and my prayers were answered”. She seemed amazed that her prayers were answered; her mother commented that the camp was a blessing for her family. It is hoped that we can offer another opportunity like this; we received a request from a neighboring Tribe to have a similar camp for their community. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to offer such a camp on a regular basis. The ideal situation would be to offer a camp like this on a quarterly basis so that the children can stay connected to an important resource. With the suicide attempts and completions among our young people (there were 2 completed suicides of young men, both age 22 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the first two weeks of August!); a regular and ongoing camp would be an important suicide prevention resource.

Setting up the tipis. Each tipi pole represents a Lakota value or virtue and the cover represents the womb of our mother.

One of the Tipis that the campers stayed in. Ti Ikciye is the proper Lakota term for tipi

The adults participating in the camp also benefited, they participated in Talking Circles, participated in the Inipi (purification lodge) ceremony with their children and had Dr. Larry Burke share his Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) approach with them as a response to depression, diabetes management and obesity prevention/intervention. Hmuya Mani (Richard Two Dogs), Lakota Traditional Healer, provided immeasurable help not only in conducting the spiritual ceremonies for the children but he and Tony Bush, a local Porcupine community member and Vietnam Veteran made sure the arbor was covered with pine boughs. Gene Kolaczkowski, Psychotherapist from Gunderson Lutheran in Wisconsin provided great therapeutic activities for the children and Dr. Elizabeth Warson from George Washington University brought some Art students and did art therapy with the children. The volunteers were exceptional – Gina Good Crow, Susan Hawk, Savannah Jensen, Tamara Red Owl, Johnnie Big Crow, Dawn Frank, Jolene Martin, Wilma Kills In Water, Bev Tuttle, Mary Iron Cloud, Santee Baird, Chris Valandra, Brice Valandra, Elder Isaac Last Horse, Stella Iron Cloud, Laura Wilcox, Cindy Giago, Forrest Calhoun, Eugene Giago Jr., Bamm Brewer, Mark Butterbrodt, Yamni Frank, Ed Iron Cloud, Eileen Iron Cloud, Ramona White Plume, Tilda Long Soldier , Elizabeth, the Art Students, Uma, Peter, Gene, Larry and the ladies and gentleman from Gunderson Lutheran who helped with the sewing of the Inipi dresses for the little girls – all truly amazing in their caring and hard work!. I hope I did not forget anyone! All in all, it was a great experience for many; this quote from one of the volunteers says it all:

I will never forget this experience. All of the children were/are so special and unique in their own little way. I saw them experience unconditional love from family, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and Community Members. I also saw that for the children whom did not have a sense of identity, they left with a stronger sense of self and who and where they come from.”  

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 Future Events

We hope to start the fencing of the additional pasture so that the buffalo will have more land to graze and roam; and so that the current pasture does not get overgrazed. We hope to be working with Wild Idea Buffalo and their affiliates on this project. 7-8 miles need to be fenced and it will take about a mile a week to complete so the entire project should take about 7-8 weeks. We are also planning an Ista mni Wicakici Pakinta Pi (Wiping of Tears) ceremony for the Porcupine community on Saturday, September 1, 2012. There have been many deaths in the community over the past year and this ceremony is a way to acknowledge the loss, provide comfort through prayer, song, words of encouragement and food. The Lakota belief is that this signifies a way to strengthen fellow community members as they adjust to the absence of their loved one but does not mean it is the end of the mourning period or grieving. Traditionally, Lakota people have a dinner and giveaway upon the one year anniversary of their loved one’s passing. The Wiping of Tears ceremony is the Lakota way of saying “we know you are hurting, here are some encouraging words, food and prayers to help you on your journey without your loved one here on earth”.


Wopila (thank you) to all the people who have contributed to Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization, your generosity is most appreciated and have made it possible to continue with our work!

Monitoring Tribal Lands With Landsat : A Tool for Community-Based Conservation

In this brief article, we will discuss potential for using freely available Landsat imagery to assess and monitor reservation lands. We also provide step-by-step instructions as well as links to instructional videos on their use. We present this problem/solution in the context of Native North American’s but the same principles apply to anyone or any group interested in assessing and monitoring natural resources at low cost.

Above: Landsat imagery is updated monthly and can be downloaded for free from the USGS.

Monitoring Natural Resources on Native American Reservations

Today, the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) holds 56.2 million acres of lands in trust for various Indian tribes and individuals. Approximately 46 million acres (81%) of this land is used for farming and grazing by livestock and game animals, yet Native American’s have not been the primary beneficiaries of these resources. According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, more than two-thirds of the farms and ranches on the Reservation lands, approximately 9 million acres, are leased by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to non-natives. 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 their 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,” and dramatically increased the number of leases issued across the country (Source: LLRP).

These policies have meant that the Indian landowners across the country have been separated from their allotted lands, in many cases, for generations. In fact, many Tribal land owners know very little about their lands; where they are located, how they are being used, who they share ownership with, etc. This has had devastating impacts on the ability of landowners to manage and benefit from their land-based resources – economically or culturally. Furthermore, the combination of fractionated land ownership, indirect management of short-term leases by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and insufficient monitoring and enforcement of the terms of leases has created a veritable tragedy of the commons where the lessees are able to over exploit tribal lands with little if any consequence. At a recent 2011 Working Session for Bureau of Indian Affairs Employees participants noted “that some trespassers run their cattle for months for free, “stealing the asset,” before a BIA agent notices.” Tribal members often accuse the BIA of failing to protect their lands, according to one resident of the Pine Ridge Reservation, quoted in Stromberg (2010), “The Bureau of Indian Affairs allowed a rancher to seriously overgraze that land. We got out there, there was nothing but cow poop, barren land. There was no grass, no wildlife, nothing. And we signed an affidavit, a complaint against him, and about 2 weeks later…he lost his lease.”

