Some protesters wave signs, others chant bumper-sticker slogans. But to draw attention to the housing shortage plaguing the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Oglala Sioux have another plan: They're going plop down half a reservation house two blocks from the United States Capitol.

The house will leave April 13 from Kyle on a truck and take a media tour along the way, according to Kristi Blue Bird, who does computer support for the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority.

"We have a really bad problem with overcrowding," Blue Bird said. "Three or four families living in one home, which also causes wear and tear on homes."

About 14,000 people are on a waiting list to get housing on the reservation, she said. Due to a lack of funding, however, the tribe can only build 10 houses per year, according to Bluebird.

The house itself came from the reservation and is one of the oldest houses built there, she said. Along its journey, the house will stop in Sioux Falls, Des Moines, Iowa, and Cleveland, she said.

It's one way to highlight the poor conditions on the reservation to people who have never experienced it.

Said Blue Bird, laughing: "We'll just take the rez to you."

Reach reporter Joe O'Sullivan at 605-394-8414.

(29) comments

BHHorse
BHHorse

Good point Mr Cornelius. But my question is this. How much does it cost to take that house to Washington? That money should be spent on building a house for one of the 14 people. Whoever is the head of the housing program in Pine Ridge should be removed. I heard that person has been in that position in a long time.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

BHHorse,

To answer your question about the cost of taking the house to D.C., I have no idea.

Could the cost of moving the house be used to build a house, perhaps. Maybe build part of a house, I don't know.

The point of the D.C. is to draw attention the deplorable housing conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation on a national scale and hopefully get the assistance to build more than one house.

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

A few things need to be cleared up here. Most of the responses here are racial based and typical for this area of South Dakota.

Personally, I am not aware of any "free" housing programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Partnership for Housing assist homebuyers in construction and financing of their own homes, just like in any other community. Homeowners have mortgage obligations just as most homeowners.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe has two programs available for housing, rental units and home ownership. Neither are "free".

For those that have the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality, it is impossible to do that if you don't have boots.

The fact is that the federal government has helped to created the social-economic problems by generations of treaty violations and piece mill funding, they can help fix it.

The cost? What does it really matter, housing for Pine Ridge and other reservations should be the highest priority of the U.S. Government.

Who and how it is paid for? Let's rip the farm and ranch subsidies, oil subsidies, corporate tax breaks, etc. from the this free enterprise system and build housing.

Deklan
Deklan

Where is the money derived from for the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing authority?

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

Deklan,

Funding sources are Housing and Urban Development and possibly other agencies.

Funding works pretty much the same way it does for FHA housing or Veterans housing.

Unfortunately tribal members do not always have access to banks. mortgage companies or government assistance that most Americans enjoy

Deklan
Deklan

Roger Cornelius,
I appreciate your reply.

I’m trying to understand the housing situation on the reservation, and it appears you’re knowledgeable on the issue.

My understanding is there are a variety of federal programs administered by HUD, the Department of Veterans Affairs, BIA, and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service, and these entities use grants, subsidies, loan guarantees, and insurance which provide assistance for owner-occupied and rental housing.

I thought Clinton said private lenders would double government-insured or guaranteed home mortgages and that Fannie Mae had set aside money to help with housing at below market rates.

And also, in the late 90s, Congress passed the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act to provide block grants to tribal designated housing. This would provide the tribes to be able to acquire existing housing and to subsidize home-ownership for tribal members.

You noted tribal members don’t always have access to banks, mortgage companies or government assistance that most Americans enjoy.

Could that be due to the tribal members living in a sovereign nation where municipality and state courts don’t have any jurisdiction?

Roland
Roland

It is difficult to move forward when you are always looking back...

