Native American Agriculture and Land Tenure

Village Earth posts related to Native American agriculture, land tenure, and food security.

5 Ways Mapping Can Help Empower Your Community and The Tools You Need to Do It.

If you’re a community leader, organizer or researcher it’s likely you’ve heard about the growing role that mapping is playing in community development, advocacy and research. It’s also likely that, while intrigued by the concept of community mapping, you don’t yet understand how mapping could be used in your particular issue or community context. But it’s likely that an even bigger barrier to community mapping is the belief that you need formal training in Geography or GIS to utilize mapping in your community initiatives. My goal in this post to begin demystify community mapping by showing you some of ways it can be used and some of the tools that can be used to do it.

5 ways community mapping can be used to help empower your community. 

  1. Defending territorial rights– It’s a common situation where communities/individuals have certain rights within a particular territory but have difficulty defending those rights or restrictions because they can’t prove if a violation is occurring within that particular territory. For example, indigenous Shipibo communities In Peru’s Amazon basin have territories that were assigned to them in the 1970s. Within those territories they have certain rights to regulate oil a gas extraction, logging, settlement development, etc. However, it’s one thing to point to a boundary on a map and another thing entirely to identify where that boundary exists on the ground. With simple low cost, consumer-grade GPS (or GPS smartphone apps) or even a compass, they can determine if a violation of their territory has occurred and have the evidence needed to alert local government officials. Other examples of territory defense include: indigenous mapping and counter-mapping.
    Peru Community Mapping Workshop

    Territory mapping workshop facilitated by Village Earth with Shipibo Communities in Peru.

  2. Revealing Socio-economic Disparities – Visualizing socio-economic disparities with maps can be a powerful tool for influencing the public, policy-makers, and donors. Socio-economic data such as the availability of low-income housing, areas under heavy gentrification pressure, crime and policing, domestic violence, exposures to pollution, traffic or transportation patterns, etc. can all be mapped and by doing so can reveal disparities experienced withing and between communities. In fact, any data that has associated geographic markers (coordinates, addresses, neighborhoods, census tracts, cities, counties, etc) can be used to populate associated geographies on a map – using various fee GIS software such as Quantum GIS and/or free online mapping tools such as Google Maps or QGIS Cloud.
    Map created by Village Earth using freely available data from the USDA to map the relationship between food insecurity and agriculture production.

    Map created by Village Earth using freely available data from the USDA to map the relationship between food insecurity and agriculture production.

  3. Individual / Community Planning – You no longer need to be a government agency to utilize mapping tools for community planning. In fact, empowering undeserved communities to do their own planning and mapping can be a powerful hedge against impositions from the top-down. On Native American Reservations across the United States, many Native American landowners possess land allotted to them during the General Allotment Act of 1887 but because of various exclusionary policies by the Federal Government, have not been able to utilize them for agriculture, housing, etc. Despite the fact that many Native landowners would like to live on and utilize their allotted lands there are numerous hurdles to doing so. One of the largest hurdles is the lack of information available about their land holdings. In an attempt to remedy this situation, Village Earth developed a map book and later an online mapping resource. The purpose of these tools is to take freely available (but difficult to find and compile) information and make it easily available to Native landowners. This information can be used to locate their original allotments scattered around the Reservation which is the first step required to consolidate them.
    AllotmentMapBig

    Online mapping tools like Village Earth’s “Pine Ridge Land Information System” can be set-up easily for low-cost and with little technical knowledge.

     

  4. Monitoring Lands – The proliferation of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery through websites sites like Google Earth has made it possible for anyone with a computer (or smart phone) with an internet connection to monitor vast and remote tracts of land for such things as illegal logging, overgrazing, settlement expansion, deforestation, ocean health, expansion of urban slums – the possibilities are endless. Plus, few people realize that you can access nearly 30 years of historical images allowing for historical comparisons for this like forest loss, agriculture development, rates of urbanization etc. and you don’t need to be a GIS expert to access it.
    Village Earth developed a tutorial for how Native American Tribes can monitor their Reservation lands for overgrazing.

    Village Earth developed a tutorial for how Native American Tribes can monitor their Reservation lands for overgrazing. //www.villageearth.org/pages/training/monitoring-tribal-lands-with-landsat

     

  5. Discovering and/or Revealing Spatial Relationships  – The proliferation of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery has also made it possible to map previously unmapped geographies from your desktop computer or smart phone. For example the freely available Google Maps or Quantum GIS make it possible to map in high resolution “polygons” (e.g. the boundary of a forest or farm), “lines” (e.g. roads, rivers, trails) and “points” (e.g. housing units, well locations, latrines, car crashes, police incidences). These things can be mapped as a layer directly on top of an aerial in Google Maps or Quantum GIS or on site using a smart phone. Once these things are mapped, QGIS or even MS Excel can analyze this data against other data sets. For example, you could perform the following queries; What is the average distance of wells from households?, What is the average number of grocery stores per mile on Native American Reservations vs. non native communities?, or What is the average number incidences of police use of force in majority black communities vs. majority white communities.

Map developed by Village Earth using Quantum GIS combining freely available USDA food security data and agriculture census data.

 

To get started with community mapping it’s a good idea to clarify the question you are trying to answer OR the message you are trying to convey.

Types of questions that can be answered through mapping:

  • How much territory are we losing each year?
  • How do we know if our lands are being degraded?
  • Does where you live determine the quality of policing, food, water, transportation you have access to?

Types of messages that can be conveyed through mapping:

  • This is how much forest we’ve lost over the last 5-10-20 years
  • These are our ancestral lands that have been stolen
  • This is how much tiger habitat has been lost to deforestation
  • This is the decrease in areas of low-income housing over the last 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about community mapping including the different applications, tools, ethics, and methods check out Village Earth’s online Community-Based Mapping training which is part of our online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development.

Village Earth Affiliate “Earth Tipi” Builds Caretaker Cabin on the Pine Ridge Reservation

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Thank you to those who contributed to our Caretaker cabin! We were able to build the entire cabin including the roof, insulation, siding  as well as installed the doors and windows. We have enough funds remaining to install a basic propane system with a tank and heater. We still need additional funding to purchase a propane refrigerator and small solar system as well as finish off the interior with a kitchen and bathroom.  A single father and his two children have been occupying the space all winter in exchange for helping care for our homestead model site and education center.
We expect volunteers to arrive later this week to continue working on some interior details well as to do some earth works around the outside to keep water from running off the hillside above it underneath the foundation.

We still need $4000 to complete the project including fixing some damage that occurred during the winter months.
We could not do these projects without your support!
Lila Pilamayaye!
(Thank you very much)
Shannon, Director Earth Tipi

Village Earth & Colorado State University Launch New Online Training in Agroecology

Responding to UN urging for a “paradigm shift” in agriculture to more climate-smart practices that are more “adaptive and resilient to environmental pressures, while decreasing farming’s own impacts.”

Today, Village Earth announced the opening of registration for a new online course focused on the theory and practice of Agroecology. This is the newest course in Village Earth’s Online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development offered through Colorado State University’s Online Plus Program. The course was developed in response to a calls by the United Nations and the recommendations of the Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture (http://www.fao.org/climate-smart-agriculture/85725/en/) to shift towards a more climate friendly, sustainable and socially just agriculture system.

In a release dated February 28th, 2015 the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO (http://www.fao.org/)) said “The model of agricultural production that predominates today is not suitable for the new food security challenges of the 21st century and the need to be more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.” In the same release the UN FAO Director-General also highlighted agroecology as a promising way to move food production onto a more sustainable path. The approach uses ecological theory to study and manage agricultural systems in order to make them both more productive and better at conserving natural resources.