Despite the fact that the BIA manages the leasing of Indian Lands, the agency is not a party to the lease and thus leave it up to the Native landowners and Tribal Governments to monitor lessees. This responsibility was affirmed through the American Indian Agriculture Resource Management Act of 1993 which “provide[s] for the establishment of a viable system for the management and administration of Indian owned agricultural lands; to enhance the capability of Indian ranchers and farmers to produce crops and products from such lands; to affirm the authority of the Indian tribal governments in the management and regulation of Indian agricultural lands; and to enhance the educational opportunities for Indian students in the management of Indian natural resources.” Yet, despite this authority, many tribes and Individual Indian landowners lack sufficient resources to adequately monitor their lands and the BIA leasing system. According to the Indian Land Working Group:

“Over the past 100 years, the government has implemented their “highest and best use” management policy by leasing Indian Land to non-Indians. This continues today, as is evidenced by the fact that of the 9 million acres of trust land classified as agricultural, 6 million is leased to non-Indians. A leasing cartel has been created because Indian landowners have had limited access to information and resources necessary to use and manage allotted trust lands.” (Excerpt from the ILWG Native Strategic Land Planning Workbook, 2005).

In recent years, advances in open source geographic information system (GIS) software and low-cost remote sensing now make it possible for Tribes and Individual Indian Landowners to monitor leasing on their lands more effectively and at lower cost. This document provides a brief overview of these tools, how they might be utilized to empower Indian landowners, as well as step-by-step instructions.

Monitoring Land Use on Native American Reservation Using LANDSAT Satellite Technology

The Landsat program is a series of earth orbiting satellites developed and maintained by the United States Government to collect high resolution imagery of the earth for use by scientists, government and industry. The Landsat program has been in operation since 1972 creating one of the largest and most accessible satellite archives in the world with new images updated approximately every month. In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey opened up this archive, making it free of charge to the public on the website

Landsat images have an advantage over conventional aerial or satellite photographs because the images can be broken into their respective spectral bands of light (some not even visible to the human eye). Adjusting these bands can highlight light reflected from different types of vegetation, geology, and moisture (see below). This makes it possible to very quickly identify areas of concern and compare images across time. 

Band Combination 7,4,2. Healthy vegetation will be a bright green and can saturate in seasons of heavy growth, grasslands will appear green, pink areas represent barren soil, oranges and browns represent sparsely vegetated areas.Dry vegetation will be orange and water will be blue. Sands, soils and minerals are highlighted in a multitude of colors

Band Combination 4,5,1. Healthy vegetation appears in shades of reds, browns, oranges and yellows. Soils may be in greens and browns, urban features are white, cyan and gray, bright blue areas represent recently clearcut areas and reddish areas show new vegetation growth, probably sparse grasslands. Source:

Landsat can be a powerful tool for tribal natural resource programs, land and realty offices, environmental protection programs and advocates for the protection of tribal natural resources.

Possible uses include:

  • Identify potential overgrazing on rangelands.
  • Determine if and when agriculture fields are plowed and/or harvested.
  • Map the boundaries of prairie dog colonies
  • Monitor the incursion of invasive species.
  • Monitor forests for illegal logging
  • Monitor the effects of drought
  • Planning for land use management and zoning.
  • Monitor erosion and desertification

Accessing and using Landsat Images

Landsat images can be accessed and utilized by anyone with a computer and internet connection. This tutorial will explain procedures for locating and accessing Landsat imagery using nothing more than a web browser to more advanced procedures using a Geographic Information System (GIS).

 A. Locating Landsat Images for Your Region sidebar search tools

LANDSAT satellites circles the earth from the North Pole to the South Pole every 103 minutes continuously collecting images along the way. It captures the Earth from East to West as as the earth rotates beneath it. To see a live feed of from the Landsat 8 satellite go to Each Landsat images covers a region of approximately 113 x 115 miles on the ground. Images are indexed by their geographic coordinates or by its specific “Path” and “Row” number. To find the path and row for a specific region you can enter the geographic coordinates for a certain place into the “Lat/Long” search boxes at Using geographic coordinates is a more accurate method of finding a specific location.

If you don’t know the geographic coordinates for your location, you can look in the gazetteer of almost any atlas. If your town or feature does not appear in your atlas, look for the coordinates of a large city in close proximity to your site and use its coordinates. The U.S. Census Bureau offers an online U.S. Gazetteer for locations within the United States. When you enter geographic coordinates into Glovis, remember locations in the southern hemisphere need to have a minus sign in front of their latitude and locations in the western hemisphere need a minus sign in front of their longitude.

You can also locate imagery by clicking your mouse on the desired location on the map just above the Path/Row search boxes. However, the map is very small which makes it difficult to locate a specific location. You can use the arrows to move to adjacent images. Once you have identified the right path and row, write it down for future reference.

You can filter your results by date, image type and the maximum amount of cloud cover (using the “Max Cloud” dropdown).

B. Accessing LandsatLook Images

The easiest way to access Landsat imagery is by downloading LandsatLook Images. LandsatLook images are full resolution ready-made Landsat images in JPEG format. LandsatLook images are very useful if you want a full-resolution image, but do not want to download the full data set and make a composite RGB image yourself. To get started, you first need to create a free account on You can do so here:

  1. To download the LandsatLook image make sure the image that you want is selected within the yellow highlighted box then find and click Add at the lower left hand corner of the window.
  2. Next click Send to Cart. This will pop-up a new window with the scene info, to continue downloading click the green arrow hard drive graphic. Another pop-up will appear with some selections, if all you require is a natural color image (one that looks like you might take it from a simple camera out in space), select the LandsatLook “Natural Color” Image.
  3. Select Download Option (this options gives you a pseudo-natural color image using TM/ETM+ bands 5, 4, and 3 or MSS bands 2, 4, 1, all less than 12 Mb). See Below. The image can be viewed in a standard web browser or basic photo or graphics program.

Below is a video tutorial on how to download and view LandsatLook images using the free Quantum GIS software. 

C. Georeferenced Landsat Images

Identifying specific locations within a standard LandsatLook image can be difficult because it lacks labels and because of its low resolution it makes it difficult to identify features like roads and towns. This is one reason it helpful to view these images using a geographic information system (GIS) where you can add layers on top of the Landsat Image like roads, towns, rivers, etc. This next section will discuss how to open and process Landsat images using the freely available Quantum GIS and the more common but relatively expensive ArcMap by ESRI. Landsat images can also be viewed in the free but much more limited ArcGIS Explorer.

Georefencing is a process where information about the geographic location of the image is included with image. When you open a georeferenced image in a Geographic Information System (GIS) program, that image, like a puzzle piece, is automatically positioned at the correct geographic location relative to other images and layers like roads, towns, etc.

