In 2015, a severe thunderstorm with 100 mph wind gusts tore through Crow Creek Reservation, bringing overwhelming destruction and despair to a small, remote reservation on the east bank of the Missouri River in central South Dakota. Multiple trailer homes were destroyed, resulting in one fatality and several injuries. More than 60 homes were impacted, and with an average of 17 people living in a single trailer, the storm severely impacted as many as 1,000 individuals.

In this sort of recovery situation, it can be difficult to do more than the bare minimum to repair fragile, flimsy trailers. Disaster recovery workers often have limited choices and resources, and homeowners can’t afford to do more. But this time, thanks to community collaboration and effective early recovery funding, something different—and amazing—is happening on Crow Creek.

The youth are intently looking over some ideas and drawings; already dreaming of what will be. The vision is for a place where youth will be able to learn and grow safely, but also where families and community can come to grow together. Photo courtesy Diamond Willow Ministries.
Youth intently reviewing ideas and drawings for their new center are already dreaming of a place where they will be able to learn and grow safely, and where families and the community can together. Photo courtesy Diamond Willow Ministries.

For the Crow Creek disaster recovery work, CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund partnered with Diamond Willow Ministries, a highly respected, local nonprofit serving those most vulnerable for over 20 years. Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota provided the training, reconstruction management, and resources needed to repair those damaged homes and trailers. At the same time, we also partnered with Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative to develop a resilient housing model, culturally appropriate for the Lakota people and environmentally resilient to the harsh weather of the northern plains.

Watch this brief, three-minute video to learn more about how Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative is providing resilient and culturally appropriate development solutions for the Crow Creek Reservation.

The outcome of this collaboration is a 60-home development project, featuring a community driven housing model, a climate resilient site plan, and just recently, in partnership with Tribal leadership, plans to build the Tokata Youth Center within the new housing development.

A recent visit with the local tribal housing authority and local nonprofit partners allowed us to see firsthand the hope and new possibilities this work has brought to the community. And yet there’s so much more that can be accomplished. Please find out how you can help by getting involved with this amazing Crow Creek collaboration.