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Village Earth

Village Earth Partners with Indian Land Tenure Foundation on Strategic Land Planning on Pine Ridge

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(Above: Map illustrating the problem of fractionation on the Pine Ridge Reservation) Village Earth, was recently awarded a grant from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation to conduct a series of Strategic Land Planning workshops with up to three (3) groups of allottees who own undivided interests on the same allotment(s) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The purpose of these workshops is to provide the education, resources, and support needed by undivided interest owners to analyze the different options they have for the management, use and inheritance of their lands, now and for future generations. But also, to choose an appropriate course of action and move towards it. This might include but is not limited to:

  • Consolidating fractionated pieces of land.

  • Creating wills to lessen further fractionation.

  • Creating agreements between landowners for the utilization of specific undivided allotments of land for farming, raising livestock, housing, business development, tourism, etc.

The Indian Land Tenure Foundation is a nonprofit organization, based in Minnesota, that is community organized and community directed. The community includes Indian landowners, Indian people on and off reservations, Indian land organizations, tribal communities, tribal governments and others connected to Indian land issues. The mission of the foundation is to ensure that “land within the original boundaries of every reservation and other areas of high significance where tribes retain aboriginal interest are in Indian ownership and management.”

WHY STRATEGIC LAND PLANNING Nearly 1,067,877 acres of the Pine Ridge is owned by individual allottees. Over a century of unplanned inheritance has created a situation where lands have become severely fractioned. This has created a management nightmare where, in order for a land owner to utilize their undivided lands, they may have to get the signed approval of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of separate land owners. As a result of this complexity, most land owners (Nearly 65% on Pine Ridge) have opted to lease their lands out as part of the Tribal/BIA range unit leasing system.

This situation has had a dramatic impact on the overall economy on Pine Ridge. Like other Reservations across the United States, fractionation has been a major obstacle to housing and business development but also native owned farms and ranches. According to the USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, in 2002 there was nearly 33 million dollars in receipts from agricultural production on Pine Ridge, yet less than 1/3rd of that income went to members of the tribe.

Despite the fact that most people are leasing their lands out, according to a survey conducted by Colorado State University, it was found that most people on the reservation believe that the Lakota people should be managing reservation lands, not the non-tribal lessees, State or BIA. Despite this situation, many opportunities exist for undivided interest owners of an allotment including stopping further fractionation and even reversing the situation through the creation of wills, land consolidation, or forming cooperative agreements between land owners.

WHO IS ELIGABLE TO APPLY? Because of the complex nature of land planning on Pine Ridge we have limited the workshop to three (3) groups of allottees who own undivided interests on the same allotment(s) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

HOW TO APPLY? Applications can be obtained by contacting David Bartecchi at 970-491-5754, [email protected] or online at

Completed applications should be mailed to:

David Bartecchi Village Earth PO Box 797 Fort Collins, Co. 80522

Application must be postmarked by Sept. 31st, 2007.

Upcoming Courses in the Village Earth/CSU Online Certificate Program in Community-Based Development

Winter II Session

GSLL 1501 – Approaches to Community Development

This course provides a framework for community development based on a participatory, bottom-up, multi-sector model. Various approaches have been used in community development with varying degrees of success. One approach that has consistently demonstrated effectiveness is the Village Earth model based on participatory practices.

Through personal and structural empowerment, the objectives of economic well-being, environmental sustainability, and socio-cultural vitalization can be met. By looking at an overview of the entire development process and using case studies, this course will prepare participants to work in the field of community development and illuminate how all of the development efforts fit together to support the overall goal of sustainability.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

Compare different development approaches and evaluate their effectiveness.
Understand the basic principles that underlie sustainable development.
Incorporate participatory practices into community development activities
Design a development project based on the Village Earth model
Who should take this course? This course is suited for people who are interested in community development and work or plan to work in this field. This includes people working or volunteering at NGOs, NPOs, governmental organizations, without border organizations, or missionary organizations. In addition, people involved in funding community development projects benefit from this course.

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