According to the Village Earth course description, Agroecology has a broad scope and includes many different meanings. The term has been used to describe an interdisciplinary scientific field, to characterize a set of farming practices, and to name convergent social initiatives. In this course we will identify their common root (the agroecological lens) and learn how to use it as a transformative tool for social and environmental justice. The agroecological lens will be used to reflect step by step, traversing perspectives from a narrow scope (the field) to the broadest level (the food system). Throughout this process, diverse themes ranging from soil care to food sovereignty will be explored. Case studies from initiatives around the globe will be used to inspire enhanced understanding of the actions and perspectives necessary to successfully develop one’s own agroecological project. Successful stories with positive effects can radiate their energy and contribute to the improvement of society beyond their locality.

Since 2003, Village Earth and Colorado State University have provided cutting-edge online training in the field of sustainble community development. Their Online Certificate program uses a multi-sector, participatory approach that focuses on empowerment of people as both the ends and means of a sustainable development process. Rather than teaching prescriptive solutions to community problems, we provide you with the tools to use the community’s input and vision to create options and solutions that truly meet community needs.

The certificate program is designed for people who currently work in community development and desire to advance their careers as well as those who plan to work or volunteer in this field. You will be equipped with practical tools to meet today’s challenges as project directors, community leaders, grassroots activists, funders, and field workers in community-based organizations and governmental and nongovernmental organizations. With a wide variety of electives, you can tailor the program to meet your needs and interests.

Students of the program can choose to specialize in one of five tracks Economic Development (http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/sp…), Political Empowerment (http://villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/sp…), Food Security / Agriculture, Participatory Facilitation, Community Planning and Development. This new course will count towards the Food Security / Agriculture Track.

To earn a certificate in sustainable community development, students must complete the required courses of their chosen track and any elective courses of your choosing. Each course runs five weeks and requires a minimum of 20 hours of student participation. You may take courses in any order.  Each course costs $390.

To learn more about this exciting new course offering visit: //www.villageearth.org/training-and-consulting/online/agroecology-for-sustainable-communities

How Sustainable Land-Based Economic Development Promotes Tribal Sovereignty and Self-Determination

LakotaLands

Support this project at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/acquire-lands-for-lakota-cultural-and-bison-camp/x/9855461#home

Believe it or not, land is one of the most underutilized resources available to Plains Indian Tribes and Tribal members. And unlike other sources of income, sustainable land utilization can bolster Tribal sovereignty, self-determination and cultural revitalization. Consider these statistics, according to the Indian Land Working Group, 6 of the 9 million acres of Indian Lands suitable for agriculture in the United States are leased to non-native and consequently, non-natives collect 92% of all agricultural income generated on these lands.

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 their 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,” and dramatically increased the number of leases issued across the country (Source:LLRP).

These policies have meant that the Indian landowners across the country have been separated from their allotted lands, in many cases, for generations. In fact, many Tribal land owners know very little about their lands; where they are located, how they are being used, who they share ownership with, etc. This has had devastating impacts on the ability of landowners to manage and benefit from their land-based resources – economically or culturally.

Since 2003 the Lakota Lands Recovery Project has been providing direct support support to individual American Indians seeking utilize their lands. The most recent effort is a project initiated by Edward Iron Cloud III on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mr. Iron Cloud seeks to acquire a lease to 1500 acres of land on the Reservation to establish a cultural camp for native youth and a campsite for tourists and different organizations visiting the Reservation. The lease for this land is only $8000 per year so by being creative and developing revenue streams from the land, like tourism, that do not require a lot of start-up capital, he can transform this land into something that more directly benefits his family and his community. Of course, the emergence of crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com as well as online “reservation” services like AirBnb.com, Homeaway.com, VRBL.com, etc open up new possibilities for non-agriculture based enterprises on Reservation lands.

Earth Tipi

 

Some of these sustainable low-capital enterprises viable on a reservation setting might include.

  • Renting campsites using online booking services like AirBnb
  • Horseback riding
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Birdwatching
  • Collecting wild plants
  • Making land available to groups for camps, ecological research projects, etc.

Unlike conventional agriculture, enterprises like the ones listed have a greater multiplier effect (keeping dollars changing hands locally) in their communities by creating more local jobs and benefiting the entire support economy by increasing patronage at local gas stations, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, etc.

If you’re interested in utilizing land on your reservation, contact David Bartecchi at [email protected]

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

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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.

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

Food_Insecurity_&_Value

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

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

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

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

Food_Insecurity_Village_Earth

 

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

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

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

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

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

MnidEarthTipiKnifeChief

 

 

Agricultural Inequality on American Indian Reservations (2012 Ag Census infographic)

The USDA-NASS recently published the results from their 2012 Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations. Naturally, we were interested in what this long-awaited data tells us about the degree of access that Tribal members have to their own lands who, through a history of exclusionary policies and discriminatory practices by the Federal Government,  have been pushed off their legally allotted lands to open them up to non-tribal farmers and ranchers – mostly through leasing programs managed by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. We developed the infographic below to help illustrate what these numbers tells us. However, we feel these numbers, while the most complete to-date, still do not accurately reflect the actual situation of Agriculture on American Indian Reservations – which we believe to be much worse.

Agricultural Inequality AIAN


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: This infographic does not include data from the Navajo Nation because it represents an outlier relative to all other Reservations in the dataset.

Mni Hosts Successful Water Restoration Camp on the Cheyenne River Reservation

The 2014 Mni Water Restoration Camp was held June 22nd to July 6th.  During the two week training session, Mni was host to 35 volunteers and children.  From the outset this entailed expenses in transportation and food to provide for the workers.  

Camp Report by CSU Intern Ryan Reese, Center for Collaborative Conservation
The Mni Water Restoration Camp was a successful effort in both practice and outreach. Through the help of multiple individuals and organizations, the combined projects of water restoration and holistic living at Tatanka Wakpala were accomplished, and the message of holistic land management and restoration was spread to those who attended the camp. Though faced with many difficulties, the participants at Mni persevered in the face of hardship and overcame the obstacles which they faced, and completed many of the projects which were begun.
Untitled drawing (1)
The first week was spent preparing camp, creating facilities for future use, maintaining gardens, and surveying the land for water restoration potential. The area around the campsite was mowed, an outhouse was dug on an adjacent hill, and the mobile homes at the site were cleaned out for current and future use. The garden was weeded, furrows were dug, planting mounds were built, and seeds were planted. The stream bed was surveyed for potential dam sites, as were the surrounding hillsides and gullies. Over the course of the week, potential plans were discussed among members of the camp.
There were many different water restoration ideas presented by camp participants. The original goal of putting a few dams in the creek was put off to a future year, as high rainfall had raised the water level too much to allow easy access of the stream bed. At the best potential dam sites in the stream bed, the water was too deep to work with and the soil was quite waterlogged. Another proposition was to build trenches along isobars to hold rain water. Since the area around Tatanka Wakpala has few trees, this type of catchment would fit well with the materials in the area. Unfortunately, the hillsides where the trenches would be placed are also the best sites for home construction on the property, complicating the planning phase. In addition, the trenching machine that was going to be rented for the creation of these trenches had broken down, meaning that any trenches would have to be built with a different machine or dug by hand. For these reasons, the construction of trenches was put off for another year. Luckily, a large number of pine-beetle logs became available for our use for free, allowing us to small dams, or “baffles,” in the washes and gullies on the hillsides above the stream bank.
dams
Over the course of the second week, plans for the dams were finalized. The first dams to be constructed were on the north side of the stream. Five different dams were built in a narrow gully, composed of logs, fence posts, earth, assorted branches and twigs, and barbed wire. These dams were spaced at 15 foot intervals, and were about 8 feet wide and 2 feet tall. Along the banks of the gully, cottonwood trees were planted to restore the ecology in the gully and to solidify the soil and prevent erosion.. On the south side of the stream, 13 dams were built in two different gullies, with six in one and seven in another. These were built with fewer materials, lacking the barbed wire and metal fence posts which the dams on the north side were built of.
A permanent octagonal shade was also built during the second week. The shade will be used for instruction at future camps and as a cook shack once it is complete. The majority of the work for the shade was completed, with only the completion of the roofing and the creation of bracing and supports remaining.
A permaculture workshop was also given during the Mni camp by Bryan Deans, a permaculturist on pine ridge. Mr. Deans walked over the property, discussing the principles and practice of permaculture, water restoration, and holistic management and how it related to the Mni project and . That same week, an ethnobotanical tour was given by Linda (Last Name). The participants at the Mni camp were taken across the property and shown the sacred medicines of the Lakota and told of their uses and cultural significance.
TheMni Water Restoration Camp was a success on many levels. The camp was able to implement part of its water restoration project as well as begin restoring the ecology in the area and reduce hillside erosion, as well as prepare the property for future camps and water restoration efforts. In addition, the camp successfully reached out to multiple organizations and many individuals, spreading knowledge of small-scale, holistic water restoration and building long-lasting relationships that will allow future collaboration on other water restoration projects. Furthermore, as the water restoration efforts proceed, they will act as a showcase for the methods practiced atMni, testifying to the method’s feasibility and promoting its application in other areas. TheMni camp overcame the obstacles which it faced and attained the goals which it set out for itself and prepared future work in the field of water restoration.

