2016 Holiday Fundraising Campaign to Support Village Earth’s Global Affiliates

2016holidaycampaign

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 Global Affiliate NameGeographic FocusAbout 
Facebook-Vert-LogoVillage Earth Area of Most NeedGlobalLet Village Earth decide how best to allocate your donation.
AmahoroAmahoro ProjectBurundiAmahoro project is a collaboration betweeen Colorado State University and Ngozi University in Burundi (UNG) to establish UNG as a ongoing site and dissemination center for research in sustainable peace and development.
CRDTCambodia Rural Development Team Northeast CambodiaWorks to sustainably improve food security, incomes, and living standards of subsistence rural communities in support of environmental conservation throughout Cambodia.
Earth TipiEarth TipiPine Ridge Reservation, SDWorks to sustainably improve food security, incomes, and living standards of subsistence rural communities in support of environmental conservation throughout Cambodia.
Eco_VEco-Friendly VolunteersSri LankaECO-V is a voluntary organization engaged in environmental conservation in Sri Lanka. ECO-V has a network of 400 volunteers throughout Sri Lanka who contribute to research and community work to support conservation of the environment.
EYCEmpowering Youth CambodiaPnom Penh, CambodiaEYC is a organization working to improve the lives of young people and their families. Our vision is to see youth empowered with skills & confidence to be leaders who actively develop themselves, their families and community.
FOFCODForum for Community Change and DevelopmentSouth SudanFOFCOD envisions a new generation of productive and self-reliant south Sudanese who can ably participate in community development programs to meet their needs and those of other disadvantaged groups.
GOLDGrowing Liberia Democracy (GOLD)LiberiaGOLD promotes poverty reduction as well as democratic & high quality governance by empowering local communities to effectively engage their law makers as to make policy decisions favorable for Liberians and to be fully transparent.
ICA_NEPAlInstitute of Cultural Affairs (Nepal)NepalICA’s mission is to promote social innovation through participation and community building. We do this throughout the country through training, facilitation & development activities.  
Human-and-Hope-Association-500x500Human and Hope AssociationSiem Reap, CambodiaHuman and Hope Association works to empower Cambodians to create sustainable futures for themselves through projects focused on education, vocational training and community support.
JalambaJalamba Nursery School ProjectThe GambiaThe goal of the of the Association is to empower youths, children and vulnerable families through education. The project has government support as a new school  which will serve ages of one through six. 
JenzeraJenzeraColombiaSupports community processes so that people can freely decide on their social, political and economic lives by defending their territories, empowering their own governments and developing a self-managed economies.
KnifeChiefKnife Chief Buffalo NationPine Ridge Reservation, SDThe Knife Chief Buffalo Nation, a grassroots project on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, works to reclaim 1800 acres of ancestral lands for restoring buffalo, and Lakota culture and lifeways.
LBCCLakota Buffalo Caretakers CooperativePine Ridge Reservation, SDThe Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC) is a 100% Native American owned and operated cooperative association on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Its membership is made up of small family buffalo caretakers who respect the buffalo and the land. Members of the LBCC are committed to the restoration of the northern plains ecology, self-sufficiency and strengthening the sovereignty and self-determination of the Oglala Lakota Nation and all indigenous peoples.
LLRPLakota Lands Recovery ProjectSouth Dakota ReservationsThe LLRP works to reclaim and consolidate tribal lands and access the resources needed for the Lakota people to live on, protect, and utilize it — promoting self-determination and sovereignty.
MalocaMalocaAmazon BasinWorks with Indigenous Peoples living in the Amazon Basin. It works directly with Indigenous leaders to raise awareness about the needs of their communities and find means to establish self-sustaining strategies to address their needs.
TasunkeWakanTasunke WakanPine Ridge Reservation, SDOur primary goal is to develop and implement Lakol Wicohan (Lakota life ways and laws, which includes language, values, beliefs, ceremonies and laws of the Lakota people) within the Oyate (Community).
TRCDATitukuke RCDAPetuake, ZambiaTRCDA is devoted to to uplifting livelihoods, reducing illiteracy, poverty and HIV/AIDS Health problems among the communities in Petauke, Zambia

Order Tanka Bar and Support Lakota Bison Restoration and Land Recovery Efforts

11-25-11-18-10-109-000871480-TankaBarboxwithbars

This Holiday Season, give the gift the healthy, delicious buffalo meat products produced by Native American Natural Foods, a 100% Native American owned and operated business based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Even better, 20%  of each order will support Lakota Bison Restoration and Land Recovery/Restoration Efforts. 

All Tanka Products are 100% Natural, never use Preservatives, Erythorbates, Potassium Sorbate, Fillers, or Artificial Flavors. They are Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). They are also Soy-Free, and contain NO Hormones or Antibiotics, and NO MSG. There are NO added Nitrites or Nitrates. Our products are packed full of Energy. At Native American Natural Foods, we follow the stringent Whole Foods product approval list.

Use the links below to order online at Native American Natural Foods. We’ll receive 20% of anything you order from their site.

 

 

TANKA BAR

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

Made from tart-sweet cranberries and prairie-raised buffalo, the Tanka Bar is a delicious real food bar with a smoky, slightly-sweet flavor.

100% Natural and only 70-calories, Tanka Bars are the perfect food for anyone who’s on the go — athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, students, busy moms, and pow-wow dancers. Gluten-free, hormone-free and low-fat, the Tanka Bars are deliciously perfect for every diet lifestyle. Tanka Bars are guaranteed shelf-stable for up to 12 months.

There are three delicious flavors to choose from:

  • APPLE ORANGE PEEL
  • SLOW SMOKED ORIGINAL
  • SPICY PEPPER

 

TANKA BITES

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

With the same great taste and amazing nutrition as the Tanka Bars, our Tanka Bites feature 3 ounces of bite-size buffalo and cranberry nuggets in a resealable package.

Tanka Bites are the perfect way to enjoy Tanka’s grass-fed bison goodness with your family and friends. Since the Bites come in 3-oz. pouches, you don’t have to hoard your Bison anymore.

There are three delicious flavors to choose from:

  • APPLE ORANGE PEEL
  • SLOW SMOKED ORIGINAL
  • SPICY PEPPER

Like the bars, Tanka Bites are also 100% Natural, 70 calories per serving, low-fat, gluten-free and hormone-free. Throw some in your purse, backpack or your saddlebag to enjoy on the trail. Tanka Bites are guaranteed shelf-stable for up to 12 months.

TANKA STICKS

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

A great alternative to the usual processed sticks, Tanka Sticks combine the goodness of prairie-raised Buffalo and tart-sweet Cranberries in a convenient, eat-as-you-go snack stick.

Perfect for a quick, healthy pick-me-up, the 1-ounce Tanka Sticks come in three great flavors:

  • APPLE ORANGE PEEL
  • SLOW SMOKED ORIGINAL
  • SPICY PEPPER

Tanka Wild Gourmet Summer Sausage: In addition to our great Sticks, this recipe is also available as a Gourmet Summer Sausage. Tender and savory, this perfectly seasoned sausage also features the delicious combination of Buffalo, Cranberries and Wild Rice. Available in Original flavor only.

Tanka Sticks and Gourmet Summer Sausages are 100% Natural, low-fat, gluten-free and hormone-free and guaranteed shelf-stable for up to 12 months.

TANKA ONNIT WARRIOR BAR

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

Made from tart-sweet cranberries, jalapeno and habanero peppers, and prairie-raised buffalo, the Tanka Onnit Warrior is a delicious 2-ounce real food bar with 14 grams of protein and 140 calories.

Perfect as a “recovery food” for high-performance athletes, Tanka Onnit Warrior Bars are gluten-free, hormone-free and low-fat. They are guaranteed shelf-stable for up to 12 months.

 

 

TANKA GOURMET BUFFALO JERKY

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

Created because YOU asked for it, our Tanka Gourmet Buffalo Cranberry Jerky is deliciously meaty, wholly satisfying and 100 percent natural.

Made from top premium whole-muscle cuts, we slow-cure each slice of our tender Gourmet Buffalo Jerky in real cranberries, with no artificial ingredients. This is simply the best buffalo jerky you will ever taste.

Tanka Gourmet Buffalo Jerky is guaranteed shelf-stable for up to 12 months.

TANKA GIFTS

GLUTEN-FREE * NITRATES-FREE * MSG-FREE * HORMONE-FREE

We’re happy to introduce our new selection of Tanka Gifts, perfect for any special occasion. Choose from a seasonally available assortment of gift baskets, each filled with a carefully chosen selection of healthy Tanka products that are perfect to share with family, friends and co-workers.

Smoky and slightly sweet, Tanka Bars, Tanka Bites, and Tanka Sticks are made from tart-sweet cranberries and prairie-raised buffalo. All are 100% Natural and only 70-calories per serving. Gluten-free, hormone-free and low-fat, Tanka products are deliciously perfect for every lifestyle.

Seasonally available in a range of sizes, Tanka gift baskets are right for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or just to make someone smile.

NOTE: Not all gift baskets are available year-round.

Village Earth Releases 3rd “Seed Herd” of Bison on The Pine Ridge Reservation


(Above: An excited crowd watches a herd of bison launch out of the trailer onto their new home on the Pine Ridge Reservation, SD)

Today, Village Earth released it’s 3rd “seed herd” of Bison on the Pine Ridge Reservation! The bison came from the Danylchuck ranch in Rye Colorado as part Village Earth’s Adopt-A-Buffalo program and were released onto the Brave Heart’s land 5 miles west of Pine Ridge village. Village Earth has been working with the Brave Heart family since February of this year to prepare their land, fencing, and water resources for the arrival of the bison.

