Archives for January 2014

Latest News and Happenings from Knife Chief Buffalo Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation



Project Report

This report covers October 2013  through December 2013.  Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a pasture/home for members of the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in terms of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.  Below is a summary of our activities for this period.


October 2013 –  In observance of the spiritual calendar, spiritual offerings were made and taken to the Purification Lodge on October 15 for the sacred site of Pte Ta Tiopa (Doorway of the Buffalo) near Buffalo Gap, SD in the sacred Black Hills. This is the time when the buffalo return to the sacred Black Hills and when we (humans) know to make spiritual offerings.  The spiritual calendar was taught to us (Lakota people) by the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and to whom we continue to honor and care for.

We sponsored a benefit conference for the pte oyate (buffalo nation) on October 11 & 12 in Rapid City, SD.  Twenty-five (25) participants attended the conference on “Historical Trauma:  Impact and Healing.”  This two day workshop addressed how historical trauma has impacted Lakota and indigenous peoples and how we can integrate healing from historical trauma into our families, schools, programs and communities.  Presenters were Richard Two Dogs, Richard Moves Camp, Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart and Josie Chase.

We were honored to have three well-respected Wakan Iyeska in the group for both days.  A basic explanation of the term “Wakan Iyeska” is that these persons are interpreters between the physical and the spirit world.  Their roles and responsibilities are based on their individual dreams.  The three men are Ohitiya Mani (Roy Dennis Stone), Hmuya Mani (Richard Two Dogs) and Wicahpi Koyag Mani (Richard Moves Camp).


 Conference participants visiting during a break


(L to R Presenter Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Participant Marcella LeBeau, Presenter Josie Chase


November 2013  –  On November 01 we received a loan of $18,275.00 from the First National Bank of Gordon, Nebraska to pay for two annual pasture leases, home to the pte oyate (buffalo nation).  Payment was made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.   We began our sixth year of this relationship with the First National Bank of Gordon.

We assisted with a Koskalaka Wicayuwita Pi (Young Men’s Gathering) camp on November 01 – 03 in which eighteen (18) boys and young men, ages 9 –17.  Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Okiciyapi (Lakota People Caring for Children), the Pine Ridge Reservation’s tribal welfare agency, were given the opportunity to send young men who were currently in the foster care system. The agency sent nine (9) young men and one parent brought his son from a neighboring reservation in South Dakota, the remaining participants were residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The group came together to learn Lakota traditional teachings about becoming or being a man from their older male relatives and mentors, blessing the food, raising the tipi; bow making, singing and drum, preparing a spiritual kit, and Horse Nation teachings.  Other activities and teachings included honoring relationships, purification lodge preparation, spiritual cleansing, greeting the Morning Star and sun prayer and song, and gun safety and hunting, Lakota traditional healing. Twelve (12) participants received a Lakota spirit name at a ceremony.

The volunteer mentors included seven (7) men and a Wakan Iyeska (interpreter of the sacred) or “medicine man” as he is sometimes referred to.

The participants and mentors slept in five tipis which were raised by the young men as part of the teachings. Three mentors guided the participants in an early morning hunt and two deer were taken.  Talking Circles were held on the first and final day.


 Camp participants learning to raise the tipi


 Raising the tipi: home for 2 nights and 3 days


 Learning to skin a deer after the early morning hunt


Developing a relationship with our relatives, the horse nation


Receiving teachings about the drum and songs

On November 04, the buffalo caretaker gave a tour of the buffalo pasture to staff of Gunderson Lutheran Hospital from Minnesota.  Staff provide medical services on a monthly basis in Porcupine.  They are provided with information about the Lakota culture and the Pine Ridge Reservation.

December 2013  – We participated in a debriefing session on December 13 with the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Okiciyapi (LOWO) staff at their office building in Pine Ridge, SD.  The session centered on the Children’s Camp held in September and the Young Boys/Men Camp held in November.  A number of children and youth in the foster care system participated in both camps.