Free Download: “Take Back the Land! The Social Function of Land and Housing, Resistances & Alternatives”.

Take Back the Land! The Social Function  of Land and Housing,  Resistances & Alternatives.Village Earth recently published a chapter in the new book, Take Back the Land!: The Social Function of Land and Housing, Resistances & Alternatives published by Ritmo which opens public information centers on global issues, organizes civil society campaigns and develops awareness-raising and training sessions. Ritimo is actively involved in disseminating documents and information online, by means of its website: www.ritimo.org and co-edited by AITEC (Association Internationale des Techniciens, Experts et Chercheurs – International Organisation of Engineers, Experts and Researchers). This publication is part of the The Passerelle Collection which presents experiences, analyses and proposals by actors of social change. Each issue is an attempt to weave together various contributions on a specific issue by civil society organisations, media, trade unions, social movements, citizens, academics, etc.

Village Earth’s article appears on page 90 and is titled: “The Role of Low-Income Housing in Devaluing the Social Capital of the Oglala Lakota.” You can download this publication in English for free.

3-5-2014 1-52-54 PM

The Article from Village Earth Director, David Bartecchi

“If land, whether rural or urban, were viewed as playing an essential role in all human beings’ life, just like air or water, and its value in use outweighed its exchange value, wouldn’t our cities and countryside look completely different ? Many social movements, researchers, social organisations, local and national authorities as well as international organisations are concerned by the issue of the social function of land and of housing, worldwide.A reflection on different ways to relate to land – other than ownership – must therefore be carried out, i.e. ways that do not entail abusing, speculating or excluding others. Thanks to contributions by different actors, this issue sheds a light on the progress of the social function of land and housing in the different areas of the world. This issue’s singularity is linked to its insight into a potential alliance between inhabitants and peasants, between rural and urban issues. Much food for thought is set forth here on points of mutual interest, alternatives and resistance practices around the world.

You can download this publication in English for free.

Charlotte Mathivet is a political scientist and a right to housing and right to the city activist. She edited number 7 of the Passerelle Collection,Housing in Europe : Time to Evict the Crisis. She is the coordinator-editor of this issue This publication is also available in French. It also will be available in Spanish in March and launched at the World Urban Forum in Medellín in Aprill 2014.”

Latest News and Happenings from Knife Chief Buffalo Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation

MILA YATAN PIKA PTE OYATE OKOLAKICIYE

(KNIFE CHIEF BUFFALO NATION ORGANIZATION)

Project Report

This report covers October 2013  through December 2013.  Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a pasture/home for members of the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in terms of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.  Below is a summary of our activities for this period.

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October 2013 –  In observance of the spiritual calendar, spiritual offerings were made and taken to the Purification Lodge on October 15 for the sacred site of Pte Ta Tiopa (Doorway of the Buffalo) near Buffalo Gap, SD in the sacred Black Hills. This is the time when the buffalo return to the sacred Black Hills and when we (humans) know to make spiritual offerings.  The spiritual calendar was taught to us (Lakota people) by the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and to whom we continue to honor and care for.

We sponsored a benefit conference for the pte oyate (buffalo nation) on October 11 & 12 in Rapid City, SD.  Twenty-five (25) participants attended the conference on “Historical Trauma:  Impact and Healing.”  This two day workshop addressed how historical trauma has impacted Lakota and indigenous peoples and how we can integrate healing from historical trauma into our families, schools, programs and communities.  Presenters were Richard Two Dogs, Richard Moves Camp, Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart and Josie Chase.

We were honored to have three well-respected Wakan Iyeska in the group for both days.  A basic explanation of the term “Wakan Iyeska” is that these persons are interpreters between the physical and the spirit world.  Their roles and responsibilities are based on their individual dreams.  The three men are Ohitiya Mani (Roy Dennis Stone), Hmuya Mani (Richard Two Dogs) and Wicahpi Koyag Mani (Richard Moves Camp).

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 Conference participants visiting during a break

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(L to R Presenter Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Participant Marcella LeBeau, Presenter Josie Chase

 

November 2013  –  On November 01 we received a loan of $18,275.00 from the First National Bank of Gordon, Nebraska to pay for two annual pasture leases, home to the pte oyate (buffalo nation).  Payment was made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.   We began our sixth year of this relationship with the First National Bank of Gordon.

We assisted with a Koskalaka Wicayuwita Pi (Young Men’s Gathering) camp on November 01 – 03 in which eighteen (18) boys and young men, ages 9 –17.  Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Okiciyapi (Lakota People Caring for Children), the Pine Ridge Reservation’s tribal welfare agency, were given the opportunity to send young men who were currently in the foster care system. The agency sent nine (9) young men and one parent brought his son from a neighboring reservation in South Dakota, the remaining participants were residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The group came together to learn Lakota traditional teachings about becoming or being a man from their older male relatives and mentors, blessing the food, raising the tipi; bow making, singing and drum, preparing a spiritual kit, and Horse Nation teachings.  Other activities and teachings included honoring relationships, purification lodge preparation, spiritual cleansing, greeting the Morning Star and sun prayer and song, and gun safety and hunting, Lakota traditional healing. Twelve (12) participants received a Lakota spirit name at a ceremony.

The volunteer mentors included seven (7) men and a Wakan Iyeska (interpreter of the sacred) or “medicine man” as he is sometimes referred to.

The participants and mentors slept in five tipis which were raised by the young men as part of the teachings. Three mentors guided the participants in an early morning hunt and two deer were taken.  Talking Circles were held on the first and final day.

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 Camp participants learning to raise the tipi

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 Raising the tipi: home for 2 nights and 3 days

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 Learning to skin a deer after the early morning hunt

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Developing a relationship with our relatives, the horse nation

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Receiving teachings about the drum and songs

On November 04, the buffalo caretaker gave a tour of the buffalo pasture to staff of Gunderson Lutheran Hospital from Minnesota.  Staff provide medical services on a monthly basis in Porcupine.  They are provided with information about the Lakota culture and the Pine Ridge Reservation.

