Tipi Waste Un Zanipi
We started our morning meeting Dave Lone Elk, the Field Coordinator in South Dakota and his father Ken Lone Elk. Dave and Ken operate Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home), Running Strong’s field office on Pine Ridge. Tipi Waste is the hub for inkind distributions, with hundreds of food boxes, winter coats, backpacks with school supplies, dental kits, Christmas toys, and more being distributed to members of the community.
Tipi Waste is also runs the Heat Match program which helps hundreds of Pine Ridge families have heat in the hardest part of the winter. South Dakota and surrounding areas get bitterly cold winters, yet not everyone on the reservation can afford heat along with other basic expenses such as food and medicine. Dave explained that Lakota people have long thought of January as the hardest time of year, and this is exactly when the heat match provides a hand up to people in need.
We were also able to witness a historic Running Strong event – the ribbon cutting for the new warehouse expansion. We were joined by Joe American Horse, the tribal vice chairman, and the surprise addition of Billy Mills, who had been at the original ribbon cutting of Tipi Waste 20 years ago.
Oyate Teca Project
We then headed off to visit the Oyate Teca Project garden and youth center. Rose Fraser is the Program Director of the youth center; she has built Oyate Teca into a great community program. Since the start of 2017 the building has received a new furnace, making the long winters much easier, and are also a recipient of donations of backpacks filled with school supplies.
Oyate Teca was also has an extensive gardening program- their Medicine Root Garden. We got a tour of the center, gardens, farmer’s market, and were treated to dinner with fresh produce from the gardens!