Opening Georefenced Landsat Images using Quantum GIS

Quantum GIS (QGIS) is powerful but user-friendly GIS software that runs on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, and Unix. QGIS is freely available and open source with an extensive user and developer community. To download the latest version of QGIS go to Once installed, make sure the GDAL and GRASS plugins are activated using the plugin manager found under the Plugins menu: Plugins> Manage Plugins> (Check the boxes to select plugins or use Select All).

Here we will show you how to view Landsat TM4-5 and Landsat ETM SLC and SLC-off images. Note that SLC-off images are images produced after a device called the “Scan Line Corrector” malfunctioned which leaves lines of blank data across each image. It is possible to correct these images using data from adjacent pixels and/or other dates but for sake if simplicity, it is recommended that you stick to using the Landsat TM4-5 images.

To acquire the images, use the procedure above but instead of downloading the LandsatLook images, you’ll want to select “Level 1 Product Geotiff. This will be a rather large file, approximately 170 Mb. Note: The file will appear with a name something similar to “LE70330342003106EDC00.tar.gz.” The file will come in a compressed folder. To decompress it, you’ll need to a free file decompression software such as WinZip. The decompressed folder will contain several separate files, including 7 separate “TIF” files. Each of the 7 files represents a different band of light. They can be viewed individually as grey-scale images or composited into a single image. Compositing makes it easier to analyze and compare images by comparing differences in composited colors. Below is a brief silent tutorial on how to use the free QGIS software to composite, display and change the color bands of Landsat TM images.

Below is a video tutorial on how to download, process and view Landsat GeoTiff images using the free Quantum GIS Software.

Below is a video tutorial on how to download, process and view Landsat GeoTiff images using ESRI’s ArcMap 10. 

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding this tutorial, please contact David Bartecchi

This article was made possible by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.

Learning About Our Lands: A Lesson Plan for Youth on The Pine Ridge Reservation

The Pine Ridge Land Information System is a free web-based land information resource for the Pine Ridge Reservation.

This lesson plan, designed for middle and high-school students living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, provides teachers with ideas and procedures for engaging students in learning about their lands using the free web-based Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS). The PRLIS, developed by Village Earth and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land office with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, is an easy to use tool for Lakota land owners to access information about their lands and resources.

The PRLIS makes it possible for anyone with an internet connection to:

  • Search for individually allotted and Tribal owned trust lands using the Tract ID.
  • See a map of the individual 1887 Allotments
  • View, print and share a web link for the boundaries of specific land tracts.
  • View Pine Ridge lands with various base layers including Google and Bing aerial photography, Google and Bing roads, Google and Bing Hybrid, and terrain.
  • View a Landsat TM Image which can be used to assess the management and of lands on Pine Ridge.
  • View a map of the Range Units that are leased across Pine Ridge.
  • View the  Boundaries of the Reservation as defined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties.

While this lesson plan can be taught on its own, it is recommended that it be used to complement the free “Lessons of Our Land” curriculum developed by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, which focuses more on the history, culture and current issues pertaining to Indian land. Note: This lesson plan encourages students to research their family’s lands on Pine Ridge. However, for privacy reasons, students should not be required to make information about their family’s land available to the teacher or other students. If students or parents are uncomfortable with this then teachers can assign allotment names and tract ID numbers from the PRLIS for students to use for these assignments so they can still learn how to use the PRLIS.  Later, if they choose, they can use this procedure to research their family’s lands.  


  • Enhanced appreciation for the knowledge held by their elders.
  • Greater sense of hope for one-day being able utilize their lands.
  • Enhanced confidence when talking about their rights and resources.


  • Greater knowledge about lands allotted to their ancestors, the history of those lands, the interests that may or may not remain today and how they are currently being used.
  • Collect oral histories from elders in their family to identify the original allottees and the histories of their lands.
  • Locate and print a map of the original allotments using the Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS)
  • Learn how to request and read a Trust Interest Report
  • Learn how to search for their lands on the PRLIS using the Tract ID numbers located on their Interest Report.
  • Print-out maps of their family’s original allotment and current land holdings.
  • Use the PRLIS to identify how their lands are being used.
  • Go and see their lands in-person to confirm land-use.
  • Understand their rights for accessing and utilizing the lands.
  • Request a chain of title report from the BIA.


Begin with a brief introductory discussion about reservation lands. Below is a sample discussion but feel free to create your own questions? The purpose is to focus attention and engage the students in the topic and issues.

Opening: “Today, we are going to start some exercises that will help us gain a better understanding of our lands here on the Pine Ridge Reservation and introduce us to some tools that will enable us to locate and print out maps of those lands.” However, I would like to learn a more about what you already know when it comes to our lands.

Question 1: “Please raise your hand if your family has an interest in some land here on the reservation?” “How many students don’t know if your family has lands or not?”

Question 2: “Those of you who know you have land, does anyone know where your family’s land is located and what it is being used for?”

Question 3: “Does anyone know what law back in 1887 divided our lands into allotments?” Answer: The General Allotment Act (GAA) also known as the Dawes Severalty Act.

Closing: Over the next couple of weeks, we will learn more about the Dawes Act and the history of the lands that were allotted to our families.

Lesson 1: Researching Our Original Allotments

For this exercise students will research the names of their ancestors who were originally allotted lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They will then use the PRLIS to locate and print-out a map of their original allotments.

  1. Instruct students to talk to family members to create a family tree to identify who in their family were originally allotted land under the GAA. Students should do this even if their family doesn’t have any remaining interests of land on the Reservation.  Students should also ask their relatives where the original allotments were located. An approximate  location (“out near Slim Buttes” or “by Wanblee”) is sufficient. Depending on the grade level, they could either return this information as a simple list or formatted written report.
  2. In the computer lab, show students how to use the PRLIS to locate their family’s original allotments.
  3. Go to
  4. Turn on the Original Allotments layer under the “Historical Maps” folder. Note: The layer is only visible when zoomed in at 1:217K or higher.
  5. Have students search the map until they find their family’s allotments. Once found, have them print-out a map using the print button on the PRLIS.

