Who is responsible? All of us. Let us build a Community together.
The future regenerative community development with ideas from local citizens and clean, renewable energy systems
At the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, we believe in positive, lasting change. We listen to the voices of our local youth, families, and elders to see what we can do better. We map out where we want to end up in the future by making detailed plans today. But, this is not just about talking and planning, but also taking action. We are building strategic partnerships, spreading awareness beyond the reservation boundaries, and yes, we have begun physically building high-performing, energy efficient houses as we seek the right collaborators and resources to put in the first phase of an ecologically friendly water & waste system that will accommodate future phases of smart, culturally relevant growth. We are also conducting feasibility and market studies to concretely prove what we already see – there is huge need and desire to provide spaces to live, work, play, and learn right here on our tribal homelands.
We believe the movement is here, and the time is now. Everyday, the work we set out to do, comes to reality a little bit more. We are thankful for those brave Lakota friends and families who stand by this effort day after day. It takes this kind of heartfelt tenacity to get things done. We are grateful to the many others from elsewhere who have taken the time to come here, and really come to understand what we face every day, and then rolled up their sleeves to get things done. This is very hard work. Without all of those who never give up, this beautiful dream of a better life, safer communities, businesses and jobs, and place you’d be proud to call home… would never continue to be.
Although it has been 5 years since Thunder Valley CDC became a grassroots organization, blessed by the amazing spiritual community of youth and families, it feels like we are on the verge of something amazing, something world changing. And who is responsible? Each and every person who looks at the world we live in, and says, “There is something better for us. It is time for me to step up and make a difference.” We are humbled every day by those who take this commitment seriously and join in the cause.
If we stick together, we WILL be better, together.
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The Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI), is an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty, students and volunteers at the University of Colorado seeking to improve housing conditions on Tribal lands through research, education and outreach activities.
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"THE PEOPLE DEPEND ON US – LET US INSPIRE"
Who is responsible for sustainable development? The ones who know.
These are the inspiring words of Dr. Salah Arafa who travelled all the way from Cairo, Egypt to spend three days with us here in Thunder Valley this summer. He had come to exchange ideas and explore dialogue, intrigued by the similarities between the struggles of the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai deserts he has worked with over the last 20 years and the Lakotas of the Great Plains. Long have our own people struggled to uphold the spirit of Lakota values and virtues that our ancestors once lived by so powerfully in harmony with Maka Ina, our Mother Earth. The time has arrived for us to help ourselves by reaching out to those who understand and those who know. The time for allowing others to determine the fate of our families, our youth and our children is over. We are the ones we have been waiting for all this time.
Our People Have Always Dreamed
As told to him by his father, Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk) once explained the vision of Tsunke Witko (Crazy Horse) – one of our greatest leaders:
"Tsunke Witko once dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way."
It was this vision that gave Tsunke Witko his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so he could go through anything and not be hurt. It is now 2011 and we, the descendants of these great men and women of the Great Lakota Nation, still remain and still stand strong. We have different battles to fight - now we must combat the rampant effects of persistent poverty, disease, violence, drug & alcohol addiction, suicides, drop-outs, historical trauma, loss of language, housing shortages, economic distress and the other devastating effects of oppression imposed upon our culture and our People over the last few hundred years.
A New Vision
We have not ever, are not going to, and will never give up. We are still warriors. We have never stopped being incredibly resilient and extremely capable human beings. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation follows the vision brought to us by a large group of our own Oglala Oyate (people):
EMPOWERING LAKOTA YOUTH & FAMILIES TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH, CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT OF OUR COMMUNITIES THROUGH THE HEALING AND STRENGTHENING OF CULTURAL IDENTITY.
We Will Be Better Together
We started out as a spiritual Community, praying together and asking Tunkasila (Creator) to take pity on us and help us be strong enough to make a difference. This will always be the center from which all of our other activities ripple outwards from. From that chokan (center) we have done many things together as a community and as a non-profit organization. We built a Sundance together. We have ceremonies together. We built a Ceremony House together. We sing at powwows together. We coach our kids' sports teams together. We have taught entrepreneurial skills to the Youth together. We have built a new headquarters together. We planted an organic garden and fed our families together. We have sought out new partnerships and new horizons together. We have lived, loved, laughed and cried – TOGETHER.
Now we have set forth on a journey of of self-empowerment and self-sufficiency. The image that you saw at the top of this post is a sketch of a larger community we are in the beginning stages planning. It is a visual representation of a long series of meetings and discussions that asked simple questions of "How do we want to live together as Lakota People? What should our community look like for the future?" Out of this framework came the Voices of Our People – loud and clear. We will protect and nourish the lives of our precious youth and elders. We will bring back our language. We will have access to employment and volunteer opportunities. We are tired of being poor. We want a better life. We will create more things to do. We will seek out more opportunities to learn and grow. By walking this path, we will rediscover the power and beauty of ourselves as Lakota.
