Spring Update from Earth Tipi

Vermiculture workshop sponsored by Earth Tipi on the Pine Ridge Reservation

By Shannon Freed, Director of Earth Tipi

Spring has sprung and Earth Tipi has been making plans for the coming season all winter! First some exciting updates on current news. In November Earth Tipi hosted a Lakota language immersion experience for children at the Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit in Rapid City. Children experienced the Lakota language through story telling, computer interactive games and a video corner that featured the Lakota Bears (Berenstein Bears in the Lakota language). In January I teamed up with Arlo Iron Cloud of KILI Radio in Porcupine to do an early morning radio show about foods that heal. Each week a different food is featured and its medical properties are discussed. Information shared includes meal preparation uses and cooking recipes. Also new to Earth Tipi programming are school presentations. I have been making regular visits to the Lakota Waldorf School where the children learn about different food ingredients, where they come from and then they create something from the ingredients. Playdough and Granola were both big hits with these kindergarteners. This month we featured Vermiculturist John Victor Anderson “The Colorado Worm Man” of Fort Collins. John visited both the Little Wound High School, Lakota Waldorf and did a community presentation in Wounded Knee. At Little Wound, Automotive and Carpentry students learned how to transform an old refrigerator into a worm bin. Two bins were made using non functioning refrigerators that would have otherwise gone to the dump. The following day John presented to 9th and 10th graders in Biology and Physical Science classes. These classes will be responsible for raising the worms using food collected from cafeteria waste. In April, students from the Art class will decorate the bins.

This summer we will turn our existing fruit tree orchard into a food forest. We plan to expand our gardens and are in the process of implementing new permaculture techniques including a “hugelkultur” which will help store water so that we can work to eliminate the need for irrigation in our garden. We will also be repeating our collaboration with the William Penn House of Washington D.C. to take three youth from our reservation to Washington D.C. for one week following a visit from D.C. area high school students. One intern position will be offered to a local youth and it is hoped that funds can be raised to pay a small stipend for this position.

We will be very busy this summer as we work to complete the gazebo project we started last summer as well as construct an outdoor kitchen which will feature a cob oven, solar oven and bengali pit stove. If funds are raised we will also construct a greenhouse, root cellar and a home office for Earth Tipi made from light straw clay. We are currently in the process for raising funds for all of these projects and will need to raise $150,000 by August. If you are interested in supporting Earth Tipi in these endeavors please visit http://earthtipi.org/support to make an online contribution. Pilamaya, Shannon Freed, Director Earth Tipi

 

Help Build a Pallet House on Pine Ridge

Cob/Strawbale house built by Sustainable Homestead Designs in 2010 workshop. Click here to see more photos at SHD's website.

Village Earth’s newest grassroots affiliate on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Sustainable Homestead Designs, in collaboration with New Jura Natural Building is hosting a Pallet House Building Workshop on the Pine Ridge Reservation July 23, 2011 – August 31, 2011.

Pallet homes are inexpensive, relatively simple to build and are highly energy-efficient. Learn the specifics and intricacies of building a house start to finish using pallets! Foundation preparation/building, laying electrical, plumbing , installing windows as well as building custom doors and cabinetry will all be covered.

Walter  Yellow Hair and his wife having been living in a camping trailer on their land for the past 2 years (incl through where temps drop as far as -50). With few resources and no help, Walter has been attempting to build his own home. However, during the harsh winter his efforts were blown over by strong winds. We are excited to be building this house for such a motivated and deserving family!

The cost of the workshop is $1500.00 (includes: food, camping and instruction)

For more information about participating in or supporting this project please contact Shannon Freed at:

Home – 605-867-2259
Cell – 605-454-0315
Email: [email protected]

Click Here to support this project with a financial contribution.

About Sustainable Homestead Designs:

Sustainable Homestead Designs is to create sustainable and accessible housing and food sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in an effort to build resilience to climate change as well as improve the general standard of living in the community. Our first goal is to complete a sustainable homestead as a working model. This will serve as an example for the community in regards to what is possible. Phase two began this March and will focus on food production as well as construction of a house made from pallets. http://www.sustainablehomesteaddesigns.org

About New Jura Natural Building:

David Reed has been a conventional building contractor for 24 years. He has spent the last six years focusing on natural building techniques and creating an intentional community in Texas. The philosophy at New Jura is simple, “Let go of all the things in life that bust your wallet!”. Everyone wants a spot where they can feel more relaxed and free and that’s what we have. Reduce, the new stuff you buy. Reuse, the stuff you already have. Recycle, the stuff that’s left. http://www.newjurabuilding.info

Agricultural Resources Planning & Management Meeting on Pine Ridge

The Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office is hosting an Agricultural Resources Planning & Management Meeting March 30th and 31st at the Prairie Wind Casino on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. For more information contact 605-867-5305.

Download Village Earth’s Strategic Land Planning Map Book for the Pine Ridge Reservation

Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book

The purpose of this book is to make information about reservation lands more accessible to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and to promote greater grassroots awareness and participation in land-use planning and management of their natural resources.