 Discussion Questions

Question 1: Ask students to raise their hands if they were able to locate their family’s original allotments (or one assigned to them).

Question 2: How many of you already knew where these lands were located?

Question 3: How does if feel to see a map of these lands, maybe for the first time?

Question 4: What questions does this raise for you about these lands? (The teacher doesn’t have to know the answer but write these down as possible class research projects).

Future Research Projects

Lesson 2: Researching Our Existing Lands

In this exercise we will learn how to read a Individual Trust Interest ITI Report, locate the Tract ID #’s for our lands, the interest we own in a particular tract of land and then locate them using the PRLIS.

  1. Teachers should download a sample ITI Report from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation’s website at If teachers have access to a LCD projector they can display the report as well as the dynamic pop-up descriptions for each section of the report.
  2. Teachers should walk students through each section of the ITI report. (It’s recommended that teachers familiarize themselves with this document prior presenting it in class).
  3. Pass out copies of the ITI Report in class and have students circle where the Tract ID # is located, where to find the size in acres of that tract, and how to calculate the total number of acres they are allotted using the “FRACTION OF TRACT AS ACQUIRED” (Example: 1/90 x 160 acres = 1.7 acres).
  4. Invite students to request a copy of their ITI Report from their relatives. If their relatives don’t have a copy of their report, they can request one for free from the Office of Special Trustee Toll free (888) 678-6836. Note: The report usually takes 1 to 2 weeks to be delivered.
  5. If students are unable or unwilling to provide a report, teachers should assign tract ID number to them.
  6. In the computer lab, have students search for their Tract ID’s in the PRLIS. Be sure that the “Parcels” layers is turned on. Note: Parcels layer is only visible when zoomed-in at 1:54k or higher. Once found, have them print-out a map using the print button on the PRLIS.
  7. Ask students to report on how the lands are currently being used. The PRLIS provides other layers for researching this. For more information go to

Question 1: Ask students to raise their hands if they were able to locate their family’s current interests (or one assigned to them).

Question 2: How many of you already knew where these lands were located?

Question 3: How many of you are currently living on or utilizing one or more of these lands?

Question 3: How does if feel to see a map of these lands, maybe for the first time?

Question 4: What questions does this raise for you about these lands? (The teacher doesn’t have to know the answer but write these down as possible class research projects).

Future Research Projects

Students can learn about the various options for their lands in the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book at


Making Reservation GIS Information Accessible With Map Books

Today, of the total 56 million acres of Native American lands in the United States, nearly 11 million acres are held in trust for individuals. However, very few of the nearly 300,000 land owners directly utilize or manage their lands. In fact, most of these lands are being leased-out by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to non-native farmers and ranchers, oftentimes for a fraction of their fair market value. This is the outcome of a century of racist and exclusionary policies designed to alienate Native American land owners from their lands to make them available to white farmers and ranchers. These policies have also created a severe problem of undivided ownership and fractionation across Indian County, creating a massive barrier for Native American land owners wanting reclaim and utilize their lands. For example it is common for Native American land owners to own undivided interests in dozens of tracts of land with hundreds of different land owners in each tract. In order to utilize their lands they are required to get the permission from at least 51% of the land owners. The US Government’s solution to this problem is to buy up individual interests, lease them out for a period of time to recoup the purchase price and then transfer them to the ownership of the respective Tribal Government. However, the Federal government provides no resources or support for individual land owners seeking to make their lands viable again by consolidating their fractionated interests on their own. The situation is so dire that many feel their only option is to sell their lands.

Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book

Since 2003, Village Earth has been working alongside individual Native American landowners providing technical support, information and resources to reclaim and utilize their lands. We have learned that one of the biggest obstacles for Native American land owners is accessing information about their lands and the various tools and resources available to them. In an attempt to remedy this situation on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and with support form the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book. The idea was pretty simple, create a low-cost resource where individual land owners on Pine Ridge could easily locate their lands. Like at atlas, the map book breaks a high-resolution map of the reservation into a series of tiles, each page represents a tile. The individual parcels or tracts of land on Pine Ridge are listed in the back in a numerical index listed with its corresponding page number. The book also includes a glossary of land-related terms, sample forms, and detailed instructions. A map book like this can be printed on a standard copier or distributed via the web in PDF format which is much cheaper than plat map of the same resolution.



Grid for the Pine Ridge Reservation generated in ArcMap 9 using the DS Mapbook. Note that the Grid starts numbering at 32. In this example, the map pages did not begin until page 32 of the book. DS Mapbook let’s you specify the start number. This example uses a scale of 1:80528

Below is a video tutorial on how to create map books using the Data Driven Pages tool in ArcMap 10.

Here’s an overview of how to create mapbooks using the DS Mapbook Plugin for ArcMap 9.0

Here’s an overview of how to create mapbooks using the EasyPrint Plugin for Quantum GIS.

If you have further questions or would like assistance creating a map book for your lands, contact David Bartecchi or by phone at 970-237-3002 Ext. 504

Village Earth Makes Allotment Map Accessible to Residents of Pine Ridge Allotment map is visible in the PRLIS at a map scale of 1:217K zoom or higher.

Today, Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project (LLRP) with support from the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office added a map of the original 1887 Dawes Act allotments for the Pine Ridge Reservation to its online mapping system, the Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS). The map contains the original allotments along with the names of the original allottees as well as hand drawn notes and color-coding to designate different classes of lands. Until now, this information was not available to members of the tribe and over the years, many people have asked us to try get this information for them so they can can begin to reconstruct the history of their lands, especially lands liquidated by the Federal Government through a process known as forced fee patenting. The creation and issuing of allotments began on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1904, under Executive Order of July 29, 1904 and continued until 1923. During this period, government officials carved up the Reservation into parcels and issued them to Lakota families.

After the period of European settlement in North America between 1492-1887, Native Americans were left with reservations consisting of only 150 million acres. Recognized through treaties as sovereign nations, these lands were largely undivided and communally managed, a practice considered by the U.S. Government to be a non-productive and irrational use of resources. The Government’s solution was the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act. The act partitioned reservation lands into 160 acre parcels for each head of family, 80 acre parcels to orphans, and 40 acres parcels to each child. After all the allotments were issued, the remaining reservation lands in the West was transferred to the Government who then made it available to white settlers free of charge as part of the Homestead Act. This amounted to a loss of over 60,000,000 acres, nearly 2/3rds of all Indian lands. Beyond the significant loss of lands, the GAA also created several challenges for the use and inheritance of the remaining lands that would have profound implications for future generations of Native Americans.

