Archives for October 2014

Non-Natives Collect 84.5% of Agriculture Income on South Dakota Reservations

Food_Insecurity_&_Value

The USDA recently released the results for their 2012 Census of Agriculture for Native American Reservations and as most Residents of South Dakota Reservations already know, non-native farmers and ranchers dominate. According to the USDA data, a whopping 84.5% of all agriculture income on South Dakota Reservations is collected by non-native producers. In terms of land control, non-native producers control nearly 60% of all agriculture land and 65% of all the active farms and ranches on Native American Reservations. Data for Individual South Dakota Reservations is below.

 % of Farms Operated by American Indians% of Land Controlled by American Indians% of Agricultural Income Collected by American Indians
TOTAL34.38%40.31%15.43%
Cheyenne River48%42.49%23%
Crow Creek27%NA1%
Flandreau Santee14%NA0%
Lake Traverse5%5.04%0%
Lower Brule39%44.14%39%
Pine Ridge55%61.98%28%
Rosebud31%36.80%17%
Standing Rock25%18.74%13%
Yankton18%2.46%1%

Despite the Federal Government’s “highest and best use” policy for Native American Lands, the USDA Agriculture Census data demonstrates that non-natives are the primary beneficiaries of the Resources from American Indian Reservations, not just in South Dakota but throughout the Untied States. The disparity that exists on Reservations today is the outcome of over a century of racist and exclusionary policies that functioned to alienate Tribal members from their lands to make their agricultural and mineral resources available to non-tribal members for lease below market rates. Many Tribal members weren’t even paid some or all of the lease income owed to them by the Federal Government. Even today, virtually all of the lease income collected on some South Dakota Reservations goes directly the USDA to pay down loans created in the 1970s and 1980s for tribes to consolidate highly fractionated lands (a problem created in the first place by the Federal government’s failure to properly manage the conveyance of allotted trust lands from one generation to the next).

World Food Day: Food Insecurity on South Dakota’s American Indian Reservations

Food_Insecurity_Village_Earth

 

Today, October 16th, 2014 is World Food Day. The World Food Day theme for 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. While most Americans recognize the problem of hunger in so-called “developing countries.” Very few people comprehend the high levels of food insecurity that exists across the United States. This problem is especially acute on American Indian Reservations where a 120 years of exclusionary federal policies have pushed Tribal members off their own lands to make them available to non-tribal farmers and ranchers. This combined with high rates of poverty has created food desserts across indian country.

“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”

The map above, developed by Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project, draws on 2012 data collected by the US Census Bureau and compiled by www.feedingamerica.org to display the county-level data along with the boundaries of South Dakota’s American Indian Reservations. The data shows that on these Reservations, food insecurity (not having enough food within the past year) is has high as 26% percent, some of the highest rates in the country.

Village Earth is trying to transform this situation by supporting local, grassroots efforts to develop more sustainable, more healthy local food systems. For example, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Village Earth is supporting efforts of the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation organization who seeks to acquire more land to expand their buffalo herds which provide both spiritual and nutritional sustenance for the Lakota people. Earth Tipi, another one of our Global Affiliates, is seeking funds to develop a demonstration “food forest” near the community of Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservations. Food forests are a form of sustainable regenerative food systems that bring together assemblages of food bearing parennial plants that thrive in local soils and climate and require very little maintenance once established. On the Cheyenne River Reservation, another one of our Global Affiliates “Mni” is working to restore their lands and aquifers by promoting simple watershed restoration and holistic grazing managemnet practices.  The goal of which is to restore their lands and wild plants after 120 years of extractive grazing practices managed by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

All three of these Village Earth Global Affiliates are currently accepting donations through Globalgiving.org. Please consider making a donation on this World Food Day.

MnidEarthTipiKnifeChief

 

 

Technology in Community Development – Culture, Ethics, and Why it Matters

How often have you gone into a community and seen a broken down water well, unused school building, or decrepit renewable energy project?  Some NGO came in with good intentions, but for a myriad of reasons after they leave these projects fall into a state of disrepair.  And unfortunately the blame is often put on the community furthering an internal feeling of dis-empowerment and lack of self-efficacy.  When really the problems lies in the implementation of the technology itself.

What is appropriate technology all about? It is a way of thinking about technological change; recognizing that tools and techniques can evolve along different paths toward different ends. It includes the belief that human communities can have a hand in deciding what their future will be like, and that the choice of tools and techniques is an important part of this. It also includes the recognition that technologies can embody cultural biases and sometimes have political and distributional effects that go far beyond a strictly economic evaluation. “A.T.” therefore involves a search for technologies that have, for example, beneficial effects on income distribution, human development, environmental quality, and the distribution of political power—as well as productivity—in the context of particular communities and nations.  —Village Earth’s Appropriate Technology Sourcebook

We all introduce and use technologies in our community development work whether we recognize it or not.  But how often do we step back and reflect on the cultural biases or political implications that these technologies bring with them?  Technology is not neutral, but by working with communities on the process of appropriate technology generation we can hope to develop ethical technologies that are appropriate to their environmental, socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts.  Through the process of bottom-up appropriate technology generation and the tandem use of both hard (tangible) and soft (participation, community organization, etc) technologies this process can be both empowering for local people and sustainable in the long-term.

Join us to learn more about these concepts in our Technology and Community Development Online Course now enrolling through October 26.  This course is a part of our Sustainable Community Development Certificate and counts toward the specializations in Service and Civic Engagement, Community Planning and Development, and Participatory Facilitation.

All Donations Matched 30% for VE Global Affiliates | Oct. 15th Globalgiving.org Bonus Day.

GGBonusDay

Don’t miss out! For one day only, October 15th, 2014, Globalgiving.org will be matching all donations to select micro-projects of Village Earth Global Affiliates.

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 approach not only helps enhance local self-reliance but also ensures greater cultural and political self-determination. Yet, despite the widespread acknowledgement of  the effectiveness of local organizations in identifying and addressing issues, their work often goes unnoticed.

Below you’ll find a list of Village Earth Affiliates Eligible for the bonus day. Click on one to donate. 

 

Maloca


VE KnifeChief