During these first ten years of our organization we have found immense value in learning from, and sharing with, others. Lately, as we move from the planning to the action phases in so many aspects of our organization’s work, we have been asked to share our model for creating change with other communities. This month we were invited to share with the community in Duck Valley, in Shoshone Paiute Territory.
Team members Andrew Iron Shell and Ernest Weston traveled to the small town of Owyhee, Nevada, located in a remote area an hour and a half to the nearest city. An agriculture community where 90% of the ranchers and farmers are comprised of tribal members, their demographics differ greatly from Pine Ridge where over 80% of ranching/farming is done on the reservation by non-Indians. However, the Shoshone Paiute community is more alike than different in that they have a very youthful population, and despite facing similar social and economic they too see the challenge of their geographic isolation as opportunity for building what their people want to see for their futures.
For example, Hoop House Gardening is picking up momentum in Duck Valley, and local youth are taking interest. “You start with your people, those most impacted by the issues and by your work and great things will happen organically if you stick to your value system. A small focused group can move a lot of change,” says Andrew. And since Shosone Paiute youth are looking for careers and opportunity in their own homelands, more so than looking for the exits, the strong local focus on an agricultural economy has a promising potential.
“After our presentations on our Food Sovereignty work we witnessed youth and elders talk about what their community can do and needs,” says Ernest. “This was inspiring to me because it felt like they were excited to get their community moving.”
Andrew also felt inspirited by his experience with the Shoshone Paiute community, saying, “While tribal communities and organizations may be at different starting points, the root is the same for all –– organize your community and do the heavy lifting together. Sharing what has worked for us in moving hard conversations to collective action. In that, a foundation of power is built and community can do anything they dare to dream.”
Engaging with our own community helps us identify local priorities, local skills, and local capacity, while engaging with others helps us learn best practices, adapt, and build partnerships. Our replicable model for creating change is something we’re excited to continue sharing so that other communities can utilize our last 10 years of learning for their own growth. We look forward to another 10 years of learning, sharing, and growth.