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 »
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 »
USDA Rural Development has a long history of collaboration with the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. I’ve seen the power of these collaborations first-hand, both in my current role as Under Secretary for Rural Development, as well back in the 1990s when I had the opportunity to serve as Rural Development’s State Director in South Dakota.
I recently returned to the tribe’s Pine Ridge Reservation, accompanied by twelve Midwestern USDA Rural Development state directors. We traveled across the reservation, seeing both cultural landmarks and projects that have been impacted by USDA. Read more »
John Yellow Bird Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) signed a proclamation declaring June 2011 National Homeownership Month. The signing event took place in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, earlier this month with Partnership for Housing and USDA Rural Development on site for the ceremony.
“USDA Rural Development is actively engaged with assisting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in increasing homeownership opportunities in coordination with our public, private, and non-profit partners,” said Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks. “Homeownership often leads to economic improvements, a better sense of pride in yourself and of the community.”
Read more »
South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks addressed a crowd of nearly 500 attendees at the 37th Annual National American Indian Council Convention & Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona last week. This year’s theme was “Connect to the Past, Commit to the Future.”
Meeks, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, highlighted Rural Development’s programs and provided stats on the opportunities provided to American Indian/Alaska Native families on a national scale since the year 2000. She noted that the Single Family Housing Direct Program has helped over 2,600 Native families become homeowners during that time and that the USDA Guaranteed program has helped an additional 3,700 families achieve their homeownership dreams. In addition the USDA Home Repair program has funded home repairs for over 3,000 Native families. Read more »
Earth Day celebrations in both Rosebud and Porcupine, South Dakota, featured Jessica Zufolo, USDA Rural Development Deputy Administrator for Rural Utilities Programs. Zufolo was joined by the South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Area Director Tim Potts, along with representatives from Indian Health Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The celebration featured the announcement of a water and environmental project totaling $6.8 million to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and water and environmental project totaling $881,000 to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Read more »