Despite the cold and rain, over 30 people from across the reservation came out the Brave Heart’s land for the release which included prayers, songs and stories about the buffalo, and a talk by Basil and Bob Brave Heart about the importance of reclaiming the land, restoring the ecology of the great plains, and the importance of the buffalo for the Lakota people.

On Friday night, prior to the release, the Brave Heart Singers performed at a dinner event at the Historic Arkansas River Project in downtown Pueblo, Colorado to celebrate the pickup of the buffalo and to honor the Danylchuck family for the bison.

The buffalo were rounded up and corralled on a sunny day in Rye Colorado and followed by picnik provided by the Danylchucks.

A HUGE Thank You and Was Te! Goes out to Henry Red Cloud and Bret Tsacher (of the Lone Buffalo Project), John “the Worm Man” Anderson, and Bryan Deans (of Butte Bio Fuels), and Ralf Kracke-Berndorf for their help in ensuring that the buffalo were delivered safely to Pine Ridge in time for the scheduled release.

2nd Annual Buffalo Exchange Dinner (Sept. 23, 2005)

Join us for the 2nd Annual Buffalo Exchange Dinner in Pueblo, Colorado to support our Adopt-A-Buffalo program and to celebrate the releasing of our 3rd seed herd of buffalo for a family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The evening will feature a BBQ dinner, speakers from the Pine Ridge Reservation and a performance by the Brave Heart Drum Group.

Event Date: September 23rd, 2005
Event Time: 6:00pm
Event Location: On the Pueblo Riverwalk, in the Lake Elizabeth Pavilion, at the corner of Victoria & Greenwood.
Cost: Free: ($20.00 for dinner and a portion goes to support the project)

To attend contact: David Bartecchi, 970-218-5157 or [email protected]

Adopt a buffalo; help the Lakota rebuild a nation (Article in Today’s Pueblo Chieftain)


In late June I traveled to South Dakota in search of the Buffalo Nation and have been thinking of little else since. The images of the Black Hills, the Badlands, the rolling grasslands, the rain, lightning, thunder and the buffalo parade through my head like a slide show.

Mostly I think about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and wonder if 200 buffalo, a couple of dozen families, a few thousand acres of land, a handful of windmills and a seven-generation-old strategic plan for self-sufficiency can make a difference.

Will the return of the buffalo really make the Oglala Lakota spiritually strong and make the sacred hoop whole again? Will the sacred tree that Black Elk once believed died at Wounded Knee sprout green leaves again?

Readers of the four-part series – In Search of the Buffalo Nation – that appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain earlier this week know that the Buffalo Nation is made up of a handful of Oglala Lakota people who share a vision of living off their land and declaring themselves independent of U.S. government handouts.

They represent a movement to return to the land, acquire a seed herd of buffalo, build fences and reservoirs, drill wells and build energy-efficient houses powered by electrical wind generators, and produce biodiesel fuel to power machines, vehicles and back-up generators.

Through sheer determination and with organizational help from Village Earth, a Fort Collins-based nonprofit that seeks to help people become self-sufficient on the land, the nucleus for the Buffalo Nation has been formed.

Will this tiny seed survive in an environment of 35 percent unemployment, persistent alcoholism, widespread diabetes and 70 percent of the adult population with less than a high school education? Does it even have a chance?

Because they are able to see beyond their own generation in both directions, destiny may have more to do with it than chance. Henry Red Cloud, a fifth-generation descendent of the great 19th Century Chief Red Cloud, tells the story of seven generations. It was a simple plan laid out by Chief Red Cloud, one of the first to sign treaties and move on to a reservation in the mid-1800s. For seven generations, the Oglala Lakota were to “learn the goodness” of the white society; take that goodness and combine it with the goodness of the Lakota and apply the best of both to create a self-sufficient future for the next seven generations.

For Henry Red Cloud, that vision translates into a family-operated buffalo ranch with passive solar earth houses powered by the wind and sun. Bryan Deans’ share of the vision is for the reservation to become energy independent by producing ethanol and biodiesel fuels from waste oils.

Pueblo native David Bartecchi, Village Earth’s main organizer on the reservation, is connecting the dots. Through hundreds of interviews, he has identified families wanting to regain control of their land and created an inventory of resources for helping these families to become self-sufficient.

It was fascinating to spend a few days on Pine Ridge and see firsthand these visionaries at work: Men and women who are struggling to create a better life for themselves and for generations to come.

Most humbling and haunting was a brief visit to a hill overlooking Wounded Knee where an estimated 300 Oglala Lakota men, women and children – who died in a hail of bullets and cannon fire in a massacre at the hands of the Seventh Calvary on Dec. 29, 1890 – are buried in a mass grave.

In February 1973, the same hill was the scene of a 71-day armed occupation of Wounded Knee by members and supporters of the American Indian Movement. I was a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder when AIM leaders Russell Means and Dennis Banks came to campus seeking support for the occupation. As members of the United Mexican American Students, we marched in Denver to the federal courthouse in support of AIM and the Wounded Knee occupation.

Visiting Wounded Knee with Henry Red Cloud and hearing his historical account of the massacre and his first-person account of the occupation (he visited the encampment with his father as a adolescent), put the Oglala Lakotas’ current struggle into context.

Wounded Knee was where the Oglala Lakota nation was crushed; the hoop broken and the tree of life uprooted. It also was where the Oglala Lakota stood up and reclaimed their vision for self-determination. Now, three decades later, the vision has produced a seed for a self-sufficient future.

Suddenly, it all made sense. What is happening on Pine Ridge may be the brightest hope for the Oglala Lakota Nation since 1890. More importantly, their success could become a model for others who seek to return to the land and strive for self-sufficiency and the independence that comes with it.

While the series was running in The Chieftain, Pueblo physician, Carl Bartecchi, David Bartecchi’s father, called to say he had received numerous phone calls expressing support for his son’s work. One patient went to the doctor’s office to deliver a $1,000 donation to Village Earth’s Pine Ridge project.

Next month, David Bartecchi, Henry Red Cloud and a delegation of Oglala Lakota will return to Pueblo to receive a second donation of buffalo from Ken and Kathy Danylchuck. While they are in town, they would like to meet with local supporters to talk more about their efforts. When a time and place for such a meeting has been determined, it will be announced in The Chieftain.

Donations to the Adopt-a-Buffalo project can be made through Village Earth by calling (970) 491-5754, or send a check to: Village Earth, P.O. Box 797, Fort Collins, CO 80521. Be sure to write: “Adopt-A-Buffalo Program” in the memo.

Juan Espinosa, a Chieftain night city editor, can be reached by calling 544-3520, ext. 423, or by e-mail at: [email protected] .

BRAVE HEARTS GET THEIR LAND BACK


FINAL IN A SERIES

 

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
Basil Brave Heart, a veteran of the Korean War and Lakota spiritual leader, is preparing for the social upheaval he says is coming.

720-acre ranch next to receive donated Rye buffalo herd

By JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – On July 1, Basil and Charlotte Brave Heart successfully pulled the family’s 720 acres out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs land-leasing program.

They are now busy preparing the land for the arrival of a donated seed herd of buffalo from Rye, Colo., rancher Ken Danylchuk in late September.

Influenced by the Village Earth’s Adopt-a-Buffalo Project, the Brave Hearts decided to reclaim their land, located between Pine Ridge, S.D., and Oglala, and remove the cattle ranchers who had been leasing it for $3 an acre per year.

Basil Brave Heart claims the land itself called him back. “The earth was crying; it was being overgrazed,” he said. In addition to most of the grass, the cattle had eaten the tipsila (wild turnips), he lamented.

Regaining control of land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by the Oglala Lakota inhabitants has never been easy, according to Basil, who gave a brief history of the Brave Heart tiyospaye’s (family’s) land.

“Dad had 160 acres given to him by his grandma in the 1920s (under the 1887 General Allotment Act, or Dawes Act),” Basil Brave Heart said. “He used the land as collateral to build a house and defaulted. But the bank couldn’t take possession because the land was in a trust.”

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTO/DAVID BARTECCHI
A large bull keeps a watchful eye on the photographer as other members of a buffalo herd graze in a Pine Ridge Indian Reservation pasture.

Under the Dawes Act, Lakota landowners had to be determined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be competent to be able to live on and use their own land. If they were competent, they were issued a forced fee patent, which meant they had to pay taxes. Over the years, much of this land was lost to back taxes.

If an owner was ruled incompetent, the land went into a land bank managed by the BIA. In 1919, more than half the reservation landowners were determined to be incompetent.

“Indian people who didn’t speak English were determined to be incompetent and you couldn’t use your land,” Basil Brave Heart said.

The Brave Heart land was subsequently bought by an Austrian immigrant who married a Lakota woman and bought the land in her name. The Austrian, known as “Hungry Joe,” purchased additional land.

Eventually, Hungry Joe ended up in a nursing home and in the 1980s, the Brave Hearts bought the land back from his second wife, Christine Blacksmith. The process of getting the land out of the BIA’s control was frustrating, Basil Brave Heart said.

“The whole bureaucratic obstacle course was designed to discourage people,” he said. “It was hard to understand.”

The Pueblo Chieftain Online

According to David Bartecchi, director of program development for Village Earth in Pine Ridge, the Brave Hearts’ story is typical. Roughly 60 percent of the land allotted to Lakota families during the 1887 General Allotment Act is being leased out bythe Bureau of Indian Affairs to non-tribal members for an average of $3.50 an acre per year, Bartecchi said.

In comparison, a 2004 South Dakota State University Farm Real Estate Survey says the average rental rate in this region of South Dakota for non-irrigated cropland is $23.10 and $10 an acre for rangeland.

