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Rehousing Lakota Country - South Dakota


When InOurHands was first founded we set out to bring energy independence to marginalized communities, beginning on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota -- one of the most economically disadvantaged communities in North America. The housing stock on Pine Ridge is largely dilapidated to say the least; there is an urgent need for more than 5,000 new homes in the short term, and as many as 15-20 thousand new homes in the in the longer term.

In late 2017, in response to the dire need for new, quality housing on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, InOurHands founders Jason Mackie and Aaron Resnick were commissioned by Red Cloud Renewable to find a housing technique appropriate for the region; climactic conditions and economic constraints were primary considerations in the search for a viable housing option.

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When it was discovered that a suitable technology did not yet exist, we set out to create something capable of doing just that. In partnership with Red Cloud Renewable, we developed a home tailored to the unique needs of the Lakota community and life on the Northern Great Plains. We're excited to introduce the Domicile -- a novel, energy efficient, virtually indestructible housing tech capable of changing the lives of entire communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional construction.

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To say that conditions are difficult on Pine Ridge would be a severe understatement. Because of the harshness of their winters, the fact that employment for 80-90% of the population is non-existent, and the poor state of their housing stock, it's a common occurrence that the majority of a household's annual earnings get blown right out drafty trailer windows into the pockets of off-the-res propane and utility providers, leaving very little to meet other basic needs.

InOurHands' initial goal was to help bring energy independence to Pine Ridge and other First Nation communities. Our first instinct upon entering Pine Ridge was to try to provide families with enough heat to at least keep their homes above freezing temperatures using renewable energy. Needless to say, it's now abundantly clear that renewables alone just aren't going to do the trick.

The housing stock on the reservation is so dilapidated and inefficient that it would take a prohibitively large energy installation to provide enough heat for each house.

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We quickly realized that the only way to provide the people of Pine Ridge with adequate heat during the winter would be to replace the housing stock. 

And we're developing a plan to do just that. Watch the video to learn more.

“It can be hard to make positive change happen in the world. On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, it is almost impossible. But we are doing it because of the help and caring of friends like Aaron and Jason with InOurHands. For more than two decades, I have struggled to educate Native American youth – both women and men and show them a new way to honor the old way.

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The Lakota are sun dancers and we have a song and a ceremony for every element and aspect of nature. So, it’s easy to help our young people to identify with renewable energy and sustainable building and living.

With InOurHands’ assistance, we have the ability to broaden our knowledge base and move forward to bring energy independence, renewable energy and new housing options to our tribes and communities.”Chief Henry Red Cloud

 
 
 

About Pine Ridge


In the very heart of the U.S., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, live the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) - considered amongst the most marginalized and economically disadvantaged communities in the western hemisphere. Currently on Pine Ridge, roughly 86% of the population is unemployed, and 97% live far below the federal poverty line.

Average life expectancy on the reservation is around 50 years, the teen suicide rate is 150% the national average, infant mortality is 300% the national average, 60% of homes are infested with black mold, 39% of homes don't have electricity, and 33% of homes lack basic water and sewer systems.

Pine Ridge residents are forced to endure winter temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit. When the north wind blows, ice can form on the inside walls of houses, and it's far too common an occurrence that people die from exposure in the dark in their own homes when they cannot afford their heating and electricity bills.

The story of the Oglala Lakota and their relationship with the outside world has been littered with broken promises and unwarranted aggressions, but this story is not yet fully written. We have the chance to turn the page and participate in the writing of a new chapter of hope. Together, we can all help bring about the re-birth of a nation.

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Henry Red Cloud, 5th generation direct decedent of Chief Red Cloud, is on a mission to help fulfill his ancestor's prophecy - to take the goodness of the Lakota and the goodness of the western world and create something beautiful and new that never existed before. He believes renewable energy is "a new way to honor the old ways", and will light their path to get them there. With grandchildren of his own, he walks with the sacred seven - the generation that will restore balance and the Lakota way of life. We are proud to partner with Henry and other Lakota leaders to help make the dream of safe, dignified homes on the Great Plains reservations a reality.

Past Project Highlights


20 kW Solar @ KILI Radio

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KILI Radio, "The Voice of the Lakota Nation" - an independent radio station funded entirely by donations from global listeners - just gained energy independence! InOurHands partnered proudly with Red Cloud Renewable, Lakota Solar, Thunder Valley CDC, Sunset Power Solutions, Remote Energy, Johnny Weiss Solar, and a number of dedicated volunteers, to complete this 20 Kw ground-mount solar array. Just one step closer to energy sovereignty in Pine Ridge.

The Tribal Train The Trainer Program

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In 2017, InOurHands partnered with Red Cloud Renewable with the goal of bringing more solar to Pine Ridge. Red Cloud Renewable is the first native-led nonprofit to offer NABCEP solar certification for First Nation people, with the goal of training natives from all the 37 northern plains tribes and beyond. In partnership with Solar Energy International (SEI), Red Cloud Renewable is providing training and certification for our new solar warriors, and at the end of the year graduates present the SEI Solar 101 course to a new group of students at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. In an effort to increase solar capacity, Red Cloud Renewable now offers a course called the Tribal Train the Trainer program, where native graduates are trained to teach others about solar installation.

Students are encouraged to return to teach courses to the next generation of Solar Warriors. Red Cloud Renewable offers free-to-the-public training workshops taught by graduates of the program.

InOurHands is proud to have supported this program by funding the construction of training modules - solar laboratories - at the facility.

Join us as we honor Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) and future generations by building a stronger, more sustainable economy based upon renewable energy.

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