Lakota Permaculture Project Promotes Self-Reliance and Regeneration

Image credit: Keith Johnson

From massive solar installations in Nevada to environmental education tours, many Native American communities are implementing innovative and exciting sustainability initiatives. Now one farmer on the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation in South Dakota is hoping to create an ongoing permaculture teaching and demonstration project to promote self-sufficiency and community resilience. According to Keith Johnson of Permaculture & Regenerative Design News, the Oglala Lakota Cultural and Environmental Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI) is intended to deploy "existing resources to design and create sustainable systems, abundant production of food, energy and shelter, and systems of local trade that will create economic independence."

Central to the whole initiative is the founding of a permaculture design school on the reservation, teaching both local residents and international students the principles and practices of permaculture, and providing them with hands-on training with various community projects.

Like many Native American communities, the reservation suffers from high unemployment (90%), substance abuse issues and fuel poverty. But Bryan Deans, a Lakota cattle rancher, started the sustainability school with a view to reversing these trends. Already the school has build several demonstration natural buildings, planted a kitchen garden and food forest, and worked on a root cellar and super-efficient sawdust stoves. (A nearby sawmill provides abundant sawdust.)

OLCERI is apparently looking for donations to fund equipment purchases and training costs. The initiative plans to be full self-sufficient by September 2011.

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