Okiciyapi Tipi is the basic Lakota translation for Habitat for Humanity. Okiciyapi means "people helping people" and tipi means "home".
Eagle Butte is the location of the headquarters for the Okiciyapi Tipi Habitat for Humanity affiliate. It is located within the Cheyenne-Sioux reservation and is home to many Lakota (branch of the Sioux). This is one site I think of when talking with other people, especially those from outside the US about Habitat for Humanity. I remember speaking with another volunteer in Africa about working in the states with the Jimmy Carter Work Project and his response was there is no way he was going. The US doesn't need extra help, he'll go on projects to other countries but not the US. That is a sentiment shared by many, and has quite a bit of truth behind it. However, like all governments, and all countries, we are not perfect. Over the years Native Americans have continually dealt with improperly to say the least, and all across our country where are the highest rates of poverty? Reservation.
Where is some of the lowest standards of living? Reservations. Where is the lowest life expectancy? you guessed it, reservations. And this is a result of how the United States dealt with Native Americans ever since our Independence. Thankfully conditions have improved drastically in the past 20 years, but some truths still remain. And poverty in reservations, is one of them.
Morning walk with "Bear" the dog.
Okiciyapi Tipi is a Lakota phrase that roughly translates to People working together to build homes.
Now that is a rough translation, but that is how the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate got their name. It is run by a great man named Jerry, who treated us better than I can imagine. He made sure we felt at home, worked with the community for any of our wishes, answered all of our questions, worked with us every day, and even gave us a tour of his South Dakota ranch containing in addition to his cattle and wheat fields, about 35 head of Bison. Eagle Butte, and the affiliate was the site for the Jimmy Carter work Project in 1994 and we were able to get a look at the homes built in that time. Over all they were in great condition, but there were still some issues. These houses were built for one family each, but many had others living in them, because they did not have homes. Within this community people were working together but things never seem to work fast enough for those in need (no matter where you are). The affiliate would drive us each day to our work site in Bear Creek, but otherwise this small town was our home, for the next 5 days.
Line of Habitat Houses built in 1994 by the Jimmy Carter Work Project.