We sponsored a conference entitled “Woakipa Etan Woasniye” (Healing From Trauma) on December 17 & 18 in Rapid City, SD with thirty (30) participants.  Topic and presenters included: Lakol Wicohan Un Woakipa Api Iciya Pi (Healing from Trauma Using Lakota Culture), Richard Two Dogs; Addressing High Rates of Traumatic Stress Among American Indian/Alaska Nation Children, Marilyn Brugier Zimmerman; Discovering Healing Pathways:  Arts Informed Counseling for American Indian Youth, Elizabeth Warson; Trauma in the Womb, Barbara Vancil; Tewicahila Pi Ogna Unspewicakiyapi (Teaching/Educating with Love, Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs.


Presenter Barbara Vancil sharing information about trauma in the womb


Group working session at the December conference

In observance of the spiritual calendar, spiritual offerings were taken to the Purification Lodge (Inipi) on December 21, the Winter Solstice.

Donations – We collaborated with Ken Lundsford, Barbara Keel and Rick Hagens of Fairburn, AL and with Terri Yellow Hammer, Minneapolis, MN on a winter gear drive for children (infants to 10 years).  Other items received  included  toys, blankets, shoes and coats for adults.  Due to the frigid weather and the lack of heat and the lack of water in the building we planned  to use, distribution  has been  set for the week of January 20.  We greatly appreciate the organizing efforts of Ken, Barbara, Rick, Terri and her husband, and we are  also very thankful to the donors.

Future Events and Plans

  • January 24 – 26, 2014 – We will help to sponsor a Men’s Basketball Tourney to raise funds for a Boys/Young Men Camp in May, 2014.
  • February 02, 2014 – We will sponsor a workshop on “Preparation of Can Sasa (red willow bark), a cultural and spiritual teaching.
  • March 2014 – Will assist with the planning of a proposed conference for alcohol and drug prevention counselors.  One person volunteered  to do a presentation at this conference.
  • May 2014 –  (a)  will have work camps to continue fencing project; (b)  will help sponsor the Boys/Young Men Camp on May 24 – 26
  • June 2014 – Will sponsor the Students Shoulder to Shoulder Camp on June 02 – 08
  • August 2014 – Will sponsor a Children’s Healing Camp from August 05 – 08

Fencing Project – Our fencing project will continue as the weather permits.   One pasture of 1200 acres is fenced.  We plan to complete the fencing of 1500 acres which is approximately seven (7) miles.  One mile of steel posts are set up now and  holes are dug for wood posts to be put in the ground.  We are working to purchase 400 steel posts and will continue fencing when weather permits.  We are working on a plan to establish work camps in May 2014 for native and non-native youth and adults to assist with the fencing project.


Our relatives, the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) within the fenced pasture


Again, we extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who support our efforts whether it be financially, physically or spiritually.  Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued

support and guidance.  We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and for their teachings, i.e., protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever comes  Lila wopila tanka! (We thank you all very much).


For more information, contact us at:
Email:  [email protected]
Telephone:  605-407-0091
or look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliates



Technical Support & Training for Tribes/TDHE’s for Challenging the Indian Housing Block Grant


March 30th, 2014 is the deadline for Tribes/TDHE’s to submit challenges to the Federal Census numbers used for allocating funds for the Indian Housing Block Grant as well as other programs including the 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.

No entity has more experience conducing IHBG challenges than Village Earth. We can assist you to collect the data population and needs that meets HUD’s guidelines for Census challenges. Plus, using the latest digital data collection technology, we can help you keep costs low while ensuring high-quality data. Call today for a free consultation and estimate 970-237-3002 Ext. 504. or email David Bartecchi at [email protected].

Village Earth t-shirts, maps, posters, and more now available on our store at

Check out Village Earth’s store at


[zstore productlineid=”196076337896970397&ps=120″]


[zstore productlineid=”196533387637154235&ps=120″]

Photo Prints & Posters

[zstore productlineid=”196421289997718064&ps=120″]

Other Gifts

[zstore productlineid=”196875396693455564&ps=120″]

The Audacity of Hope Made Real: Clean Birth Kits for the People of Burundi

Health Inst #1 Dir, Asst

By William M. Timpson – Director Amahoro Project

In rural Southern India, three million women live in poverty and lack access to a clean birth environment. Each year in India, 78,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth and about one million neonatal deaths occur due to complications resulting from infection. To combat this problem, the social venture AYZH distributes clean birth kits called JANMA that cost just $2 each and can dramatically reduce fatal childbirth infection. These kits are sourced and assembled in India by rural women and are composed of quality, low-cost components. These kits have now been brought to Burundi, East Africa and introduced at the University of Ngozi.

