Sicangu Lakota secure $69,000 grant to further community-driven development plan focused on sustainability and self-sufficiency
- Created: Sunday, 04 February 2018 16:01
- Written by Laura Proescholdt
For generations, the Sicangu Lakota were persecuted and prohibited from practicing their religion and traditional ways. But the spirit of the South Dakota tribe was never broken. "We have a history of standing up and fighting for our rights," says Wizipan Little Elk "and we continue to fight for our freedom to live how we want.”
That freedom and focus on traditional ways is the foundation of the new Keya Wakpala Waicageyapi Development. The Executive Director and CEO of Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), Little Elk has played a key role in the process of creating a master plan to transform an 600-acre swath of land west of the City of Mission, South Dakota, in a way that centers community and environmental sustainability.
“One thing that separates us and helps define who we are is that we don’t approach the work that we do from a deficit base,” Little Elk explains. “I think that we come at it from an asset base instead. We’re not looking at everything that’s wrong and throwing our hands up in the air and asking for handouts. Rather, we have challenges that we’re actively addressing, and we want partners and allies to help us address those challenges.”
The Keya Wakpala plan addresses several pressing community challenges including a major shortage of affordable housing; lack of suitable energy, water, and transportation infrastructure; and high rates of poverty. According to Little Elk, the community isn’t focused on those hurdles. Instead, they see potential in partnerships, collaboration, and innovative planning.