Created by Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Range Units and the History of Leasing Lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Village Earth – Fort Collins, Co 

Today, nearly 60% of the Pine Ridge Reservation is being leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), often times to non-tribal members. Despite the fact that lands allotted to Lakotas have been in the federal leasing system for several generations, over 70% of families on the reservation would like to live on and utilize their allotted lands. According to 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations, the market value of agriculture commodities produced on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2007 totaled $54,541,000. Yet, less than 1/3 ($17,835,000) of that income went to Native American producers.

The reason so few Lakota’s are utilizing Reservation lands today can be traced back to a history of discriminatory policies enacted by Congress just a few years after the signing of the General Allotment Act that opened up Reservation lands to non-Native producers. These policies affected Native Americans nationwide. According to Village Earth’s study of the USDA data, in total numbers, Native Americans represent only 1.6% of the farmers and ranchers operating on Reservation lands. Today, for most Native American Reservations in the United States, more than two-thirds of the farms and ranches are controlled by non-natives. As might be expected, this disparity in land use has had a dramatic impact on the ability of Native Americans to fully benefit from their natural resources. Statistics on income reveal that the total value of agricultural commodities produced on Native American Reservations in 2007 totaled over $2.1 Billion dollars, yet, only 16% of that income went to Native American farmers and ranchers.

The unequal land-use patterns seen on reservations today is a direct outcome of discriminatory lending practices, land fractionation and specifically, Federal policies over the last century that have excluded native land owners from the ability to utilize their lands while at the same time opening it up to non-native farmers and ranchers. Discriminatory lending practices, as argued in court cases such as the pending Keepseagle vs. Vilsack, claim that Native Americans have been denied roughly 3 billion in credit.  Another significant obstacle is the high degree of fractionation of Reservation lands caused by the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887. Over a century of unplanned inheritance under the GAA has created a situation where reservation lands have become severely fractionated. Today, for a Native land owner to consolidate and utilize his or her allotted lands they may have to get the signed approval of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of separate land owners. As a result, most Indian land owners have few options besides leasing their lands out as part of the Federal Government’s leasing program. Additionally, historical and racially-based policies by the Federal government have been designed to exclude Native American farmers and ranchers from utilizing their own lands, opening them up to non-natives for a fraction of their far market value.

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 Indian 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.” Clearly designed to alienate lands from Native Americans, this act dramatically increased the number of leases issued across the country. For the Pine Ridge Reservation the practice was so widespread, that in a 1915 Government report, it was noted that over 56% of the adult males on the reservation were considered incapable of managing their lands and thus they were forcefully leased out. In 1920 the Government Superintendent for Pine Ridge wrote, “It has been my policy to insist upon the utilization of all these lands and the grass growing upon it and this has restricted members of the tribe owning stock to their own allotments, and such land adjoining that they have leased.” Not only were a great number of Native Americans denied the ability to utilize their allotted lands, many did not even receive the lease income collected by the Federal Government. Today, it is estimated that Native Americans are owed upwards of 47 billion dollars by the Federal Government for 120 years of oil, timber, agriculture, grazing and mining leases (See Cobell vs. Salazar).

According to Village Earth, the disparity in land use on Native American Reservations will only worsen with each new generation until Native Americans are given a fair chance at accessing the credit and other forms assistance available to non-natives. Additionally, the Government should honor its obligation as trustee and pay the over 47 billion dollars in revenue it has received for the leasing of Native American lands over the last 120 years. Lastly, the Department of Interior should place special emphasis on repairing the fractionation problem created by the General Allotment Act by providing information and support to individual allottees to consolidate and utilize their lands. In particular, speeding up the appraisal and survey process for which they are responsible.

JULY 2010 PINE RIDGE UPDATE

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 7 years since the start of the Lakota Lands Recovery Project (LLRP). Regular reflection is a cental component to Village Earth’s praxis approach to community empowerment. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, the term praxis refers to an ongoing cycle of analysis, action, and reflection that has the power to reveal the root causes of oppression as well as the path out. The LLRP itself was launched after nearly two years of facilitating meetings across the reservation where we asked community groups about their vision for the future. By in large, this vision was about getting out of the overcrowded and deteriorating government housing projects and back onto their lands. Guided by this vision, the LLRP was formed, serving as a grassroots support organization to grassroots initiatives to recover, protect and utilize their lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Allied in praxis with people across the reservation we’ve learned many things about the tangled web of history, policy, bureaucracy, and trauma that Residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation and reservations across this country face on a day to day basis. This has evolved into three central pillars of our strategy; 1. Supporting Lakota’s who are already utilizing their lands, 2. Providing education and outreach on land-recovery, land-use, and 3. Advocating for the rights of Native Americans across the nation to utilize their own lands. Below I’ll try to briefly update you on the ways we are supporting each pillar.