December 2013  – We participated in a debriefing session on December 13 with the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Okiciyapi (LOWO) staff at their office building in Pine Ridge, SD.  The session centered on the Children’s Camp held in September and the Young Boys/Men Camp held in November.  A number of children and youth in the foster care system participated in both camps.

We sponsored a conference entitled “Woakipa Etan Woasniye” (Healing From Trauma) on December 17 & 18 in Rapid City, SD with thirty (30) participants.  Topic and presenters included: Lakol Wicohan Un Woakipa Api Iciya Pi (Healing from Trauma Using Lakota Culture), Richard Two Dogs; Addressing High Rates of Traumatic Stress Among American Indian/Alaska Nation Children, Marilyn Brugier Zimmerman; Discovering Healing Pathways:  Arts Informed Counseling for American Indian Youth, Elizabeth Warson; Trauma in the Womb, Barbara Vancil; Tewicahila Pi Ogna Unspewicakiyapi (Teaching/Educating with Love, Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs.

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Presenter Barbara Vancil sharing information about trauma in the womb

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Group working session at the December conference

In observance of the spiritual calendar, spiritual offerings were taken to the Purification Lodge (Inipi) on December 21, the Winter Solstice.

Donations – We collaborated with Ken Lundsford, Barbara Keel and Rick Hagens of Fairburn, AL and with Terri Yellow Hammer, Minneapolis, MN on a winter gear drive for children (infants to 10 years).  Other items received  included  toys, blankets, shoes and coats for adults.  Due to the frigid weather and the lack of heat and the lack of water in the building we planned  to use, distribution  has been  set for the week of January 20.  We greatly appreciate the organizing efforts of Ken, Barbara, Rick, Terri and her husband, and we are  also very thankful to the donors.

Future Events and Plans

  • January 24 – 26, 2014 – We will help to sponsor a Men’s Basketball Tourney to raise funds for a Boys/Young Men Camp in May, 2014.
  • February 02, 2014 – We will sponsor a workshop on “Preparation of Can Sasa (red willow bark), a cultural and spiritual teaching.
  • March 2014 – Will assist with the planning of a proposed conference for alcohol and drug prevention counselors.  One person volunteered  to do a presentation at this conference.
  • May 2014 –  (a)  will have work camps to continue fencing project; (b)  will help sponsor the Boys/Young Men Camp on May 24 – 26
  • June 2014 – Will sponsor the Students Shoulder to Shoulder Camp on June 02 – 08
  • August 2014 – Will sponsor a Children’s Healing Camp from August 05 – 08

Fencing Project – Our fencing project will continue as the weather permits.   One pasture of 1200 acres is fenced.  We plan to complete the fencing of 1500 acres which is approximately seven (7) miles.  One mile of steel posts are set up now and  holes are dug for wood posts to be put in the ground.  We are working to purchase 400 steel posts and will continue fencing when weather permits.  We are working on a plan to establish work camps in May 2014 for native and non-native youth and adults to assist with the fencing project.

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Our relatives, the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) within the fenced pasture

Conclusion

Again, we extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who support our efforts whether it be financially, physically or spiritually.  Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued

support and guidance.  We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and for their teachings, i.e., protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever comes  Lila wopila tanka! (We thank you all very much).

CONTACT INFORMATION

For more information, contact us at:
Email:  [email protected]
Telephone:  605-407-0091
Website:  www.knifechiefbuffalonation.org
or www.villageearth.org look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliates

 

 

Chronology of the Plan to Create a Bison Pasture in the South Unit of the Badlands

View above map in online map viewer

For an interactive map of the Pine Ridge Reservation with layers of the Badlands Bombing Range and Original Allotment maps go to http://lakotalands.net/PRLIS/

The South Unit of the Badlands has a long history riddled with controversy and violence and that’s no different today with the current conflicts regarding the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s proposed plan to create a 100,000 acre bison pasture in the South Unit. The so-called “Highway-to-Highway” plan was approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribe on June 11th, 2013 through OST Tribal Ordinance_13-21. The ordinance also called for the cancelling of leases for all ranchers in the proposed area by October 2015 and left many Tribal land owners and inhabitants to the area confused about their future – would people living in the proposed area be forced to move? Would tribal land owners be forced to sell their lands? What would happen to sacred sun-dance circles utilized on an annual basis by the families in that region? What about the livelihoods of the ranchers leasing land in this area and the lease income collected by the Tribal landowners?  This ordinance also exposed historical trauma deeply embedded in the people and the land when in 1942 the U.S. Government forcefully evicted the Lakota residents to make-way for a bombing range.  But it also served as another site of conflict for the ongoing struggle between the Oglala Lakota people (the Grassroots Oyate) and a Tribal government that many Lakota distrust – a government imposed upon them by the U.S. Government through the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and one that many Lakota feel is illegitimate. The layers of this conflict run deep – so deep in-fact that it sometimes makes it hard to understand things from a rational perspective. Is expanding the buffalo pasture a good thing? If so, does that somehow outweigh the impacts it will have on residents and ranchers or the ongoing struggle between the Tribe and the Grassroots Oyate? That is not for Village Earth or any outside organization to decide. Rather, we believe this must be a debate that takes place among members of the Tribe. However, we do feel we can help facilitate this dialogue by providing objective information which I have attempted to do here.  We feel the best way to understand the current situation is to look back into the history of this contentious landscape. With this goal in mind, we have put together a chronology of the South Unit from 1890 to the present. I hope to update this as new information becomes available. Much of the information here is excerpted from a post written in 2010 by former Village Earth employee Jamie Way: The Fate of the Badlands South Unit and a Forgotten History

In 1890, after the Lakota along with their Cheyenne and Arapahoe allies, were massacred by the 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre, the survivors fled to what is now the Southern Unit. They took shelter in the natural fortress formed by a butte surrounded by cliffs. The area served as a refuge for those who escaped the cavalry. For this reason, and because Lakota Ghost Dancers were buried in this location, the land came to be considered sacred.

On July 20, 1942 the War Department advised the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that they would be taking over an area of 40×15 miles across the northern portion of the reservation. While a small portion of this land lay within what was then Badlands National Monument (337 acres), the vast majority of the land was located within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation (nps.gov). The dispossession would impact some 125 Oglala families. And while the dispossessed families were to be supplied with some relocation compensation, assistance and supplies, actual accounts vary as to how much the families received if any at all.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.

In 1968, Public Law 90-468 was finally passed, and lands declared excess by the Air Force were to be transferred to the Department of Interior. The law afforded those displaced (whether their land was held in trust or in fee) the possibility of repurchasing the land that had been taken from them if they filed an application with the Secretary of Interior to purchase the tract. This application needed to be filed within a one year window from the date a notice was published in the Federal Register that the tract had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary. Needless to say, the displaced were not properly notified of this option in many cases, in part due to their geographical dispersion. The law also stated that the original inhabitants that wished to repurchase their land were to pay the price the U.S. government had paid for the land, plus interest. Thus, those that decided to repurchase their land explained that they paid much higher prices for the land than they had originally been paid for it when the government confiscated it.

By the end of the early 1960’s it was clear that Department of the Interior bureaucrats intended that the area should be taken over by a Department of the Interior Agency, and not returned to the Tribe.” The Park Service promised the tribe that by creating the park, they would invigorate the reservation economy through tourism, while the a Senate committee simultaneously strong-armed the tribe threatening to “dispose of the land in question under surplus property agreements if the Tribe refused to lease land,” (Igoe 2004 – Bridge_Report_Good_Land_Igoe).