Regenerative Community Development – Who Can Help & Why
Regeneration is defined as "the ability of an organism or system to re-grow or restore an original function after being damaged or lost." We are planning a Net-Zero Regenerative Community Development here on Pine Ridge with the intention of restoring our hope, our values, our language and our way of life – Wolakota. Many of us cannot afford high utility bills, so we will get off the grid. We see the detrimental effects of an unpredictable outside markets, so we will take a new look at how we can help eachother and feed ourselves that is highly self-sufficient. We will be ready to for the global changes in the Earth's climate systems that are to come. We will weave the connections between the wisdom and language capabilities of our Lakota elders and the passion & energy of the largest growing segment of our population – our youth.
This will take the best of who we are as human beings. We know it will take planning, persistence and passion. We have these in hand. It will also take resources, knowledge and partners. We have some good ones, but are always seeking others to give strength to the movement. Are you an expert in your field? Do you have monetary means to contribute? Do you have time to volunteer? Do you have connections? Do you have a prayer to give? Do you have the ability to construct? Do you have the patience to teach? We are building a small army of committed individuals to pull off what many already consider to be one of the most exciting projects in the works in Indian Country, if not the United States today. Are you down for the cause? We welcome you – just remember, we Oglalas are in the driver's seat on this one. We have to be if we are to truly regenerate and restore that which was damaged and lost.
It Began With A Reminder from Our Ancestors
Our whole journey started inside the stone people's lodge (sweat lodge) many years ago. There was a time when we young men and women at Thunder Valley were afraid. We feared making mistakes. We feared letting our elders and ourselves down. We feared our own lack of understanding and imperfect abilities. We feared the unknown and the future itself. The ancestors of our People from long ago came in to our sweat lodge that night and our wicasa wakan (medicine man) interpreted to us what they were going to tell us. They were very serious and very stern with the few of us who were told needed to hear the message. This is what they said:
"Long ago when our People faced many challenges, we had to make plans and take action to defend our People. We didn't always know what the outcome was going to be. We were not afraid and we fought for our families and our children. We always rode into battle ready to take what came before us. We were warriors. We did not fight so hard and suffer so many injustices for you to sit here today in fear. You are Lakota! Are you not warriors? The time has come for you to quit being afraid and help your people!"
That was the day everything changed. That was the day we quit worrying and started fighting for our communities, our families and our future. That was the day we stood up and stepped into our true selves – Oglala Lakota Warriors of Thunder Valley – fighting for a better world for the entire Oglala Lakota Nation.
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Its that time again for another Thunder Valley Community Meeting. There will be tons of new things to discuss and FOOD! Please be sure to save the date. Everyone is welcome to come!
Check out the picture below for a agenda and more information!
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September 22nd, 2011 · No Comments
THUNDER VALLEY CDC STAFF
Nick Tilsen – Executive Director
Tilsen is a fourth generation organizer who has been active in many organizing efforts – from human rights to environmental justice and community economic development, Nick founded Lakota Action Network, a youth organization working to protect sacred sites while promoting sustainable alternatives in renewable energy. Nick served as the Executive Director for Lakota Action Network for four years.
In the fall of 2006 Nick founded the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to empowering Lakota youth & families through cultural and spiritual awareness. Thunder Valley built on a foundation of spirituality now is engaging sustainable community development. Thunder Valley is planning to build a green sustainable community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation which has sites for homes, a place to incubate businesses, youth shelter, community fitness center, community training facility and other facilities needed to create opportunity for the Oglala Lakota Nation.
Nick has served his people for 10 years doing community work, organizing, volunteering, training, community building, and work collaboratively with many families, organizations, schools and businesses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Jo White – Operations Coordinator
Karlene “Jo” White; Operations Coordinator. Handles all the financial aspects of the organization plus… Jo White has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration which she received from Oglala Lakota College. Jo has 20 years of non-profit experience in many areas. Board Secretary on the Lakota Funds Board of Directors from 1989 – 2006, also the Board Vice-president for the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce 2008 to present. Has experience in Small Business Development, Coached potential small business owners in business planning/ development in research, cash flow projections and written plan for loans. In addition to her skills and accomplishments, Jo is certified to train in the Core Four small business planning and Building Native Communities Financial Literacy courses.
Jo was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She has 4 children – 5 grandchildren all who currently reside on the reservation. I love my home; it holds precious memories of my grandparents and my parents. I truly value the mission of the Thunder Valley CDC. We (means you and me) can make things better for the future of our children, putting aside all differences and working towards a common goal a “Sustainable Future” for the generations to come
Andrew Iron Shell – Marketing Support
Hou Mitakuyapi (Greetings Relatives) My name is Andrew Iron Shell, I’m from the Porcupine community. My responsibilities are Media Support for Oyate Omniciye and Thunder Valley. Wopila Tanka Heca!
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September 14th, 2011 · No Comments
Its time for another Thunder Valley Community Meeting! There is a lot of cool information we have to share with everyone so please come! The TV Community Meeting is on THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 at the Thunder Valley Community Ceremony House from 5:00pm to 9:00 pm. Be sure to check our FACEBOOK for more updates and reminders!
Click on the picture below for the Agenda!
Tags: Events · Latest News · What We're Up To