Little Wound School students hold round table discussions on their vision of the future. Tribal elder Cecilia Fire Thunder facilitated.
Recently USDA Rural Development staff in South Dakota spent two days at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Sioux, where they met with Tribal leaders, educators and other Federal partners. They made this trip as part of a broader administration effort to change the way the federal government works with communities. This approach values residents’ knowledge of their communities’ strengths and needs; it also includes local leaders as essential partners and collaborators.
Jennifer Irving, Director of Regional Equity for Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a local non-profit intimately involved in one-such effort at Pine Ridge said, “It is important to coordinate engagement of the Promise Zone stakeholders to ensure that Tribal Leadership’s vision and priorities are being met while optimizing Tribal commitment of time and resources.”
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Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone invests in local foods.
As a law student, I spent a summer working and living with the Sokoagon Band of the Chippewa, a Native American tribe located in rural Northern Wisconsin. Tribal leaders and members extended to me their kindness, friendship, passion and laughter. They are some of our country’s finest.
But, make no mistake, the Sokoagon face challenges shared by many persistently poor rural communities across our country.
That summer, I saw with new eyes the importance of dependable and consistent employment, housing, health care systems and education. That summer I also saw that for many rural Americans these things, taken for granted by many, are luxuries. Read more »
The 8th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit was held last week at Utah Valley University in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah’s Rural Development State Director Wilson “David” Conine wanted to share with attendees the importance a community development financial institution (CDFI) can play in tribal development. He turned to his counterpart, South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks who has over 20 years of experience working for Native community economic development.
Meeks recognized CDFI as an important part of the infrastructure for delivering consistent funding for housing and small business development activities that benefit low and moderate income people. They combine multiple sources of public and private capital in order to make loans and investments available in ways tailored to the particular underserved geographies and types of businesses or borrowers. Developing capacity among these types of organizations can increase utilization of USDA programs in a region, many of which provide long-term below-market capital for permanent improvements in rural areas. Read more »
The Red Cloud Indian School is located about five miles north of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Shannon County are often listed as being among the poorest areas in this Nation. Within this Third World environment the school provides a safe learning environment for Native American students. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that President Obama signed into law in February will help provide a much-needed economic boost to this rural area. Recently, I joined Area Director Tim Potts to present the School with federal funds totaling $941,000. The money will be used to provide teacher housing, a new heating and cooling system and a sewer lift station at the school. The money is a combination of Recovery Act funds and dollars from USDA Rural Development’s standard allocation to South Dakota. Read more »