Bringing quality education to the Lakota People

Oyate Kici Kaga (Building for the People)



Oglala Sioux Tribe
Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing
Rapid City Chamber of Commerce
Black Hills Power
American Indian College Fund
Northwest Area Foundation
Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.
Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative
Dept.of Education Native American Career and Technical Education Program

History of Oyate Kici Kaga

Oyate Kici Kaga (Oh yah’tay kee chee’ Ka’ga) Building for the People began in 2011 after a UN Commission on Housing visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. After becoming aware of the dire housing situation on the Reservation, President Thomas Shortbull determined to have our Vocational Education program Construction Trades students help with the problem.

At the same time the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council was asking the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing program for safe houses in each district for children displaced by abuse, neglect, violence, substance abuse, or other family issues. President Shortbull met with Housing and the local K-12 schools, and pledged to provide safe houses. So far Oyate Kici Kaga has provided two safe houses placed at Little Wound School in Kyle, SD and at Loneman School in Oglala, SD. Another house was placed at Pahin Sinte Owayawa in Porcupine in Spring 2014 and should be finished in Fall 2014. OLC, OSLH, and the schools combined for preparation of the sites and final placement of the houses. The three schools are working with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and different funding source to obtain funds to operate the safe houses.

While working on the safe house project OLC became aware of an emergency in the Porcupine Community when the Senior Center—which provided a place for the senior meals program— was closed due to health and safety measures in May 2012. President Shortbull and CEO Paul Iron Cloud of OSLH agreed to assist the Tribe and Porcupine District to renovate the building. OSLH and the District provided materials and the OLC Construction Trades students did the majority of the work to get the Center open for Senior Meals in October 2012. The total renovation was left to complete in 2013-2014.

One of the biggest problems on the Pine Ridge Reservation is lack of housing with a need for over 2,411 units according the HUD 2013, and a need for energy efficient and easily maintained houses. OLC teamed up with the South Dakota School of Mines, Thunder Valley Community Development Group, and the University of Colorado, Boulder on the Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative to build four energy efficient and easily maintained demonstration homes on the Thunder Valley complex north of Sharp’s Corner. The OLC construction trades faculty and students were involved with the initial design and early construction of the first house – the Straw Bale House.

In July 2013 OLC received the $125,000 grant from American Indian College Fund/Northwest Area Foundation Innovation Program to do a development and media plan and continue to do projects. The Goals of the Project are:

bale_house1 bale_house2 bale_house3

Goal 1. Build on and upgrade OLC’s marketing and development expertise to publicize the OKK program and obtain resources for an ongoing OKK program

  • Take advantage of the resources of the College’ direct mail program, KILI radio, KOLC television, and the Vocational Education Department.
  • Utilize professional consultants to develop a marketing program that revolves around the Oyate Kici Kaga concept of partnership between the communities and the organizations.
  • Solicit additional philanthropic and material contributions where needed on a project-by-project basis. Building materials contributions could leverage the goodwill of industry suppliers and construction goods manufacturers.
  • Distribute the information to the public through print, audio and video media.
  • Provide further support and depth to the direct mail and program reporting of the College including printing reports for donors, foundations and philanthropies which could support the program.
  • Bring interested individuals and organizational representatives including industry, government and political leaders to the reservation to promote the Oyate Kici Kaga concept.
  • Provide information and formal presentations and showcasing the Oyate Kici Kaga concept and its positive impacts to other Tribal Colleges and Universities, the American Indian College Fund, other Tribes and other Tribal organizations, and through the reservation-based k-12 schools.

Goal 2 Complete current community engagement projects and begin new ones.

  • Complete Porcupine Senior Center renovation.
  • Complete OSLH House #3 (Pahin Sinte Owayawa Safe House).
  • Complete NASHI Straw Bale House.
  • Begin OSLH House #4 ( Low Rent Housing)