In April, alumna Zubaida Bai, founder and CEO of AYZH (pronounced ‘eyes’), accepted an award on behalf of her company at the 8th Annual World Health Care Congress and WHCC Affordable Health Innovations Global Initiative Exhibit in Washington, D.C. The company distributes JANMA through an established network of local pharmacies, clinics, non-governmental organizations, and local women’s self-help groups. By setting up supply chains for local manufacturing, costs are kept low and economic opportunities are created for women in the communities they serve. Most importantly, the JANMA provide mothers a safe, clean, and hygienic delivery whether she delivers at home, at a primary health care center, or in a government hospital. The rate of maternal and infant mortality in Burundi during home deliveries is a real problem although government officials are hesitant to be very public about the exact numbers.

AYZH conducts extensive market research to assess consumer demand and then tests technologies on their affordability, appropriateness, and aesthetics to meet that demand. In addition to the JANMA birth kits, AYZH also is working to provide household water filters (called Sheba Filters) that provide high-quality drinking water at an affordable cost.

“We use a tiered approach to first address women’s basic needs. The idea is to get women and their families healthy so they have the time and strength to work. We then provide them with income generating tools to help increase their livelihood. With a healthier family and more lucrative opportunities, the women can attain a level of self-sufficiency that translates into a more vibrant society,” said Bai.

AYZH’s management is an international team passionate about making the lives of poor women better through technology and entrepreneurship. In addition to Bai, the management team at AYZH consists of alumni Habib Anwar and Kellen McMartin. All three founders of the company earned a Master’s degree in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise from CSU’s College of Business. Hopefully this innovative idea will take hold in Burundi.

Introducing the Clean Birth Kits in the region of Ngozi makes sense since this area was a refuge when the ethnic killings were happening everywhere else in Burundi for the forty years that followed independence in 1962, beginning with the genocide of 1972 through the civil wars that erupted in the 1990’s. In Ngozi, however, Hutu and Tutsi leaders maintained the calm. They went further and created the first private university in Burundi in the wake of all that violence and dedicated to promoting peace and reconciliation. The audacity of hope made real. Accordingly, the University of Ngozi now serves as a base for curriculum reform and innovation. One such idea is this Clean Birth Kit. Introduced in the summer of 2013, staff at the University of Ngozi are exploring its use through the medical and health sciences programs.

William M. Timpson is a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University and the author of several books on peace, reconciliation, diversity, and sustainability. He has served as Fulbright Specialist in Peace and Reconciliation Studies in Northern Ireland and Burundi, East Africa.


Pine Ridge Reservation 1887 Allotment Map Now Available For Order


Available printed in full color 60″ X 40″

In response to several requests from Tribal members, we have made the Pine Ridge Allotment map available for purchase in a large printed format. We have teamed up with’s high-quality print-on-demand service to make this possible. This 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.

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. Village Earth created this map by scanning and georeferencing the original allottment books provided to us by the Bureau of Indian Affairs office on Pine Ridge. As far as we know, this is the only known source for this map.

We have made three different versions available for purchase.

1-9-2014 12-34-22 PM

Sample resolution of map – note that you read hand-written names of allottees, notes made by Bureau of Indian Affairs, streams and roads.

1-9-2014 12-28-40 PM

Zoom-in of map with districts, roads, town names, and topography.

Chronology of the Plan to Create a Bison Pasture in the South Unit of the Badlands

View above map in online map viewer

For an interactive map of the Pine Ridge Reservation with layers of the Badlands Bombing Range and Original Allotment maps go to

