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Posts tagged: Elsie Meeks

USDA Officials Highlight StrikeForce at South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

South Dakota USDA officials recently highlighted the StrikeForce initiative at the bi-annual South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference held in Rapid City.  The conference with the theme of, “Building Opportunities in the New Native America,” was a perfect opportunity to announce South Dakota USDA’s focus on increasing partnerships and leveraging resources on South Dakota tribal lands. Read more »

On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation: The People’s Plan for Regional Sustainability

Federal partners working with Thunder Valley CDC:  Left to right: Guadalupe M. Herrera,HUD Region VIII Sustainability Officer; Scott Moore, Thunder Valley CDC Project Coordinator & Architect; Nick Tilsen,Thunder Valley CDC Executive Director; Shelley Poticha, Director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Christine Sorensen-South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff.

Federal partners working with Thunder Valley CDC: Left to right: Guadalupe M. Herrera,HUD Region VIII Sustainability Officer; Scott Moore, Thunder Valley CDC Project Coordinator & Architect; Nick Tilsen,Thunder Valley CDC Executive Director; Shelley Poticha, Director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Christine Sorensen-South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff.

South Dakota USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks joined the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (CDC), and other consortium members recently on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of southwestern South Dakota to discuss next steps for the Oyate Omniciye | Oglala Lakota Plan.   The regional planning process and the collaboration of a broad cross-section of regional stakeholders have created a regional plan for sustainable development and acts as a tool to begin implementation.  One of the 12 initiatives identified in the Plan includes the creation of a Regional Planning Office.  State Director Meeks attended the recent consortium meeting regarding the Regional Planning Office, stating “The planning team assembled by Thunder Valley CDC and diverse membership of the consortium have created a framework for sustainability; a regional plan that will allow for a coordination of resources and support.” Read more »

South Dakota Local Foods Conference Supports South Dakota Producers and Resource Providers

South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks presents funds to South Dakota State University Extension for an online Local Foods Center while attending the 2012 South Dakota Local Foods Conference.  Pictured left to right, Dr. Rhoda Burrows and Chris Zdorovtsov, SDSU Extension; and State Director Meeks.

South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks presents funds to South Dakota State University Extension for an online Local Foods Center while attending the 2012 South Dakota Local Foods Conference. Pictured left to right, Dr. Rhoda Burrows and Chris Zdorovtsov, SDSU Extension; and State Director Meeks.

The second annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference was held recently to continue the dialogue on local foods among producers, consumers, farmer’s markets, retailers, schools and others.  The conference provided attendees from across the state two days of breakout sessions, networking, and instruction.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks attended the conference, taking the opportunity to award South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000.  The Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Read more »

Native American Heritage Month is an Opportunity for Learning and Sharing

Earlier this month, I submitted a blog discussing plans to observe Native American Heritage Month in South Dakota. USDA Rural Development South Dakota staff held a Native American interactive day on November 28, which included traditional teachings, significance of the circle, meal, a game of “all my relations” and Native Pictionary.  Today marks the final day of Native American Heritage Month, 2012.

Native American Heritage month is an opportunity for learning and sharing of Native American culture.  USDA staff were educated on the symbolism of the circle and its relevance to the Native American people with Rural Housing Specialist Ken Lynch reading a quote from Black Elk Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks provided comments in support of this event and traditional foods included smoked white fish, salmon, herring, and fish spread.  The hand smoking with native hardwoods brings out the delicate flavor of these fish.  Chicken, a wild rice dish, and squash was provided by Rural Housing Technician Hetti Cekalla and her husband Leroy.  Also served were Indian fried bread, vegetables, dessert and drinks. Read more »

In South Dakota, Jackson County-Kadoka Economic Development Effort Moves Forward

With the assistance of a South Dakota USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), the Jackson County-Kadoka Economic Development Corporation is closer to its vision of assisting residents and businesses in achieving their full potential to increase economic security. The grant will allow the development corporation to establish a revolving loan fund to grow and retain local businesses.

“This project provides opportunity and resources to support services in Jackson County. The partnership with Jackson-Kadoka Economic Development shows what can be accomplished when government and entrepreneurs work together to bring increased economic stimulus and jobs to rural South Dakotans,” stated USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks.  “The Obama Administration is committed to improving the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities.” Read more »

USDA Committed to Supporting Improvement of Housing Quality in Indian Country

The  newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

The newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

USDA Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development staff celebrated the building dedication of the first Housing Authority in the nation recently.  Started over 50 years ago, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority located on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, in South Dakota, hosted officials in honor of the opening of their newly constructed administration building.  Funded through a USDA Rural Development’s Recovery Act Community Facility Direct loan of $3.6 Million, the building stands for the coordinated effort of many agencies. Read more »