A new community is breaking ground on Pine Ridge on Monday.
Officials with the Thunder Valley Community say they are also breaking the mold for the way housing is developed in Indian Country.
Nick Tilsen, an Oglala Lakota, is the Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. He says the project aims to not only address the critical housing shortage, but also to build economic development and a sustainable healthy community on Pine Ridge.
Tilsen says the Thunder Valley community is based on a bottom up approach, unlike previous top down housing initiatives. He says it includes a combination of private, non-profit, and government investments.
“I think this is absolutely a historic moment. I think a lot of things throughout history have been prescribed to Pine Ridge from the top. And a lot of those prescriptions have perpetuated poverty in the poorest place in America. We basically have decided that we’re turning that on our head and we’re putting it upside down and we’re saying want something better for our people. And I think it’s the beginning of a lot of positive work that is going to change this reservation and state forever,” Tilsen says.
President Obama has championed the work at Thunder Valley in past speeches. Tilsen says between two and four hundred people are expected to attend the groundbreaking for the new community including a number of top federal and tribal officials.
The project includes 32 single family homes, along with apartments, a small farm, a grocery store, powwow grounds, a youth shelter, and artist studios.