Basil Brave Heart, who is known on the reservation as a spiritual leader, now wants to dedicate his time and his land to rebuilding the Lakota Nation by bringing back the buffalo.

“Bringing the sacred ones back will reclaim and restore the land,” he said. “Since I took the land back, we’ve had rains. It’s like the lands knew to bring the water back . . . I don’t see the buffalo as an economic (endeavor). The creator gave the Lakota the buffalo to survive. When they attempted to destroy the buffalo, it was an attempt at genocide.”

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
A group of seven from the Parker, Colo., Methodist Church spent a week in June helping the Brave Hearts build their community and ceremonial center.

Like Henry Red Cloud, Basil and Charlotte Brave Heart want to bring their extended families, or tiyospayes, back to live on the land.

“We’re getting ready to bring the family back in anticipation of the chaos that’s going to go on in the cities,” Basil Brave Heart said. “Most of the cities have lost their souls.”

In preparation for the return of his clan, Brave Heart is building a community ceremonial building on his land. In late June, a group of seven adults from the Parker Methodist Church in Parker, Colo., were putting the finishing touches to the exterior of the 30-by-50-foot building.

“We bring a team each year,” said Barbara Meyer, a retired elementary school teacher. “We’re building bridges between our people. We learn not only the Lakota thing, but we learn what we have in common.”

Pueblo Chieftain Begins Series on Village Earth’s Projects on Pine Ridge


The Pueblo Chieftain, out of Pueblo, Colorado, began its series about Village Earth’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The series entitled, “In Search of Buffalo Nation” begins in todays paper and will feature several articles highlighting Village Earth’s community-based projects on the reservation through Wednesday. Since articles are only available on the Chieftain’s website for two weeks, I have decided to re-print the articles on this Blog so keep checking back for updates.
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IN SEARCH OF THE BUFFALO NATION

Today on Page 1B, The Pueblo Chieftain begins a series titled, “In Search of the Buffalo Nation.”

The series is the result of a cultural exchange taking place between a handful of Puebloans and a group of Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Last September, a Rye-area buffalo rancher, Ken Danylchuk, and his wife, Kathy, donated 10 head of buffalo to the Adopt-a-Buffalo Program at Pine Ridge. Next month, the Danylchuks are making a second donation of buffalo to a reservation family.

Henry Red Cloud, a fifth-generation descendant of the famous 19th century Chief Red Cloud, is the Pine Ridge coordinator for the Adopt-a-Buffalo Program. He will return to Pueblo in September to receive the donation of live buffalo and take them back to South Dakota.

Red Cloud says the return of the buffalo to the Lakota, or buffalo people, is more than symbolic. He believes the buffalo may be the catalysts for spiritual and economic revival for the Lakota. He said the delegation represented about a dozen Lakota families attempting to build buffalo herds on the reservation.

“It’s the eternal dream of grandfathers and grandmothers to go back to the natural life,” Red Cloud said. “We come from the buffalo. We’re part of the buffalo nation.”

The buffalo donation was arranged by former Puebloan David Bartecchi, director of program development at Pine Ridge for Village Earth, a nonprofit group based in Fort Collins. Bartecchi helped the Red Cloud family and others start the Adopt-a-Buffalo Program, a nonprofit fundraising effort to help the Lakota with the costs associated with reintroducing buffalo to the reservation Ñ fencing, wells, and breeding stock.

Bartecchi’s father, Carl Bartecchi, told the Danylchuks about the project and they agreed to contribute a truckload of buffalo.

Chieftain staff writer Juan Espinosa, who reported on the first buffalo exchange between the Lakota and the Danylchuks, traveled to Pine Ridge earlier this summer to learn more about the reservation, Henry Red Cloud’s plan for seven generations and what role the buffalo are playing in the spiritual and economic revival of the people who worship them.

Today is the first installment of Espinosa’s reports from Pine Ridge.
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FIRST IN A SERIES

Stories by JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Henry Red Cloud is a man on a mission.

On the surface, it appears his mission is to become self-sufficient on a 320-acre buffalo ranch.

To hear him tell it, the journey is just beginning. The Oglala Lakota are at the end of one seven-generation cycle and embarking on the next seven-generation cycle.

According to Henry Red Cloud, his father, Bernard Red Cloud, just before his death reminded family members that in the mid-1800s their ancestor, Chief Red Cloud, and other Lakota leaders devised what today might be called a strategic plan for seven generations.

“Getting the goodness of light-skinned society” is how Henry Red Cloud summarized what Chief Red Cloud had said. “Learn to live among them, learn their education, their language – all the goodness.”

According to Lakota tradition, a generation is 25 years. Seven generations have been born, signaling the end of that part of the strategic plan.

Henry Red Cloud says it’s time to begin planning for Phase 2 of the plan.

“After the seventh generation, we would become self-sufficient by taking their goodness and that (goodness) of the Lakota,” Henry Red Cloud said.

To secure the future for the next seven generations, Henry Red Cloud believes the Lakota need to regain control of their land.

“Secure the land base,” he said. “If we don’t have any land, we are not a nation.”

On the day Bernard Red Cloud died, “there were seven lightning strikes and a fire (at Tatanka Isnala – Lone Buffalo Ranch),” Henry Red Cloud remembered. “We took that as a sign,” he said.

Henry Red Cloud’s vision for the Lakota is for them to regain control of their land and become less reliant on U.S. government programs and handouts.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTO/DAVID BARTECCHI
Descendants of Chief Red Cloud pose with his portrait and a propeller from a wind generator on the 320 acres where they are building their self-sustaining buffalo ranch.

“After seven generations, we’re still tight with our language, our culture and our ceremonies,” he said. “The main thing is to get back to the land.

“Buffalo, land, wind, sun, water – we understand these things. Like the sacred medicine wheel, red, white, black and yellow – it ties us to our culture.”

Henry Red Cloud, who once left the reservation and worked as a structural steelworker for about 15 years, has returned to live on his father’s land and to create the model for the future by striving to become self-sufficient.

He and wife Nadine and their two boys and a daughter live in a mobile home on 20 acres, formerly owned by Bernard Red Cloud, near the town of Oglala.

Earlier this summer, Henry Red Cloud divided his time between tending a large garden near his home and to the 13 head of buffalo 20 miles away on 320 acres of family land.

A large tepee and tent are left set up in the yard to accommodate the curious who come to visit. The park-like yard also serves as a storage area for a large collection of windows, doors and other building materials neatly stacked under the trees. Henry is stockpiling the materials for houses he intends to build at the buffalo ranch.

At one end of the camping area is the frame of a sweat lodge, considered by many to be the Native American church. About a block away were three walls of an earth and tire “earthship” structure of what is to become a meeting hall.

In one corner of the family’s living room is a contemporary computer. At the other end of the same room is a heavy-duty sewing machine used to sew the Red Cloud Tepees the family makes and sells on the Internet. There was no running water in the house, and a makeshift shower and
outhouse are shared with guests.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTO/DAVID BARTECCHI
Henry Red Cloud shows his children, Johna ‘Princess’ Red Cloud (left) and Wakinyan ‘Thunder Boy’ Red Cloud, how to transplant tomato plants in the family garden. The garden is one of the ways the Red Cloud family is trying to become self-sufficient.

Through Village Earth and David Bartecchi, Henry Red Cloud has become heavily involved in the Adopt-a-Buffalo Program. Earlier this year, they toured Europe for a month promoting Village Earth’s land restoration projects on Pine Ridge to audiences in 10 cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.

Henry Red Cloud organized the delegation that came to Rye last fall to pick up a trailer load of buffalo from Ken Danylchuk and is coming for another shipment next month.

Though he is keenly aware of the spiritual aspects of bringing the “sacred” buffalo to the Lakota who worship them, he is also aware of what it takes to prepare a pasture to hold them.

He works with a network of backyard engineers who are producing biodiesel fuel, making electric wind generators from used auto parts and drilling wells.

Last week, Bartecchi, Henry Red Cloud and the others presented a series of workshops on the reservation on developing sustainable technology. In addition to presentations about biodiesel production, raising buffalo, and wind and solar technologies, the group built a straw-bale structure.

Collectively, they are planting a tiny seed they hope will grow to fulfill their vision for the next seven generations.

“The fire of hope almost went out; we have to rekindle it,” Henry Red Cloud said.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/RALF KRACKE-BERNDORFF
Pueblo native David Bartecchi, who works at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as an organizer for Village Earth, invited The Chieftain to visit the reservation to see first-hand the various examples of sustainable technology taking place there.

On the day the seed herd of buffalo were released on the Red Cloud land, Henry spoke of the seventh generation. “They need to know that we have suffered greatly but that we are strong and resilient. This ceremony and these buffalo will teach our children that we are returning to health and vitality.

“Buffalo can heal us. We can heal each other. At the dawn of the 21st century, we stand here, seven generations since Chief Red Cloud’s capture, to make a powerful statement: We are strong. The Lakota people, families and individuals have a strong future together.”


“(Great Spirit, Grandfather). . .You have given. . .from the south, the nation’s sacred hoop and the tree that was to bloom. To the center of the world you have taken me and showed the goodness and the beauty and the strangeness of the greening earth, the only mother – and there the spirit shapes of things, as they should be, you have shown to me and I have seen. At the center of this sacred hoop you have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

“With tears running, O Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather – with running tears I must say now that the tree has never bloomed. A pitiful old man, you see me here, I have fallen away and have done nothing. Here at the center of the world, where you took me when I was young and taught me; here, old, I stand, and the tree is withered, Grandfather, my Grandfather.