  • It broke apart communally managed lands into individually owned parcels, destroying the ability of many communities to be self sufficient on already limited and marginal lands.
  • It disrupted traditional residency patterns, forcing people to live on allotments sometimes far from their relatives, eroding traditional kinship practices across many reservations.
  • It destroyed communal control of lands, making it easier for private and government interests to gain access to the vast coal, oil, natural gas, agricultural, and grazing resources on Native American Reservations.
  • The GAA  never established an adequate system for how lands would be transfered from generation to generation. Since the practice of creating a Last Will and Testament before death was not common and in some cases was outright offensive to the traditional inheritance practices of some Native American cultures, these lands passed from one generation to the next without clear divisions of who owned what. Today, lands have become so fractionated that it is common to have several hundred or even thousands of landowners on one piece land. This has created a severe obstacle today for individuals and families wanting to utilize their lands as they need to get permission from the other land owners on decisions related to the land. With limited resources to deal with this situation, the only option for most families is to lease their undivided fractionated lands out – often times to non-natives.
  • Forced Fee Patenting, introduced with the 1906 Burke Act, amended the GAA to give the secretary of the interior the power to issue Indian Allottees determined to be “competent,” fee patents making their lands subject to taxation and sale. In other words, the government privatized indigenous lands. It as widely understood by government officials that lands, privatized under the Burke Act, would soon be liquidated. In 1922 the Government superintendent of the Pine Ride Reservation noted: “Careful observation of the results on the Pine Ridge reservation show that less than five percent of the Indians who receive patents retain their lands.” According to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, between 1997 and 1934, nearly 27,000,000 acres of land was lost as a result of privatization.
  • Indian Allottees determined to be “incompetent, ” under the Burke Act, were not allowed to live on or utilize their allotment, instead it was leased out by the Federal Government to oil, timber, mineral, and grazing interests. In many cases, Allottees did not even receive the income from the leases. This practice was so widespread that a 1915 Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Pine Ridge Agency, nearly 56% of its residents were deemed “incompetent.” The longterm affect of this practice was how it physically and psychologically alienated Indian Allottees from their lands. For example many families today own land but have never lived on it, used it, or oftentimes, even know where it is located.

Names of original allottees and hand-written notes visible on the new layer.

The various economic, social, and cultural disruptions created by the these acts over the last century is an underlying cause of poverty on many Native American Reservations today, negatively impacting housing construction, economic development, residency patterns, family and community cohesion, ecological health, cultural self-determination, and political sovereignty.
The original maps were part of a map-book from the early 1900’s that was used to track and record allotment information. The book contained approximately 150 pages with each page of the book representing a Township. Each page of this book was scanned, cropped, georeferenced and then tiled for display in the PRLIS. Tribal members researching the history of their lands can use the PRLIS to locate the location of the original allotments issued to their ancestors and compare them to the existing land parcel map, roads, high resolution aerial imagery and more. Click here to learn more about the PRLIS.

Empowering Youth Cambodia July 2012 Newsletter

I am happy to be sending you this update of our recent accomplishments. Our schools are operating very well and I am proud to be a part of such a great team.  In recent months our team has grown, our students have increased, and we are currently in the process of improving the quality of our educational programs. We currently have 495 students learning and taking part in fun activities at our schools on a typical day.  While we need to adjust to the recent growth, we are also aiming to make it increasingly relevant for our students to find job opportunities .

Our steadily increasing number of students and scholarships make your donations increasingly important and appreciated. If you are in a position to make a donation please do so.  If I can assist with anything please contact me; [email protected]

Please take the time to read our updates included.


Best regards,

Drew McDowell

855 (0)92 982581

In this Issue of our Newsletter:

EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

Community Garbage Clean-Up

University Scholarships

New Staff Members

EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

A new program steps up placement of students into internship and paid positions with businesses and organizations throughout Phnom Penh.

With Cambodia having the youngest population in Southeast Asia it is no surprise that high youth unemployment rates remain a pressing issue for many of our students. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) 700 youth enter the labor market in Cambodia every day and compete for the very few opportunities available. While observations ‘on the ground’ show that the reasons for the high youth unemployment are rather complex, there is consensus that improvements in literacy, education, and relevant skills are pertinent for securing steady and sustainable employment.

EYC started our Job Placement Program in April 2012, and has seen great results in a short time. At the core of this program is Mr. Sophea Sor, the program’s coordinator, who establishes and fosters relationships between EYC and local businesses/organizations in order to place qualified and motivated students in internships or paid positions. We are proud to announce that eleven students were placed in internship positions in the first three months. Of those eleven interns, two were offered permanent employment within the first month of their internship. An additional eight students were placed in part time jobs this year (cleaner, English teacher, and waitress), allowing them to continue their education.

To help EYC’s students be more marketable and successful in their employment search we developed and implemented a comprehensive Job Training Program, which will build on the education EYC is providing to give them marketable skills. The first training class enrolled a total of 48 students across all EYC schools and was held on weekends at the Aziza and Youth Schools.Continue reading by clicking here.

EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

EYC’s youth cycling program, “EYCycling” takes top placements at races and is looking for sponsors.

The EYC cycling team (EYCycling) is currently shopping for sponsors at all levels to allow its members to compete at races and pay for the cost of bike maintenance and gear.

The EYCycling team is the latest activity in EYC’s sports program. The team’s fifteen highly active members are students at the EYC schools and vividly display team work and sportsmanship during their weekly group rides and as participants at bike races across Cambodia.

While EYCycling’s objectives are to promote a healthy lifestyle and bike safety, reduce traffic congestion and noise/air pollution, the members’ competitive nature and thirst for achievement is evident in the twelve top-3 placements the team achieved in races during the first half of this year (in 4 categories). Continue reading by clicking here.

Community Garbage Clean-Up

EYC’s Community Organizing Committee raises awareness about how waste management affects their community and conducts a garbage clean-up in one of Phnom Penh’s “slums”.

