A Promising Start to the New Year

Just months into his new term, Oglala Sioux Tribal President, Scott Weston, is eager to see collaboration and progress happen with Promise Zone efforts here on the Pine Ridge Reservation. At President Weston’s request, a Promise Zone Tribal Leader Summer took place on Monday, January 23rd. 

“It was a really great day,” says Thunder Valley CDC Deputy Director, Jennifer Irving. “We would like to send a warm and gracious thank you to President Weston and his staff, and to all the council people that were able to come out and represent their districts.”

Designated a Promise Zone by President Obama’s Administration, the Pine Ridge Reservation his about halfway through its second year of the ten-year designation.

“We spent time that day talking about the the great work that has been happening the last two years and discussing what Promise Zone is, but our two main outcomes for the day were moving forward on setting up Promise Zone priorities and communication strategy.”

Although constant work has been happening during the Pine Ridge Promise Zone’s introductory years, this meeting provided a space and time for tribal program leaders to provide their insight about what they want for the future of the Promise Zone.

“It was really an opportunity for tribal leadership to come together and share their ideas about work that they want to seen done during the Promise Zone designation time, discuss some of the project they have on their plate that they would like assistance on,” said Jennifer. “And to hammer out a strategy for how we’re reporting back to tribal leadership about the goings on and opportunities in the Promise Zone.”

Looking ahead to upcoming Promise Zone happenings, nearly ten AmeriCorp VISTA workers will be disseminated across the Pine Ridge Reservation to help build the capacity of various organizations and programs. In addition to the VISTA worker appointments, a couple of key events in March and May are finalizing their final details. On March 1st & 2nd there will be a “Building Black for Sustainability” event that is specifically for economic development hosted in Rapid City. And in sometime May the Oglala Sioux Tribe will host a Great Plains Tribal Economic Development Summit. 

“Our Tribal Council is inviting tribal councils from around the region to share about what is working for their tribes and what are some of the barriers they’re facing,” says Jennifer. “It’s an opportunity to: A) learn from each other, and, B) identify things we want to bring back to our tribes that we can work on as a region.”

For more information on the Pine Ridge Promise Zone, be sure to check out the website at www.pineridgepromisezone.com.

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