6 Safe, Eco-Friendly Homes for Pine Ridge Lakota

Jul 14, 2014

Solar inverter needed

For Joe and Lena's "children's safe house" on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, we will be installing solar panels which will have the capacity to run a a laptop, etc, but mostly the incoming energy will be stored in car batteries which can, in turn, be hooked up to the power inverter to provide 120v AC.

Last summer on the Fast Horse Land we had two tornadoes pass by our campsite, one on either side...and they took down nine power poles on the highway. Pine Ridge Village and much of the surrounding area were without power for a few days. With this system, the family can still have the services they need to care for the children and the house.

Joe and Lena currently have nine children in their home; five are by birth and four by circumstance. Additionally, they work with Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyape (LOWO) as an emergency placement home for children and have been doing volunteer work for Tiyospaye Crisis Center for two years.

They currently live in Wounded Knee Village, but their dream is to build an eco-sustainable children's safe house and family home on our land in the Wakpamni District. Your donation take us a step closer to accomplishing that dream.


Apr 15, 2014

Preparations continue for Fast Horse's summer build

Grandmother Claudia takes the kids swimming
Grandmother Claudia takes the kids swimming

Thank you for your ongoing support of this crucially important project. Parents Joe Fast Horse and Lena Apple operate a children's safe house in Wounded Knee, SD, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

They care for 9 children total in a small HUD home provided by the tribe that is riddled with black mold and cockroaches, with running water that just barely works, all because they care for the future of Lakota children on the Pine Ridge reservation. Three generations are volunteering to make this house a reality. It is their spirit of caring that compels Tiyospaye Winyan Maka to assist them in building their own home, on their own land, in a model off-grid community.

Current planning for our Safe House and Model Community include:

A. Sacred Mountains Earthen Home (collaborating partner: Texas Natural Builders)

B. Volunteer Bunkhouse and Community Facilities (collaborating partners: church organizations including Unity Church, Boulder; Unitarian Universalists, Rapid City; Washington Park United Church of Christ, Denver)
1. Bunkhouse
2. Composting Toilets
3. Solar shower  

C. Power
1. Wind Generator (collaborating partner: Engineers Without Borders Project-­CSU student chapter)
2. Portable Sawmill, All building supplies are collected from the natural resources available in the immediate and surrounding areas. This tool, called a Wood Mizer, will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka and multiple families build multiple homes on Pine Ridge.
3. A welder/generator: A welder/generator will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka build important structural and foundational elements for not only the Fast Horse family, but for multiple families in the future. It will also help power the volunteer camp at the build site when it's not being used for it's welding capacities, an important amenity needed to draw more volunteers in.

D. Water
1. Open-air Kitchen / Community Classroom
    a. Water Supply: 1700 Gallon Water Cistern with Gravity feed
    b. Tables and seating
    c. Propane stove(s)
    d. Sink and drainage
    e. Root cellar / storage
2. Rainwater harvesting system with second cistern to provide water for an organic, heirloom garden so the family can achieve nutritional self-sufficiency and not rely on the federal food commodity program, which provides unhealthy high sugar, high carbohydrate, high sodium foods
3. On-site watershed restoration, (collaborating partner: Cuenca los Ojos)

E. Volunteer Resources
1. International Volunteers (collaborating partner: Service Civile International)
2. Domestic Volunteers (collaborating partners: Engineers Without Borders chapters, also faith community members; Habitat for Humanity)

F. Demonstration Workshops and Projects
1. Demonstration earthen wall options, including: cob, cord wood, straw bale, etc.
2. Ethno-botany guided walks
3. Trail rides

It's people like the Fast Horses who bring light into an often dark situation. They squeeze every penny out of your donation.

Jan 13, 2014

Summary of the Joe Fast Horse project

Paha Wakan house design for Joe Fast Horse
Paha Wakan house design for Joe Fast Horse

Hello and a warm hug and handshake to you. The Fast Horse Build will be a four year project in the overall Wounded Knee building project. The plans are to simultaneously:

(1) build the home: With help from David Reed of Texas Natural Builders, we will build a timber framed cordwood home called Paha Wakan (The Sacred Mountain), designed by Kelly Hart (http://bit.ly/AtLoVZ) on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in South Dakota. We are looking for volunteers with love and First Nation Solidarity to come and learn how to build with timber, cob, straw bale and cordwood!! We are so excited and hope ya'll are too!!!

(2) build a wind turbine and working with solar panels

(3) clear and level the campground area and a bunk house for volunteers who prefer indoor camping. Along with this we will put together solar showers and composting toilets. We will also build two root cellars to help preserve the vegetables that we buy and that are later grown on the land.

(4) restore water to a dry creek bed on the land with help from Valer Austin of Cuenca Los Ojos www.CuencaLosOjos.com.

(5) Lena Apple-Fast Horse will also be doing organic gardening, for which she has great skill and dedication. All interested organic gardeners are welcome to come for all, or any part of the late spring/early-through-late fall. If you choose to come in late spring, please know that this time is spent preparing the camp area for the other domestic and international volunteers.

As you can see, this is quite the ambitious undertaking, but I believe it can be done by reaching out for help.

Oct 14, 2013

Meet Joe and Lena Fast Horse -- Heroes

Joe, Lena and kids on children
Joe, Lena and kids on children's safe house land

Since we began building homes for Lakota families years ago, Joe Fast Horse has been on the building sites, working hard as a volunteer. And through the internet, he has educated himself on all aspects of off-the-grid, low-cost, healthy housing.

However, Joe and his family still live in dangerously mold-infested government housing on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Joe and Lena dream of building an eco-sustainable children's safe house and home. They currently have nine children in their home; five are by birth and four by circumstance. Additionally, they work with Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyape (LOWO) as an emergency placement home for children.

This summer, we got started on this safe house -- in other words, the foundation for just the central section of this house. Even though most of the building materials are local (read "free"), funds are needed for doors, windows, beams, and generator fuel.

In most of the US, food, shelter, and life's necessities are readily available. Not in Pine Ridge -- "America's 3rd World Country." Everything is used and reused. Please sign up for a monthly donation today. Thank you for caring.

We'll start with just the middle section


Jul 12, 2013

Help Joe Fast Horse build a safe home for his family this summer

Chris Eala with me at Wounded Knee
Chris Eala with me at Wounded Knee

We can make a difference for Lakota families. The housing situation in Wounded Knee is unspeakably bad. Families are either crowded into flimsy particle-board houses full of black mold or into flimsy FEMA trailers full of black mold.

Our focus this summer is to help Joe Fast Horse and his wife and two children to begin construction of a "dome-home" on the land that is his by tradition. The house will be tucked in a grove of pine trees in the protection of a beautiful windblown ridge. It has a wide territorial view of grasslands.

Joe has been a steadfast volunteer on houses for others during prior summers, and now international volunteers will be assisting him. His family is entirely dependent on your generous donations for materials to keep the volunteers busy. Thank you for doing what you can.

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Altai Mir University

Shoreline, WA, United States

Project Leader

Carol Hiltner

Shoreline, Washington United States

Where is this project located?

Map of 6 Safe, Eco-Friendly Homes for Pine Ridge Lakota