Many families living in government housing on Lakota reservations or off-reservation are seeking to reclaim lands that belonged to their ancestors and to acquire the skills that permit sustainable living on the land. The creation of the Indigenous Wisdom Center will serve to assist reservation families develop skills necessary to homestead, including practical workshops in alternative natural home design and construction, subsistence gardening and food forests, root cellar and greenhouse construction and more. The Indigenous Wisdom Center has gained material and volunteer support from numerous organizations, including Village Earth, Engineers Without Borders, One Health Institute, Service Civil International, the Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, Grow Permaculture, the Sustainable Living Network, and Rotary, to name a few.
This project contributes to the installation of a supplemental water system for the Indigenous Wisdom Center. Water independence is one vital component to successful and sustainable homesteading on the reservation. It will reduce water costs and dependency on county water systems and mitigate the detrimental effects of periodic droughts and water shortages. The tanks will store drinking water for people and for the greenhouse at the Indigenous Wisdom Center, separate from the main water lines and indoor plumbing. Engineers Without Borders is designing the equipment systems. Additionally, the tanks (and the system) will serve as a model for harvesting water using natural building techniques that can be easily scaled to smaller family homes.
The Indigenous Wisdom Center is being built right now, in the second year of a five-year target for completion. Representatives of the Colorado State University chapter of Engineers Without Borders are on-site continuously (excepting late fall and winter) to supervise and coordinate the construction. The location for the water tanks has been designated, and the ground is ready to be excavated to install the tanks (depending on the weather in fall 2019, this may need to be postponed until spring 2020).
The funds for the project will be used to purchase two 1500-gallon Below-grade Water Tanks and includes the freight cost to transport them to the Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
I am working together with Elissa Tivona and Christiana Eala (of the Indigenous Wisdom Center leadership team, both based in Fort Collins) to do fundraising within the Rotary club network. I will be traveling to Pine Ridge, SD, to monitor how the funds are used on-site. Rotary club members are welcome to visit the construction of the Indigenous Wisdom Center in Pine Ridge and also to participate in hands-on volunteer work, using natural building techniques or helping support the many volunteers who come there.