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Lakota Water Restoration Group Goes Global

Courtesy Mni

 A grass roots water restoration group on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation has been named as a Global Affiliate of Village Earth. The Colorado-based non-profit helps reconnect communities to resources around the world.

It’s been two years since Candace Ducheneaux began organizing members of the Swiftbird community to start the process of restoring water to their land.

“I learned about the world water crisis and that we needed to do something,” Ducheneaux says. “We could do something to help our lands. And I understood why they were this way…because of the poor water management. And most especially because of these big dams along the Missouri River. The Oahe Dam right here.” 

Credit Courtesy Mni
Candace Ducheneaux at Mni indigenous water summit May 2013

Ducheneaux notes that the creation of the dams not only inundated land the Lakota formerly thrived on, but upset the entire ecological system as it applies to the distribution of water. The problem, which Ducheneaux says has created drought-stricken areas worldwide, can be corrected through proper water management and the creation of micro-dams or check dams.     

“That would not stop the waters,” Ducheneaux explains. “but check the waters...and in that way also reforest and replant natural plants. And in that way direct the moisture back into the land.” 

Of course, funding is required to create a water restoration system. That’s where Village Earth comes in. David Bartecchi is the group’s executive director.

“Our Global Affiliates are grassroots organizations who may not be 501c3 organizations themselves,” explains Bartecchi, “but we serve as an umbrella that they can do fund-raising and solicit grants using our 501c3 status.”

Candace Ducheneaux’s grassroots group is named Mni - the Lakota word for “water”. Bartecchi says Mni caught his attention because of Ducheneaux’s passion for her mission: bringing water back to the Swift Bird community.  

Members of Mni hope to begin creating micro-dams on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation this spring.