The South Unit of the Badlands has a long history riddled with controversy and violence and that’s no different today with the current conflicts regarding the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s proposed plan to create a 100,000 acre bison pasture in the South Unit. The so-called “Highway-to-Highway” plan was approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribe on June 11th, 2013 through OST Tribal Ordinance_13-21. The ordinance also called for the cancelling of leases for all ranchers in the proposed area by October 2015 and left many Tribal land owners and inhabitants to the area confused about their future – would people living in the proposed area be forced to move? Would tribal land owners be forced to sell their lands? What would happen to sacred sun-dance circles utilized on an annual basis by the families in that region? What about the livelihoods of the ranchers leasing land in this area and the lease income collected by the Tribal landowners?  This ordinance also exposed historical trauma deeply embedded in the people and the land when in 1942 the U.S. Government forcefully evicted the Lakota residents to make-way for a bombing range.  But it also served as another site of conflict for the ongoing struggle between the Oglala Lakota people (the Grassroots Oyate) and a Tribal government that many Lakota distrust – a government imposed upon them by the U.S. Government through the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and one that many Lakota feel is illegitimate. The layers of this conflict run deep – so deep in-fact that it sometimes makes it hard to understand things from a rational perspective. Is expanding the buffalo pasture a good thing? If so, does that somehow outweigh the impacts it will have on residents and ranchers or the ongoing struggle between the Tribe and the Grassroots Oyate? That is not for Village Earth or any outside organization to decide. Rather, we believe this must be a debate that takes place among members of the Tribe. However, we do feel we can help facilitate this dialogue by providing objective information which I have attempted to do here.  We feel the best way to understand the current situation is to look back into the history of this contentious landscape. With this goal in mind, we have put together a chronology of the South Unit from 1890 to the present. I hope to update this as new information becomes available. Much of the information here is excerpted from a post written in 2010 by former Village Earth employee Jamie Way: The Fate of the Badlands South Unit and a Forgotten History

In 1890, after the Lakota along with their Cheyenne and Arapahoe allies, were massacred by the 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre, the survivors fled to what is now the Southern Unit. They took shelter in the natural fortress formed by a butte surrounded by cliffs. The area served as a refuge for those who escaped the cavalry. For this reason, and because Lakota Ghost Dancers were buried in this location, the land came to be considered sacred.

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.

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.

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.

By the end of the early 1960’s it was clear that Department of the Interior bureaucrats intended that the area should be taken over by a Department of the Interior Agency, and not returned to the Tribe.” The Park Service promised the tribe that by creating the park, they would invigorate the reservation economy through tourism, while the a Senate committee simultaneously strong-armed the tribe threatening to “dispose of the land in question under surplus property agreements if the Tribe refused to lease land,” (Igoe 2004 – Bridge_Report_Good_Land_Igoe).

In 1976, the Tribal Council under Chairman Dick Wilson, whose questionable leadership during the AIM struggle on Pine Ridge has solidified his legacy as a harsh and corrupt leader, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service. The Stronghold District of the Badlands National Park, which includes 133,300 acres of land, from this point on has been held by the National Park Service in conjunction with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

In 2002, relations between the NPS and some tribal members degenerated to the point where a grassroots movement of Lakota defending the burial place of Ghost Dancers, called the Keepers of the Stronghold Dream, felt it necessary to physically occupy the land, guarding it from the invasion of hikers, park visitors and fossil poachers in an attempt to reclaim it (Igoe 2002). Unfortunately, this confrontation settled nothing and the issue remains unresolved to this day.

The NPS and the tribe both had complaints about how the area is being managed. The NPS complained that they had not been given proper access to manage the site as needed. The tribe felt as though the NPS had not lived up to its promises in the 1976 MOA including filling NPS jobs at the site with tribal members and reintroducing buffalo into the area. Moreover, they were concerned with fossil poaching and environmental destruction of the region by outsiders.

In 2006, after the park failed to resolve this matter through negotiations, the NPS decided to initiate a separate management planning process for the South Unit which did not begin until 2008.

By 2010, the NPS had developed seven management options available for comment by the public. While none of the NPS options include returning land to those that were displaced prior to WWII nor giving the land back to the tribe with no obligations, the options did include giving the tribe more control over this portion of their land. Option 2, considered the “preferred option” by the NPS, would have the NPS and the tribe create a “National Tribal Park.”

June 2, 2011 – OST President John Yellowbird Steele signs record of decision (ROD) with the NPS affirming the Tribe’s acceptance of proposed Option 2 which recommended the creation of a Tribal National Park.

April 26, 2012 – NPS releases its final management plan which recommended the creation of the first Ever Tribal National Park.

