Jun 14, 2021

Finally Together Again

Photo by Evan Barrientos Photography
Photo by Evan Barrientos Photography

Planting trees is about more than just planting trees.

We hear this frequently from our partners. On Lakota Tribal Lands, planting trees is done with great care, intention, and gratitude. When asked about what makes Pine Ridge a special place for him, Chief Henry Red Cloud told us it was the beautiful country, the rolling hills and the animals. “It’s all here,” he mentioned as he spoke on the importance of honoring trees as relatives.

After a year of managing the COVID-19 pandemic in their community, the Oglala Sioux Tribe was excited to join us and Red Cloud Renewable (RCR) last month by sending out a group of hard-working tree planters to join our spring planting. Thanks to all of the tree planters being vaccinated, TWP staff (who were also vaccinated) were able to join for the first time since 2019’s planting season to reconnect with old friends and meet new people. For five days, we planted trees alongside Lakota community members and visited former planting sites where we observed many healthy and robust ponderosa trees that were planted 5+ years ago. 

For many in the tree planting crew, the spring planting season presented a valuable opportunity to earn income, feel empowered and reconnect with others in the community after a long year of uncertainty and scarcity. Each day started bright and early with freshly made coffee and a hearty breakfast. During meals and between activities, the hired cook that supported the project, Tink, shared stories with us and the other tree planters about her time at Standing Rock supporting the NODAPL camp. Her son Ladon would run around the Sacred Earth Lodge at RCR with a big grin and greet us all in the morning and be there in the afternoon after returning from tree planting. For the first time in a long time, we felt deeply connected to our partner community. We felt incredibly grateful to join forces with this group of generous, resilient, and hard-working people. 

While in Pine Ridge, we also began filming the long-awaited short documentary about our reforestation efforts, thanks to another funding sponsor. As a GlobalGiving supporter of TWP, we want you to be among the first to gain exclusive access to this video content later this summer!

In New Mexico, our National Program staff are currently meeting with the Tri-Pueblo Coalition to finalize timelines and logistics for tree planting in the Jemez Mountains in the coming months. Tree planting in New Mexico will also be a unique opportunity as we enter our third year of partnership with Santo Domingo Pueblo and the second year with Cochiti and Jemez Pueblos. So many exciting things are on the horizon, and we can not wait to share more stories directly from our partners to you.

Thank you for believing in and supporting Indigenous-led projects! 

Photo by Evan Barrientos Photography
Photo by Evan Barrientos Photography
Feb 11, 2021

Healing Ourselves, Healing the Land

Planting on Jemez Tribal Lands, August 2020
Planting on Jemez Tribal Lands, August 2020

With 2020 behind us, we have eagerly welcomed the opportunity to begin planning for spring/summer tree planting later this year.

The first thing on our agenda is tree planting with Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico this spring, which was postponed in the fall of last year due to COVID. As we look forward to this collaboration with the Pueblo in mid-April (weather permitting), the timing of this will also help us compare the benefits and drawbacks of tree planting in the spring vs. fall. Nevertheless, tree planting in Pine Ridge will continue as usual this year in May. This will include 26,000 trees ranging from our usual ponderosa pines, more cottonwoods, fruit-bearing trees, and we will be planting coyote willows, another culturally important species for the Lakota.

We will heavily prioritize mapping out planting sites ahead of tree planting to assess ecological needs, and to help us implement stronger monitoring and evaluation protocols ahead of time. Together with Red Cloud Renewable, we are looking to increase the number of local paid laborers due to the greater number of seedlings that we will be planting. Finally, we are excited to be welcoming an additional Project Coordinator to the TWP staff to further assist us with GIS mapping, and to increase our overall capacity as our tribal reforestation programs continue to grow.

In Santa Fe, NM, the Douglas fir seedlings we dropped off in August last year were sent to students of different tribes across the Southwest in NM and Arizona. Among the tribes represented were the Navajo, Apache, and various Pueblos across NM. Each student from this Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) sponsored program received two trees each. Science staff at SFIS also received two trees each, and 10 trees were planted on the SFIS campus itself. During these times of remote learning, environmental stewardship and connection to the land can be especially difficult. But thanks to your support, the SFIS is helping young Natives reconnect to their natural world. By planting trees on Indigenous lands, we can support the health of our environment and rehabilitate both the human spirit and the land. 

Stay tuned in the spring for more photos, video testimonials, and more as tree planting begins! And, as always, we thank you for your continued support.

Douglas fir seedling on Jemez tribal lands
Douglas fir seedling on Jemez tribal lands
Oct 15, 2020

Tri-Pueblo Coalition in Action

Your support has funded the planting of 24,000 mixed conifers in the centuries-old Pueblos of Kewa, Cochiti, and Jemez in New Mexico this year. We planted 13,000 trees in the area in 2019 and are expanding in 2020-21 while increasing indigenous-operated tree nurseries' capacity, providing robust in-field/remote training, and creating seasonal employment opportunities.

In early August, Kewa Pueblo assembled a strong team of planting volunteers spanning generations and finished planting their 8,000 trees in only 5 days. New Mexico saw record high temperatures and long dry spells this summer, which made soil conditions rough, and the planting sites were often difficult to access due to runoff from the times it did rain. Our National Program Coordinator, James Calabaza, spent 2 weeks in New Mexico with Kewa and Jemez planting crews to provide technical support and lay the groundwork for future mapping and monitoring of the seedlings.

A second caravan from TWP departed later that month with roughly 1,000 seedlings to deliver to the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS). Native students from across the state engaged in remote learning through the SFIS will be planting these seedlings near their homes. Jemez Pueblo began planting their seedlings shortly after this in a burn scar on their Tribal boundaries. The climate was dry, and planting conditions were acceptable, but shortly after completing our first day of planting, the skies darkened, and a heavy rain lasted for almost an hour. The Pueblo of Jemez Forestry crew continued planting for another few days and finished their planting in late September. Due to COVID-19, Cochiti Pueblo will begin planting their seedlings in the Spring of 2021, but the seedlings are being cared for by the Colorado State Forest Nursery in the meantime.

“For indigenous people in New Mexico, planting trees is more than just planting trees. Planting Douglas Fir is about restoring natural lands burned by wildfires and regenerating important cultural traditions for future generations.” - Derwin, Pueblo of Jemez Forestry


At TWP, your donations directly support tribal led forest management like Derwin is a part of because this is what it looks like to help people and the planet. We are continuing to move forward with the Tri-Pueblo through the early stages of next year’s planting season and developing robust monitoring programs and protocols to assess and analyze tree survival. Please stay on the lookout for more information on this and other updates on our reforestation projects!

Thank you for supporting Tribal-led reforestation.

Derwin, Pueblo of Jemez Forestry digging a hole
Derwin, Pueblo of Jemez Forestry digging a hole
Loading trees at Colorado State Forest Nursery
Loading trees at Colorado State Forest Nursery
Drop-off at Santa Fe Indian School greenhouse
Drop-off at Santa Fe Indian School greenhouse
 
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