EYC’s Development and Community Organizing Officer, Ms. Hem Nareth, successfully organized and lead the third garbage clean-up initiative at the “Building Community” in Phnom Penh; the run-down residential building blocks where the Aziza school is located.

This half-day program was divided into three parts:

1.       Creating awareness

2.       The physical clean-up

3.       Post-activity reflection

As part of ‘creating awareness’ the group focused on and illustrated three consequences of improper waste management to the community: The health risks to residents, their reputation/image as perceived by others, and how improving conditions can help stop forced evictions that may be looming.

Given some of the forced evictions and associated hardship experienced by multiple Phnom Penh communities in recent years, the last point resonated strongly with community residents when the community organizing group rallied people with megaphones. Hearing the carefully crafted messages, residents opened their doors and sent their children out to help, resulting in over 100 people joining the effort. Continue reading by clicking here.

New University Scholarships Needed

For EYC, summer means that there will be new graduating students at our community schools that will be ready to attend university, and they need your help.

Through the generosity of our donors we have been able to provide scholarships to some of our brightest and most promising students in past years. We would like to continue providing this assistance to help these young men and women start or continue university. The students we support can easily break and escape the vicious cycle of poverty via a postsecondary education, but we can’t do it without you.

The difference YOUR financial support makes is invaluable; not only in the life of an individual but also in how the gratitude is paid forward and consequently changes families and communities. As one EYC scholarship recipient told us, “My family is really poor…but I wanted to study at university so much…I got a scholarship from EYC to study at university! Now my family doesn’t need to support me and…I have gotten a job as a bookkeeper … so I can support myself and my family a little bit.”

Tuition and fees for an academic year as a freshman range from $400 to $600. If you would like to change the life of a young and ambitious person by making a financial contribution of any size to our scholarship fund, or if you would like to personally sponsor an individual student please contact Drew at [email protected]

New Staff Members

Ms. Teng Sokunthy, IT Manager

Kunthy joined EYC in late April as our IT Manager. In her role she is managing our four computer labs, 12 computer teachers (all EYC students or alumni) and building capacity related to technology “best practices” for all of our staff and team leaders.

Kunthy graduated from the Royal University of Phnom Penh with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering, and lives with her family in Takmao. In her free time Kunthy is learning to play the guitar through the Music Arts School (MAS). She also enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her family.

Mr. Sor Sophea

Sophea also joined our team in April as Job Training and Placement Coordinator. His prior work with PSE (Pour un Sourire d’Enfant) has helped him tremendously in establishing EYC’s Job Training and Placement Program and fostering relationships with Human Resources Managers at companies and organizations throughout Phnom Penh.

Sophea graduated from Build Bright University where he studied Business Administration. Sophea is married and has a 4 year old son. His experience is an excellent addition to our young team and we are looking forward to his out-of-the-box thinking and can-do attitude to grow and improve our programs.

Ms. Nov Synoeun

Synoeun joined the EYC team in April as our Youth Coordinator. In this position Syneoun contributes to a variety of activities such as development of a women’s group, advising our student team leaders, volunteer orientation, co-managing Aziza and Impact Schools, as well as teaching advanced level English two nights per week at the Impact School.

Synoeun is an EYC scholarship recipient and is about to finish her freshman year as a Communications and Media major at Pannassastra University. Her involvement with EYC dates back to 2006 when she was a student at Aziza. Her great command of English and leadership skills enabled her to become a team leader at Aziza, and after gaining experience through our partner ACE she has come back to work for EYC as staff.

We are pleased to have seen her grow over the last 6 years and expect she will go on to great things in her life.

Newsletter by Michael Kern, [email protected]



Copyright © 2012 Empowering Youth in Cambodia


Village Earth Welcomes 4 New Board Members

The staff and Board of Directors of Village Earth would like to welcome four new members to our Board. Below you can read a little more about the newest members of the Village Earth Family. Click here to see a complete listing of Village Earth’s Board of Directors.

Ronald Hall, J.D.

Ronald Hall is the Director of the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) at Colorado State University.  He has served in that capacity since 1995.  While at the TTAP Ron helped coordinate the National Tribal Road Conference since 1998.  He has served on the Executive Board of the National Local Technical Assistance Program Association since 1997 and was the Executive Board’s Chairman for 2002.  Mr. Hall also played a key role in creating the Committee on Native American Transportation Issues in the Transportation Research Board, and has been the Chairman of that Committee from 2001‐2007.   In addition to administering the TTAP, he provides consulting services as a facilitator/mediator and legal services. Prior to his tenure at the TTAP, Ron practiced law in private practice for 11 years primarily as general counsel for tribal governments, corporations, and Native American owned businesses.

Lee Scharf, M.A., J.D.

Lee Scharf has worked as a mediator in community mediation, peer mediation in public school systems, court-ordered mediation within tribal, federal and community mediation contexts, has conducted large national facilitations and worked in environmental conflict resolution in all media. She has a Masters’ degree in Environmental Conflict Resolution and over twenty years’ experience as a mediator working with tribal nations. Ms. Scharf’s environmental conflict resolution taxonomy and annotated bibliography was published by the American Bar Association in 2002. She worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1991 until 2006, first in the Superfund Enforcement program and then in the Office of General Counsel in Washington, DC. From 2000 until 2006 Ms. Scharf was the National Tribal Mediation Lead for EPA through EPA’s Conflict and Prevention and Resolution Center. She is a Coordination Committee member of the Native Dispute Resolution program for the United States Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. Ms Scharf is currently an Associate Fellow at Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for this Center.

Ms Scharf lived on the Navajo Nation from 1956-1959 and this experience shaped her professional life and her view of the world. She has mediated with many tribal nations in the United States, and is currently working with the Northern Arapaho on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming and with traditional Navajo people living on Hopi Partitioned Lands in Arizona. Ms. Scharf is also leading a national project through Colorado State University to explore the use of dispute resolution practices within tribal governments as part of tribal self- determination efforts, knowing that each tribal world view is unique and valuable and that power and colonialism is always an issue when dispute resolution processes are used or proposed. Ms Scharf is the mother of three children and the grandmother of two. Lee teaches a course in Community-Driven Dispute Resolution.

George Stetson, Ph.D.