“Again, and maybe the last time on this earth, I recall the great vision you sent me. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree!”

“In sorrow I am sending a feeble voice, O Six Powers of the World. Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again. O make my people live!”

Oglala holy man, Black Elk’s last prayer, recorded by John G. Neihardt during the summer of 1931. Black Elk participated in the defeat of Gen. George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn and was a survivor of the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1891. He was a contemporary of Crazy Horse and Chief Red Cloud. Neihardt is author of “Black Elk Speaks.”

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SECOND IN A SERIES

BY JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

From out of a thundering rainstorm, we reached the land of the Oglala Lakota

Even before we left Rapid City, S.D., it started to rain. A billowing bank of thunderheads loomed on the horizon directly in our path. I told my wife it looked like a bad day to be in a bad thunderstorm in the Badlands. We laughed at my bad play on words and a little because the storm made us nervous.

We were on South Dakota Highway 40, which turns into Highway 41 in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and passing through the western edge of the Badlands. But through the pounding rain, it was difficult to make out the terrain. Lightning flashed all around us. Some bolts struck so close, I barely got to “one thousand one . . .” before hearing the loud clap of thunder.

The windshield wipers were on high speed, but could barely keep up with the blinding rain. Somewhere in the storm, the rough, paved road turned to gravel. I knew we had to be within 50 miles of Pine Ridge, but there were no towns on the map for a long way. I felt my Chevy S10 pickup hydroplaning on the water running down deep ruts in the middle of the road, but was afraid to slow down for fear of getting bogged down in sticky clay.

We passed a sign that invited us to pull over for a scenic view of the Badlands, but all we could see was a thick sheet of rain. Suddenly, the storm broke and the sun illuminated a wet and colorful landscape of rolling hills of tall grass and an occasional butte. We passed large farms, or ranches, looking every bit as prosperous as those we had seen in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Soon, we were on Highway 18 driving into the town of Pine Ridge.

Mobile homes, dilapidated houses and junk cars were scattered haphazardly on the landscape. In contrast, small clusters of identical houses or drab gray mobile homes were grouped in disconnected grids. I was told later that housing is so scarce that sometimes a two-bedroom unit can be occupied by as many as four families, or more than 20 individuals.

It was about 11 a.m. and we were to meet David Bartecchi at Henry Red Cloud’s place in the early afternoon. All we had was a phone number to call. We found the Sioux Nation Shopping Center, a windowless metal building in the center of town. The heavy metal doors with scratched plexiglass windows looked more like the entrance to a jail rather than the main entrance to a grocery store.

Inside, the market had narrow aisles, goods stacked to the ceiling and looked a little like the former SOLO Market in Pueblo’s Bessemer neighborhood.

We bought a few groceries and called Henry Red Cloud from a pay phone. He answered and said he was expecting us. He lives in Oglala and said we had driven past his house on the way to Pine Ridge.

“Did you see a sign that said, ‘Red Cloud Tepees?’ ” Henry asked. We had seen the sign and knew where we had to turn.

Ten minutes later, we turned off at the tepee sign and drove throu
gh deep and rutted mud puddles left by weeks of heavy rains. Soon we saw Henry’s mobile home snuggled in the trees. There were a half dozen people milling about. Through the open front door, I could see Henry working at a computer.

He greeted us warmly and introduced us to members of his family, some friends and several young women from France. The French women were members of the Committee in Solidarity with American Indians and had come to Pine Ridge and Oglala the weekend before for the 30-year commemoration of a shootout between members of the American Indian Movement and federal agents in which two FBI agents were slain in 1975.

Leonard Peltier, a member of AIM, was convicted of the murders and has been in federal prisons since. He has maintained his innocence and was the subject of a documentary film, “Incident at Oglala.”

Henry said the shootout took place about 3 miles from where we were. The French visitors had arrived the previous weekend for the commemoration and were planning to stay a couple of weeks.

“Three miles from where the FBI agents were shot 30 years earlier” – the words seemed to hang in the air. Years ago, I read Peter Matthiessen’s book, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” and followed Peltier’s story in newspaper and television accounts.

Suddenly, it struck me. We had arrived on historical and hallowed grounds. Until now, Wounded Knee, the Black Hills, and the Badlands all were part of a historical landscape I had only visited in books and movies.
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One can see the past and future from the Red Cloud ranch

THIRD IN A SERIES

By JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Henry Red Cloud seemed anxious to show us the 320-acre ranch where he is building a herd of buffalo. Less than an hour after arriving at his home in Oglala, S.D., we were part of a small convoy on its way to Tatanka Isnala, or Lone Buffalo Ranch.

Henry led the way in a beat-up pickup; my wife Deb and I were next in our trusty minitruck, followed by a rented SUV carrying the French women and a couple of young Lakota men brought up the rear in a sedan.

We were traveling about 40 mph when Henry swerved to the right to drive around what looked like a cardboard box. I didn’t react fast enough and drove over it, just as Deb shouted, “It’s a turtle!”

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTO/DAVID BARTECCHI
Spools of barbed wire and fence posts sit on pallets in this file photo. Before the land can receive buffalo, it must be fenced off with sturdy five-strand barbed wire.

Thunk. It was a turtle, I thought as it hit the undercarriage of my pickup. We all pulled over to survey the damage. I was sure the turtle was dead.

Henry stood over the large snapping turtle. It looked stunned, but showed no sign that it had been injured.

“They make good turtle soup; maybe later,” Henry said as he picked the turtle up while being careful to stay out of range of its snapping beak and claws and set it down in the tall grass off the roadway.

When we arrived at Lone Buffalo Ranch, there were no buffalo in sight. We parked on a ridge overlooking a reservoir Henry said he had built to trap rain running off the nearby hills. About 50 yards atits widest point, the lake provided water for the buffalo and one day would be part of a domestic water system for some houses he intends to build on the property.

Across the lake, we could see the top of a small house behind a bluff. Behind the house was a windmill twirling in the wind. Henry explained that the windmill charged a bank of batteries that in turn provided electricity to the house.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTOS/DAVID BARTECCHI
A young buffalo explores his spacious new home on the Tatanka Isnala – Lone Buffalo Ranch – after being released from the tight confines of a livestock trailer.

As we visited, Henry explained that he needed to dig some “snake root” while we were there and pointed to a plant with a pink and lavender flower.

“It’s called echinacea,” Henry said. “It’s major medicine here and it grows wild. It boosts your immune system. We call it snake root.”

Henry used a pickax to dig under the plant and expose its root. He stripped the root down to what looked like a dark brown stick. He broke it into little pieces and passed them around for us to sample. Sometimes the root is chewed into a paste and then applied to a wound to kill pain and to help healing, Henry explained. The chewed paste made one’s mouth numb.

“We always want to replant the seed, every time,” Henry said and then placed the flowers of the snake root in the hole he’d made and patted it down much like replacing a divot on a golf course.

Henry and his wife, Nadine, repeated the sequence several times until they had the quantity of snake root they needed.

It was time to hunt for the buffalo. We all crowded into the open bed of Henry’s pickup and took off across the grassy rolling hills divided by arroyos and valleys.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
A group of Lakota lift a wind generator into place on the Red Cloud’s land in this file photo. The generator provides electrical power to a small house and a water pumping system.

After searching several valleys, we found the 13 head of buffalo on the opposite side of a large arroyo about a quarter-mile away. Initially, there had been 15 buffalo, but one ran off and another was killed by lightning.

Henry walked to the bottom of one side of the arroyo and began throwing feed pellets to the buffalo, but they fell short. He continued across the ravine until he was able to throw the pellets where the buffalo could get to them.

After a while, he returned to the top of the ridge. The buffalo had gotten a taste of the pellets and wanted more. We watched from the ridge as they tried several paths to reach us until one finally succeeded. Soon, the pickup was surrounded by 2- and 3-year-old buffalo and they were practically eating out of our hands.

The young buffalo bumped one another with their heads and horns as they fought for the pellets. Occasionally, the whole pickup shook from their tussling.

From the ridge where we encountered the buffalo, Henry pointed out the Black Hills to the west and the Badlands to the northeast. The sun was getting low in the western sky filled with puffy white clouds. It was a timeless moment; a little like the past and perhaps a glimpse of the future.


SPECIAL REPORT

EDITORS NOTE: “In Search of the Buffalo Nation,” is a series of reports by Chieftain writer Juan Espinosa, who traveled to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in June to learn more about the Adopt-a-Buffalo Program and the shared vision of a handful of families to become self-sufficient.

With the help of Pueblo native David Bartecchi, director of program development at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
for Village Earth, a Fort Collins-based nonprofit, the Lakota families’ quest to become self reliant has taken many forms: buffalo ranches, biodiesel production, wind generators and a move by more families to regain control of their own land.


ADOPT A BUFFALO

Individuals, families, churches, classrooms, can purchase one buffalo for $500 – all at once or in installments. To acknowledge your gift, you will receive a picture and certificate with the Lakota name of your buffalo. n To Adopt-A-Buffalo Call:

Village Earth

970-491-5754

We accept: Visa and MasterCard Or Send a check to: Village Earth PO Box 797 Fort Collins, CO 80521 Be sure to write: “Adopt-A-Buffalo Program” in the

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Bryan Deans dreams of making Pine Ridge independent of OPEC

FOURTH IN A SERIES
By JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

Like a well-kept secret, Bryan Deans’ homemade biodiesel plant is tucked away in a remote corner of Pine Ridge Reservation near Slim Buttes.

But rather than keep his fuel-producing capabilities secret, Deans is trying to show his fellow Oglala Lakota the road to energy independence. He says he could produce as much as 900 gallons of biodiesel fuel every 24 hours with the prototype plant he built, if he had a reliable supply of used cooking oils or rendered fat.

