Sunday, September 11, 2005

Lakota Sustainable Housing

A sustainable development workshop was held on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, August 8th -18th, 2005. PennElys GoodShield, Project Coordinator of the Sustainable Nations Development Project, organized the workshop to encourage sustainable development in Native American communities.

The workshop took place on Henry Red Cloud’s land, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud, who is determined to restore Oglala Lakota Sioux traditions and self sufficiency according to traditional wisdom. Seven generations have passed with their people living among the white man. "After the seventh generation, we would become self-sufficient by taking their goodness and the goodness of the Lakota," Henry Red Cloud said, “and secure the future of the next seven generations.”

Excitement over new possibilities was certainly in the air, judging by the enthusiasm evident among participants. Topics ranged from photovoltaics and wind energy systems, to sustainable building and straw-bale construction.

Instructors at the workshop included Johnny Weiss of Solar Energy International, Duran Dalton of NativeSUN, and PennElys GoodShield. David Brave Heart of Brave Heart Construction (a native of Pine Ridge) and Dr. Owen Geiger of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building were the strawbale instructors. There were 17 students hailing from Arizona, Manitoba, Minnesota, California, Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as local South Dakota.

The final structure was quite elegant and very satisfying: a graceful round strawbale building, that was in keeping with traditional Lakota structures, was topped with a roof not unlike that of a tipi. Overall, I was left with the impression of somehow being a part of history – the Lakota are beginning to fulfill their destiny of self sufficiency and it appears great things lie ahead.

For pictures and more information: Sustainable Nations Training