International volunteers digging out the walapini
Last May, Lakota Project leader Christinia Eala took a team of Engineers without Borders from Colorado State University (EWB/CSU) to the property of Joe and Lena Fast Horse to build the foundation to build the foundation for the battery house for the solar array panel. Joe and Lena have been working for years to create a safe house for Lakota children. They are currently living in cramped, mold-infested federal housing in Wounded Knee.
Tiyospaye Winyan Maka, Christinia's nonprofit organization, is starting the process of formalizing our relationship with EWB/CSU, who have excellent mentoring and guidance from EWB/Professionals here in Fort Collins as well as EWB/USA headquartered in Denver. Everyone is very excited about this. However, it rained almost the entire time the EWB team was in Wounded Knee, but they did get the foundation complete and installed a 350 gallon water tank. Unfortunately, three of the cars got stuck in the deep gumbo-like mud and Christinia's clutch got burned up while trying to get the car out.
Then, with international volunteers arriving for the summer, Christinia learned that the entire contents of the project's Fast Horse camp had been looted. So…in the Spirit of always moving forward, she visited with Bryan Deans who has a ranch and homestead in Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He has an organization called Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative. The volunteers spent their time working on his homestead, where he is currently building a “Walapini” or underground greenhouse in order to have fresh vegetable year round. These projects are always viewed as model projects for the larger community.
In December 2015 and January 2016, Christinia returned to Wounded Knee to reassess the Fast Horse site to determine how prepared the family was to move forward with the project and discovered that they weren’t as prepared as necessary to accommodate the international volunteers in the upcoming season. This is heart-breaking because the need for the safe house is so great and the Fast Horses have been working for so long and so hard to create it.
So, the project team will focus on Bryan Deans' projects again this summer, reinforcing his outdoor kitchen as needed, building one or two more “outhouses,” refreshing the solar shower, and clearing and maintaining the campground.
We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support for this project through GlobalGiving.