“Look at Brazil Ñ they buy no export oil,” Deans said. “Forty percent of the fuel is made in-country. They don’t buy oil from OPEC.”

That, in a nutshell, is Deans’ personal goal Ñ to make the reservation as energy independent as possible.

“It could be a model for the entire country,” Deans said.

Deans, 36, returned to Pine Ridge eight years ago to run the tribe’s cattle operation. Before that, he had worked for Burlington Northern Railroad as a machinist and a welder. He says the tribal council took back the cattle operation after he made it profitable. He now manages his own cattle operation and is producing biodiesel fuel.

A couple of years ago, Mel Lonchill, a former tribal leader, asked Deans to build a prototype biodiesel plant on wheels so it would be mobile. Deans agreed to build it for $3,000 and he was given blueprints for the prototype. His clients estimated the plant would produce 50 gallons of biodiesel a day.

“I told him I could do a lot better than 50 gallons a day for $3,000,” Deans said.

Deans, who is a few credits shy of a degree in mechanical engineering, says he modified the plans to increase production to 300 gallons in eight hours.

As planned, the mobile biodiesel plant has been built, and plans are to haul it to public events to demonstrate the technology.

On the day we visited Deans, he had the plant operating on one side of his rural driveway. In theory, the plant could produce 900 gallons of biodiesel every 24 hours. If the plant ran 24/7, it could produce 328,000 gallons a year. With diesel costing more than $2 a gallon, the potential net earnings could easily exceed $500,000 a year. Deans says his production costs for a gallon of fuel is about half the price charged at the pumps. But the plant doesn’t run all the time. Cash flow is slow and finding a reliable supply of raw materials is a daily challenge. Deans says he buys truckloads of used cooking oils, fats and other sources of fatty acids from a vendor who makes a circuit of fast-food outlets and rendering plants in the Rapid City vicinity.

Deans buys ethanol and lye which is cooked in a reactor with the fatty acids to produce biodiesel, glycerine, distilled water and a number of other useful byproducts. The glycerine is the base for soaps and Deans is experimenting with making bars of soap.

The biodiesel produced, according to Deans, is a superior product to the diesel fuel sold on the market. He is selling it to a small trucking firm and they say their engines run cooler and have cleaner exhaust than they had with commercial diesel.

Deans stresses that his tiny plant is a prototype of a much larger operation. He has plans for a plant that would produce 10 million gallons of ethanol (gasoline made from corn) and 2.5 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

“I would like to see our tribe and our own people have our own plant so we don’t go begging for something,” Deans said.

He says there is an abundant supply of corn in the area, but a better supply of cooking oil and some investment capital to build the plants is needed.

Earlier this month, David Bartecchi said he had a Fort Collins, Colo., investor willing to put up to $12,000 to underwrite the cost of a tanker load of vegetable oil, ethanol and lye.

Bartecchi is director of program development at Pine Ridge for Village Earth and sees Deans’ biodiesel project as an essential element of his efforts to help the Lakota achieve self-sufficiency.

Henry Red Cloud also sees the biodiesel operation as part of a network of sustainable technologies he is developing. Diesel fuel to run generators, tractors and heavy equipment, cars and trucks is needed. If the buffalo industry flourished, some of the waste products from the buffalo could go into the production of biodiesel. And some of the corn mash and other bi-products from the production of ethanol and biodiesel could be used as supplemental feed for the buffalo.


VILLAGE EARTH

The mission of Village Earth, based in Fort Collins, Colo., is to achieve sustainable community-based development by connecting communities with global resources through training, consulting and networking with organizations worldwide.

  • The president and co-founder of Village Earth, Dr. Maurice Albertson, was instrumental in the development of the U.S. Peace Corps in the 1960s.
  • Village Earth was born in 1993 at an International Conference on Sustainable Village-Based Development in Fort Collins. Since its inception, Village Earth has trained and consulted with hundreds of individuals and organizations in countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Bosnia, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia and elsewhere.
  • Village Earth has been supporting community-based development projects on Pine Ridge since 2000 after being invited by the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority’s Drug Elimination Program to help build the capacity of resident tenant organizations in housing projects in each of the nine districts of the reservation. The scope of Village Earth’s work has expanded to include families out in the “districts,” beyond the numerous villages and cluster housing projects on the reservation.

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Beauty, poverty, alcoholism, spiritualism all part of reservation life

FIFTH IN A SERIES
Stories by JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – The reservation had received daily rainstorms for almost three weeks and was exceptionally lush. Foot-tall green grass blanketed the rolling hills and dark blue skies overhead contrasted sharply with billowing white mountains of clouds.

Pine Ridge obviously gets its name from the groves of pines that line the crest of many of the more jagged and higher hills. To the west are the Black Hills and to the northeast, the Badlands – both areas considered sacred by the Lakota.

Cattle are the dominant livestock seen from the road. Buffalo are rare, but can be found in the most remote areas. The vast majority of reservation land is open range with few dwellings except for the tiny towns that dot the landscape.

In the more rural areas, many people, mostly children, are seen walking along the sides of the roads and a few are riding bareback on ponies.

The Pueblo Chieftain Onlin<br /> e
COURTESY PHOTOS/DAVID BARTECCHI
The rural areas of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are dotted with vacant homes and abandoned cars where families once lived on their land.

Main streets in the town of Pine Ridge are paved, but most of the town’s roadways are gravel. It looks a little like rural Colorado or northern New Mexico in the 1950s. The lack of building codes and covenants is evident by what appears to be mostly substandard housing scattered inpatchy neighborhoods, divided by open fields, often containing a collection of abandoned cars buried in the tall grass.

In contrast to the haphazard communities are clusters of identical dilapidated houses or trailers in uniform rows all painted the same drab green or gray color. The disheveled shacks are a sharp contrast to the million-dollar homes we saw dotting the Black Hills. Widespread poverty is apparent.

In Pine Ridge, all roads lead to the busy main intersection where the Sioux Nation Shopping Center, the department of social services, the busiest gas station and convenience store and the tribal council headquarters are located.

At these crossroads, panhandlers beg tourists for spare change. They look pretty rough, like they don’t get enough sleep and drink too much. Since the reservation is dry, I wondered where those who appeared to have been drinking were getting their liquor. The puzzle was solved the day we left Pine Ridge to return to Colorado. As we drove south out of Pine Ridge, we found that Whiteclay, Neb., was a mere 2 miles from the Sioux Nation Shopping Center.

As we drove the 2 miles, the source of the booze became evident. It was mid-afternoon and we were passing a steady stream of pedestrians reminiscent of a scene from the “Night of the Living Dead.” When we reached Whiteclay, it got worse. On both sides of the street, a few Indian men and fewer women leaned against buildings drinking from paper sacks. Many were passed out under the hot sun.

Alcoholism is a recognized problem on the reservation and in the June 24 edition of the Black Hills People’s News, several stories and poems on the topic were printed. One headline read: “Whiteclay Marcher Asks – ‘Where Are The Men?’ ” It is a report of a June 11 march from Pine Ridge to Whiteclay to pray for those who have lost their lives to alcohol.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTOS/DAVID BARTECCHI
An old church on the reservation symbolizes years of outside religious influence. Christian groups frequently donate time and labor to help with projects on the reservation.

“Whiteclay, Neb., a purportedly notorious border town,” the report says of the border town. “Notorious for the thousands of cans of beer sold to the people of the dry reservation on a weekly basis.”

Other prominent stories in the same issue are indicative of what is on the minds of reservation residents. They include:

Oglala Sioux Tribe takes out $38 million loan; money to improve a casino, pay bills, provide new jobs. On the opposite page is an op-ed piece warning tribe members that Pine Ridge is unincorporated and they all share the burden of the loan collectively.

Enos Poor Bear Jr. and the Lakotas’ greatest victory: An interview with the official Oglala representative on the Little Big Horn Monument committee.

Task force arrests target reservation drug trade: Report of a yearlong undercover operation that resulted in 16 arrests for trafficking marijuana and methamphetamines in and around Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.

Pine Ridge has its problems, but the quality and pace of life still are alluring. People we visited didn’t have many of the modern conveniences we have grown accustomed to, but they had the necessities of life and were thankful for that.

Despite the obvious poverty, it seemed that nearly everyone has a cell phone. Our host, Henry Red Cloud, offered an explanation that could be a model for how government works in mysterious ways. According to Red Cloud, President Clinton visited Pine Ridge a few days after several tornadoes had set down, resulting in some damage and flooding. When Clinton found out the lack of telephones hampered efforts to give advance warning and to contact people in affected areas immediately after the tornadoes had passed, he made cell phones available to reservation residents for a dollar a month. They jokingly refer to them as “commodi-phones”- a takeoff on the government’s food commodities they also receive.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTOS/DAVID BARTECCHI
Pants and a colorful blanket line a clothesline outside one of the typical 50-year-old trailers that are home to many reservation residents.

While driving around the reservation, it became evident that religion plays a significant role. There are numerous Christian churches, church schools and camps. At Basil and Charlotte Brave Heart’s home, we encountered a Christian group from Parker, Colo., who were donating a week of labor to help construct the Brave Hearts’ ceremonial building.

Native religion involving the sweat lodge also is evident. Many families have willow frames of sweat lodges in their yards. In the newspaper was an ad for an upcoming Ghost Dance in neighboring Rosebud Indian Reservation, and powwows are common.