May 2012, Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSRPA) with support from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) solicited consultants to assist with the development of a feasibility study for expansion of the tribe’s bison herd. Ranch Advisory Partners based in Bozeman, MT was awarded the contract fall of 2012.

south_unit Study

Download Study:

On May 17th, 2013 Ranch Advisory Partners finalized the South Unit Bison Feasibility Study which provided various recommendations for the expansion of the Tribe’s bison herd as part of the broader development of a Tribal National Park. The preferred option, referred to as the the “Stronghold – Highway to Highway” option, would establish a bison pasture encompassing 100,000 acres approximately between State HWY 40 to the west and BIA 33 to the east and include range units 501, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 510, 515, 518, 536 (the area highlighted in yellow in the map above)

June 11th, 2013  Ordinance_13-21 “Approving and Adopting Alternative A – The Stronghold Unit – Highway to Highway as recommended per the South Unit: Buffalo Expansion Feasibility Study was passed by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council 6-11-13 special minutes. The ordinance directed the BIA to notify all permittees and landowners, as well as prioritize all land sales and exchanges within the proposed area.

November 12th, 2013 – Members of the Red Shirt Community (which is at the western edge of the proposed pasture) learn about Ordinance 13-21 and call a public meeting inviting members of the Tribal Council.

November 26th, 2013 – Another meeting is held in Red Shirt where community members voice their concern about their lands located in the proposed bison pasture and the impact it will have on ceremonial sites including several sun dance circles in the area.

December 10th, 2013 – Despite the public outcry, the  Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to postpone a motion advanced by Tribal Council member James Cross  from Pass Creek District to rescind Ordinance 13-21 until after the Tribe could facilitate presentations on the Tribal National Park in each district of the Reservation. Note: this chronology originally included information from a December 13th Rapid City Journal article which stated that the motion to rescind Ordinance 13-21 had passed. I have since received information that it was postponed and corrected the article. However, I do not have a copy of the meeting minutes to verify this.


January 13th – 17th – OST President Bryan Brewer along with the “core team” working on the Tribal National Park including Ruth Brown, Trudy Ecoffey, Barry Bettyloun, Anita Ecoffey, Birgil Kills Straight, Shawn Swallow, Chuck Jacobs, Michael Catches the Enemy and Angie Sam will host a series of informational meetings in each District. Also attending will be a representative from the OST Land Office and Eric Brunneman from the National Park Service. According to the press release dated January 15th, “[t]he sole purpose of these meetings is to bring correct information to the oyate regarding the issue of the proposed Tribal National Park in the South Unit.” According to Susan Shockey Two Bulls, one of the leading opponents of Ordinance 13-21, ” these presentations should have been done months ago.”

January 29th, 2014 – Tribal Council upholds Resolution 13-21. But Tribal ranchers and those opposed to the resolution continue to organize holding a meeting January 31st at Rocky Ford School.

October 6th, 2014 – OST Tribal Council tabled draft proposed federal legislation needed to authorize the Tribal National Park. During the same meeting the Council voted to rescind the controversial ordinance 13-21. Source: Rapid City Journal

We encourage community members to provide any corrections to this chronology and provide us with new information as it happens.

Support Village Earth whenever you buy or sell something on

Looking to get rid of those horrible slippers that you got as a Christmas gift from your aunt in Boca Raton? Or maybe you recently upgraded your phone or gaming system and need to clear some space – here’s a great way to get to get rid of that old stuff and benefit Village Earth at the same time. Now with eBay Giving Works, you can list your items and choose a percentage that will go to Village Earth once it’s sold. Not only are you support a good cause, but your item will stand out to buyers with a blue and yellow ribbon logo displayed right next to the item’s title. Charity listings on eBay have up to 30% higher sell through rates then non-Charity items and they sell for between 2-6% higher prices.


Here are some ideas on how you can use eBay Giving Works to support Village Earth. 

  • Host your own charity auction for Village Earth or one of our Global Affiliates
  • Get a tax-deduction for that old clunker vehicle, boat or RV in the driveway.
  • Liquidate the estate of a loved-one who has recently passed away.
  • Clean out that garage or attic.

To start listing items go to:

Be sure to add Village Earth as one of your causes on eBay.

Follow us on eBay



You can also donation directly to Village Earth on the eBay Giving Works site and get this, 100% of your donation will go directly to Village Earth. Another way to put this is that eBay/Paypal will cover all the transaction fees.