The focus of our efforts for the first pillar has been in supporting the development of the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC), a cooperative we helped establish in 2008 to market and distribute grassfed and field harvested buffalo meat raised by Lakota families on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Shortly after it’s incorporation in the State of South Dakota, we helped to form a regional distributor for Northern Colorado Allied Natural Meats (ANM), Ltd. For the past two years, ANM has been buying buffalo raised by the LBCC and distributing throughout Northern Colorado which is helping to generate income for these small producers on the Reservation to cover their expenses and grow their herds. It can also be purchased online at www.lakotabuffalocaretakers.org. We’ve continued our yearly donations of Buffalo in partnership with the Danylchuck Buffalo Ranch in Rye, Colorado. We’ve also been working with a private donor and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Elderly Assistance Program to distribute buffalo meat raised by the LBCC to elders across the reservation. We are happy to announce the re-organization and re-birth of the Lone Buffalo Project. It is now in the control of Henry Red Cloud and his Tiwahe. We are excited that this reorganization will breathe new life and energy into this project. Also, we are looking forward to assisting Virgil Bush to start up a new buffalo ranch on the reservation this fall. Virgil has been a long-time supporter of Buffalo reintroduction on Pine Ridge and after our recent fundraising tour in Germany and Switzerland, we are looking forward to helping him establish a herd of his own.

For the second pillar of our approach, we have recently completed a project in partnership with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) to simplify the maze of bureaucracy, forms, and applications necessary for Native land-recovery and use across Indian country. This work will be appearing in a forthcoming edition of the “Message Runner,” the ILTF’s newsletter. We also continue our work answering questions and distributing information to Lakota’s interested in consolidating and utilizing their lands. In fact, we have run out of copies of our highly popular strategic land planning manual/atlas. We are currently looking for funding to update and print more copies. This fall, we are also planning on developing an online course in Native Strategic Land Planning to be offered to make this information available to Indian allottees across the country.

Lastly, for the third pillar, we continue to weigh in on the debate regarding Native American land-use, in particular putting pressure on the government to honor their trust responsibility by processing appraisals and land exchange applications in a timely manner, a process that now takes nearly 4 years! We are happy to announce that because of our research, the Head of the BIA acknowledged that the land application “system is broken” at a major conference on Native American Agriculture. We plan to continue raising awareness of the general public and putting pressure on policy makers to lower the barriers for Native Americans to live on and utilize their own lands!

Update from Pine Ridge

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 7 years since the start of the Lakota Lands Recovery Project (LLRP). Regular reflection is a cental component to Village Earth’s praxis approach to community empowerment. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, the term praxis refers to an ongoing cycle of analysis, action, and reflection that has the power to reveal the root causes of oppression as well as the path out. The LLRP itself was launched after nearly two years of facilitating meetings across the reservation where we asked community groups about their vision for the future. By in large, this vision was about getting out of the overcrowded and deteriorating government housing projects and back onto their lands. Guided by this vision, the LLRP was formed, serving as a grassroots support organization to grassroots initiatives to recover, protect and utilize their lands on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Allied in praxis with people across the reservation we’ve learned many things about the tangled web of history, policy, bureaucracy, and trauma that Residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation and reservations across this country face on a day to day basis. This has evolved into three central pillars of our strategy; 1. Supporting Lakota’s who are already utilizing their lands, 2. Providing education and outreach on land-recovery, land-use, and 3. Advocating for the rights of Native Americans across the nation to utilize their own lands. Below I’ll try to briefly update you on the ways we are supporting each pillar.

The focus of our efforts for the first pillar has been in supporting the development of the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC), a cooperative we helped establish in 2008 to market and distribute grassfed and field harvested buffalo meat raised by Lakota families on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Shortly after it’s incorporation in the State of South Dakota, we helped to form a regional distributor for Northern Colorado Allied Natural Meats (ANM), Ltd. For the past two years, ANM has been buying buffalo raised by the LBCC and distributing throughout Northern Colorado which is helping to generate income for these small producers on the Reservation to cover their expenses and grow their herds. It can also be purchased online. We’ve continued our yearly donations of Buffalo in partnership with the Danylchuck Buffalo Ranch in Rye, Colorado. We’ve also been working with a private donor and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Elderly Assistance Program to distribute buffalo meat raised by the LBCC to elders across the reservation. We are happy to announce the re-organization and re-birth of the Lone Buffalo Project. It is now in the control of Henry Red Cloud and his Tiwahe. We are excited that this reorganization will breathe new life and energy into this project. Also, we are looking forward to assisting Virgil Bush to start up a new buffalo ranch on the reservation this fall. Virgil has been a long-time supporter of Buffalo reintroduction on Pine Ridge and after our recent fundraising tour in Germany and Switzerland, we are looking forward to helping him establish a herd of his own.

For the second pillar of our approach, we have recently completed a project in partnership with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) to simplify the maze of bureaucracy, forms, and applications necessary for Native land-recovery and use across Indian country. This work will be appearing in a forthcoming edition of the “Message Runner,” the ILTF’s newsletter. We also continue our work answering questions and distributing information to Lakota’s interested in consolidating and utilizing their lands. In fact, we have run out of copies of our highly popular strategic land planning manual/atlas. We are currently looking for funding to update and print more copies. To read more about the three pillars of our work, please visit the Pine Ridge project blog.