In our travels to see a buffalo herd near the town of Porcupine, we came across an encampment of more than a dozen tepees, five sweat lodges and a circular ceremonial arena. About 50 men and boys were busy putting up more tepees, gathering firewood and making preparations for the arrival of an estimated 500 Lakota. The people there were a little leery, but friendly. It was clear we were not welcome to stay and taking photos was out of the question.

As fascinating as it was to see what looked like a village springing up in the open meadow, we reluctantly moved on in search of the buffalo herd.
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Pueblo native building network of technologies

SIXTH IN A SERIES

By Juan Espinosa
Pueblo Chieftain

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – At 30, David Bartecchi still looks more like a college student than the catalyst for change he has become on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

For the past five years, Bartecchi has spent much of his time at the South Dakota reservation looking for permanent solutions to some of the Lakota’s most persistent social woes – poverty, substandard housing, lack of jobs, alcoholism and drug abuse.

In that time, the Pueblo native has met with and listened to hundreds of Lakota families. Along the way, he has encountered a loose network of individuals who have a different vision for their lives on the reservation.

Bartecchi, director of program development at Pine Ridge for Village Earth, believes that the future for the Oglala Lakota depends on land recovery, sovereignty and environmental justice. In short, he wants to help as many Lakota regain and move back on to their land as possible. He also envisions a self-sufficient economy on the reservation more independent of the U.S. government than today’s welfare state. He believes land recovery and self-sufficiency can be accomplish
ed without compromising or depleting the land’s natural resources.

Lofty goals for a lone social worker who first came to the reservation to attempt to address the myriad of problems experienced by residents of the reservation’s cluster housing projects.

“We met and talked about the need for sidewalks, lighting and how to handle the gangs,” Bartecchi said in an interview in late June.

He found that the cluster housing lacked the traditional Lakota sense of community. “They were just people forced to live together. Eighty percent didn’t like living where they lived and 70 percent wanted to return to their own land.”

It was that notion that caused Bartecchi to explore the potential for some of the residents to move back to their land. He found that they owned an average of 200 acres, but it was being leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“So in 2003, we said, ‘OK, let’s see what it takes to get back on the land,’Ê’’ Bartecchi said. “That’s when we met the Red Clouds. They were already working on that.”

Bartecchi videotaped an interview with Bernard Red Cloud Sr., a fourth-generation descendant of Chief Red Cloud and father of Alfred and Henry Red Cloud, a few weeks before his death. In the interview, Bernard Red Cloud told his family that bringing the buffalo back to Pine Ridge was a critical step towards long-term self-sufficiency. Bartecchi held a workshop for family members who wanted to act on Bernard Red Cloud’s vision.

“We had no money so we made a list of the things they wanted,” Bartecchi said. The list included a wind turbine, buffalo fencing, a well and a lake.

The list developed into a pilot project for the Adopt-a-Buffalo Project. Village Earth began raising awareness on the Internet. Henry Red Cloud and others formed a speakers bureau and Bartecchi and Ralf Kraoke-Berndorff produced videos and eventually DVDs about the project.

Ed Iron Cloud, manager of the Oglala Lakota College’s herd, received a grant to bring the buffalo back. Initially, 25 head were brought to the families whose land was ready to receive them. As the cash flowed into the project, the buffalo began to return to Pine Ridge.

The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTO/RALF KRACKE-BERNDORFF
Pueblo native David Bartecchi is Village Earth’s lead organizer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

On the day 15 head of buffalo were released on the Red Cloud ranch, Henry and Alfred embraced. “This is for our children,” Albert said. “For our future.”

Today, Henry Red Cloud’s 320-acre Tatanka Isnala – Lone Buffalo Ranch – has a herd of 13 buffalo (one ran away and another was killed by a bolt of lightning), a manmade lake, a well and a small, wind-driven electrical generator. There are roughly another 180 buffalo distributed among a dozen Lakota families.

Another goal is to form a buffalo cooperative to take over the Adopt-a-Buffalo Project. Eventually, the cooperative could operate a meat-processing plant, own a portable set of corrals and loading chutes and purchase other equipment too costly for individual families to buy.

This summer, Bartecchi is working on helping families identify their land through a mapping project. He downloaded satellite maps into his laptop computer. The maps show property lines and Bartecchi tries to help people identify their lands from family records or recollection.

“There’s a broader awareness issue – people knowing where their land is and how it’s being used,” Bartecchi says of the mapping project.

A second agenda is trying to identify the tiyospayes, or areas occupied by bands or extended families. Traditionally, politically allied groups, or bands chose to live near one another, but the political system of the reservation does not recognize the tiyospayes as units of the political structure.

There are couple of dozen tiyospayes on Pine Ridge with some overlap. Bartecchi is helping Calvin White Butterfly, a community organizer with the Wounded Knee Tiyospayes Project, to identify the tiyospayes in that area.

“The goal is for the Lakota communities ‘tiyospayes’ to recover, restore, utilize and manage their remaining land base,” Bartecchi said. “Power (now) is in the hands of the elite.”

There is a lot of interest in Bartecchi’s mapping project because people have seen the results of the Adopt-a-Buffalo Project.

“Getting control of the land back is the hardest part,” Bartecchi said. “We’re starting a little fire. People see us pulling land out and they ask, ‘Why can’t we pull our land out?’Ê”

One of the problems is the way land is passed on from generation to generation.

“If you have 11 children, the land is divided 11 ways,” Bartecchi said. As a result, the parcels of land become too fragmented for families to use and the BIA takes over management of them.
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The Pueblo Chieftain Online
COURTESY PHOTOS/
RALF KRACKE-BERNDORFF
Chiefain writer Juan Espinosa (center) talks to Henry Red Cloud about soil testing and adobe-making during a recent visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, while an unidentified helper listens. Two freshly poured adobes and a makeshift mold are in the foreground.

Oglala Lakota exploring alternative home construction methods

By JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
The Pueblo Chieftain Online

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – David Bartecchi met us at Henry Red Cloud’s the day we arrived. Bartecchi is the director of programs at Pine Ridge Reservation for Village Earth, a nonprofit based in Fort Collins, Colo.

It was at Bartecchi’s invitation that we had ventured to South Dakota to see the Adopt-a-Buffalo project in person.

With David’s help, my wife, Deb, and I pitched our tepee in the grass behind Henry’s mobile home under a tall shade tree. We have had a tepee for several years, but it seemed a great honor to be putting it up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on land belonging to descendants of the great Chief Red Cloud.

We became reacquainted over a dinner of potato and ham soup and a bread known as aguyapi prepared by Nadine Red Cloud. Bartecchi is the son of Pueblo physician Carl Bartecchi and is a major link in the Lakota quest for self-sufficiency.

With Bartecchi, we made plans to visit Basil Brave Heart’s buffalo project about 10 a.m. the next day. I had come to understand that time was flexible on the reservation. Nothing seemed to follow an exact schedule.

As we prepared to turn in for the night, we learned a couple of new realities. There was no indoor bathroom and the outhouse is “over there.” The shower was a black 55-gallon barrel perched atop a wooden platform over a child’s wading pool. A large wrench was used to turn the shower on and off.

Early the next morning, I met with Henry at a site across the road from his garden. He had taken me up on my offer to do some sample soil tests and show him how to make an adobe brick. We had brought a 5-
gallon bucket of earth from Tatanka Isnala – Lone Buffalo Ranch – the previous afternoon for that purpose. He also filled another bucket with sand from the children’s sandbox. The water came from a stream running through the 20-acre property.

We made a form suitable for making two adobes out of scrap lumber that Henry scrounged from the piles of lumber in his yard.

Henry’s soil turned out to be roughly 50 percent clay, although it had some shale in it that I didn’tlike. I suggested a mixture of 1:1, or one part soil to one part sand.

After we mixed a batch of mud that felt like the right consistency, we poured a couple of bricks.

As we admired our work, Henry talked about his plans for adobe. He is considering building the houses and buildings he needs at the family’s Tatanka Isnala out of the soil that is there. He wants to build passive solar adobe houses that are warm in winter and cool in summer.

He already had experimented with a tire-and-earth construction method known as the Earthship. On the 20-acre property in Oglala, he has built three walls of a house-sized structure he intends to use as a meeting room.

He also is considering straw-bale construction. At a sustainable technologies workshop held Aug. 8-10 on the reservation, Henry, Bartecchi, and other participants built a sample straw-bale structure.

Henry’s dream is to build houses for himself and his extended family on the Lone Buffalo Ranch which would become part of a closed environmental loop with water provided by rain or wells, electric power from the wind and heat from the sun.

I told Henry about the giant wind generators we had seen in Northern Colorado and guessed they would cost tens of thousands of dollars each and wondered to myself how he could afford such a machine.

He seemed to read my mind and asked me to follow him to the entrance of his home where he pointed to what looked like an old brake drum mounted on a post. He gave the drum a spin with one hand and for a brief moment, two lights attached to the brake drum lit brightly.

The design for the electrical generator had come from the Internet, he said. He said something about using a dozen or so magnets and winding some coils for generating the little bit of current.

“That’s what’s charging the batteries in the house that’s already up there,” Henry said.

Brave Hearts Begin Fence Construction!

On April 13th a truck from Farmer’s Coop In Gordon Nebraska delivered several tons of fence supplies to the Brave Heart’s to begin construction on their buffalo fence. The first corner brace was installed by a group of students from Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge village.

Basil Brave Heart, leaning on the solid H section, stares at the unwelcomed tennants on his land, soon to be replaced by a healthy herd of buffalo.


Above: Basil talking to students at Red Cloud Indian school about the importance of reclaiming the land.