George received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of the Andes (Mérida, Venezuela), and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona. George has worked as the Director of Educational Community Center at Fe y Alegría in Loma de los Maitines squatter village, Mérida, Venezuela, at the National Housing Council, and as a researcher at the University of the Andes (Regional Integration Group) on subjects such as poverty, social policy, and democracy. His areas of expertise include sustainable development, Latin American politics, participatory development methodologies in Venezuelan squatter villages, and grassroots ecosystem management. He has also worked extensively in the Peruvian Amazon looking at the politics of oil development. He also has taught short courses for a Ph.D. program for Trisakti University in Indonesia.

Jamie Way, M.A

Jamie received her M.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University. Her academic work focused on Latin America, international development, political theory and indigenous rights. She served as Village Earth’s training director from 2008-2012. She has also been involved with Village Earth’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the Peruvian Amazon. Her specialties include advocacy campaigns, strategic planning, issue framing and training for social justice. She currently serves as the New Media Specialist for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. She has also worked for Alliance for Global Justice, a Latin America solidarity organization.

Village Earth Contributes to Latest National Geographic on Lakota

Village Earth is proud to announce the release of the August 2012 of the edition of National Geographic magazine profiling culture, life, politics and history of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Village Earth is credited on the article for our contribution to the maps and fact checking for this edition. Titled, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: Rebirth of the Sioux Nation” includes photography by Aaron Huey who has also published his photos from his journeys on Pine Ridge in in the New York Times “Lens” blog. He later teamed up with artists Ernesto Yerena and Shepard Fairey (Fairey is best known for his iconic blue and red Obama posters) on a nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about the shameful legacy of America’s broken treaties with Native Americans. Village Earth was asked to participate on the project because of our decade long experience working on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in particular, our knowledge and experience working on land issues on the Reservation. Most recently, this work culminated into the launch of the Pine Ridge Land Information System an online resource based on open source mapping technology designed to assist Lakota land owners to access information about their lands. While the print edition should be on shelves in the coming weeks, National Geographic has launched pieces of it on its website. You can access articles, maps and resources not available in the print edition, including audio from a community storytelling project on Pine Ridge sponsored by NGS.

Three New Layers Added to Pine Ridge Land Information System

The Lakota Lands Recovery project is happy to announce the addition of three new layers to its Pine Ridge Land Information System. They are a layer with a three mile buffer around the major towns on Pine Ridge,  a layer of water quality data from wells tested by the USGS, and a map of the original ownership in the Badlands Bombing Range.  The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS) is a web-based land information system designed to assist members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to access information about their lands and resources. The PRLIS was developed in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office and made possible with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. The new layers are part of the LLRP’s commitment to continually improving the PRLIS to be a resource for residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to assist them with land research and planning. Description of the three layers are below.

Badlands Bombing Range Ownership Map

This is layer with boundaries and original ownership of allotted lands located in the Badlands Bombing Range. Names of the original land owners are positioned inside each parcel when zoomed to a map scale of 1:54K  The following is an exert about the history of this land from a 2010 blog post on our site researched and written by Jamie Way.

“On July 20, 1942 the War Department advised the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that they would be taking over an area of 40×15 miles across the northern portion of the reservation. While a small portion of this land lay within what was then Badlands National Monument (337 acres), the vast majority of the land was located within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation ( The dispossession would impact some 125 Oglala families.  And while the dispossessed families were to be supplied with some relocation compensation, assistance and supplies, actual accounts vary as to how much the families received if any at all.

The displacement was messy and created a major crisis on the reservation. While officially, the families would have had 40 days to leave if they were given notice on the same day as the Bureau of Indian affairs (which seems not to be the case most of the time), most believed that they needed to evacuate almost immediately. In fact, archival data reveals that Mr. McDowell, an employee of the land acquisition division of the War Department, had stated that the War Department was taking  possession of the land and shooting was to start on August 1st (Roberts 7/7/42). This is even more shocking when you take into account that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was given that they were to have well under two weeks (approximately ten days) to evacuate their land.

The new layer lists the names of the original owners of the different parcels in Badlands Bombing Range.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.s only officially notified of the dispossession twelve days prior. Myrtle Gross, who was displaced during the event, reported that “the Farmer Office” sent a man to tell her to “[g]et out now because the Japs aren’t going to wait!” She said they were then given 30 days to leave, (Archives Search Report 1999, Interview 5).  Similarly, Ida Bullman recalls finding out about the evacuation after reading a poster that was displayed at the local store. The store owner told her, “Pack up and leave. They’re going to start shooting at you.” Thus, by the time the information reached the population the impression was given that they were to have well under two weeks (approximately ten days) to evacuate their land.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.

Due to many families’ attachment to the land, Ellen Janis represented her neighbors’ interests and fought for reparations or the return of their land in a series of trips to D.C. to see public officials. During this time, Congressman Francis Case, who had lobbied for the bombing range, acknowledged that the evacuation had created an incredibly difficult situation for many of his constituents, admitting that “[t]he injustice that was done to the people of Pine Ridge is almost beyond comprehension” (Francis Case as represented in Nichols 1960). In 1968, Public Law 90-468 was finally passed, and lands declared excess by the Air Force were to be transferred to the Department of Interior. The law afforded those displaced (whether their land was held in trust or in fee) the possibility of repurchasing the land that had been taken from them if they filed an application with the Secretary of Interior to purchase the tract. This application needed to be filed within a one year window from the date a notice was published in the Federal Register that the tract had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary. Needless to say, the displaced were not properly notified of this option in many cases, in part due to their geographical dispersion. The law also stated that the original inhabitants that wished to repurchase their land were to pay the price the U.S. government had paid for the land, plus interest. Thus, those that decided to repurchase their land explained that they paid much higher prices for the land than they had originally been paid for it when the government confiscated it.”

Water Quality Data from Wells Tested by the USGS between 1992-1997

This layer uses water quality and well location data from a report published in 2000 by the USGS. According to the USGS:

“Discharge and water-quality data were collected during 1992-97 for 14 contact springs located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. Data were collected to evaluate potential alternative sources of water supply for the village of Red Shirt, which currently obtains water of marginal quality from a well completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. During 1995-97, water-quality data also were collected for 44 public-supply wells that serve about one-half of the Reservation’s population. Quality-assurance sampling was used to evaluate the precision and accuracy of environmental samples.”

