6 Safe, Eco-Friendly Homes for Pine Ridge Lakota

by Altai Mir University
Jun 20, 2012

Progress Report

Pouring the foundation for an eco-dome home
Pouring the foundation for an eco-dome home
HUGE thanks to a GlobalGiving donor for a donation that gets us more than halfway toward the purchase of a generator that will enable us to use power tools.Sites are either totally off the grid, or with insufficient electricity for power tools.
Below is the latest report from Christinia Eala, the project director:
The eco-dome project on the Pine Ridge Reservation started on Memorial Day week-end.  Chris Gillespie and I caravaned up with Todd Smeidendorf, of Denver.  This was Todd's second trip to the Reservation and Chris' first.  They were both pretty excited about everything that they saw and experienced.  Todd and his congregation set up our first base-camp on the land of Leola One Feather in Wounded Knee, and we are camping there again this summer.  We're still trying to get that organized as well as doing the prep work to begin laying the bags on her dome. 
Initially, we thought we would set up base camp on the ranch of Bryan Deans, but fuel costs and proximity made that idea ineffective.  It would have been great as Bryan already has an outdoor kitchen, complete with full sized refrigerator and freezer, a gas cook stove with FOUR burners, and table and chairs; a solar shower; and internet and cell phone reception.  He also has close proximity to Chadron, Nebraska (for food shopping), Rapid City, for materials and supplies (although the time saved is only fifteen minutes or so).  He is 15-20 minutes from Pine Ridge, and from Pine Ridge it is only another 15 minutes to Wounded Knee.  There are other inherent problems though, as there are everywhere else; on or off the Reservation.
Now, we are busy scrubbing down the pre-existing outdoor kitchen that we worked on and improved at Leola's last summer; and it does feel really god to be back on her land.  Please see the photos that I took of the work that we did last week on our website: http://winyanmaka07.webs.com
On Monday, we were up early to pick up Jason Medrano, a Cal-Earth alumni, as well as the builder who worked with us the first two years of the project.  It was so good to reconnect with him.  We spent the trip back reminiscing about the first two years and the International volunteers who came to us to help in this work.  One of them, a young, hard working, very talented young man from France, died less than a year after spending time with us.  Not only did he work hard on the prototype shelter, but he also created the YouTube video that was posted on the website for us.  He also played mad guitar and sang us songs in French.  We continue to miss him.  Another beuatiful woman from London that I stay in touch with developed an especially aggressive type breast cancer and when she can, she updates me on her progress.  One of our youngest volunteers of our 2010 build, came back a second year...and let me know a month or so ago that he wishes he could be here again this year.  There is a real camaraderie that develops with the volunteers and staff every summer.  Most of us stay in contact far after the project is completed for the year.
I will post video as I learn how.  I have already made three five minute videos, and tried to post them to the website to no avail; but I will find someone who can help me with it, I just know it. 
We are also working with Betty Janis this summer.  A wonderful elder and friend who cares for six of her grandchildren.  Her current home is one of the "cluster houses" built by H.U.D. in the early seventies.  It is filled with black mold and is literally falling apart around them.  Housing is always busy with repairs and so they don't get around to help very frequently. 
Betty had a mild stroke about a month ago and spent a week in Rapid City Regional hospital and two weeks in the rehab hospital next door.  Todd, Chris, and I went to visit her.  It was a very emotional experience for all of us.  She is home now and thrilled about building a home on her own land in Porcupine.  She has a large family who will help her (and us) get this accomplished this season.
Finally, we are trying to break ground on the Wicosani Experiential Learning Lab on my land in Wounded Knee.  It will serve as a permanent base camp site, replete with all of necessities of a base camp.  The most important piece of this Center, will be outdoor classrooms where we can identify and train apprentices to this building style so they can expand their homes as needed...but also, so we can help them start a cottage industry with this alternative building style that will be very complimentary to all of the "green projects" on the Reservation.  Equally important will be a warehouse to handle emergency supplies donated to assist during times of severe weather (blizzards, tornadoes).  We will send out notice when this is in place and start accepting donations for this service year round.  Quick example of what is always needed: small generator, batteries-all sizes, flashlights, heaters-all sizes, water, diapers, dried food stuffs, blankets, baby food, etc. 
Be well each and every one of you whose eyes fall on these words, STAY STRONG on this Journey we all share together, and Wicosani to each of you and those you Love.  Christinia Eala



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Organization Information

Altai Mir University

Location: Shoreline, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.AltaiMir.org
Project Leader:
Carol Hiltner
Shoreline, Washington United States

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