On April 18th, Basil Brave Heart, Henry Red Cloud, David Bartecchi, and Ralf Krake-Berndorff spoke and presented a new short film we put together on the buffalo project called “Healing the Hoop” to three classrooms of highschool students at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge. As soon as we clean it up we’ll make it available on the website and blog. The following day the students participated in a traditional buffalo kill.

Adopt-A-Buffalo Update

This weekend Chief Alfred and Kathy Red Cloud brought students from Pine Ridge’s Wolf Creek School out to visit with the “Tatanka Oyate” that were released June 2004 on the Red Cloud’s land near Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of Village Earth’s “Adopt-A-Buffalo Program“. Despite the drought, all the buffalo are doing extremely well and are growing at an amazing rate. They should give birth to their first young by spring of 2006.

Above: Chief Alfred Red Cloud feeds one of the more “tame” buffalo by hand.

Above: Members of the Red Cloud Tiyospaye spend a warm saturday afternoon with the buffalo on their land.

Lone Buffalo Project Drills for Water!

With a herd of curious buffalo watching nearby a clean and reliable source of water has been established at the Tatanka Isnala Ranch near Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation. With the help of our donors, the Red Cloud Tiyospaye was able to get a drilling company from Martin, SD. to come out to their land and install a well. After 7 unsuccessful tries, they finally found water at just over 100′ into the earth. Although the ranch already has a lake that has remained filled year round, this well will ensure that clean water will be available for the buffalo and for members of the tiyospaye as more of them move out to the ranch.

Adopt-A-Buffalo European Tour

Henry Red Cloud, David Bartecchi, and Ralf-Kracke Berndorff recently returned from their successful tour of Europe. During their month long journey they presented and showed a video promoting Village Earth’s land restoration projects on the Pine Ridge Reservation to crowds in over 10 different cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. They were overwhelmed by the amount of support they received at each event and would like to thank everyone who helped to make it a success! The funds that were raised during the tour will help pay for two small buffalo herds that we hope to release this spring and for the installation of a well near Slim Buttes.

Henry Red Cloud at INCOMINDIOS in Zurich

Henry Red Cloud and Ralf Kracke-Berndorff in Munich at the Amperhof Organic Farm

Henry speaking in Paris at NitassinanComité de Solidarité avec les Indiens des Amériques.

The long journey ‘home’

By PATRICIA DANNATT, North Platte Telegraph

The hood of Henry’s vehicle dipped downward into the Platte Valley as he drove south on Highway 83. When North Platte and the valley came into view, Henry felt a stirring in his chest. There was a feeling of coming home, he said, even though he had never been in North Platte. “I felt as though I had made a full circle and I was home,” said Henry John Red Cloud of Pine Ridge, S.D.

Henry was in North Platte to participate in the second annual Pow Wow the weekend of Oct. 22-24. A part of his trip was a pilgrimage to find the place where his great-great-great-great-grandfather was born, a site east of North Platte where the North and South Platte rivers converge.Chief Red Cloud was born around 1822. According to family legend, he was born in the winter camp of the Sioux at the fork of the North and South Platte rivers.

Early in the morning of Oct. 22, Henry sought his way to where the rivers meet. A heavy fog lay over the valley and Henry inched his way through the fog until he came to the fork of the rivers.He sat along the riverbank, meditating as he took in the beauty, the calmness. “The water was almost still. With the trees and vegetation, it was so soothing,” Henry said. And, as he sat there, he heard – in his head or in his heart – the cry of an infant child over the waters. “It was heart-comforting. I received guidance and healing from being there,” he said. “If I could be born all over again, I would like to be born there,” he said, in his soft voice. As he lingered in that mystical spot, watching and listening to the songs of the birds and the sounds of animals nearby, sunrays broke through the fog and Henry could see the other side of the riverbank.

“This is a very historical place in our culture, to me and to my family. Ever since the birth of Red Cloud, generations have always talked about the fork of the two rivers.” Henry was raised by his grandfather, who was Red Cloud’s grandson, and his grandmother. Their stories are not written but are passed down orally from one generation to another. “They always spoke so gentle and so warming, that you remembered what they said,” Henry said.

Henry related the history of Red Cloud traveling on the “iron horse” for five days to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Great White Grandfather (the president). Red Cloud saw the great numbers of white people – “like ants living on top of each other” – and when he returned home to his people he told them of the great numbers of white people he had seen and that the Lakota people must make peace with the white people or be annihilated. “He envisioned the Lakota as we are today, the two nations coming together and living in harmony,” Henry said, clasping his hands to make one.
Henry said he feels that Red Cloud looks upon this generation and generations to come to continue on this path of peace and living in harmony with the earth, sun, wind and water and other nations.

Most people have tunnel vision, Henry said. “We get only a birds-eye view. We need to be open and see with the mind’s eye and heart and let the healing begin.” Henry speaks of an eternal dream to go back to the old way of life, where families lived self-sufficiently from the land, with organic gardening and herds of buffalo. “The buffalo are sacred in our culture,” Henry said. He believes the buffalo kept his ancestors healthy. Red Cloud died in 1909 at the age of 89.

Henry sees the Colorado organization Village Earth as a way to bring about the dream of returning to the old way of life.The organization helps not only with restoring buffalo to the families on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but provides help with other programs promoting self-sufficiency. For more information on the project, go to www.villageearth.org and click on Pine Ridge Project.

Helping improve life for families is not a choice for Henry and his family but an inborn belief. “We are visitors. We come to this world and we must leave it better for generations to come,” Henry said. Henry’s one regret from his visit to Red Cloud’s birthplace is that there is not a marker noting the significance of the site.
A marker or monument, Henry said, would help others seek Red Cloud’s birthplace and to find the peace and healing he found.

Adopt-A-Buffalo Program Featured in the Pueblo Chieftain

Will Lakota find self-determination in a buffalo herd?

By Juan Espinoza
Editor, Pueblo Chieftain
Published: Sunday October 10, 200

Finally, some good news out of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Buffalo are coming home to the Buffalo Nation.

Recently, The Pueblo Chieftain reported on the donation of a small buffalo herd from a Rye rancher to an Oglala Lakota family. The herd brings to 11 the number of Lakota families who have returned to their land to raise buffalo.

Henry Red Cloud, a fifth-generation descendant of Chief Red Cloud, the 19th-century warrior/statesman, came to Southern Colorado with a small delegation two weeks ago to accept the buffalo donated to them by Pueblo surgeon Ken Danylchuk and his wife, Kathy.

The donation had been arranged by David Bartecchi, son of Pueblo doctor Carl Bartecchi. David works for Village Earth, co-founded by Maurice Albertson, who created the model for the U.S. Peace Corps in the 1960s.

As director of the Pine Ridge Project for Village Earth, David has become a central figure in the effort to rebuild the Lakota buffalo herds. He told his dad about the campaign, his dad told the Danylchuks, and the Danylchuks agreed to contribute a few head of buffalo to the effort.

David said the effort to reintroduce buffalo to the reservation is a simple question of making the best use of the land the Lakota have. Many people own 200 or more acres of land, but live in impoverished housing clusters while their land is leased to ranchers and farmers for as little as 50 cents an acre per year.

More than a symbol, the buffalo are seen as one means of obtaining self-sufficiency for the families who choose to leave the mostly substandard housing in the villages and return to their land.

The idea has caught on to the point that the Oglala Lakota College at Pine Ridge is building an agricultural curriculum around raising buffalo and developing its own herd.

Red Cloud said the return of the sacred buffalo represents new hope for a new generation: “This is what we understand. We know the buffalo. Combined with all that we honor – sun, wind, four directions – it’s all part of the Lakota spirituality.”

Ed Iron Cloud, the recipient of the seed herd, accompanied Red Cloud to the Danylchuks’ ranch. Like Red Cloud, Iron Cloud said the Lakota have a spiritual bond with the buffalo. He was careful in selecting the buffalo he took to Pine Ridge, explaining that it was important to take a family unit so they would be accepted faster by the buffalo already there.

Iron Cloud spoke of the buffalo’s superiority over cattle. Even the shape of their hooves helps break up the hard prairie sod better than cattle, he said. Let cattle near a waterhole and they will eat the grass nearest the water down to the bare ground. Buffalo will eat the grass farther away and save the grass near the water to lie on, Iron Cloud said.

Iron Cloud told a story demonstrating the buffaloes’ legendary protectiveness for their young. In the story, a group of bulls is observed moving in a tight circle through a pack of wolves. When the circle of bulls reaches the herd, a small calf is seen emerging from its midst.

It is too soon to know if the return of the buffalo will create a new self-sufficiency for the 3,100 residents of Pine Ridge. The families who now have herds have pledged to help other families start herds. Their children can learn the necessary skills at the local college. In time, the families should be able to produce a healthy, natural source of meat.

The circle is complete. Fourteen years ago, Ken Danylchuk brought a seed herd of buffalo from South Dakota. Now, a few head of the coveted animals have returned to the people who worship them and the way of life they represent.

Perhaps the shaggy beasts can do what government welfare programs and federal subsidies have failed to do – bring peace, harmony and self-sufficiency to the Buffalo Nation.

Those of us hoping the Lakotas’ buffalo program is successful owe a debt of gratitude to the Danylchuks and Bartecchis for their roles in instilling the newfound optimism apparent among Red Cloud, Iron Cloud and others in their delegation.

Juan Espinosa, who was born when millions of buffalo-head nickels roamed the land, is a Chieftain night city editor. He can be reached at 544-3520, ext. 423, or by e-mail at [email protected] .

Rye Rancher Donates Buffalo for Pine Ridge

A home where the buffalo will roam

A grateful Lakota delegation receives the gift of a buffalo herd from a Rye rancher.

