This summer, the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Administration (OSPRA) on the Pine Ridge Reservation is hosting an eco-tour. Here’s a blurb from their site. To learn more go to: http://www.osprabuffalokeepers.com/news.html
Silence from deep within the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s South Unit of the Badlands National Park and the Tribe’s buffalo pastures will be a centerpiece of new Eco-tours being offered by the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority. Visitors who take the newly established eco-tours will have opportunity to feel majestic dominance of buffalo as they graze in the buffalo pastures.“We want visitors to understand buffalo are our relatives and not just a resource for consumption,” says Monica Terkildsen, one of the eco-tour coordinators. “We want visitors to hear pines blowing in the wind and taste the nutty earth taste of timpsila and understand the connection of plants to our survival.”
OSPRA is targeting tourists who are looking for adventure—people who will stay for a length of time, are physically fit and want to hike into the interior of places—not just drive the edge of Oglala Lakota lands. The Eco-tour visitor will be a person who wants to learn the cultural perspective of wild life and natural resources.
OSPRA has long had facilities for offering eco-tours that include hunting tours, cabins and a property purchased and set up in an apartment-style setting. OSPRA offers knowledge of wildlife, natural resources and unique cultural understandings that bring all the pieces of a top flight eco-experience together in a four day outing.
Cultural interpretations will give visitors Lakota perspectives on natural resource use and Oglala Lakota philosophy and belief. Environmental integrity brought about by the Eco-tours will establish connections to wildlife and natural resources within context of a preservation plan. “We want to develop a sustainable project that educates and shares,” says Terkildsen, “We want visitors to feel our strength and understand how we continue to survive.”
Since the 1980’s ecotourism has been on the rise and considered essential by environmentalists to survival of landscapes relatively untouched by human intrusion. OSPRA’s eco-tours came into being after Senior Biologist Dr. Trudy Ecoffey experienced an eco-tour trip to Namibia, a country in southern Africa that has the Atlantic ocean as it’s western border. After that experience she worked with the World Wildlife Fund and other professionals to develop the idea of an eco-tour on the Pine Ridge Reservation.