Home to 26,000 members of the Lakota Tribe, the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, is the 2nd poorest US county. Currently a majority of reservation land is leased by the US government to non-tribal members, with tribal landowners only receiving 50 cents to $3 an acre/year. Reclaiming large acreage and restoring buffalo connects the Lakota with our ancestral lands and reintroduces our youth to cultural traditions and the buffalo while increasing our food and economic self-sufficiency.
Protecting 1800 acres for buffalo restoration involves building 7 miles of fence & installing 2 windmills for pumping water. This increases our herd by 45 buffalo and employs 12 tribal members during construction, and 3 permanently. A larger herd means distributing 2800 lbs of meat to our elders and for use at our community programs, and generating an additional $21,000/year. Hosting Cultural Camps reconnects dozens of youth each year to cultural and lifeways programs led by our Lakota elders.
Buffalo reproduce each year (90% success rate). More buffalo means more income and more youth connected to our traditional lifeways. With the needed capital, we can reclaim more of our ancestral lands from non-tribal leasees. Restoring the vital dynamic between our land and culture can, over time, build a viable, sustainable economy based on our remaining natural resources, which in turn, creates more self-determination and resiliency.