By JUAN ESPINOSA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Published: Sunday September 26, 2004

RYE – Early today, a truckload of buffalo began dancing their way back home to the Buffalo nation.

The little herd was a gift from a Rye-area rancher to a Pine Ridge Lakota family who intends to grow the herd and give a similar gift herd to another resident of the South Dakota reservation.

Before the journey began, Frank Red Cloud – a fifth-generation descendant of the 19th century Lakota Chief Red Cloud – performed a simple ceremony on a ranch owned by Puebloan surgeon Ken Danylchuk and his wife, Kathy.

Ed Iron Cloud carefully picks out buffalo from the Danylchuck’s herd in Rye.

On Saturday, Red Cloud talked about what he intended to say at the ceremony and stressed the significance of the gift of self-sufficiency the livestock represents to the Lakota.

“We’ll smudge them (with sage smoke) and sing them a song – ‘Look grandfather! The sacred ones are dancing home’ ” said Red Cloud.

He sees the buffalo, often a symbol of the past, as the future for the Lakota.

“It’s the eternal dream of grandfathers and grandmothers to go back to the natural life,” Red Cloud said. “We come from the buffalo. We’re part of the Buffalo nation.”

 

Central to the effort to rebuild the Lakota buffalo herds is Pueblo native David Bartecchi, director of the Pine Ridge Project, which includes the Adopt-A-Buffalo campaign.

Bartecchi told his father, Dr. Carl Bartecchi, about the campaign to build the Lakota herds. In turn, Dr. Bartecchi told his friend and colleague Dr. Ken Danylchuk.

“Ken said he was interested and Dave ran with it,” Dr. Bartecchi said at the gathering on Saturday when Red Cloud and his delegation came to receive their precious cargo.

Red Cloud and the younger Bartecchi explained how the project came about.

“Our approach is land management,” Bartecchi said of his Fort Collins-based nonprofit employer, Village Earth. “A lot of people (on Pine Ridge) own 200 or more acres, but they weren’t living on it,” he said.

The land was part of a Bureau of Indian Affairs leasing system and was “automatically” being leased to private ranchers for low rents, Bartecchi said.

A survey of reservation residents showed that 77 percent of the people wanted to live on their land and 25 percent wanted to raise buffalo. According to Red Cloud, 10 families have returned to their land and have started buffalo herds.

“These people reversed (the BIA leasing) and took their land back and their using it to raise buffalo,” Red Cloud said.

“It represents new hope for a new generation,” said Red Cloud, who is one of the Lakota buffalo ranchers.

“This is what we understand. We know the buffalo. Combined with all that we honor – sun, wind, four directions – it’s all part of the Lakota spirituality.”

Ken Danylchuk said because of the recent years of drought, he already was downsizing his buffalo herd when Dr. Bartecchi told him of the Pine Ridge project.

“I told them they could have eight to 12, whatever they could get in their trailer,” Danylchuk said on Saturday. “They’re taking two 1-year-old bulls, some yearling heifers and a breeding bull.”

The donor said it was hard to say what his contribution is worth. “They were selling for $2,100 a head a couple of years ago and last year you couldn’t give them away.”

A native of Alberta, Can., Danylchuk said he moved to the Pueblo area in 1990 and bought five heifers from South Dakota to start his herd. He is intersted in raising buffalo for the meat’s nutritional characteristics.

Perhaps the happiest man at the Danylchuk ranch on Saturday was Ed Iron Cloud, the recipient of the seed herd. He is interested in seeing that the sacred buffalo be handled properly.

“We want to set a standard for raising them,” he said. “Some people are putting them in feed lots . . . that creates a lot of stress for them.

“We followed the buffalo for a 1,000 years . . . 50 million buffalo, 50 million people, down to 2 million now.”

Iron Cloud praised the intelligence of the buffalo, which he said have taught the Lakota that there is a time and place for all things.

Iron Cloud’s land borders land belonging to the Oglala Lakota College and is helping the reservation school to develop its own buffalo herd.

“We’re all learning how to take care of buffalo,” he said.

Late Saturday afternoon, a cool misty rain fell over Red Cloud’s tipi set up next to Danylchuk’s log ranchhouse. The group of about 30 people who gathered to witness the buffalo giveaway and share in a symbolic buffalo barbecue were stunned by a spectacular double rainbow that framed the tipi against a dark blue sky – it seemed that Mother Nature herself had given her approval.

June 2004 Buffalo Release

Buffalo Dreams
by Gary Wockner
Originally published in

News From Indian Country


Click here to view slides from the June release.

As the buffalo truck turned off Route 18 and down onto the long lane north of Pine Ridge Village, Henry Red Cloud stood arm-in-arm with his brother, Chief Alfred Red Cloud II, watching from across the field. Henry’s eyes misted over. “This is our dream,” he said. “My family’s, my people’s.”

 

Seconds later, the truck eased to a stop and 50 people rushed over, jumping on the fender wells and peering, wide-eyed, through the aluminum slats of the stock trailer. The crowd, family members and visitors who had came to honor and celebrate the return of the buffalo, cheered and embraced. Inside the trailer, 15 yearling buffalo peered back, their late-spring fur molting and falling, their eyes also wide.

Chief Alfred Red Cloud II stood silently, watching. Alfred is the great, great grandson of Chief Red Cloud, the last of the Lakota Chiefs to be captured in 1876 nearby at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and then “relocated” to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Henry and Alfred embraced. “This is for our children,” Albert said. “For our future.”

For the past year, the Red Cloud family has been working side-by-side with the Fort Collins, Colo. environmental organization, Village Earth (www.villageearth.org), and their extensive international membership, to return the buffalo to the family’s property on Pine Ridge. David Bartecchi, project coordinator for Village Earth, says, “This is about social justice, environmental stewardship, and creating a more sustainable world. It is our honor to assist the Red Cloud family with this project.”

The arrival of the buffalo to Henry’s property near Pine Ridge Village was the centerpiece event of the first day of a two-day celebration hosted by the Red Cloud family. Earlier in the day, a variety of activities took place including traditional Lakota story-telling, games, songs and dance.

Two well-known storytellers, Philomene Lakota and Wilmer Stampede demonstrated the skill of oral tradition by sharing stories of traditional Lakota life and spirituality.

Later, Lawrence Swalley offered a stirring, lengthy rendition of the Lakota Creation Story. After a tasty dinner of buffalo stew and fry bread, the evening was filled with hand games, and dancing and singing led by the Yellow Bear Drum Group and the Crazy Horse Singers.

The next morning, all the guests and many reservation residents followed the buffalo truck on a long caravan out to the Red Cloud family ranch near the Slim Buttes area of the reservation. The family named their property “Tatanka Isnala” (Lone Buffalo Ranch) to commemorate Henry and Albert’s nephew, Arnold Big Crow, who recently died.

The ceremony at the ranch included Oglala spiritual leader Basil Brave Heart, who performed a traditional buffalo blessing ceremony that involves the filling and sharing of the sacred pipe, smudging, and the performance of buffalo songs, dances and prayers.

Just before the buffalo were released, Chief Alfred Red Cloud II walked arm-in-arm with his grand-niece, Shekela Big Crow (Arnold’s only daughter), across the family’s property commemorating the last moment before the return of the buffalo. Shekela is the 7th generation of Red Clouds to live on Pine Ridge since Chief Red Cloud’s 1876 relocation.

Minutes later, 15 yearling buffalo were released. The crowd, now 200-strong and including three busloads of Pine Ridge school children, cheered and embraced as the yearling buffalo rumbled out of the livestock trailer and across the open prairie. After more than 125 years, the Red Cloud family ranch, once part of the buffalo’s traditional migration routes across the Great Plains, again felt the thunder of buffalo hooves.

The buffalo release represents one part of Village Earth’s larger initiative to help Lakota families utilize their own land for income-generating activities to support a more self-sufficient lifestyle. The buffalo were purchased through Village Earth’s “Adopt-a-Buffalo” program.

These 15 yearlings will be the “seed herd” from which more herds will come for Lakota families interested in buffalo ranching. The herd will be raised in a traditional manner using organic methods. After three years, this initial herd will have bred enough calves for a second group of yearlings to be “gifted” to another family to start their own herd. The animals will be used for food, clothing, education and ceremonial purposes.

“The plan is to get this herd started, and then make a gift of yearlings to another family to get their herd started, and so on,” said Henry Red Cloud. “It’s part of the healing for the Lakota family, a return to “tradition,” by which our elders meant “self-sufficiency.”

Henry Red Cloud is launching this initial herd, and several other projects, on land owned by his extended family. All 94 members of the Red Cloud extended family have combined their landholdings at the ranch and are actively involved in making it a successful, income-generating, self-supportive prospect.

In addition to buffalo ranching, the Red Clouds are growing herbs and vegetables for family consumption as well as moneymaking crops, a model of enterprise that Henry says other reservation families are considering.

Throughout the celebration at Henry’s property and at the family ranch near Slim Buttes, Henry, Alfred and all of the speakers emphasized the importance of the event for Lakota children.

“I want all of the children to watch and listen,” Henry said as he spoke to the crowd during the buffalo release. “They need to know that we have suffered greatly but that we are strong and resilient. This ceremony and these buffalo will teach our children that we are returning to health and vitality.”

“Buffalo can heal us. We can heal each other. At the dawn of the 21st Century, we stand here, seven generations since Chief Red Cloud’s capture, to make a powerful statement: We are strong. The Lakota people, families and individuals have a strong future together.”

 

FMI: Henry Red Cloud: 605.867.1544, [email protected]

David Bartecchi: 970.218.5157, [email protected]

Gary Wockner: 970.407.1163, [email protected]