We will gather a diverse group of up to 20 indigenous grassroots for a learning camp, to participate in water restoration techniques and seed planting. Our aims are to strengthen grassroots networks, involve the entire community, and demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable water management. We learn by participating in groundwork (digging trenches, building dams, planting seeds), as well as prep-work (surveying the landscape, predicting where water flows, and understanding the geography).
This project will demonstrate how sustainable water management is feasible and beneficial to all. This project is about respect for the water cycle, which is Nature's way of retaining moisture in the land through Earth's ecosystems. In South Dakota, the project site, poor water management is devastating the climate. In the last decade, there have been 21 major disaster declarations, as well as well as extremely dry weather that necessitated the establishment of a formal Drought Task Force.
Our project will take place on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation in South Dakota. We will bring in 20 volunteers from the Lakota and outside Tribes. The model for water restoration we will be learning is based on eco-friendly community-owned methods of rainwater harvesting. Participants will get hands on experience in trenching techniques (such as swales and berms), building dams using local natural materials (such as timber, straw, and rocks), as well as sowing indigenous seeds.
Long-term impacts include changes to the landscape and an expanded network of experienced indigenous water advocates. The project involves digging multiple contour trenches and berms to capture rainwater run-off, along with construction of small dams. These structures will begin capturing rainwater as soon as the next precipitation event. Plants sown will help hold soil in place, creating a lasting, sustainable change to the landscape.