In 1976, the Tribal Council under Chairman Dick Wilson, whose questionable leadership during the AIM struggle on Pine Ridge has solidified his legacy as a harsh and corrupt leader, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service. The Stronghold District of the Badlands National Park, which includes 133,300 acres of land, from this point on has been held by the National Park Service in conjunction with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

In 2002, relations between the NPS and some tribal members degenerated to the point where a grassroots movement of Lakota defending the burial place of Ghost Dancers, called the Keepers of the Stronghold Dream, felt it necessary to physically occupy the land, guarding it from the invasion of hikers, park visitors and fossil poachers in an attempt to reclaim it (Igoe 2002). Unfortunately, this confrontation settled nothing and the issue remains unresolved to this day.

The NPS and the tribe both had complaints about how the area is being managed. The NPS complained that they had not been given proper access to manage the site as needed. The tribe felt as though the NPS had not lived up to its promises in the 1976 MOA including filling NPS jobs at the site with tribal members and reintroducing buffalo into the area. Moreover, they were concerned with fossil poaching and environmental destruction of the region by outsiders.

In 2006, after the park failed to resolve this matter through negotiations, the NPS decided to initiate a separate management planning process for the South Unit which did not begin until 2008.

By 2010, the NPS had developed seven management options available for comment by the public. While none of the NPS options include returning land to those that were displaced prior to WWII nor giving the land back to the tribe with no obligations, the options did include giving the tribe more control over this portion of their land. Option 2, considered the “preferred option” by the NPS, would have the NPS and the tribe create a “National Tribal Park.”

June 2, 2011 – OST President John Yellowbird Steele signs record of decision (ROD) with the NPS affirming the Tribe’s acceptance of proposed Option 2 which recommended the creation of a Tribal National Park.

April 26, 2012 – NPS releases its final management plan which recommended the creation of the first Ever Tribal National Park.

May 2012, Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSRPA) with support from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) solicited consultants to assist with the development of a feasibility study for expansion of the tribe’s bison herd. Ranch Advisory Partners based in Bozeman, MT was awarded the contract fall of 2012.

south_unit Study

Download Study: http://villageearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/OST.SouthUnit.BisonFeasibility.5.17.13-FINAL.pdf

On May 17th, 2013 Ranch Advisory Partners finalized the South Unit Bison Feasibility Study which provided various recommendations for the expansion of the Tribe’s bison herd as part of the broader development of a Tribal National Park. The preferred option, referred to as the the “Stronghold – Highway to Highway” option, would establish a bison pasture encompassing 100,000 acres approximately between State HWY 40 to the west and BIA 33 to the east and include range units 501, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 510, 515, 518, 536 (the area highlighted in yellow in the map above)

June 11th, 2013  Ordinance_13-21 “Approving and Adopting Alternative A – The Stronghold Unit – Highway to Highway as recommended per the South Unit: Buffalo Expansion Feasibility Study was passed by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council 6-11-13 special minutes. The ordinance directed the BIA to notify all permittees and landowners, as well as prioritize all land sales and exchanges within the proposed area.

November 12th, 2013 – Members of the Red Shirt Community (which is at the western edge of the proposed pasture) learn about Ordinance 13-21 and call a public meeting inviting members of the Tribal Council.

November 26th, 2013 – Another meeting is held in Red Shirt where community members voice their concern about their lands located in the proposed bison pasture and the impact it will have on ceremonial sites including several sun dance circles in the area.

December 10th, 2013 – Despite the public outcry, the  Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to postpone a motion advanced by Tribal Council member James Cross  from Pass Creek District to rescind Ordinance 13-21 until after the Tribe could facilitate presentations on the Tribal National Park in each district of the Reservation. Note: this chronology originally included information from a December 13th Rapid City Journal article which stated that the motion to rescind Ordinance 13-21 had passed. I have since received information that it was postponed and corrected the article. However, I do not have a copy of the meeting minutes to verify this.

meeting

January 13th – 17th – OST President Bryan Brewer along with the “core team” working on the Tribal National Park including Ruth Brown, Trudy Ecoffey, Barry Bettyloun, Anita Ecoffey, Birgil Kills Straight, Shawn Swallow, Chuck Jacobs, Michael Catches the Enemy and Angie Sam will host a series of informational meetings in each District. Also attending will be a representative from the OST Land Office and Eric Brunneman from the National Park Service. According to the press release dated January 15th, “[t]he sole purpose of these meetings is to bring correct information to the oyate regarding the issue of the proposed Tribal National Park in the South Unit.” According to Susan Shockey Two Bulls, one of the leading opponents of Ordinance 13-21, ” these presentations should have been done months ago.”

January 29th, 2014 – Tribal Council upholds Resolution 13-21. But Tribal ranchers and those opposed to the resolution continue to organize holding a meeting January 31st at Rocky Ford School.

October 6th, 2014 – OST Tribal Council tabled draft proposed federal legislation needed to authorize the Tribal National Park. During the same meeting the Council voted to rescind the controversial ordinance 13-21. Source: Rapid City Journal

We encourage community members to provide any corrections to this chronology and provide us with new information as it happens.

Update from Knife Chief Buffalo Nation

MILA YATAN PIKA PTE OYATE OKOLAKICIYE

 (KNIFE CHIEF BUFFALO NATION ORGANIZATION)

Project Report

October 2013

This report covers June 2013 through September 2013.  Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a pasture/home for members of the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in terms of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.  Below is a summary of our activities for this period.

TwoWakanyeja

Two Wakanyeja (sacred beings – children) at the Children’s Camp 2013

            June 2013 – we implemented a partnership with the Students Shoulder to Shoulder organization which is described as an “international school of global citizenship”, 13 students and 2 chaperones came and assisted Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization with scraping tipi poles that are used for the ceremonies including the Sundance ceremony and the children/youth camps.  Did you know the Lakota word for “tipi pole” is “tushu”?  Did you know that each pole represents a Lakota value, e.g., the first pole at the door of the tipi represents “Waunsila”, the Lakota term for “compassion”.  This value is a reminder to have compassion for all who enter your home, feed them, clothe them if needed and be kind to them.

tipiPoles

Students Shoulder to Shoulder participants in Tipi Pole Scraping Project

 

Tony and Lew showed the students how to scrape the Tipi Poles

The students also assisted with the fencing project for the buffalo pasture.  They were exposed to cultural speakers and activities throughout the week.  This international organization sends teams of youth to various communities around the globe to assist with community development and as a cultural exchange.  Their assistance to the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation community was greatly appreciated and their respectfulness was also appreciated.

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Mila Yatan Pika Ti Okiju Wakan Ceremonial Grounds Sunset First Day

June 2013 – Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization helped with sponsoring the annual Mila Yatan Pika Tiokiju Wakan Wi Wayang Wacipi, a very important ceremony where people make offerings and sacrifice for the future generations.  Above is photo of the tipis at the ceremony (the youth from the Students Shoulder to Shoulder camp contributed to us being able to use the poles for the tipis you see in the photo).

