Village Earth first met Mr. Butterfly in 2003 where he invited us to visit with him to learn about his vision for the Wounded Knee District and the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The goal of the Wounded Knee Tiyospaye Project is to revitalize the tiyospaye system to become a legitimate and recognized unit of social and political organization in the District of Wounded Knee and across the reservation. Another goal of the project is to reclaim and sustainably utilize lands traditionally held by tiyospayes for living and economic development such as raising bison, farming, and tourism.
The objectives of the project include:
- Identify individuals in the Wounded Knee District to serve as liaisons for their tiyospaye in district and reservation-wide planning and decision-making.
- Develop a representative board of directors made up of tiyospaye liaisons.
- Assist each tiyospaye to develop a long term vision and plan for their tiyospay.
- Assist each tiyospaye to develop projects in their communities such as gardens, craft coops, housing, raising bison, tourism, etc.
- Partner with Village Earth and other organizations to locate, access, and manage resources needed by tiyospayes for their plans (e.g. cash, tools and equipment, information, training, etc.)
- Bring tiyospayes together periodically to focus on district wide issues such as land use, tourism, craft sales, etc.
As of July 2007 the Wounded Knee Tiyospaye Project has identified and mobilized eight separate tiyospayes and corresponding liaisons in the Wounded Knee District who are now recognized at district meetings. They include: Wounded Knee (Canke Ope), White Butte (Makoska), Manderson, White Horse Creek (Sungska Wakpa), Hehun Gleska, Grass Creek (Peji Wakpa), Crazy Horse (Tasunke Witko), Pepper Creek Tiyospaye, and Wakan Tiyospaye.
The project has also developed an initial map of the traditional tiyospaye communities on reservation using a geographic information system (GIS). The purpose of this map is to raise awareness and begin a dialogue on the nature, role, and potential future of these communities on the reservation life.