Sustainable Housing for the Oglala Lakota

A South Dakota Oglala Lakota nonprofit has just broken ground on what will become a regenerative community housing development that focuses on people, prosperity and the planet. The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation says the project is one response to a “moral responsibility” to end poverty in Native communities.

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Thunder Valley CDC

Members of the Thunder Valley CDC break ground on their new regenerative community.

The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (Thunder Valley CDC) broke ground on its regenerative community housing development last month.

Local, regional and national partners including the Sustainable Home Ownership Project, USDA Rural Development, Enterprise Community Partners, the Northwest Area Foundation, and the Bush Foundation among others also support the project. The project will create 32 single family homes, apartments, a small farm and aquaponics greenhouse, a grocery store, powwow grounds, a youth shelter, artist studios and more, according to a press release. 


In the past, the Oglala Lakota people had strong, sustainable regional economies that were built around a nomadic lifestyle of hunting buffalo, stewarding the land, and managing sophisticated societal and democratic governance structures, said Nick Tilsen, founding executive director of Thunder Valley CDC. However, policies and injustices have created third world poverty conditions in the heart of America, he said.

“Our people no longer hunt the buffalo as a way of life, but we are still here,” Tilsen said. “We know that a sustainable, resilient community is still possible. The movement is here. The time to define and develop our own future is now.”

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