August 31- September 2, 2013:  A children’s healing camp was held on these dates on the grounds of the Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye (Medicine Horse Society) in Porcupine, SD.  Approximately 30 children participated with their adult relatives and guardians.  Many of them received a Lakota spirit name, Lakota traditional healing, Lakota equine assisted activities, a swimming trip and a huge birthday party for all of them.  The children’s ages ranged from 2 years to 12 years of age.  When asked what they liked the most about the camp, they drew pictures or related that they liked sleeping in the tipis, the Inipi (purification lodge ceremony) and the swimming.  We were blessed with many volunteer relatives that assisted with setting up the tipis, chaperoning the children, providing activities, cooking/food preparation, taking down the tipis and assisting with the traditional healing ceremonies.  We say a special Wopila (a big thank you) to the Tunkasila (grandfathers) and Uncis (grandmothers) of the spirit world for blessing this camp and the children and to their Interpreters Ohitiya Najin (Stands Brave – Roy Dennis Stone), Hmuya Mani (Walks with a Roaring – Richard Two Dogs) and Wicahpi Koyag Mani (Wears the Star Walking – Richard Moves Camp) and to all the volunteers and donors to the camp.  Without all of your help, this camp would not have been possible.

children's healing camp

Wakanyeja Woapiye Wicoti (Children’s Healing Camp) 2013

 

Children and Mentors at Healing Camp with the sacred Horse Relatives, Porcupine, SD 2013

Future Events and Plans

We plan on assisting with a Koskalaka Wicayuwita Pi (Young Men’s Gathering) camp in which boys and young men, ages 11-18, will gather to learn Lakota traditional teachings about becoming or being a man from their older male relatives and mentors.  Some of the activities include Lakota values teachings, honoring relationships, greeting the Morning Star, Lakota traditional healing and receiving a Lakota spirit name if they don’t have one and would like one.  This camp will be held on October 31-November 2, 2013.

We continue to observe the spiritual calendar, the next sacred site visit is on October 15, 2013 to Pte Ta Tiopa (Doorway of the Buffalo) near Buffalo Gap, SD in the sacred Black Hills. This is the time when the buffalo return to the sacred Black Hills and when we (humans) know to make spiritual offerings.  The spiritual calendar was taught to us (Lakota people) by the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and to whom we continue to honor and care for.

We also plan to sponsor a Historical Trauma and Healing conference on October 11-12, 2013 (see www.knifebuffalonation.org for conference information).  Our fencing project will continue as the weather permits.  We continue to work toward maintaining the pasture for our relatives the buffalo and honoring the relationship we have with them.

CONTACT INFORMATION

For more information, contact us at:

Email:  [email protected]

Telephone:  605-441-2914 or 605-407-0091

Website:  www.knifechiefbuffalonation.org

or www.villageearth.org look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliates

Closing/Question

We extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who have supported our efforts whether financially, physically or spiritually.  Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued support and guidance.  We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and their teachings – protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever comes.  Lila Wopila Tanka!! (We thank you all very much). We ask you the general public, our friends and relatives, what you think we should do to expand our work so that others can learn from the teachings of the buffalo nation?  We are very interested in hearing from you!

tatanka

Knife Chief Buffalo Pasture, February 2013

 

VE Affiliate, Knife Chief Buffalo Nation to host Historical Trauma Conference

Oyate Woakipa Ta Woospe

Historical Trauma: Impact and Healing

20121123_115949_402_Grid7

October 11-12, 2013
Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, Rapid City, SD

Benefit Conference for the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation)

Presenters: Hmuya Mani (Richard Two Dogs,), Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart and others

 

Historical Trauma—”the collective emotional and psychological injury both over the life span and across generations, resulting from a cataclysmic history of genocide. The effects of historical trauma include: unsettled emotional trauma, depression, high mortality rates, high rates of alcohol abuse, significant problems of child abuse and domestic violence” (http://historicaltrauma.com/). This two day workshop will show how historical trauma has impacted Lakota and indigenous peoples and how we can integrate healing from historical trauma into our families, schools, programs and communities. Registration and Lodging information attached.

 

Conference Fee: $300.00

register-now

 

 Make Checks of Money Orders Payable to Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization and send to:

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization
PO Box 294
Porcupine, SD 57772
605-441-2914

 

Lodging Information

There is a block of rooms reserved at the conference hotel Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn at the rate of $131.00/night + tax. Mention the “Historical Trauma Healing Conference” when making the reservations, telephone number 605-348-4000. Reservation Deadline September 25th, 2013.

Agenda

[gview file=”http://knifechiefbuffalonation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Trauma-Healing-Conference-Agenda-Oct-2013.pdf”]

Native Strategic Land Planning – A New Online Training Course from Village Earth

Village Earth and Colorado State University’s Online Plus is pleased to announce the launch of a new online training offering specifically developed for Native American land owners or anyone interested in learning more about Native American Land Tenure in the United States. The new course titled “Native Strategic Land Planning: Now and For Future Generations”  draws heavily from the curriculum of the same name developed by the Indian Land Working Group (ILWG). The original curriculum as well as Village Earth’s online adaptation was developed with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) based in Minnesota. Village Earth originally utilized this curriculum in 2008 during a series of Strategic Land Planning Workshops we hosted across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as part of a grant from the ILTF during which we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book. Just this year, Village Earth and ILTF launched a new, enhanced mapping resource for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS), a free web-based mapping tool that gives Oglala Lakota Tribal members access to information about their lands. The online training takes advantage of the PRLIS as well as other online mapping tools not available when the ILWG curriculum was originally developed. We also hope that this new format makes this valuable training more accessible to Native American land owners across the United States.

This online training lasts 5-Weeks. The next session of this course will take place January 18th – February 22nd, 2013. Registration Deadline is January 14th.

For more information please contact David Bartecchi [email protected]

Village Earth Makes Allotment Map Accessible to Residents of Pine Ridge

http://www.lakotalands.net/prlis/ Allotment map is visible in the PRLIS at a map scale of 1:217K zoom or higher.

Today, Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project (LLRP) with support from the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office added a map of the original 1887 Dawes Act allotments for the Pine Ridge Reservation to its online mapping system, the Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS). The map contains the original allotments along with the names of the original allottees as well as hand drawn notes and color-coding to designate different classes of lands. Until now, this information was not available to members of the tribe and over the years, many people have asked us to try get this information for them so they can can begin to reconstruct the history of their lands, especially lands liquidated by the Federal Government through a process known as forced fee patenting. The creation and issuing of allotments began on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1904, under Executive Order of July 29, 1904 and continued until 1923. During this period, government officials carved up the Reservation into parcels and issued them to Lakota families.

After the period of European settlement in North America between 1492-1887, Native Americans were left with reservations consisting of only 150 million acres. Recognized through treaties as sovereign nations, these lands were largely undivided and communally managed, a practice considered by the U.S. Government to be a non-productive and irrational use of resources. The Government’s solution was the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act. The act partitioned reservation lands into 160 acre parcels for each head of family, 80 acre parcels to orphans, and 40 acres parcels to each child. After all the allotments were issued, the remaining reservation lands in the West was transferred to the Government who then made it available to white settlers free of charge as part of the Homestead Act. This amounted to a loss of over 60,000,000 acres, nearly 2/3rds of all Indian lands. Beyond the significant loss of lands, the GAA also created several challenges for the use and inheritance of the remaining lands that would have profound implications for future generations of Native Americans.