Obtuseangler
Obtuseangler

I am going to make both sides mad. The feds agreed, by treaty to provide for the health, education, and welfare of Native Americans in perpetuity. We are not meeting our legal and ethical obligations to these people. However, in the treaties minimum requirements for what constitutes a Native American were not established. Full blood, no doubt. Half? OK. 1/64th? There have to me established limits for who is eligible for benefits. While it is true that government dependency encourages maladaptive behavior, that is not an excuse for us to not meet our obligations. We seem to have built infrastructure around the world, often in countries that are hostile to us, where we had no obligation to be in the first place. Yet, we don't seem to have the will to meet basic needs on the rez. Don't forget, while our Native population has higher than average rates of substance abuse and other social maladies, it also has a large number of veterans, who have, proportionately, defended this Country in numbers and intensity (based on awards for valor) greater than that of the average citizenry. Good. Now both sides can be mad at me.

sunshineandrain
sunshineandrain

I think you have one of the most logical comments here, thank you sir!

I just wanted to chime in that what constitutes the requirement for being a "Native American" was actually left up to the tribes themselves by the government. And the requirements vary from tribe to tribe. But in the eyes of the US government, if you are an enrolled member of a tribe, despite blood quantum, then you are a Native American.

I whole heartedly agree with the statement "We seem to have built infrastructure around the world, often in countries that are hostile to us, where we had no obligation to be in the first place." People are so quick to cry waste of tax dollars in response to any federal help to tribes yet I don't see any of these people expressing concerns over their tax dollars going to subsidies in Brazil or the legislation being written that actively works against small farmers and rewards the large food corps with those same tax dollars.

As a native who is pursuing higher education, living on my own with no government funding other than what everyone else gets ie PELL and student loans, with a brother in the Marines, I thank you for your acknowledgement of our numbers in the service and your willingness to bear the brunt of both sides to spread some common sense.

scubadoo
scubadoo

I have a copy of the Fort Laramie Treaty dated April 29, 1868. I could find no where where it says we will provide people with housing. Why don't the take the money from the last settlement and build housing. It also states that teachers doctor and alike would keave in 10 years and you would be on your own. You need to fix your internal problems and maybe you would have money for housing. The country is broke.

Fed up in RC
Fed up in RC

As a white person that grew up on a reservation I speak from experience... The native people are way more prejudiced against the white people than the white people are against them. What is it going to take to "settle the score"????

sambo2u
sambo2u

Fed Up...you got that right! I see it in my work environment every day! What will it take to make it right for them? We can only hand out so much, the rest has to come from pride and a willingness to change things for themselves. I do not blame my for fathers for problems in my life...I made my own way. Come on people, pull up your big girl panty's and put some elbow grease into half of the abandoned houses that are setting around there trashed (along witht the yards)! I drove through there last year, I saw them for myself.

SoutDakLover
SoutDakLover

People often forget that housing is a treaty obligation to the US Gov. Let us not forget that we are all living on stolen land, we promised them housing for the taking for their land. All too often that is over looked and forgotten. So, it's not free, there's no free money for them,it's owed to Them. And before you start to call people poor, remember they,members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe are not poor, they are very rich, rich in our values, beliefs, and traditions, something the white man dot have. Maybe that's why they always say negative stuff and look down on Native Americans.

BH
BH

As a white person I object to at least one comment you made.
I have values - I value honesty. I value hard work. I value the ability to make my own decisions and make my own way. I value supporting friends and family while they make their own way. I appreciate the difficulties that may be by this route (as I have done it) but am proud and value the fact that I accomplished it myself without assistance.
I have beliefs - I am Christian, I believe in God, I believe that people deserve a chance to succeed, I believe that giving a helping hand is essential to the way we as a society need to be for success but only as long as that helping hand doesn't become permanent as it is no longer providing assistance but a cage holding a people down to the level which they have become accustomed. Much as a bird raised in the captivity can never be free I believe that this is happening to the tribes.
I have traditions - I go to church every Sunday, I pray to my God, I celebrate birthdays as a day to celebrate the gifts of my friends and family in this life, I prepare ham dinner on Easter and turkey on Thanksgiving. I crochet an afghan to give to friends and family in celebration of their new baby.