The layer positions an icon at the approximate location of each well tested in this study. Water quality data can be viewed for each well by clicking on the icon which will bring up a table with the Well ID Number used in the reportWell Location, Date it was Tested, Depth of the Well, Type of Water Source (well or spring) and the recorded levels of Uranium, Ecoli, All Bacteria, Arsenic, and the Contaminant of Concern for each well.

Clicking on the well opens a data table with information on the well and and the results of the USGS testing.

Below is a summary of the results from this testing from the USGS.

“Of the 44 public-supply wells sampled, 42 are completed in the Arikaree aquifer, one is completed in an alluvial aquifer, and one is completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. Water from the alluvial well is a sodium bicarbonate water type, water from Arikaree aquifer ranges from calcium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate types, and water from the Inyan Kara well is a calcium sulfate bicarbonate type. Of the 44 wells sampled, 28 (64 percent) tested positive for indicator bacteria in presumptive tests. Because these were single samples that generally were collected upstream from chemical treatment feeders, positive detections do not necessarily constitute exceedances of drinking-water standards.

A single sample from an Arikaree well exceeded the MCL for arsenic of 50 µg/L. Arsenic exceeded 10 µg/L for six additional Arikaree wells and for the alluvial well and the Inyan Kara well, which could be problematic if the current MCL is lowered. The alluvial well also exceeded the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) for dissolved solids, which is non-enforceable, and the action level for lead. The Inyan Kara well exceeded the SMCL’s for iron and for manganese and the MCL of 5 pCi/L for radium-226 and 228 combined. Several Arikaree wells exceeded SMCL’s for either pH, sulfate, dissolved solids, iron, or manganese. One Arikaree well exceeded the MCL of 4.0 mg/L for fluoride and another exceeded the MCL of 10 mg/L for nitrite plus nitrate.

Ten Arikaree wells equalled or exceeded 15 pCi/L for gross alpha; however, these values do not necessarily constitute exceedances of the MCL, which excludes radioactivity contributed by uranium and radon. Additional sampling using different analysis techniques would be needed to conclusively determine if any samples exceeded this MCL.

Eight wells, all from the Arikaree aquifer, equalled or exceeded the proposed MCL of 20 µg/L for uranium and 33 wells (75 percent) equalled or exceeded one-half of the proposed MCL. Although this standard has only been proposed, additional information regarding the extent of elevated uranium concentrations in the Arikaree aquifer, and the geochemical processes involved, may be beneficial. It was determined from analyses of uranium isotope data for five wells that the source of elevated uranium concentrations is naturally occurring, rather than anthropogenic.”

 3-Mile Growth Buffer Around the Major Towns on the Reservation

Layer with 3-mile buffer around the major villages on Pine Ridge. Used for determining the availability of Tribal lands for consolidation.

This layer displays a green 3-mile buffer around the center point of each of the largest towns on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This layer is important for people interested in exchanging their undivided lands for a contiguous tract of tribal lands, a opportunity made possible by Oglala Sioux Tribe Resolution 77-11.  Tribal Ordinance 85-17 lists the criteria for “set-asides” which include:

  1. Lands surrounding the townsite of Pine Ridge and the established villages within a radius of 3 miles of such settlements.
  2. Commercial and industrial areas
  3. Park and Recreation Areas
  4. Historical and Religious Sites
  5. Archaeological Sites
  6. Potential tourist attractions sites
  7. Timber reserve lands
  8. Class 1 & 2 farmlands
  9. Large consolidated tracts.

To view this layer turn it on by clicking on the “check-box” in the layers menu at the left-hand side of the screen. The layer only appears at the 1:55K map scale so you’ll need to zoom in from the default map scale. You can adjust it’s transparency by clicking on the layer’s label and adjusting the “transparency slider control.”

The Pine Ridge Land Information System can be accessed at

For more information about these layers or to suggest other layers to add to the PRLIS, please contact David Bartecchi or 970-237-3002 Ext. 504

Living Roots Breaking Ground on Cultural Center/Marketplace

Living Roots is excited to announce that ground has been broken on a Cultural Center/Marketplace in the mountain community of San Javier, which is the oldest continuously cultivated mission orchard in the Californias, rich with grape vines, pomegranates, dates and several of the oldest olive trees in the Americas.

Living Roots has been working with the community of San Javier and the surrounding ranches since June 2010, when the community identified the desire to protect their unique, self-reliant culture while developing a direct connection with a market for traditionally Baja sierra-made products and rural tourism.

Through helping the community incubate a regional marketing association, Raices Vivas San Javier, and facilitating the collaboration of the municipal and state governments, along with the foreign resident community in Loreto, Living Roots has helped turn San Javier’s vision into a reality with the creation of the Cultural Center/Marketplace.

The space will be an exhibition of San Javier history and culture, a store for regionally-made artisan food and craft and a tourism hub for visitors interested in mule rides, interpretative medicinal plant walks, rock art etc. With Living Roots assistance, the Raíces Vivas Marketing Association, primarily governed by women, has set the goal of forming as a legal entity by May 2013, with the aim of fully taking over fiscal and administrative reasonability for their community-driven enterprise.

Living Roots has also been pleased with the success of their youth programing this spring. As part of a series of Sierra Heritage Skills workshops inviting local master craftsmen into the school system to re-teach traditional skills, Living Roots organized a several month Leather Work course. Students learned in a hands-on setting the entire process, from tanning to making small bags and wallets how the unique regional leatherwork has been made for generations.

Excited about this opportunity, secondary school students and teachers alike were eager to explore more ways to learn from local experts. Their enthusiasm has led to the creation of a “Jovenes Documentalistas” program which will launch this fall. This year-long program will begin with professional training for youth in how to use cameras and audio equipment to capture the stories and know-how of the elder generation. Teams of students will then hike and ride to remote ranches, learning to identify useful plants and the essential skills of traveling through their arid back yard landscape, and arriving to interview and learn from these local living legends. Older ranchers are thrilled with the idea of being able to tell their stories and impart their knowledge before it is too late.

 For more information, to get involved or to make a donation to Living Roots, please to go our website: or follow us on Facebook Living Roots/ Raíces Vivas.