  • It broke apart communally managed lands into individually owned parcels, destroying the ability of many communities to be self sufficient on already limited and marginal lands.
  • It disrupted traditional residency patterns, forcing people to live on allotments sometimes far from their relatives, eroding traditional kinship practices across many reservations.
  • It destroyed communal control of lands, making it easier for private and government interests to gain access to the vast coal, oil, natural gas, agricultural, and grazing resources on Native American Reservations.
  • The GAA  never established an adequate system for how lands would be transfered from generation to generation. Since the practice of creating a Last Will and Testament before death was not common and in some cases was outright offensive to the traditional inheritance practices of some Native American cultures, these lands passed from one generation to the next without clear divisions of who owned what. Today, lands have become so fractionated that it is common to have several hundred or even thousands of landowners on one piece land. This has created a severe obstacle today for individuals and families wanting to utilize their lands as they need to get permission from the other land owners on decisions related to the land. With limited resources to deal with this situation, the only option for most families is to lease their undivided fractionated lands out – often times to non-natives.
  • Forced Fee Patenting, introduced with the 1906 Burke Act, amended the GAA to give the secretary of the interior the power to issue Indian Allottees determined to be “competent,” fee patents making their lands subject to taxation and sale. In other words, the government privatized indigenous lands. It as widely understood by government officials that lands, privatized under the Burke Act, would soon be liquidated. In 1922 the Government superintendent of the Pine Ride Reservation noted: “Careful observation of the results on the Pine Ridge reservation show that less than five percent of the Indians who receive patents retain their lands.” According to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, between 1997 and 1934, nearly 27,000,000 acres of land was lost as a result of privatization.
  • Indian Allottees determined to be “incompetent, ” under the Burke Act, were not allowed to live on or utilize their allotment, instead it was leased out by the Federal Government to oil, timber, mineral, and grazing interests. In many cases, Allottees did not even receive the income from the leases. This practice was so widespread that a 1915 Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Pine Ridge Agency, nearly 56% of its residents were deemed “incompetent.” The longterm affect of this practice was how it physically and psychologically alienated Indian Allottees from their lands. For example many families today own land but have never lived on it, used it, or oftentimes, even know where it is located.

Names of original allottees and hand-written notes visible on the new layer.

The various economic, social, and cultural disruptions created by the these acts over the last century is an underlying cause of poverty on many Native American Reservations today, negatively impacting housing construction, economic development, residency patterns, family and community cohesion, ecological health, cultural self-determination, and political sovereignty.
The original maps were part of a map-book from the early 1900’s that was used to track and record allotment information. The book contained approximately 150 pages with each page of the book representing a Township. Each page of this book was scanned, cropped, georeferenced and then tiled for display in the PRLIS. Tribal members researching the history of their lands can use the PRLIS to locate the location of the original allotments issued to their ancestors and compare them to the existing land parcel map, roads, high resolution aerial imagery and more. Click here to learn more about the PRLIS.

Village Earth Contributes to Latest National Geographic on Lakota

Village Earth is proud to announce the release of the August 2012 of the edition of National Geographic magazine profiling culture, life, politics and history of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Village Earth is credited on the article for our contribution to the maps and fact checking for this edition. Titled, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: Rebirth of the Sioux Nation” includes photography by Aaron Huey who has also published his photos from his journeys on Pine Ridge in in the New York Times “Lens” blog. He later teamed up with artists Ernesto Yerena and Shepard Fairey (Fairey is best known for his iconic blue and red Obama posters) on a nationwide billboard campaign to raise awareness about the shameful legacy of America’s broken treaties with Native Americans. Village Earth was asked to participate on the project because of our decade long experience working on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in particular, our knowledge and experience working on land issues on the Reservation. Most recently, this work culminated into the launch of the Pine Ridge Land Information System an online resource based on open source mapping technology designed to assist Lakota land owners to access information about their lands. While the print edition should be on shelves in the coming weeks, National Geographic has launched pieces of it on its website. You can access articles, maps and resources not available in the print edition, including audio from a community storytelling project on Pine Ridge sponsored by NGS.

New Resource for Lakota Land Owners

Today, Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project is proud to announce the launch of a new resource for Lakota lands owners on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS), is online mapping tool that allows members of the Tribe to locate their allotted lands and view other data about land use and management. The resource was developed by Village Earth with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. Village Earth also developed a companion website to house the tool an other related information at www.lakotalands.net.

The Pine Ridge Reservation encompasses 2,788,047 acres including all of Shannon, Jackson and Bennett Counties in South Dakota and a portion of Sheridan County, NE. This land is divided into 20,507 different parcels, 44% of which are owned in-part or in-whole by individual Tribal Members, a total of 1,067,877 acres. These are lands that were allotted to individual tribal members as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1887 (also known as the Dawes Severalty Act) and have been passed down to each subsequent generation. Most of these lands however, are not being managed by the land owners. Rather, a century of discriminatory policies enacted by the Federal Government have functioned to alienate the original allottees and their heirs from their lands to make them available for lease by non-tribal members for a fraction of their fair market value. Few people realize that on Pine Ridge and on Reservations across the country, these policies have meant that the Indian land owners have been separated from their allotted lands, in many cases, for generations. In fact, many Tribal land owners know very little about their lands; where they’re located, how they’re being used, who they share ownership with, etc. This has had devastating impacts on the ability of land owners to benefit from their land-based resources – economically or culturally. According to the USDA 2007 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. Despite the widespread leasing, over 70% families on Pine Ridge would like to live on and utilize their lands. This is according to survey data collected by Colorado State University.

Short Video about the PRLIS

Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project was started out of this expressed desire from the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Since 2003, the Lakota Lands Recovery Project has worked alongside tribal members moving in this direction. Our approach has been to provide direct support to Lakota families who are utilizing Reservation lands, providing fiscal sponsorship, small grants, loans, and releasing over 100 head of buffalo onto Lakota family ranchers. Our other complimentary approach has been to provide advocacy, information and tools to those who would like to begin to move in that direction. In 2008, with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation we developed the Pine Ridge Strategic Land Planning Map Book and distributed it through Strategic Land Planning Workshops held in each of the Nine Districts on the Reservation. The map book, addressed a particular challenge expressed by tribal members, accessing information about their lands and the options available to them. This is a common problem across Indian Country and is a serious obstacle for Native American’s wanting to utilize their lands. According the Indian Land Working Group:

Over the past 100 years, the government has implemented their “highest and best use” management policy by leasing Indian Land to non-Indians. This continues today, as is evidenced by the fact that of the 9 million acres of trust land classified as agricultural, 6 million is lased to non-Indians. A leasing cartel has been created because Indian landowners have had limited access to information and resources necessary to use and manage allotted trust lands.

To begin to address this need, Village Earth’s Stategic Land Planning Map Book provide full color aerial photos with parcel information for the entire reservation, sample forms and step-by-step procedures for doing land exchanges, partitions, gift deeds, and other tools that Tribal land owners can use to gain greater control over their lands. It was very well received across the Reservation but it was costly to print and distribute. Furthermore, land owners could only get a limited view of their lands. This new tool supports both of these strategic directions while making it more accessible and dynamic.

Using the PRLIS, tribal members can:

  • Search for individually allotted and Tribal owned trust lands using the Tract ID found on their government land reports.
  • View, print and share a web link for the boundaries of specific land tracts.
  • View Pine Ridge lands with various base layers including Google and Bing aerial photography, Google and Bing roads, Google and Bing Hybrid, and terrain.
  • View a Landsat TM Image which can be used to assess the management and of lands on Pine Ridge.
  • View a map of the Range Units that are leased across Pine Ridge.
  • View the Boundaries of the Reservation today and as defined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties.
  • We plan to soon add other demographic, cultural, political information to the PRLIS.