These values, beliefs and traditions are all things I wich to be able to hand to my children. I know we promised something to these people. But how long do you wish to provide it? The tribes have become the caged bird. They no longer survive in the wild. The society is failing with high levels of assault, drug abuse and suicide. They are straining at the hand that gives them homes but no longer expect to be able to build those homes themselves. In order to move past this they need to take the initiative and start doing for themselves rather than waiting for the government to provide.

Fed up in RC
Fed up in RC

Will it ever be enough? Will the non Indians of the world ever NOT owe the natives? And let us remember this...God helps those who help themselves.

martha
martha

Yes no one is "FORCED" to live on the "REZ", but what you people don't understand is that yes we can leave at any time we want, but why should we??? That "REZ" whether it's PineRidge or any other place, is our "HOME" and instead of putting your stupid opinions and not be so biased in those opinions, go find out for yourself what its really like to live on the "REZ"!! And another thing I live on a reservation and I PAY TAXES , a lot of Native Americans do so find out your facts before throwing that U.S Tax money bit in there!! I work for everything I have and I own everything I have!! I know its no use to reply to your OPINIONS because you will always feel this way and never change!!! For those of you waiting on a list, no matter how many times you have to, keep going and talk to whoever you need to to get something done!

Monty Q
Monty Q

No one is being forced to stay on the "rez". Move. Get a job and pay your own way. It's pretty simple really.

lorapora
lorapora

I'm really surprised! Not one comment in support. I've spent some real time with the folks on Pine Ridge. And I certainly don't have all the answers and much of what you allude to above may be true. I can only know what I have seen, heard and felt. The needs are very profound and the enabling has gone on so long it's sometimes hard to see past it. The housing issue is very real, as is the health, education and environmental impacts on the Rez. If feelings of hopelessness are replaced by action and protest then, HECK YES I support it!

smurfette
smurfette

I'm still waiting for my free house, too! Oh, wait. I'm white. Never mind. I have to work for it.

Monty Q
Monty Q

Fact!

sambo2u
sambo2u

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

snowflake
snowflake

oh, please, wear and tear on homes? Is that what you call breaking down doors and putting holes in walls? No, that is just destruction. If the tribal authorities weren't corrupt and just looking out for their own buddies, everyone would have a home. The federal government has given millions for housing in the past few years and has moved housing in.

If these folks would take their energies they are expending on this trip and the money they will spend, they could actually accomplish something besides complaining. Of course the money they spend isn't theirs to start with, it is US taxpayers' money. Really, it is getting old!

If you want improvements, clean up your act, enforce the laws and if you are unemployed, volunteer like the rest of South Dakotans do to better their communities.

Cinderella911
Cinderella911

Yes!

sambo2u
sambo2u

Native pride??? Don't see it when driving through your neighborhoods! Windows not replaced, just boarded over, piles of garbage in the yards, tons of aboanded vehicles (that you could call to have hauled out and actually get PAID for them). But no...no initiative, unless someone does it for you. Take ownership, have some pride, help your own people when you can...then we'll talk!

donatk
donatk

Money to move the house to D.C.? Wouldn't that money be better used to help the housing situation on the reservation?

hillshunter
hillshunter

"About 14,000 people are on a waiting list to get housing on the reservation, she said. Due to a lack of funding, however, the tribe can only build 10 houses per year, according to Bluebird."

Who exactly pays for the houses for the 14,000 people?
If they are free why protest??
Looks to me like they are looking for more free money!

Roger Cornelius
Roger Cornelius

Who exactly pays for the houses?

Very simple, hillshunter, the renters and homeowners.

ALL 4 1
ALL 4 1

building 10 houses a yr isn't true! we've been on the waiting list for a 2 Bedroom unit and its going on 6 yrs this yr. oslha keeps getting r hopes up & never follow thru with proper procedures. there r a lot of units who break rules but they r still living in there units. I wanna know where these 10 houses per yr r built at???

hillshunter
hillshunter

Are you going to pay for it?

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