On October 11, Americans celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. It is an occasion to recognize the cultures and peoples of Native Americans.
Native Americans are pushing to make themselves self-sufficient right now. There are signs of poverty visible when you enter Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. As you travel along Highway 18, you will encounter something completely unexpected.
The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation is located in the middle of Badlands National Park. Tatewin means, who is part of the Oglala Lacta tribe, said they chose to undertake the project to create an independent community.
“Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation started from prayer. It came from a group young people who were hungry for change and reconnected with Lakota ways, songs, and ceremonies,” Means stated.
Crowdsourcing allowed them to create energy-efficient houses. This led to the creation of homes for first-time homeowners on the housing market.
Means explained that “we know that we can build beautiful communities, beautiful homes that use energy efficiently, that are durable, and that fulfill all the requirements of what a neighborhood should have.”
The reservation is also a food desert. Means says Thunder Valley has a plan.
“We have a demonstration garden of two-and a-half acres with 500 chickens. This allows us to supply local fresh eggs and also a community gardening program that can be used to sell our produce to the community.
Every piece of the Thunder Valley puzzle serves a purpose. It’s a goal to get back to their roots.
“Each of the houses is in circles of seven. Otani Shockey and the seven council fires arranged themselves in this way when we all came together. They open to receive the sun from the east,” Means stated.
She tells us that it’s their way to heal the wounds of the past. She wants her people move forward and end the cycle of poverty.
“It is our own living expression of liberation. It’s not the only path. It is not the right way. She said, “But it’s our path.” “And we want to invite as many people as possible along on our journey to define what it means for Lakota to be today in the 21st Century.”