Village Earth has developed this as a demonstration and is open to consult with other Tribes interested in developing their own low-cost online land information systems. For more information about the Pine Ridge Land Information System or the Lakota Lands Recovery Project contact David Bartecchi at [email protected]

Knife Chief Delivers Bison Meat to Elders on Pine Ridge

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, the Village Earth Affiliate, Knife Chief Buffalo Nation delivered 200 lbs of grassfed and field-harvested bison meat to Cohen Memorial Home, an Elderly program in Pine Ridge and 300 lbs of meat to Meals for Elderly, a Reservation-wide program that will distribute the meat to elders across the Reservation. The delivery was made through Tatanka Talo Fund, a donor advised fund of the Lakota Lands Recovery project. The goal of the project is to help distribute Lakota raised bison meat to elders on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This delivery was made possible by from a single donor who covered the cost of the animal, processing, packing and delivery. Grassfed bison meat is a great low-fat and high-protein alternative to beef, making it perfect for elderly and/or people with diabetes. Plus, this project helps to support local Native-run bison caretakers on the Pine Ridge Reservation. If you would like to donate to this program, please click on the “Help Fund This Project” button on the right.

Response to: “Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1%”

Below is my response to an article in today’s online edition of Forbes magazine titled “Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1%.” by John Koppisch. Click here for the original article.

Writing as a European settler who works alongside Native Americans on land tenure issues, I find Mr. Koppisch’s article raises awareness of some of the current challenges in the way of Native Americans from benefiting from their resources, but feel it is an overly simplistic, ahistorical analysis of poverty on reservations today. In fact, it is based on the same ethnocentric premise that was behind the creation of the Dawes Act in the first place. Namely, that all people are individual selfish utility-maximizes and the biggest thing in the way to “progress” for Native Americans is their collective utilization of natural resources. Thus, the problem, from Mr. Koppisch’s perspective, is that there hasn’t been ENOUGH privatization. To fully tease apart your argument you have to examine two central questions. 1. Is your basic premise correct, are Native American’s selfish-utility maximizes and do they share the same notion of “progress” as European settlers? And 2. Considering that western notions of progress were forced upon them through the Reservation system and policies such as the The General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) – was/is the poverty we see today really because there hasn’t been enough privatization. I challenge this notion and argue there might other, more obvious factors?

For some perspective into the first question, we can look at how Native Americans were organized prior to being forced onto ever smaller pieces of land by an invading army of settlers. Were Native American’s victims of their own communal use of natural resources, a self-created tragedy of the commons? While we can always find instances of resource destruction and conflict in the Archaeological record, but the fact remains, Native American’s thrived on this continent for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. And believe it not, this happened without privatization, individual allotments, and a centralized state to create laws and enforce contracts. Now, it would be equally false to assume that Native American’s, by definition, are communal and anti-capitalist, that’s just not true, in fact, the Lakota and other tribes were renowned for their role in the fur trade, controlling and manipulating markets around the globe. And in fact, there were internal struggles among Native American leaders over what direction to take. Lakota Chief Red Cloud believed that there was no stopping the influx of settlers and so tried to convince his people to assimilate. Crazy Horse, on the other hand, sought to protect the traditional way of life that extended beyond the boundaries of the Reservations. The point here is that the history of Native American’s extends thousands of years prior to the creation of Reservations. Pretty much none of that history included privatization. Rather, they were forced onto Reservations by an invading colonial army and were forced to participate in a western system of land tenure and agricultural production. But, history doesn’t end there. It’s not as if they were forced onto reservations, and then became equal participants in American society.

After the period of European settlement in North America between 1492-1887, Native Americans were left with reservations consisting of only 150 million acres. Recognized through treaties as sovereign nations, these lands were largely unpartitioned and communally managed, a practice considered by the U.S. Government to be a non-productive and irrational use of resources. The Government’s solution was the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act. The act partitioned reservation lands into 160 acre parcels for each head of family, 80 acre parcels to orphans, and 40 acres parcels to each child. After all the allotments were issued, the remaining reservation lands in the West was transferred to the Government who then made it available to white settlers free of charge as part of the Homestead Act. This amounted to a loss of over 60,000,000 acres, nearly 2/3rds of all Indian lands. Beyond the significant loss of lands, the GAA also created several challenges for the use and inheritance of the remaining lands that would have profound implications for future generations of Native Americans.

  • It broke apart communally managed lands into individually owned parcels, destroying the ability of many communities to be self sufficient on already limited and marginal lands.
  • It disrupted traditional residency patterns, forcing people to live on allotments sometimes far from their relatives, eroding traditional kinship practices across many reservations.
  • It destroyed communal control of lands, making it easier for private and government interests to gain access to the vast coal, oil, natural gas, agricultural, and grazing resources on Native American Reservations. This was done primarily through forced leases. Leased which, to this day, the government has failed to fully pay. in fact, according to Judge Robertson of the District Court of Columbia, Native American’s were shorted roughly 47 billion dollars in income collected by the government over the last 120 years.
  • The GAA never established an adequate system for how lands would be transfered from generation to generation. Since the practice of creating a Last Will and Testament before death was not common and in some cases was outright offensive to the traditional inheritance practices of some Native American cultures, these lands passed from one generation to the next without clear divisions of who owned what. Today, lands have become so fractionated that it is common to have several hundred or even thousands of landowners on one piece land. This has created a severe obstacle today for individuals and families wanting to utilize their lands as they need to get permission from the other land owners on decisions related to the land. With limited resources to deal with this situation, the only option for most families is to lease their undivided fractionated lands out – often times to non-natives.
  • Forced Fee Patenting, introduced with the 1906 Burke Act, amended the GAA to give the secretary of the interior the power to issue Indian Allottees determined to be “competent,” fee patents making their lands subject to taxation and sale. In other words, the government privatized indigenous lands. It as widely understood by government officials that lands, privatized under the Burke Act, would soon be liquidated. In 1922 the Government superintendent of the Pine Ride Reservation noted: “Careful observation of the results on the Pine Ridge reservation show that less than five percent of the Indians who receive patents retain their lands.” According to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, between 1997 and 1934, nearly 27,000,000 acres of land was lost as a result of privatization.
  • Indian Allottees determined to be “incompetent, ” under the Burke Act, were not allowed to live on or utilize their allotment, instead it was leased out by the Federal Government to oil, timber, mineral, and grazing interests. In many cases, Allottees did not even receive the income from the leases. This practice was so widespread that a 1915 Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Pine Ridge Agency, nearly 56% of its residents were deemed “incompetent.” The longterm affect of this practice was how it physically and psychologically alienated Indian Allottees from their lands. For example many families today own land but have never lived on it, used it, or oftentimes, even know where it is located.
  • The various economic, social, and cultural disruptions created by the these acts over the last century is an underlying cause of poverty on many Native American Reservations today, negatively impacting housing construction, economic development, residency patterns, family and community cohesion, ecological health, cultural self-determination, and political sovereignty.
  • 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.

With the above facts in mind, is it really accurate to say that the poverty on Native American reservations is a result of “not enough privatization” or should we also consider the 120+ years of discrimination and abuse by the United States Government? My point here is not to argue against reforming the land tenure system on reservations. Rather, I believe tribes should have total control over their resources as guaranteed to them by their respective Treaties but also in a contested nature, that goes beyond the legal context of the 1800s but one rooted in UN Declaration of the rights of Indigenous People and their aboriginal claim. But beyond that, they should receive equal protection under the law which means investigating claims to lands illegally seized and unpaid lease contracts by the U.S. Government. But also, reparations for the damages caused by the violence and sexual abuse rampant in boarding schools.

I find it ironic how academics and journalists try to come up with new theories to explain poverty on reservations but fail to take into account the obvious. The government owes Native Americans at least 45 Billion dollars yet, in the settlement offered by the Obama administration, they are being compensated for less that .06% of that. And this hardly makes the news! Who else could be treated like this? How is this not a factor? How is the history of broken treaties and land theft not a factor? Until we as a American settlers take off our blinders and recognize how some people in this country have been and continue to this day to be denied their rights, we will never move beyond the racist legacy of this country.

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